News from the Bridge Room in Lake Bled

Host report by Jacky Baker

The spectacular setting of Lake Bled proved a popular venue for our group, many of whom previously had never been to Slovenia. The views from the restaurant, the bridge room and many of the bedrooms were of the lake, which with the small island (with its church) in the centre of the lake looked just too good to be true!

There were several trips organised – to the capital Ljubljana, a “Taste of Slovenia” trip, a visit to the nearby Julian Alps and a tour around Bled itself. This Bled tour included a voyage on a “pletna” boat to the island and the picturesque church. Local legend has it that visitors should pull the bell rope three times; if they succeeded in ringing the bell then they would be granted a wish. That evening we were watching carefully for guests enjoying more than their fair share of successful finesses.

The hotel staff were really friendly and efficient. In fact they were so efficient that one evening after the bridge session finished they locked the doors leading to the bridge room without realising that two of the players were still in the toilets. Once this became apparent it took a little while for the person with the keys to be located and a rescue made. Fortunately the free drinks which were offered by the bar to the unlucky pair saw the evening end happily.

We do hope to return to this stunning location at some time in the future. As usual, we have to offer a big thank you to the hotel and also to our excellent local tour guide Luca who greatly enhanced the trips and was appreciated by all the guests. Thanks, too, to the third member of our First for Bridge team, Fran Keene, who was a willing helper, played when needed and added much to our holiday.

Director’s report by Bob Baker

The ace of trumps

A card that we all like to see in our hand is the ace of trumps. Most of the time this is a certain trick – although there is a story of the player who, holding ace and king of trumps, doubled the opponents’ grand slam and then ruffed with one of his honours – which unfortunately was a revoke! He later took a trick with his other top trump but suffered a two trick penalty and the contract therefore made.

However, leaving aside this misadventure, we are always happy to hold this important card. There is, though, a danger when the card is a singleton and we are defending – we may be forced to take the lead with it at a time when anything we next play helps the declarer.

The following hand occurred in our Swiss Pairs competition:

East was dealer with East-West vulnerable. The East hand is unsuitable for a weak two-bid in spades – not only is the spade suit poor, but more importantly the hand contains four good hearts. However, after three passes (should West open?) and an opening bid of 1 by North, East competed in spades and generally bought the contract in a spade partscore, although two EW pairs ended up in 4♠, doubled by North in each case.

At one table the contract was 3♠ doubled and the play proceeded as follows:

South’s heart lead ran round to North’s K and East’s A (a low diamond discard from dummy) and East led his singleton club to the ♣8 and North’s ♣J. Not appreciating the danger that his singleton trump ace posed, North continued with a second round of hearts.

Declarer won this with his Q (discarding another diamond from dummy) and ruffed a heart in dummy. A club ruff to his hand allowed declarer to ruff his last heart in dummy and only now did he play a trump.

North won with his ♠A and now had no good card to play. If he led his last heart declarer could discard his low diamond while ruffing in dummy. Leading ♣A is no good, as it would be ruffed, setting up dummy’s ♣K (declarer would later enter dummy with A and discard his losing diamond on the ♣K) and a low club from North would be allowed to run round to dummy’s ♣K, declarer again disposing of his losing diamond. Finally, if North led J or 9 (K is obviously fatal) then declarer covers with Q, once again avoiding a loser in the suit.

North could have avoided this embarrassment by cashing the ♠A when he was in at trick two, but he did not see the danger until too late. East made a vital overtrick in his 3♠ doubled contract for a score of +930, beating the two pairs who also made ten tricks playing in 4♠ doubled and earning a top on the board.

Prize Winners

Random Teams: Kate & Steve Hall, Marion & Tony Watkins

Swiss Pairs: Tom Banks & Shirley Elphick

Championship Pairs: Sheila Peers & Angie Fisher

Championship Teams: Stroma Davies, Steve & Kate Hall, June Dixon