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We have a reciprocal arrangement with Effingham Bridge Club whereby, members can play (Duplicate) on Friday evenings, at South Bookham Space, Dorking Road, Great Bookham, Surrey, KT23 4PB at 7.30.p.m.   Table money only £2.50  per session.

 

 
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The Scottish Tidal Islands you can walk to without a ferry

Looking back to Cramond

Exploring one of Scotland’s more than 790 islands usually requires consulting a ferry timetable, booking a flight or even chartering a boat. But some of the country’s most unspoilt isles can be reached by simply putting one foot in front of the other. There are 17 tidal islands which can be reached from the Scottish mainland, and at least a further 20 around the Outer Hebrides, Orkney and Shetland. They have been colonised by Vikings, used as military bases in wartime and even become places of religious pilgrimage. Some examples – such as Edinburgh’s Cramond Island (pictured above) – are relatively well-known and easily reachable by causeway. Others can be more challenging, with fast rising tides and sinking sand to contend with.

For author Peter Caton, the rewards of exploring a remote place few others will ever see outweigh the dangers. He visited each of the 43 tidal islands accessible from the UK mainland for his book No Boat Required. While some islands can be reached once or twice a year during abnormally low tides, Caton visited only islands that can be reached “with dry feet at least once a month”. “The appeal of tidal islands is they are always different,” he said. “Some of them are nice easy walks which feel like extensions of the mainland, but then the tide comes in and they suddenly become their own world. I’m not a particularly good sailor, so visiting tidal islands for me was a good way of exploring without the need for a boat.”

Caton advises that planning ahead is crucial – if you don’t know tide times, you could find yourself stuck. It’s an issue that residents near Cramond Island know only too well. Lifeboats are often called out to collect stranded visitors during the summer months, with one community councillor demanding that those who call the emergency services should be fined to pay for the cost of their rescue. In 2013, John Dods said: “It’s just too easy for these flaming idiots to get stuck and call out the lifeboats.” Caton was unimpressed with Cramond when he visited, noting that the island was covered in rubbish and assorted debris from all-night parties that often take place in the summer months. Among his favourites was Hestan, a small island at the southern foot of the River Urr estuary in the Solway Firth. Official tourist guides discourage people walking across the bay due to fast tides, but after taking local advice on the best route, he made it across at the second attempt.

4 walk the causeway

There’s safe crossing to Cramond island at roughly 2 hours before and after low tide.

A short bus journey from the centre of Edinburgh, Cramond is a popular tourist destination all year round. A causeway takes you straight from the village to the island. There’s much to explore when you get there, with numerous ruins dotted around from Cramond’s past life as part of the Forth’s upper defences during the two World Wars. Cramond’s main feature is it’s Island and tidal causeway. There’s safe crossing to the island at roughly 2 hours before and after low tide. Really not that difficult to work out yet dozens get caught out and the lifeboats have to come from South Queensferry. There’s even a board with safe crossing times yet it seems to escape so many people. Rule of thumb, if the tide is anywhere near the causeway don’t go over. It floods about 3/4 the way down first and the tide comes in fast.

Birsay and Skipi Geo

The Brough of Birsay is a tidal island off the north east tip of mainland Orkney

An uninhabited tidal island off the north-west coast of mainland Orkney, the Brough of Birsay is accessible on foot at low tide via a largely natural causeway. In the seventh and eighth centuries it was home to a significant Pictish fortress, but by the ninth century the Picts had been displaced by Norsemen. The extensive remains of an excavated Norse settlement and church overlay the earlier Pictish settlement. Before Kirkwall became the centre of power in the 12th century, Birsay was the seat of the rulers of Orkney.

Danna (pictured below) is an inhabited tidal island connected to the mainland by a stone causeway at the southern end of the Tayvallich peninsula, which separates Loch Sween from the Sound of Jura. Mainly farmland, the island has a settled population of around five. To the south of Dana are the McCormaig Isles, which can only be reached by boat. The largest, Eilean Mor, was bequeathed to the Scottish National Party in 1978, and has been managed since 2000 by a charitable trust.

Image result for Danna causeway AND picture

This is the causeway which carries the road over the muddy tidal creek which separates the island of Danna from the mainland.

There was "no boat required" either at the Oxshott Bridge Club last night, but there were 14 + 1/2 Tables who turned up to contest our regular Club Night!! The Star Performers were Susan & Mike Sadler who came First among the Pairs playing North/South; they scored an impressive 61.38% and scooped the maximum 50 Master points!! They were well clear of Mike Mulligan & Elisa Money who came Second with 59.76%, with Renate Lane & George Gardiner in Third spot on 55.63%. Rowena Austin & Therezinha Gold were just 8.6 Match points back in Fourth place with 54.13%, and they were 11.2 Match points ahead of Sheila Price & Gabrielle Roberts who came Fifth with 52.17%. The battle for the top places among the Pairs playing East/West was much closer!! Congratulations must go to Alan & Pat Hammond who came First with 61.355, but they were only 1.5 Match points ahead of Sheila & Jonathan Spring who scored 61.11% in Second place. Alison Tebboth & Stephanie Postlethwaite were Third with 56.71%, some 9.4 Match points ahead of Margaret Monaghan & Elizabeth Gibbon who came Fourth with 55.21%; and Don Porter & Doris Butterworth were Fifth with 54.05%. Well done to all our Master Points Winners!!

