The Madeira Bridge Festival celebrated its 26th anniversary this year, achieving a new attendance record. What makes this festival so popular with players of every age and ability?
The Magic of Madeira
News of 15 November
Festival organiser, Miguel Texeira, delivers a package that combines the many attractions of the island alongside superbly organised bridge tournaments. There is plenty of free time to explore the island and take in its attractions, which range from visiting the many tropical gardens to whale and dolphin watching. Festival packages include a traditional dinner that includes a display of folk dancing. Naturally, it helps that at the beginning of November the weather is fantastic, warm sunshine being the order of the day.
With playing finishing early in the evening on every day but one, there is ample time to sample the many outstanding restaurants, many of them within easy reach of the venue, the wonderful Vidamar complex.
The carefully chosen staff includes some of the best-known figures in the world of bridge, including Marc van Beijsterveldt, Hans van Staveren, Jacob Duschek, and Ron Tacchi. It even boasts a ‘Resident Expert’ in the guise of Mark Horton who reviews the previous days play every morning, offering a wealth of advice.
This deal from the second session of the Pairs shows how a false card can have an impact on the play of a hand:
Board 25. Dealer North. E/W Vul.
West led the ♣2 and declarer put in dummy’s ten, ruffed East’s jack and cashed the ♠A collecting the eight and jack. He continued with a diamond to the ten, the good news being that the finesse was right, the bad that East scored a trick with the ♠5. If East had followed with the ♠5, declarer would have cashed a second trump and then played a diamond to the ten. A heart goes on the ♣A and declarer effects a dummy reversal, scoring 12 tricks. The genius holding the East cards was Agustin Madala. With 11 tricks for declarer, North-South scored 26.63% against 70.79% if South had made 12 tricks.
John Hurd and Mikael Rimstedt started the final session of the Pairs in 12th place, a long way behind the leaders. They put together a massive 68.16% and with everyone above them faltering emerged as the winners!
News of 20 November
In 1418, João Gonçalves Zarco and Tristão Vaz Teixeira were blown off-course by a storm while exploring in the service of Prince Henry the Navigator, fetching up at an island they named Porto Santo (holy harbour) acknowledging the divine intervention that had delivered them from their shipwreck on the island next to Madeira.
Is it possible that the organiser of the Madeira Bridge Festival, Miguel Teixeira is a descendent of Tristão? Like those early adventurers, he has explored every avenue on the way to making the annual Festival one of the best (and biggest) in the World.
The many attractions of the tournament include a daily printed Bulletin in full colour that is ready when the breakfast room at the Vidamar opens its doors at 07.30 each morning.
The second weekend of the Festival saw no less than 110 teams battling for one of the many prizes on offer. (In the Pairs event that comprised the first few days, no less than 53 partnerships collected cash prizes.) In the end it was the German team The Presidents (Reim, Hopfenheit, Eggeling, Grünke: 173.12 VP) who made it to the top of the podium thanks to big win in the last round, ahead of Nuno Matos [Teixeira (Madeira), Brenner (Brazil), Luiz (Madeira), Paz (Portugal): 166.05 VP] who were leading before the last round and Cole [Cole (USA), Bianchedi and Madala (Argentina), Palma (Portugal): 155.55 VP].
Board 22. Dealer East. E/W Vul.
In the modern era starting the East hand with a Pass is a little conservative, but having gone down that route East is certainly worth 4♦ at this point, when there is reasonable chance that EW will get to 6♦.
Against 6 Diamonds, South leads the ♠2 and declarer takes dummy’s ace and cashes the top diamonds, getting the bad news. However, all is not lost. Declarer cashes the ♥Q, plays a heart to the ten and after which the ♣A and the ♥AK take care of the losing spades.
Experts don’t like leading away from a king, especially at trick one. This deal was a case in point:
Board 3 Dealer South. E/W Vul.
If NS play in 4 Spades, the only lead to put the defenders one step ahead is a diamond (a logical choice, especially if South has opened 2♣). That solves the problem of the third diamond, but declarer cannot come to 10 tricks.
If declarer plays a heart, hoping to score a ruff in dummy, West can win and play a second diamond. Declarer wins and plays a second heart, but East wins and can switch to a low club for two down via a defensive cross ruff and trump promotion, or a spade, which is good enough for one down.
If West leads a heart, East wins and switches to a spade but declarer wins and plays the ♣A. If West discards, declarer continues with a heart and the best West can do is win and play a third heart, forcing dummy to ruff. However, declarer now throws a diamond on a top club and loses only three tricks. If West ruffs the ♣A and exits with the ♠Q, the lucky position in diamonds comes to declarer’s rescue. This was the deal of the tournament:
Board 22. Dealer East. E/W Vul.
North’s imaginative overcall suggested bad breaks might be possible, so not wanting to risk a possible ruff at trick one West decides to play in notrumps.
When North leads the ♥Q, declarer wins with the king, unblocks the ♠AJ and then cashes the ♥A and the ♣K before crossing to dummy with a club. When North discards on this trick, declarer can lay his cards on the table!
As dummy’s remaining spades are cashed, South, compelled to keep two clubs, is forced to come down to the ♦Q10 and ♣J10.
On the last spade declarer discards the ♣8, comes to hand with the ♦K and cashes the ♣Q. North, down to ♥J ♦J32, is forced to part with a diamond and so declarer’s 13th trick materializes in the guise of the ♦7. Agustin Madala was the only one to get home in 7 No-Trump.
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