Biarritz, the inevitable festival


In early July the Biarritz festival welcomed bridge players from all over France with a special place for Spanish visitors. This big international celebration lasts 10-15 days and is organised by Franck Busselier and his team with great success and in a friendly atmosphere.

It is also renowned for the lovely mornings spent on one of the most beautiful beaches of the world or on sumptuous golf courses as well as the nice dinners in typical restaurants of the Basque coast.

Many French and foreign champions find themselves up against players of all levels who can cross swords in a relaxed atmosphere with big stars like Alfredo Versace, the Italian campionissimo with countless world titles who stepped into the limelight again by winning the Open Pairs with his friend Francisco Bernal, finishing second in the Mixed Pairs with the charming Claire Alpert and making it to the final of the Patton with these two players.

Grande Plage Biarritz
“Grande Plage” of Biarritz
Source: Jaakko Sakari Reinikainen, Wikipedia

Here are two deals from the Teams Patton and our hands. Contract: 4 Spades. North-South vulnerable. The auction goes as follows:

Deal 2
Deal 1
  1. Classic weak 2, six cards.
  2. Constructive given the vulnerability

Unfortunately, this contract is doomed to fail. On the lead of the 6 of Hearts, East will take with his Ace and make his partner ruff by returning the 3 of Hearts as a suit-preference signal for Clubs. The defence has four open tricks: 2 in Hearts, 1 in Clubs and the Ace of Diamonds pending. Why is this deal interesting then? Because it puts the emphasis on a very important area of bridge, which is to never forget than the opponent can’t see your cards. To avoid this disastrous scenario, you can create an illusion by covering the Ace with the King of Hearts. Imagine yourself in the shoes of the player sitting East. The situation is clear to him. West led his doubleton heart, 65, and South’s King of Hearts is bare, so it is out of the question to play a heart without facing the risk of establishing the Jack. East will underlead his King of Clubs, letting it run quietly, and your contract can no longer go down. All you have to do is play hearts twice to King-Queen to establish two tricks in that suit, allowing you to discard your 5 of Hearts. A nice magic trick.

Here is the full deal:

Deal 3

A defensive problem now. You are sitting East in Anne-Frédérique Lévy‘s seat. The auction goes as follows:

Deal 4

West, your partner, leads the 7 of Hearts and dummy comes down:

Deal 5

Dummy follows with the 2 of Hearts. How do you see the continuation? The first thing that comes to mind is to take with the Ace of Hearts and play the Ace of Clubs and another club to cash five tricks in that suit, hoping that the Jack-fourth will be with West. Impossible! South, who raised the 1♦ response, holds four cards in Diamonds and therefore five cards in Clubs to justify his 1♣ opening.

You may have thought of following with the 9, hoping to keep the lead if West underled Queen-Jack of Hearts, and then playing the Ace of Clubs and another club to your partner’s hypothetical Jack-doubleton or his 10 if South “forgets” to play the Jack. It is already a better reading of the hands but still a lazy analysis. If the 7 of Hearts is indeed fourth-best, your partner’s hearts are QJ87. You have an easy way of cashing the first six tricks: let the 7 of Hearts take the first trick by following with the 5! West will know how to play the Queen of Hearts. Here is the full deal:

Deal 6

The lead of the Queen of Hearts makes defending easier, but a good reading of the lead in accordance with the fourth-best principle (or the rule of eleven) allows to reconstruct how hearts split and let West in lead with the 7 of Hearts.


Podium du Mixte
Mixed Pairs Podium


  1. Agenès – Claret – Rocafort – Duffour      77.5%
  2. Gaviard – Messika – Robert – Sebbane    68%
  3. Francheschetti – Catherine Mus – Marc Mus – Bernard Cabanes   64%


  1. Yates – Iporski           62.41%
  2. Alpert – Versace        60.61%
  3. Mr & Mrs Bessis       59.61%

Basque tournament:

  1. Bessis – Rouanet-Labé     70.98%
  2. Agenès – Verdier    66.54%
  3. Querniard – Laurent   66.37%


  1. Versace – Bernal            63.41%
  2. Francheschetti – Mus    62.36%
  3. Hayet – Sibony     60.63%

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