It was North who received the “good cards”, as they played the contract on no less than 11 out of the 26 Boards!! West played the contract on 8 Boards, and that left East with only four Boards where they played the contract; but poor old South got only three boards where they played the contract all night!!?? The split between “part-game” and the higher-scoring “game” contracts was exactly equal with 13 of each for us to play!! There were five Boards that offered some kind of Slam Opportunity, but there was only one actual Slam contract bid and successfully delivered during the whole evening!! Board 2 gave East 15 High Card Points with 5 Clubs to the Axxxx; they would open 1 Club. West has 10 HCPs with 6 Hearts to the K10xxxx with a singleton Club; they would respond 1 Heart. East might then show their point count with 1 No Trump. This may well encourage West to jump to 3 Hearts to show their length. Now East must decide whether to move it to “game” in 4 Hearts or to go further??!! Well last night, one East/West Pair settled for a “part-game” in 2 Hearts; they made 11 tricks for 200 points!! One more E/W Pair bid up to 3 Hearts; they made 12 tricks for 230 points!! Two East/West Pairs chose “game” in 3 No Trumps; one made 10 tricks for 430 points, while the second made 11 tricks for 460 points!! The remaining eight E/W Pairs bid “game” in 4 Hearts; one made 10 tricks for 420 points; one made 11 tricks for 450 points; five made 12 tricks for 480 points; but one made the full set of 13 tricks for 510 points!! Now the “Expert Analysis” – which you can find attached to the Travellers in the “Results” section – advises us that it is possible, even against the best of Defences, for both East and West to make a GRAND SLAM in 7 Hearts on this Board!!

Board 9 gave North a really unusual hand; they had only 10 HCPs with two singletons in Diamonds and Clubs, 7 Spades to the AKxxxxx and 4 Hearts to the Kxxx; they might well open a weak 3 Spades. South has 12 HCPs with three Spades to support their Partner and 5 Hearts to the AJ10xx; they might well respond 4 Hearts. Now North has an interesting choice; should they bid on for a Slam contract and which should they choose between Hearts and Spades?? Well last night one N/S Pair settled for 3 Spades; they made 13 tricks for 260 points!!?? Five N/S pairs bid “game” in 4 Hearts; two made 10 tricks for 420 points; one made 11 tricks for 450 points; one more made 12 tricks for 480 points; but one fell short with 9 tricks and so gave up 50 penalty points!!?? Five more North/South Pairs bid “game” in 4 Spades; one made 11 tricks for 450 points; while four made all 13 tricks for 510 points!! One Pair went on to 5 Hearts; they made 11 tricks for 450 points. And one went on to 5 Spades; they too made 11 tricks for 450 points. No one braved a Slam bid!!?? Now the “Expert Analysis” informs us that it is possible for both North and South to make a Slam contract in either 6 Hearts or in 6 Spades!! You see it turns out that the only losing trick is one Club to the Ace held by East. The Queen of Hearts can be finessed in West by the Jack and 10 of Hearts from South and the other tricks just fall into your lap!!

Board 16 gave North 15 HCPs with a void in Clubs, 5 Spades to the AJ10xx and 5 Diamonds to the AK10xx; they would open 1 Spade. South has 10 HCPs in support with a singleton King of Spades and a 4441 distribution; they would maybe respond 2 Clubs. North might jump to 3 Diamonds, hoping their Partner might choose between Diamonds and Spades??!! South might want to mention their 4-card major with 3 Hearts, but – if they respond 3 Diamonds – a big contract would surely result??!! Well last night one North/South Pair stopped at 2 Diamonds; they made 11 tricks for 150 points!!?? Three more went up to 3 Diamonds; one made 10 tricks for 130 points; one made 11 tricks for 150 points; and one made 12 tricks for 170 points!! Another N/S Pair bid 3 Spades; sadly they made only 7 tricks to lose 100 penalty points!!?? But six N/S Pairs bid “game” in 3 No Trumps; one made exactly 9 tricks for 400 points; one made only 7 tricks to lose 100 points; three made 6 tricks to lose 150 points; and one made only 5 tricks to lose 200 penalty points!!?? Only one N/S Pair bid “game” in 5 Diamonds; they made 12 tricks for 420 points!! Finally one intrepid Pair bid Slam in 6 Hearts; sadly they made only 11 tricks and so lost 50 penalty points!!?? Now the “Expert Analysis” tells us that it is possible for both North and South to make a Slam in 6 Diamonds; but the maximum number of tricks that can be made against the best of Defences in 6 Hearts is only 11 tricks!!

Board 24 gave East a fantastic 21 HCPs with a void in Hearts, 5 Diamonds to the AKJxx and 5 Clubs to the AKQ10x; they would surely open 2 Clubs. West has only 4 HCPs, so they will respond negatively with 2 Diamonds. East will probably bid 3 Diamonds in the second round of bidding, and West would be sorely tempted to take it to “game” given their four Diamonds to the 10xxx. Well last night 3 East/West Pairs settled for 1 Diamond; all three made the full set of 13 tricks for 190 points!! Three more E/W Pairs bid 3 Clubs; one made 9 tricks for 110 points; one made 11 tricks for 150 points; and one made 12 tricks for 170 points!!?? One E/W Pair settled for “game” in 3 No Trumps; they made 11 tricks for 460 points!! Two more Pairs bid up to 4 Diamonds; both made 13 tricks for 190 points!!?? Four more E/W Pairs bid “game” in 5 Diamonds; one makes 11 tricks for 400 points; one made 12 tricks for 420 points; and two make the full set of 13 tricks for 440 points!! Now the “Expert Analysis” tells us that it is possible for both East and West to make a GRAND SLAM in 7 Diamonds on this Board!! You see the 5 Club tricks from East allow West to discard the two losing Spades. Then cross-trumping brings home the GRAND SLAM contract!!

