News from the Bridge Room on the Venetian Riviera

Host report by Andy & Chris Simmons

For our holiday on the Venetian Riviera we returned to the Hotel Principe Palace in Lido Di Jesolo. This ‘platinum grade’ hotel is located in the heart of Lido Di Jesolo with lots of bars, shops and restaurants close by. It has a well-appointed rooftop terrace where guests could relax during the day, and extensive indoor and outdoor ground floor lounges that included grand piano recitals. Rooms were comfortable, fully equipped and regularly serviced. For dinner we were encouraged to select from a range of specially prepared Italian cuisine and there was always an extensive salad bar and lots of dessert options. Service was truly magnificent and gave the impression that this is a family run hotel where the guests come first. One of our guests was very soon overheard to say “this is a great hotel and I never say that of anywhere”.

During the entire holiday we were blessed with warm, calm and sunny weather – perfect for sightseeing. A bus and then ferry ride took us into the remarkable city of Venice. Everyone came on the inclusive guided tour and this was a good introduction. There is so much culture and history in Venice that most guests returned for subsequent visits. Nearby islands also have unique charm and character and many took advantage of the regular ferry services to visit them too. Among these was Murano that is famed for its glass making studios.

A large number of guests took advantage of the trip to Lake Garda and Verona. Sirmione del Garda is an attractive town on a picturesque peninsula on the south of the lake. Here guests would find the best ice cream in Italy (arguable the world). The trip also stopped at Verona. This is a city with artistic heritage and has a well preserved ancient amphitheatre that still stages grand open air productions like Verdi’s classic opera Aida.

The bridge room was spacious and comfortable. Located on the ground floor near to the bar from which we were regularly attended to for drinks and water. A popular activity for some guests was to take advantage of the warm evenings after bridge to analyse the hands while sitting on the comfy sofas in the outside lounge – a perfect end to the day.

Our host, Max, was eager to give some prizes to our group so we arranged that one of the open pairs events was re-named the Principe Palace Prize Pairs. The winners each received a bottle of Principe Palace prosecco (limited edition) and the second place pair each won locally baked biscuits. It was appreciated that Max and his partner Caroline presented the prizes on our final evening.

Not only did they come to our prize giving but the rest of the staff also came and we were able to thank them all.

Director’s report by Andrew Kambites

This rather wild hand occurred in the teams. There are too many possible auctions for me to tell you how the bidding should have gone but I can use it to demonstrate some bidding theory when an unusual no-trump (UNT) is used.

It starts quietly enough: East passes and South opens 1♠. West can now jump to 2NT to show the two lowest unbid suits, in this case the minors. It is usual nowadays to only use the UNT to show a very strong hand (16+ points) or a weak hand (up to 9 points). The reason is that if 2NT covers the whole range it is very hard for East to make a sensible decision about whether to just give preference at the three level or to make a game try. With the weak/strong requirement East just assumes West is weak until it is proved otherwise, ie. West volunteering another bid. A strong UNT may contain only 16 points, but it usually has a lot of playing strength.

Note that a jump to 2NT is the UNT. The reason is that the bid has no natural use: a 1NT overcall of 1♠ shows 15-18 points and if you are stronger than that you can start with a double and bid no-trumps next time, showing a hand too strong for an initial 1NT overcall. If an opponent opens a weak 2♠ you need a 2NT overcall as natural (15-19 points).

The East hand here does not have 16 points, but the 6-6 shape more than makes up for it, so the bidding might go:

East assumes West is weak and bids 3♣. West’s 4♣ might seem an underbid but it shows a very strong hand, otherwise having already shown a minor two suiter he should pass 3♥ and allow his partner to express an opinion.

Note that anything that West might do over 3 shows the strong type, so if he is 5-5 in the minors with some good defence he can double 3. That doesn’t cancel the message that he is 5-5 in the minors, it just shows that his values may be suitable for defence. East is expected to use judgement and will often remove 3 doubled to 4♣ or 5♣. The fact that West chooses 4♣ suggests he has extra shape. It is important to realise that West cannot assume his partner has real club support: 3♣ is preference and in an extreme case East could have a doubleton in both minor suits, or even worse. When North supports hearts East should realise that his 4-card club support and singleton diamond is very suitable for a high level club contract and compete to 5♣.

West does have an alternative option to 2NT. I would jump to 4NT, also an unusual no-trump but suggesting more extreme shape. Let North/South find their heart fit now!!

I have tried analysing how many tricks North/South can make in hearts or East/West in clubs but there are simply too many twists and turns. The hand records suggest North/South can make 4 and East/ West can make 5♣. Results varied from North/South making 5 doubled to East/West making 5♣.

Prize Winners

Random Teams winners: Phil Tripp, Joan McGuffin, June Trip, George McGuffin

Swiss Pairs winners: Gill & Wally Curtis

Multiple teams winners: Stuart Coggrave, Gill Curtis, Pam Coggrave, Wally Curtis

Championship Pairs Winners: Stuart & Pam Coggrave

Consolation Pairs Winners: John McCleod & Hazel Rumbelow

Principe Palace Pairs Winners: Viv Morris & Sandra Ruffell, Presented by Caroline and Max

Prinicipe Palace Pairs Runners Up: Phil & June Tripp, Presented by Caroline & Max