News from the Bridge Room in Majorca

Host Report by Frances Keene & Liz Farrar

It was our first opportunity to host a First for Bridge Holiday and the first visit to the Hotel Bella Playa which came with a few challenges! As both hosts, director and scorer’s luggage had disappeared into the ether, we soldiered on for two days before our cases arrived in dribs and drabs. However the Hotel Bella Playa and the Manager were exceptionally helpful during our hours of need providing us with bathrobes and toiletries. This was an indication of how obliging they were to us and our guests during our two week stay including assisting with flight problems caused by firstly the French Air Traffic Control strike followed by freak storms in England.

The food was excellent throughout the holiday. Mainly consisting of a buffet, fresh fish and meat were cooked on the griddle each evening as required. Deserts were a delight to the eye but not particularly to our waist line. However needs must!

The hotel facilities were exceptional Guests really appreciated the wonderful indoor pool with its massages and water jets, spa, sauna & jacuzzi. The terraces beside the outdoor pool and many comfortable lounges provided perfect places to relax and discuss the bridge hands. The hotel is situated close to a picturesque beach and offers some excellent walks from the beach through the forest with many tracks to choose from. It is also a short walk to the Port which hosts a good market on Saturdays, and a variety of exceptional tapas bars and clothes boutiques for those inclined.

Bridge evenings were very well attended throughout the two weeks and proved to be very lively and competitive.

Our group of guests also had fierce competitions via the table tennis organised by June and Derek which proved to be very popular, and crazy golf organised by Clive Froggatt.
We would like to mention Barry Watts who came out for the first week to initiate and mentor us through our first Bridge Holiday as hosts. He pointed us in the right direction and then threw us to the wolves. Seriously, many thanks to Barry.

Many of the guests indicated to us how much they had enjoyed their holiday and we do hope that we all meet again sometime in the future.

Directors Report by June Booty

What a lovely fortnight we had directing in Majorca. It was a terrific resort in the northern part of the island, in a hotel that was a first for Arena. And what a great show they put on! Cala Ratjada had a gorgeous little harbour where many a fine lunch and glasses of wine were consumed in the spring sunshine, while in the hotel, the food and the facilities were fantastic and no effort was spared to ensure everyone had a marvellous time. I had never met Liz and Fran before and they proved to be brilliant to work with. Barrie was there with us for the first week showing them the ropes and by the time he left they were well up to speed and we all worked and laughed very well together. All in all a great fortnight for everyone involved in the holiday.

Probably the most interesting hand of the holiday for me was the following one:

majorca bridge puzzle
No one was vulnerable and North was the dealer. North opened 2NT and South announced “20 to 22”. East was still sorting his hand and a card, the 2, fell face up onto the table. He quickly scooped it up hoping partner had not seen it but, correctly, the opponents decided to call me. The first rule that applies to this situation is Law 24. The card has to remain face up during the auction period. It does not matter whether his partner saw it or not, what matters is that partner could have seen it.

Partner is not able to use the information gained from being able to see it during the bidding or play. In this case that was easy because West had no desire to bid anyway. The bidding proceeded with 3C from South, which was alerted, and then 3S from North, ending with 4S being bid by South. This meant East was on lead. Now Law 50 comes into play. Because the card was a small one and had been exposed accidentally (as opposed to deliberately by being led), it became a minor penalty card. People are used to major penalty cards having to be played at their first legal opportunity but this is not the case with a minor penalty and the law says: “When a defender has a minor penalty card, he may not play any other card of the same suit below the rank of an honour until he has first played the penalty card, but he is entitled to play an honour card instead. Offender’s partner is not subject to lead restriction.” Because of this East asked what the 3C bid meant, was told it was 5-card Stayman, and led the ♣6 (the 2 stayed face up on the table until much later) and 4S duly rolled home with just two heart tricks and one spade trick being conceded to the opponents.

This meant that N-S had received a top board. It was nothing to do with the penalty card, which in fact did not get played until about the seventh trick. The reason they got their top was because of their bidding as all the other Souths simply bid 3NT and did not check whether their partner had a 5-card spade suit within the auction. It was then easy for the Easts to lead a heart and for the defence to take the first five heart tricks, taking the contract one off.