Finally there is Board 10 which is reproduced at the top of this Report. Do take another look at these interesting hands to see how YOU would bid and play them to optimise the Opportunity presented!!?? You can see that Dealer East has 12 HCPs with 5 Hearts to the A10xxx; they might well open 1 No Trump. West has 15 HCPs with 4 Hearts to the KJxx and 4 Diamonds to the Axxx; they might well bid “Stayman” with 2 Clubs, asking their Partner for a 4-card major. East might respond by jumping to 3 Hearts since they have five; and it is now up to West to take things further from here??!! Well last night two East/West Pairs bid “game” in 3 No Trumps; one made 10 tricks for 630 points, while the other made 12 tricks for 690 points!! Nine more East/West Pairs bid “game” in 4 Hearts; five made 11 tricks for 650, while for made 12 tricks for 680 points!! However two intrepid E/W Pairs braved a Slam bid in 6 Hearts; sadly one fell short by one trick and so gave up 100 penalty points and a top score to their Opponents!!?? But many congratulations must go to Peter Wardle & Peter Sharpe; they bid Slam in 6 Hearts and they made exactly 12 tricks to return a fantastic top score of 1430 points!! Now the “Expert Analysis” tells us that – against the best of Defences – it is only possible for East or West to make only 11 tricks in either 6 Diamonds or in 6 Hearts!!?? Certainly the Ace of Spades provides one losing trick, and North/South only need to be patient until either Clubs or Diamonds yields the second trick as East and West have nowhere else to go!! How did YOU do after revisiting this hand? Did YOU bid Slam in 6 Hearts?? Whatever we congratulate our single Actual Slam Achiever of the evening!!

 

 

 

 

Last updated : 27th Jul 2017 23:32 BST
BBC’s highest-paid male presenters facing salary cuts

The BBC's highest earning male stars are facing salary cuts after the release of the annual report revealed that the channel's biggest earner is earning more than four times the amount earned by its highest paid woman. Controversy struck following the report's release when it emerged that the stars earning over half a million were all men - Chris Evans (£2.2m-£2.25m), Gary Lineker (£1.75m-£1,799,999), Graham Norton (£850,000-£899,999), radio presenter Jeremy Vine (£700,000-£749,999), Today host John Humphrys (£600,000-£649,999), BBC News' Huw Edwards(£550-£599,999) and long-time Radio 2 fixture Steve Wright (£500,000-£549,999). The highest paid female presenter is Claudia Winkleman (between £450,000 and £499,000).

Speaking on Newsnight, the BBC’s director of radio and education James Purnell acknowledged the statistics, stating: “Quite a lot of men have been taking pay cuts; John Humphrys said that today on air. I’m not going to start negotiating live on air, but that’s clearly one of the levers we can pull, and we have been doing that,“ he added. The BBC’s Director General, Lord Hall, has pledged to close the gender pay gap by 2020 as well as strive to improve diversity after the list revealed that only 10 0f the 96 listed stars were people of colour. The highest-ranked BME earner was newsreader George Alagiah, who was in 25th place.

Jane Garvey, who presents Woman’s Hour on Radio 4, laid into the BBC over the gender pay-gap declaring herself ‘incandescent with rage’. She did not make the list of those paid £150,000 or more, while colleague Eddie Mair was named as having earned up to £350,000. The 53-year-old radio host said: “If the BBC thinks that we are not talking to each other, we are… Women have learnt a few things and I would argue it’s a good time to start acting on what they’ve learnt.” She said that she respected fellow Radio 4 presenter Eddie Mair, but questioned whether he was ‘twice as good’ as her and fellow Woman’s Hour host Jenni Murray.

Emily Maitlis on the set of Newsnight

Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis was notably absent from the rich list published on Wednesday because she does not earn £150,000 or more. The presenter took on the issue herself while speaking to the TechUK conference, telling the audience: 'You're an industry [that's] doing so well, soon you'll be able to afford a BBC man.' It has now emerged that the 46-year-old is currently out of contract and negotiating a new one. Insiders speculated that Miss Maitlis, who speaks five languages and was named Broadcast Journalist of the Year 2017, could be poached by rival broadcasters, who think she is worth much more. Her co-presenter Evan Davis earns a figure of between £250,000 and £299,999. 

Strictly judges pay is split with Len and Bruno earning more than Darcy and Craig

Strictly judges pay is split with Len and Bruno earning more than Darcy and Craig

There were plenty of anomalies revealed by the information. While John Humphrys earns £600,000-£649,999, his Radio 4 Today colleague Sarah Montague does not make the list at all. Claudia Winkleman is eighth in the list with a salary of £450,000-£499,999 for presenting Strictly Come Dancing and her Radio 2 show. Her Strictly co-host Tess Daly earns £350,000-£399,999. Huw Edwards is the best-paid news presenter with a salary of £550,000-£599,999. That dwarfs the money paid to Fiona Bruce, who also presents Antiques Roadshow yet is paid £200,000 less than Edwards. Then John McEnroe clearly has a better agent than Claire Balding. The sporty pair earn approximately the same, at £150,000 to £199,999: Mac for a fortnight’s work a year at Wimbledon, Balding for being on-screen pretty much all year round.

John McEnroe

There were no disputes about pay last night at the Oxshott Bridge Club, but there was plenty of competition over Bridge Ability as 11 full Tables contested our regular Club Night. We played the 11-Table Hesitation Movement and so there was only one Leaderboard.  Often in these circumstances, one side seems to dominate the top places as maybe East/West looked to receive the best cards; but that was not the case last night. Five of the Top Ten places went to North/South Pairs with the same number going to East/West!! Many congratulations must go to Pat & Alan Hammond who came First with an excellent score of 62.92%; they also scooped the maximum 48 Master points. But they were only two Match Points ahead of John French & Jonathan Spring who came Second with 62.50%. Daphne Pugh & Gillian Lowe were just three further Match Points back in Third place with 61.88%, and they were only four Match points ahead of Mike Mulligan & Elisa Money who came Fourth with 61.04%. There was then a bit of a gap before two Pairs tied for Fifth position; both Joan Low & Liam Creagh and Joyce Gibbs & Jean Henderson scored 55.83% to share Fifth place. Gail Norman & Stephanie Postlethwaite were Seventh with 53.54%, some 6 Match points ahead of two Pairs who shared Eighth position; both Robin & Hilary Lane and Peter Wardle & Peter Sharpe scored 52.29% to share Eighth place. Well done to all our Master Points Winners!!

