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DEC_08_EB_p19 Newman 13/11/08 5:07 pm Page 19

Congress bridge

in the Channel Islands


Ninety miles south of the mainland,

competitive bridge is thriving . . .

EVERY year, the tiny Channel Island of his partner might be able to ruff. But the

Guernsey is subjected to a Viking invasion. heart he chose, fatally, was the jack.

It happens at the September congress, Declarer (Robert Brouard) won with Mike Newman

when Rune Hauge brings over a team of dummy’s queen, carefully unblocking his

talented Norwegians. There is, thankfully, nine. He came to hand with a diamond, homeless.

no rape or pillage, but the Norsemen ruffed a club with the ace of trumps, and Ken put down the phone and sat back to

generally carry off a trophy or two. This then ran his spades. think. What could be done?

year their team (Hauge, Laland, Svendsen West pitched his king of diamonds on Meanwhile, at the Portelet, players were

and Saelensminde) lifted the prestigious the last one, but declarer now confidently starting to arrive. Most of them were

Swiss teams. finessed the eight of hearts for twelve ‘regulars’ – people who had loyally

The Norwegian connection adds an tricks. With the room recording +420 or supported Jersey’s friendly, low-key and

international flavour to what is generally 450, making +480 was an outright top. financially successful congress for many

regarded as one of the friendliest congres- years. How could they be told that 2009

ses on the circuit. Guernsey is now in its might be a non-starter?

twenty-first year and seems to be bucking What was needed now was very swift

the national trend by attracting constant action. Ken and his colleagues set out to

good numbers. Forrester, Robson and the find a venue somewhere in Jersey’s 45

Hacketts have all played here, and the Swiss square miles which had everything the

Pairs attracted thirty-eight tables this year. congress needed – good food and service,

Full results of the 2008 congress are on a hall which could take up to 80 tables,

the EBU website. space for the TDs, relaxation areas, and

This deal from the Swiss Pairs shows accommodation with plenty of single

how vital it can be to capitalise on small rooms. And all at reasonable cost.

errors by the opponents: This kind of thing is hard enough when

Hotel de France, the new home you have months in which to do it. With a

of the Jersey Congress timescale of ten days it becomes a matter

Love All. Dealer North. of toil, sweat and tears.

♠A6 KEN Wise, one of the organisers of the But it was done. The team arranged a

♥AKQ84 popular Jersey bridge congress, won’t flurry of meetings with different hotel

♦ J 10 7 6 2 easily forget the moment his phone rang groups, and in just eight days a very

♣5 on the morning of 23 April this year. favourable deal had been brokered. Next

♠ 98 ♠ 10 5 3 It brought news which shook him. year’s congress will be at the Hotel de France

♥ J 10 6 5 3 W N E ♥7 The Lambourne Festival of Bridge was – a prestigious four-star establishment

♦ K8 S ♦Q543 due to start in foty-eight hours. It was, as with better facilities than the Portelet,

♣ A 10 3 2 ♣KQJ86 usual, being held at the Portelet Hotel, ample parking, and a location within

♠KQJ742 which had hosted the event since the early walking distance of the island’s main town

♥92 1990s. Hundreds of visiting English of St Helier.

♦A9 players knew it well. The Portelet and the So as one door has closed, another has

♣974 Jersey congress had become virtually opened. Those who like spring sunshine

synonymous. coupled with friendly and unintimidating

That, though, was about to change. bridge should make a note of these dates:

West North East South On the other end of the line was one of Friday 24 April to Sunday 3 May 2009. The

1♥ Pass 1♠ the Portelet group’s executives. He was congress is on the move, but the warm

Pass 2♦ Pass 3♠ calling to tell Ken that the current welcome will stay the same.

Pass 4♠ All Pass congress would be the Portelet’s last. The

hotel was being redeveloped, and it would Jersey brochures and booking forms:

West led the ace of clubs and then no longer be suitable for bridge. Sue Griffiths 01534 733733

switched to a heart, vaguely hoping that Suddenly, the Jersey congress was or December 2008 English Bridge 19


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