News from the Bridge Room in the French Chateau with David Bird

Host report by Kathy Williams:

Set amongst the French Alps the Chataeu des Comtes de Challes was the most perfect setting for a bridge holiday. On our first evening Florian, the owner, gave us a wine tasting experience in his wonderful cellars. We tried four of the wines and then went into our first evening meal where the wine was included. Just as well there was no bridge that first evening!! Throughout the whole holiday the wine included with our evening meal was excellent. On some days we dined outside with spectacular views from the terrace.

Our first excursion was to Lake Bourget taking a boat out to Abbeye Hautcombe. The second excursion was to the quaint old town of Chambery with its castle. We had a walking tour of the town going through many of it’s little passages and into very old houses which are now apartment blocks. Saturday was market day with wonderful vegetables and a few bargins to be had.

Both afternoon and evening bridge was very well attended. David Bird was our guest speaker and gave three excellent and interesting talks. David was willing and able to answer many questions during our stay. I am sure we have all learned something to improve our bridge.

This was a lovely holiday with a lovely group. I am sure First for Bridge will be going back again in the near future.

Message from Eddie Williams:

“Having David as our guest speaker really made the holiday for many guests. He came on all the tours and was always available for bridge questions.
Using bridgemates with a large number of guests made life much easier for all and what a lot of players liked was the ability to see what the leads had been after the event and also able to play previous hands again online.”

Director’s report by David Bird:

I write this on a sunny Sunday afternoon in the French alpine region of Savoie. Some First for Bridge customers are enjoying an Open Pairs session; others are taking advantage of the splendid outdoor heated swimming pool. As for me, I’m recovering from my lunch of melon, local ham, salad, bread and ewe’s milk cheese – washed down, of course, with a bière pression. Let’s see a slam deal from a few days ago:

chateau hand 1

Some East players rebid only 2 but Sharad’s excellent 3 rebid was the key to reaching the good slam. Perhaps worried about impending discards on dummy’s club suit, North led a low spade. Dummy’s ♠Q won and the ♠A was now good for a heart discard from dummy. The A failed to drop the king, but declarer could discard two hearts on the ♣A-K. A spade and a heart ruff in dummy brought the total to twelve.

On a trump lead, declarer would win with the ace (since North could hardly be leading from the K) and then ruff a club in hand. Ace of spades and a spade ruff would permit another club ruff, setting up the club suit for three heart discards.

Modesty forbids me from commenting on the quality of the three bridge seminars, but I was delighted with the very full and enthusiastic attendance. (It was reduced by four this morning due to the local morning Mass. Some things are even more important than Opening Leads).

It’s time for another slam deal.

chateau hand 2

A good auction to a splendid slam. One of the major-suit finesses is right, so what could possibly go wrong? Step forward Mr Lawrence Miller, who made the brilliant opening lead of the 7! It seemed to the declarer, Paul Thomas, that a lead in dummy’s main suit was very likely to be a singleton. Not wishing to wave goodbye to the slam at trick 2, if East won a heart finesse with the king and delivered a ruff, he rose with the A. When a subsequent trump finesse lost, the slam was one down. No justice for North-South!

What else can I say about the holiday? The ancient chateau is splendid. The circular tables for 10 at dinner encourage conviviality as do the white, rosé and red wines (three new wines every day!) I note with approval that the French like their beef and duck to be served rare. The two included trips have also been excellent. So, a good time is being had by all.

Prize Winners:


Patsy Self & Barbara Hunter – 83% in the open pairs!