It was East who received the “good cards” as they played the contract on 9 Boards. Their Partner also did well with 7 contracts to play. That left South with 5 contracts to play, and poor old North received only 3 Boards where they played the contract all night!!?? A clear majority of the Boards delivered the chance for a “game” contract; indeed 17 out of the 24 Boards that we played offered the higher-scoring “game” contracts!! There were no less than six Boards that seemed to offer some kind of Slam Opportunity, but there were only two actual successful Slam contracts bid and made during the evening??!!

Board 2 gave East a really good hand with a void in Clubs, 15 High Card Points, no less than 6 Hearts to the AKxxxx and 4 Diamonds to the K10xx; they would open 1 Heart. West has a good supporting hand with an amazing 5 Hearts to the J10xxx, 4 Clubs to the KQxx and a singleton Spade; they might well jump to 3 Clubs to show their support!!?? East will probably rebid with 3 Hearts, remembering that 3 Hearts in this situation is stronger than 4 Hearts. Then it is up to West to decide if anything “really big” is a possibility??!! Well last night six East/West Pairs bid “game” in 4 Hearts; one made 11 tricks for 450 points, while five made 12 tricks for 480 points!! Four more bid up to 5 Hearts; one made 11 tricks for 450 points; two made 12 tricks for 480 points; while one made the full set of 13 tricks for 510 points!! However one Pair braved a Slam bid!! Many congratulations must go to Mike Mulligan & Elisa Money who bid Slam in 6 Hearts; they made exactly 12 tricks for a top score of 980 points!! Well done indeed!! Now the “Expert Analysis” – which you can find along with the Travellers in the “Results” Section – confirms that, even against the best of Defences, it is possible for both East and West to make a Slam in 6 Hearts on this Board!! The void in Clubs with East should protect against the Ace of Clubs from North, but nothing can stop the Ace of Spades winning from South unless West gets the chance to discard their singleton. Otherwise cross-trumping of Clubs by East and Spades by West should ensure the Slam is delivered!!

Board 1 gave another “outside chance” to East/West. East had 17 HCPs with 5 Clubs to the AQJxx and 4 Diamonds to the Q10xx.; they would open 1 Club. West has 11 HCPs in support with 4 Hearts to the Q10xx and 4 Spades to the Q10xx; they might well jump to 2 No Trumps, given their point count. Now East has to decide how much potential there is although the points count does not look encouraging??!! Well last night all 11 East/West Pairs settled for a “game” contract in 3 No Trumps; one made exactly 9 tricks for 400 points; three made 10 tricks for 430 points; five made 11 tricks for 460 points; one made 12 tricks for 490 points; and one made the full set of 13 tricks for 520 points!! Now the “Expert Analysis” informs us that it is possible only for East to make a Slam in either 6 Clubs or in 6 No Trumps!! The problem for West would be a Diamond opening lead from North; given the KJ sit in South, this lead would expose a second Diamond trick, once West plays their Ace of Diamonds. South will automatically win the Ace of Hearts and so the Slam contract from East is defeated. With East as declarer, the Diamond problem can be avoided. Of course South will win the Ace of Hearts, but then West can discard its losing Diamond and reach Slam with 5 Clubs, 4 Spades, the KQ of Hearts and the Ace of Diamonds!!

Board 5 gave interesting hands all round. South had 14 HCPs with 5 Diamonds to the AQxxx, 4 Clubs to the Qxxx and a singleton Spade; they would open 1 Diamond. West has a void in Diamonds, 12 HCPs, 6 Hearts to the AJxxxx and 5 Clubs to the AK10xx; they would bid 1 Heart. North has only 6 HCPs but they do have an excellent 5 Diamonds to the K10xxx and a singleton Heart; they will certainly endorse their Partner with 2 Diamonds. East has 8 HCPs with 5 Spades to the AK10xx and 3 small Hearts; they would bid 2 Spades. Now the challenge is who will blink first, and how do you communicate effectively the power of your hand??!! Well last night one East/West Pair settled for 3 Hearts; they made 10 tricks for 170 points!!?? Two North/South Pairs ended in 4 Diamonds; one made 9 tricks to lose 100 points, while the second made only 8 tricks to lose 200 penalty points!!?? Six more East/West Pairs bid “game” in 4 Hearts; one made only 8 tricks and so lost 100 penalty points; another made 10 tricks for 420 points; but four made 11 tricks – two were doubled so they made 690 points, while the other two were not doubled so they made only 450 points!! One N/S Pair bid “game” in 5 Diamonds; they made only 8 tricks to lose 300 penalty points!!?? Finally one E/W Pair bid up to 5 Hearts; they made only 10 tricks and so lost 50 penalty points!!?? Now the “Expert Analysis” tells us that it is possible for both East and West to make a Slam in 6 Hearts!! Given South has KQx in Hearts, there is certainly one losing trick with the Ace of Hearts in West. But the Slam contract is delivered by cross-trumping in Clubs and Diamonds!!

Board 7 gave East a super hand with 23 HCPs, a balanced hand with 4 Spades to the Axxx; they would open an “Acol” 2 Clubs. West has only 3 HCPs so they would respond negatively with 2 Diamonds. Now East has to decide how high their super hand can take them. Well last night four East/West Pairs settled for 2 No Trumps; all four made exactly 8 tricks for 120 points!! Six more E/W Pairs bid “game” in 3 No Trumps; two made only 8 tricks and so lost 100 penalty points; three made exactly 9 tricks for 600 points; and one made 10 tricks for 630 points!! However one intrepid E/W Pair braved a Slam bid in 6 No Trumps!! Sadly they made only 8 tricks to lose a whopping 400 penalty points and to give a top score to their Opponents!!?? Now the “Expert Analysis” informs us that – against the best of Defences – East/West should make only 8 tricks!!?? Certainly this turned out NOT to be a Slam Opportunity!!

