Host Report by Barry & Maggie Watts
For anyone who has explored the Western Mediterranean resorts, the Slovenian Coast and Istria on the Adriatic are a delightful surprise. It is lush, green and heavily forested. The ‘Karst’ landscape is beautiful and the neat towns and villages are architectural gems with buildings owing their diversity to Roman, Venetian and Austrian empires. Its 47 mile coastline is a picture postcard and the resorts pride themselves on offering a mix of healthy, active and restful holidays.
Portoroz has been known as a health resort since, in the 13th century, monks discovered the healing properties of seawater and sea mud. The Venetians, members of the Habsburg Empire, the French and now the Slovenians have maintained the tradition of the monks. At the end of the 19th century, a shareholders’ company was established, which built a spa and health resort. Today, the Grand Hotel Portoroz is one of five luxury hotels that are all joined by a single 1st floor corridor allowing access to a magnificent modern spa on several floors.
The Grand Hotel itself has been extensively refurbished and upgraded and all its rooms have beautiful views over the bay. The hotel is surrounded by shops and bars and casinos and Portoroz is a very lively resort even at this time of year. The weather was kind, except for one rainy day in Trieste, and as a result most of us spent the afternoons exploring the Portoroz and Piran area. Several trips were organised to see the famous Lipizzaner horses, the astonishing Karst caves at Postojna and Ljubljana the enchanting capital city of Slovenia. As a result, there was little demand for bridge in the afternoon.
However, No-one missed the evening bridge sessions and it was soon evident that, although there was a mix of abilities as usual, several pairs would compete for the prizes.
No single pair was able to win more than one open pairs event although Anne Allerston and Alan Wilson from Dorset won the Swiss Pairs, with an impressive 102 VP, and one evening pairs event.
Director’s Report by Andrew Kambites
During most First for Bridge holidays I conduct one of my seminars by looking at the hands from the previous night. Usually I try to pick instructional hands, however occasionally I come across a hand where the card play is genuinely beautiful. The hand below was played in the Random teams.
A number of declarers ended up in 6♠ played by South. What should West lead after a North/South auction like 1♦: 2♠: 3♣: 3♠: 4NT (Roman Key Card Blackwood): 5♠ (two key cards and the ♠Q): 6♠? If West leads the ♥10 declarer cannot succeed because with an immediate heart loser he cannot afford to lose to the ♣K. However the play becomes fascinating if West leads the ♦K¸ trying to set up a diamond trick to cash if partner can get in.
West leads the ♦K. Declarer ruffs, cashes the ♠A and realises that if he completes drawing trumps he must find four discards from dummy, which he cannot afford if he is to profit from the endplay described below. Instead he runs the ♣J. If East takes the ♣K he has the lead in this position and is endplayed.
However suppose East allows the ♣J to win.
If declarer continues along this line with a club to the ♣9 (or ♣Q) East wins cheaply and can exit safely with a club. This defeats the contract because declarer is likely to run the club exit to dummy’s club tenace, aiming for the same endplay, and this allows West to ruff. It isn’t easy for East to allow the ♣J to win. He would feel really foolish if his partner had a trump trick!
Declarer can succeed after the ♣J is allowed to hold by completing drawing trumps, entering dummy and leading up to his ♥Q.
There are many different lines of play, some of which succeed and some equally reasonable plans which fail. For example suppose declarer has drawn trumps, led the ♣J losing to the ♣K and East has avoided the endplay. The following five card ending might develop with declarer having the lead.
Declarer cashes the ♥A and leads the ♦J intending to ruff. East is squeezed. What can he discard? If East discards the ♥K declarer’s ♥Q is his twelfth trick. If East discards a club dummy’s clubs are winners.