Deauville: the renaissance

A week after the one in Biarritz, the Deauville festival opened its doors, directed masterfully by Alain Bekerman, who spends the whole year making this tournament a choice event. His objective is twofold: to attract as many regional players as possible from our green Normandy; and to successfully convince players in the second and third series to come to mingle with and face up against players ranked in the first series. The gamble paid off perfectly.

The festival began with the “Norman tournament” which, for a second year, garnered a clear success with almost two hundred pairs crediting it. Throughout the different tournaments, Norman, Open, Patton, IMP and Mixed, Alain Bekerman made sure that all the players were satisfied and increased the prize pool to end up with a selection expanded to encompass each series and some special prizes for the many juniors who came from all four corners of France. Everyone was happy!

Parasols on the beach of Deauville (Crédit : Guillaume Paumier, CC-BY)
The planches, a promenade of cabins named after movie stars (Crédit : Kamel15)

Here are two bridge problems that I will give to you to solve.

Opening leads are supposed to be my forte; I had to prove that in a match in the Patton, which saw my team facing that of Alexandre Kilani, by far and away the winner of that event. Here is my hand as West:

And the bidding sequence:

A sequence as crude as it is unusual but which gives away far more information than it might seem to. When one player, and especially a very good player, bids a vulnerable slam under pressure without bidding Blackwood or checking for controls, you can be sure that he will not go down on Trick One and that he has very unbalanced distribution. Here, South has a diamond-heart two-suiter, a void in Spades or Clubs and the King in the other suit. Leading an ace cannot be a good idea. It will either be ruffed, with the risk of seeing Dummy’s King established, or it holds and it is the King in Declarer’s hand that will be established. Leading a diamond away from Jack-fourth is no more satisfying and can only help Declarer to establish his second suit. Therefore, you can deduce that the only other option is to lead your singleton trump, though that is not customary. Here is the layout:

For Alexandre Kilani, the absence of a fifth trump in the dummy was a cruel disillusionment; the trump lead left him with almost no chances (Ace of Clubs third and the trumps 2-2). Amuse yourself by making twelve tricks on one of the other three leads.

To finish, here is an exercise with some stylish bidding. Bidding a grand slam in a Pairs tournament is a perilous entreprise, most often opening yourselves up to a top or a bottom. In the Pairs event, Dominique Portal and Frédéric Volcker received a well-deserved score of 95% by declaring this nice 7 Clubs.

Dominique Portal, as South, could have rebid 1NT. The 2♣ bid, which often shows six cards, makes Responder (Frédéric Volcker)’s task easier, who sets Clubs as Trumps in a forcing way by jumping to 4♣ (after 2♦ as third-suit forcing, 3♣ is also forcing but less insistent) to take charge and bid grand slam after Blackwood over a 5♠ response, which shows two key cards and the Queen of Trumps.

A good line of play after the diamond lead: Ace of Diamonds, Ace of Spades and a spade ruffed. Queen of Clubs and a club to the King:

  • If the Clubs are 3-2, ruff a spade with the Jack of Clubs and play a trump to the dummy.
  • If the Clubs are 4-1, you will need the Spades to be 3-3.


Alain Bekerman and the winners of the Norman tournament

Norman tournament

  1. Adrien Vinay – Luc Bellicaud (69.59%)
  2. Danièle Avon – Franck Riehm (68.87%)
  3. Dominique Hirtz – Claude Nigron (64.27%)
Guillaume Grenthe and Philippe Molina

Deauville Grand Open

  1. Philippe Molina – Guillaume Grenthe (62.98%)
  2. Frédéric Sarian – Rémy Cauchard (62.87%)
  3. Michel Bessis – Michel Eidi (60.78%)
Marlène and Michel Duguet at Deauville
Marlène and Michel Duguet

Deauville Patton

  1. Alexandre Kilani, Geneviève & Jean-Pierre Geneslay and François Raynaud
  2. Esteban Vallet, Romain Bloch, Louis Bonin and Nao Tabata
  3. Philippe Coenraets, Jean-François Jourdain, Patrick Bocken and Olivier Nève

IMP tournament

  1. Gert Jan Paulissen – Sam Bahbout (107)
  2. Michel Bessis – Franck Riehm (102.4)
  3. Joanna Zochowska – Pierre Schmidt (98)

Mixed Pairs AFER

  1. Marlène et Michel Duguet (65.29%)
  2. Joanna Zochowska – Pierre Schmidt (65.25%)
  3. Anne Rouanet-Labé – Michel Bessis (64.61%)

The organiser succeeded in something very difficult: gathering local players, with the festivals historically tending towards being deserted by club players. The formula: just a one-day tournament, with a buffet and evening entertainment! I would like to say that I played well but luck is the most important factor by far in these shorter formats!”

Luc Bellicaud, Funbridge Ambassador and winner of the Norman tournament

Luc Bellicaud

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Article translated from French to English by Funbridge.

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