Board 22 gave West 17 HCPs with 6 Diamonds to the AQ10xxx, 4 Clubs to the Qxxx and a singleton Spades; they would open 1 Diamond. North has 12 HCPs with 6 Spades to the AKxxxx, 4 Hearts to the Qxxx with a singleton Diamond; they would bid 1 Spade. East had only 7 HCPs but 6 Hearts to the Jxxxxx; they would surely bid 2 Hearts?? South has only 4 HCPs but they do have 5 Spades to the J10xxx to support their Partner; they would probably bid 2 Diamonds!! Now West has a difficult choice; should they repeat their 6-card Diamonds, should they support their Partner’s Hearts with their AK doubleton, or should they show their other 4-card suit with 3 Clubs??!! Who knows where this bidding process will end?? Well last night two North/South Pair bid 3 Spades; one made 9 tricks for 140 points, but the second made only 7 tricks to lose 100 penalty points!!?? Two East/West Pairs bid game in 4 Hearts; both made 10 tricks for 620 points!! Finally seven North/South Pairs bid “game” in 4 Spades; five made 9 tricks to lose 50 points; but the other two were doubled; one made 9 tricks and so lost 100 points; the other made only 8 tricks and so lost 300 penalty points!! Now the “Expert Analysis” informs us that it is possible for both East and West to make Slam in 6 Diamonds!! Of course since both East and West have singleton Spades, they will lose one trick to the Ace of Spades. But the King of Diamonds sits with South while the Ace of Diamonds is with West; similarly the King of Clubs site with North while the Ace is with East. It all fits perfectly to allow the Slam in 6 Diamonds to be delivered. The only difficulty is finding a way to communicate effectively so that you can bid this Slam contact??!!

Finally there was Board 20 which is reproduced at the top of this Report. Do take another look at these interesting hands to see how YOU would bid and play them to deliver the maximum potential of the Board?? You can see that North has an outstanding hand with a balanced hand and 20 HCPs; they would open 2 No Trumps!! South has also has a balanced hand with 11 HCPs and 4 Hearts to the Q10xx; they might well try “Stayman”, asking their Partner for a 4-card major; they might bid 3 Clubs. North would respond 3 Hearts, which leaves South with a dilemma. Should they go for Slam – given they have at least 31 points – or should they settle for “game”?? Well last night four North/South Pairs bid “game in 3 No Trumps; one made 10 tricks for 630 points; two made 11 tricks for 660 points; but one made only 8 tricks to lose 100 penalty points!!?? Four more N/S Pairs bid “game” in 4 Hearts; one made 11 tricks for 650 points; while three made 12 tricks for 680 points!! That left the three North/South Pairs who attempted a Slam contract. All three bid Slam in 6 No Trumps. Sadly two failed; one made 11 tricks to lose 100 points, while the second made 10 tricks and so lost 200 penalty points!!?? However many congratulations must go to Elizabeth Gibbon & Janet Kefford; they bid Slam in 6 No Trumps; they made exactly 12 tricks to record an outstanding top score of 1440 points!! Well done indeed!! The “Expert Analysis” confirms that it is possible for both North and South to make a Slam contract in ANY of 6 Clubs, in 6 Hearts, or in 6 No Trumps!! It turns out that the secret lies in Clubs. With the Queen of Clubs in West, South can play all three of their Clubs to tease West!! There are four winning tricks in Clubs, and in Hearts; the Ace and King will win in Spades and the Ace of Diamonds brings home the contract!! Of course the King of Diamonds is a losing trick but it is too late to stop the Slam!! Whatever well done to both our Actual Slam Achievers of the evening!!

Last updated : 20th Jul 2017 16:10 BST
UK in a stew over Curry Chef shortage

A plate of Chicken Tikka Masala is displayed in a curry restaurant in Brick Lane on February 13, 2008 in London.

One of Britain’s national dishes, chicken tikka masala.

Chicken tikka masala is up with roast beef and fish and chips in the pantheon of Britain’s national dishes. However , takeaways may be unable to satisfy demand as there is shortage of curry chefs in the UK. The UK government maintains a list of “shortage occupations” to inform visa decisions. These jobs include chefs, but only for restaurants that do not provide a takeaway service, and online food-ordering platform Just Eat has called for this to be changed. There are also fears immigration rules could be tightened after the UK leaves the EU. Just Eat has also called on the government to loosen immigration rules and improve training. Graham Corfield, Just Eat’s UK managing director, said chef shortages for cuisines such as Indian and Chinese was “a real problem now and unless we address it could get worse”.

 

In 2001, British foreign secretary Robin Cook said that Chicken Tikka Masala had become a national dish — joining fish and chips and bangers and mash.  There are more than 12,000 curry restaurants in England. It's a multi-billion dollar industry employing more than 100,000 people. The kitchens are often run by families with roots in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan. But because of generational changes and tight immigration rules, curry chefs are now almost impossible to find. Two curry houses a week are shutting down, as chefs in their 60s and 70s retire with no one to replace them. Industry leaders say half the existing curry restaurants could be closed within a decade.

The British curry industry is in turmoil, with two restaurants closing every week

There are worries that up to a third of the 12,000 curry restaurants and takeaways in Britain may close 

The menu in a British curry house is richly evocative of the history of the Indian subcontinent. Biryani was refined from the Persian pilau by the kitchens of the Mughal emperor Akbar, who reigned from 1556 to 1605. Vindaloo first appeared in 1797 when Britain invaded Portuguese Goa; the dish is a mispronunciation of the Portuguese carne de vinho e alhos, or meat cooked with wine vinegar and garlic. The rogan josh and dopiaza (“two onions”) were both also originally Persian, while madras curry was a colonial invention, after English merchants arrived in Chennai in 1640.

