News from the Bridge Room in Montenegro

Report by Rob & Rosa Richardson

Our group of 40 intrepid travellers arrived on two flights into Dubrovnik and were very soon treated to a stunning scenic transfer by coach through mountains and along the Adriatic coast across a border and on a ferry to our sun drenched hotel. We were amazed to find all of the players ready for bridge on the first night, as almost all had left home at about 2am! Determined lot, bridge players.

At the welcome meeting Rada and Jana gave us short talk about Montenegro and gave us all the vital information we needed in a most entertaining way. All our local guides had amusing stories about how lazy Montenegrin men are and how hard working the women are. (Our hotel staff appeared to disprove the former, but confirm the latter.) Why does a Montenegrin man keep 2 stones by his bed? One to turn the light off and one to check that the window is closed.

Nearly everybody went on our first outing to the town of Kotor, a world heritage site. This lovely medieval walled town is set between the bay and the mountains and is perfect for strolling and just soaking up the atmosphere. The second trip was up into the mountains, where we were able to sample the local delicacy, prosciutto ham. Finally many of us went on a day trip to Albania. I am guessing that not many of us would have expected ever to be able to say that! The local cognac at prices from 3 Euros a half litre proved to be quite a hit. Here is where I encountered my only “lost in translation” moment of the trip. I asked for a decaf coffee and received a normal coffee with a decaf tea bag in it! It seems that Albanians do not drink decaf coffee, but do drink decaf tea.

Many guests also ventured out on their own to Sveti Stefan, about an hour away by foot or 10 minutes by bus. We walked there and caught the bus back. Others walked into the lovely old walled town of Budva about 20 minutes away.

Finally mention should also be given to the pool attendant who was scared witless by one of our older guests diving into the pool. Apparently he had never previously seen that manoeuvre performed by someone of such vintage without being hospitalised as a result!

The evening bridge was 10 full tables each night and was played in a very friendly, but competitive atmosphere I am very pleased to say. The prizes were shared out amongst 21 of our 40 guests. As well as normal duplicate sessions we played one night scored by Butler IMPS and two nights of teams. We had a seminar on the different scoring systems prior to the “IMP” night, and one on one of my favourite toys Minorwood. The third session was a group discussion of various hands of the week.

Here is a very interesting bidding problem from the IMP pairs. Sitting South you hold:

Nobody is vulnerable and North is dealer. The bidding goes:

I think the choice here is either to bid 2NT (if your system allows it) to show a strong hand with a Heart stop or double for take out. Double is not ideal as it suggests 4 spades, but I would find pass too unpalatable and any suit bid here would mislead my partner. In either case the bidding will usually continue:

What now? Partner with a passed hand has made a free bid to enter the auction at the 5 level. What is his hand? Lets start with the easy question, how many Hearts will he have? On the bidding east has 6 West should have at least 3 but more probably 4 as he can have few points, so must have shape for his bid. I have 3 so partner has a void, possibly a singleton. My double has raised the possibility of 4 spades so I would expect North to bid them with 4 of his own. Therefore I can read him for 10+ cards in the minors, with clubs being at least as long as diamonds as he has bid them. He must therefore have at least 5 clubs, we have a good fit. What about North’s points? He has made a free bid at the 5 level so even with his known good shape he must have some points, and they are not in Hearts. We have no certainties here, and we cannot bid on without committing ourselves to slam. We suspect a void with partner and probably the ace of diamonds, we have at least a 9 card trump fit, so it is decision time.

We were playing IMPS and I think slam is a lot better than 50-50, but I can understand the 4 pairs that settled in 5C. 2 pairs doubled 4 Hearts instead of bidding 5C, not an unreasonable option but of less interest. One South presumably not wanting to lie about his spade holding and double, allowed EW to play in 2H. Of the other 3 pairs I suspect an entirely different auction in 2 cases (see below) and one pair found 6C.

Same hand but East does not open a weak 2. South is playing 4 card majors with a weak no trump and will probably open 1club with a flat 19 count.

I would play the 4 club bid as Minorwood (1430) and 4H shows 0 or 3 key cards. Other slam bidding conventions are available and should work here. With IMP scoring 6C should end the auction, but in duplicate the gamblers may be tempted by 6NT. Of the 2 pairs mentioned above one played in 3NT and the other in 6NT, I suspect via an auction along these lines.

Norths hand was:

The main point of the hand is the power of opening a weak 2 in a major, look how difficult things get for your opponents!

See you all soon:


Prize Winners

Championship Pairs: Tony & Marion Watkins

Championship Teams: Bob & Marjke Bennett with Eva Glover & Jackie Borkowska

Ladies Pairs: Sue Hazlehurst & Chinni Arasan

Random Teams – Chinni & Tamil Arasan with Malcolm & Catherine Boyack