But modern British curry-house owners have a narrower lineage: 80 per cent to 90 per cent can trace their roots directly to Sylhet, a city of about 500,000 people which lies in the east of Bangladesh and borders the Indian region of Assam. Sylhet is not known for its cuisine: its most distinctive speciality, says Lizzie Collingham, the author of Curry: A Biography, is its dried punti fish, hung from rafters and surrounded by flies until it is ground into a deep red fermented paste. But what was a strength in the 1970s and 1980s — a strong flow of cheap labour bonded to curry houses by family ties, especially after the violence in Bangladesh following its independence in 1971 — has become a weakness. As earlier generations of curry entrepreneurs begin to retire, their children, often university-educated, prefer to work elsewhere. There is even now a cultural stigma to having to work in a family restaurant, an implication that it was impossible to find a job of any other kind. Fewer UK-born Bangladeshi women are returning to Bangladesh to find husbands to bring back, robbing the industry of another labour source.

Graham Corfield, the UK managing director of Just Eat, spoke this week at the British Takeaway Campaign. The UK government maintains a list of “shortage occupations” to inform visa decisions. These jobs include chefs, but only for restaurants that do not provide a takeaway service. Mr Corfield called for this to be changed; he also called on the government to loosen immigration rules and improve training.

Large Bowl of Sabzi (vegetables) - Dhaka, Bangladesh

Sabzi. You know you want some!

There may not have  been too many Curry Chefs but there were plenty of Bridge Players as 12 + ½ Tables turned up last night to contest our regular Club Night at the Oxshott Bridge Club. Congratulations must go to Philip Duncan & Richard Burgess who were our Star Performers; they came First among the Pairs playing North/South with an impressive 60.70%, and they scooped the maximum 40 Master Points!! Well done indeed!! They were a full 13.2 Match points ahead of Kevin & Deanne Goddard who came Second with 57.98%. There was then a bit of a gap before Judy Hickman & Kay O’Gorman came Third with 53.20%, just 2 Match points ahead of Tony Fincham & Elisa Money who came Fourth with 52.79%. The scoring was much tighter among the Pairs who played East/West. Congratulations must also go to Don Porter & Doris Butterworth who came First with 58.71%, but they were only 1.7 Match Points ahead of Jill Melener & Brenda Hall who were Second with 58.39%. Sheila Price & Jonathan Spring came Third with 52.97%, just 9.3 Match Points ahead of Susan & Mike Sadler who came Fourth with 51.21%. Well done to all our Master Points Winners!!

It was to North and to East that the “good cards” were dealt; they both played 8 contracts out of the 26 Boards. West played a further 6 contracts, but that left poor old South with only 4 Boards where they got to play the contract!!?? There were plenty of “game” contracts to play; indeed 15 out of 26 Boards allowed the higher-scoring “game” contracts. And there was quite a glut of Slam Opportunities to feast upon, although it was not only a challenge to identify when a Slam Opportunity was presented; it was also really difficult to deliver the successful contract, even when the Slam had been bid!!?? Board 21 gave the most success in the evening. Dealer North had 13 High Card Points and a 4441 distribution with a singleton Heart; they would open 1 Club. South had a super hand with 17 HCPs, a singleton Spade, 5 Clubs to support their Partner and 4 Diamonds. Careful not to get too far ahead of themselves, they would respond 1 Diamond; the change of suit hopefully encouraging their Partner to rebid. When North bids their 4-card major with 1 Spade, then South may well take charge and go immediately to “Blackwood”. Well last night one N/S Pair bid “game” in 3 No Trumps; they made 12 tricks for 690 points. Three more N/S Pairs bid “game” in 5 Clubs; all three made the full set of 13 tricks for 640 points!! Four more Pairs bid “game in 5 Diamonds; one made 11 tricks for 600 points, but three made all 13 tricks to share 640 points!! That left the four brave Pairs who bid a Slam contract. Congratulations must go to Judy Hickman & Kay O’Gorman and to Philip Goldenberg & Dave Bowen; they both bid Slam in 6 Clubs; they both made all 13 tricks for 1390 points!! But special congratulations must go to Philip Duncan & Richard Burgess who bid Slam in 6 No Trumps; they made all 13 tricks for 1470 points!! But extra special congratulations must go to June Buckland & Eileen Goddard who braved a GRAND SLAM bid in 7 Clubs; they made every one of the 13 tricks to record a fantastic 2140 points and the top score on this Board. Well done indeed!! Now the “Expert Analysis” – which you can find along with the Travellers in the “Results” section – informs us that it is possible for both North and South to make a GRAND SLAM in any of 7 Clubs, in 7 Diamonds, or in 7 No Trumps on this Board!!

Board 20 gave West 14 HCPs with 5 Spades to the A10xxx and 4 Diamonds to the Axxx; they would open 1 Spade. East has 13 HCPs in support with 4 Spades to the Kxxx and 4 Clubs to the AJxx; they would raise to 2 Clubs to encourage their Partner. South might brave a wild bid of 2 Hearts; they have only 3 HCPs but they do have 7 Hearts to the QJxxxxx!!?? West would probably mention their second suit with 3 Diamonds, indicating 5 cards in Spades; and East would bid 3 Spades to show support. Now it is up to West to decide if anything bigger in an option??!! Well last night all 11 East/West Pairs settled for a “game” contract in 4 Spades; two made exactly 10 tricks for 620 points; eight made 11 tricks for 650 points; and one made 12 tricks for 680 points!!?? Now the “Expert Analysis” tells us that – even against the best of Defences – it is possible for both East and West to make a Slam in 6 Spades??!! You see because the King of Clubs lies with North, East/West can make three Club tricks and allow West to discard the losing Heart. Clearly one Spade trick is lost as North has three Spades to the QJx. But there is only one clever finesse of a Diamond through North and the Slam contract in 6 Spades is delivered!! It is always much easier after the event, one has to admit!!??

Board 5 gave West a big hand with 19 HCPs, 4 Clubs to the AKxx and 4 Spades to the KQJx; they would open 1 Club. East has 11 HCPs with a balanced hand and 4 Spades to the Axxx; they might well bid 2 No Trumps to indicate a point count. Now West has a choice; should they settle for a simple “game” contract or should they investigate further?? Well last night three East/West Pairs settled for “game” in 3 No Trumps; all three made 10 tricks for 430 points!! Three more bid “game” in 4 Spades; two made 11 tricks for 450 points, while one made 12 tricks for 480 points!! One took a look and bid 4 No Trumps; they made 11 tricks for 460 points. Yet one more went further to 5 Spades; they made exactly 11 tricks for 450 points!! But three intrepid E/W Pairs braved a Slam bid in 6 No Trumps; sadly none of them were successful!!?? Two made 10 tricks and so gave up 100 penalty points, but one made only 9 tricks and so they gave up 150 points!!?? Now the “Expert Analysis” confirms that it is not possible to make a Slam contract against the best of Defences on this Board.

Board 15 gave North 17 HCPs with 5 Hearts to the KQxxx, 4 Clubs to the Axxx and a singleton Spade; they would open 1 Heart. East has only 7 HCPs, but they do have 6 Diamonds to the Q10xxxx; they might well venture 2 Diamonds. South had 5 Hearts to the Jxxxx with a void in Diamonds and 7 HCPs; they will probably jump to 3 Hearts. Now it is up to North to decide if a “big contract” is likely or not??!! Well last night 10 out of the 11 Pairs playing North/South settled for “game” in 4 Hearts; four made 11 tricks for 650 points, but six made 12 tricks for 680 points!!?? But one intrepid N/S Pair did bid a Slam contract in 6 Hearts; sadly they made only 11 tricks and so gave their Opponents a top score from the 100 penalty points!!?? Now the “Expert Analysis” does suggest that it is possible for both North and South – even against the best of Defences – to make a Slam contract in 6 Hearts. There is no doubt that the Ace of Hearts which lies with West is a “losing trick”, but the difficulty lies in the Clubs, where East has a KQ doubleton. North can use its Ace and King of Diamonds to discard two Clubs from South – who has a void in Diamonds. Then the Slam contract should be secure!!

Board 25 gave North 14 HCPs with a void in Hearts, 6 Clubs to the AKxxxx and 5 Diamonds to the AQJ10x; they would open 1 Club. South has 11 HCPs in support, with 6 Hearts to the KJxxxx but only a singleton Club; they would respond 1 Heart. North might jump to 3 Diamonds to show strength and the 2-suit nature of their hand. Now South may venture 3 No Trumps, since they have cover in Spades with the KQx. Now it is up to North to decide if anything bigger is possible??!! Well last night one North/South Pair settled for 3 Clubs; they made 12 tricks for 170 points!!?? Three N/S Pairs bid “game” in 3 No Trumps; one made exactly 9 tricks for 400 points; one made 10 tricks for 430 points; but one made only 7 tricks and so lost 100 penalty points??!! One more N/S Pair bid up to 4 Diamonds; they made 11 tricks for 150 points!! Three Pairs bid “game” in 4 Hearts; two made exactly 10 tricks for 420 points, but one made only 9 tricks and so gave up 50 penalty points!! One N/S Pair bid “game” in 5 Clubs; sadly they made only 10 tricks and lost 50 penalty points. Finally two Pairs bid “game” in 5 Diamonds; one made 11 tricks for 400 points, while the second made 12 tricks for 420 points!! Now the “Expert Analysis” informs us that it is possible for both North and South to make a Slam contract in either 6 Clubs or in 6 Diamonds!! In Diamonds, the secret is to force a finesse through West so that the King eventually falls to the Ace in North’s hand. Clearly there is one “losing trick” to the Ace of Spades in East, but – apart from that trick – the Slam contract should be delivered in either Clubs or Diamonds!!

Finally there is Board 26 which is reproduced at the top of this Report. Do take another look just now at how YOU would bid and play these interesting hands. You can see that West has an excellent balanced hand with 20 HCPs; they will open 2 No Trumps. East has 9 HCPs, a singleton in Clubs and 6 Hearts to the QJ10xxx; they will bid a “Transfer” with 3 Diamonds. West automatically bids 3 Hearts, and now it is up to East to decide how ambitious they want to be??!! They could go to “game” in 4 Hearts, or they could move to “Blackwood” in search of a Slam!!?? Well last night six East/West Pairs decided on a “game” contract in 4 Hearts; one made 10 tricks for 620 points; three made 11 tricks for 650 points; and one made 12 tricks for 680 points!!. Another Pair went up to 5 Hearts; they made all 13 tricks for 710 points!! But four East/West Pairs braved a Slam bid in 6 Hearts!! Sadly three fell short; two made 11 tricks to lose 100 penalty points each; and one made only 10 tricks so they lost 200 points??!! But many congratulations must go to Susan & Mike Sadler; they bid Slam in 6 Hearts; and they made exactly 12 tricks for a whopping top score of 1430 points!! Well done indeed!! Now the “Expert Analysis” confirms that it is possible – even against the best of Defences – for East to make a Slam in 6 Hearts and for West to make a Slam in either 6 Diamonds or in 6 Hearts!! The problem is the King of Hearts; since the distribution between North and South is 4-0, there is nothing that West can do to trap the King if South is patient. So the challenge is not to lose a second trick. Now Spades is the soft spot where North has the KJxxx while there are three Spades in each of East and West’s hands (including the Ace of Spades with East). The answer lies in Diamonds, where the Queen followed by a low Diamond from East forces a finesse decision from South. This allows West to make 5 tricks in Diamonds and for East to discard the two losing Spades. How did YOU do on revisiting these interesting hands? It is always interesting how much easier it is to play the hands when you can see all four, isn’t it??!! Anyway many congratulations again to all our Actual Slam Achievers of the evening!!

 

 

Last updated : 13th Jul 2017 18:52 BST
European Union fines Google a record $2.7 billion for stifling online shopping competitors

The European Union has imposed a record €2.42bn ($2.72bn) fine on technology giant Google, for abusing its dominance as a search engine by giving illegal advantage to its own shopping service. "What Google has done is illegal under EU antitrust rules. It denied other companies the chance to compete on the merits and to innovate," Margrethe Vestager, the European Commissioner for Competition, said in a statement. "And most importantly, it denied European consumers a genuine choice of services and the full benefits of innovation." Brussels has given the US tech giant 90 days to change its business model for Google Shopping or face further penalty payments.

Google California Headquarters

Vestager told reporters that Google had entered the shopping comparison market in 2004 with a service called Froogle which allowed its users to compare products and prices online. Within two years the company knew it was struggling. From 2008, Vestager said, Google began to implement, initially in the UK and Germany, and then further afield, a fundamental change in strategy to push its comparison shopping service, and break EU law.

The placement of Google’s product well ahead of its rivals was pivotal to the shopping service’s success as, even on a desktop, the 10 highest-ranking generic search results on page one generally receive approximately 95% of all clicks on generic search results. The top result receives about 35% of all the clicks and the trend is exaggerated further for searches on mobile phones. The commission found that Google was dominant in general internet search markets in all 31 countries in the European Economic Area, with a market share of about 90%.  As a result of Google’s illegal practices, traffic to Google’s comparison shopping service increased significantly – 45-fold in the UK, for example – while rivals suffered very substantial losses of traffic on a lasting basis, Vestager said.

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By levying the fine against Google — more than double the previous largest penalty in this type of antitrust case — Margrethe Vestager also laid claim to being the Western world’s most active regulator of digital services, an industry still dominated by Silicon Valley. While the fine will garner attention, the focus will most likely shift quickly to the changes that Google will have to make to comply with the antitrust decision, potentially leaving it vulnerable to regular monitoring of its closely guarded search algorithm.

Margrethe Vestager, pictured, Denmark's economy minister, has a reputation as one of the hardest negotiators in the EU

Despite her power as Commissioner, Vestager's biographer Jens Thomsen says she tries hard to remind people of her humanity. “She's trying to use every meeting to create the impression that she's not only a representative of the Commission, but also an individual personality." She grew up in a small town called Ølgod on Denmark's west coast. Her parents were both Lutheran rectors; her father was a local politician in Denmark's Social Liberal Party. She became Denmark's education minister by age 30; she became party leader a decade later. Her husband, with whom she has three daughters, is a high school teacher; and her hobbies of knitting and baking are a major topic of discussion on Danish social media.

Her tough stance and sharp wit have made Margrethe Vestager one of the hardest negotiators in the EU. She is also the inspiration behind Birgitte Nyborg, the politician in hit television drama BorgenNyborg is a feminist leader of a centrist party who finds herself becoming Danish prime minister. Before taking up the role, actress Sidse Babett Knudsen (pictured below) reportedly spent a few days shadowing Miss Vestager, who rose to become deputy prime minister and, in many estimations, Denmark’s true leader.

Miss Vestager is also the inspiration behind Birgitte Nyborg (played by Sidse Babett Knudsen, pictured) from Danish television hit Borgen

Unfortunately neither Margrethe Vestager or Birgitte Nyborg made it to the Oxshott Bridge Club last night, but there were 11 + ½ Tables in attendance to contest our regular Club Night. Many congratulations must go to Pam Harries & Valerie Howe who were the Top Performers; they scored an impressive 64.32% to capture First place among the Pairs playing East/West; they also scooped the maximum 40 Master Points!! But they were only two Match points ahead of Jonathan Spring & John French who came Second with 63.86%, with Philip Goldenberg & Dave Bowen some 17 Match points further back in Third place on 60.00%. Don Porter & Doris Butterworth came Fourth with 53.86%. The competition was even closer among the Pairs playing North/South!! Congratulations must go to Sheila Price & Gabrielle Roberts who came First with 56.25%, but they were only three Match points ahead of Mike Mulligan & Elisa Money who came Second with 55.63%, with Alan & Pat Hammond just six Match points further back in Third place with 54.38%. Tony Scott & Barbara Shaw were Fourth with 53.33%. Well done to all our Master Points Winners!!

The spread of the cards was pretty even; South played the contract on 8 Boards, while North played a further 7 contracts; that left East with five Boards where they played the contract, and poor old West was left with only four Boards where they played the contract!! A clear majority of the Boards offered a “game-going” contract; there were 17 of the higher-scoring “game” contracts compared to only seven of the “part-game” contracts. There were four Boards that offered some kind of Slam Opportunity, but there was only one actual Slam bid and made during the evening!!?? Board 21 gave East 13 High Card Points with 4 Spades to the AJxx and 5 Diamonds to the AJxxx; they would open 1 Diamond. West also had 13 HCPs, but they had 6 Hearts to the AK10xxx; they might well jump to 2 Hearts to emphasise their strength. East would then mention their 4-card major with 2 Spades, and West would repeat their Hearts with 3 Hearts. Exactly where these hands will end up is uncertain clearly??!! Well last night one E/W Pair settled for 2 Hearts; they made 11 tricks for 200 points!! Three more Pairs went up to 3 Hearts; two made 10 tricks for 170 points, while one made 11 tricks for 200 points!! Three East/West Pairs bid “game” in 3 No Trumps; all three made 11 tricks for 460 points!! One Pair bid 4 Diamonds; they made all 13 tricks for 190 points!! Finally three E/W Pairs bid “game” in 4 Hearts; one made 10 tricks for 420 points, while the other two made 11 tricks for 450 points!! Now the “Expert Analysis” – which you can find along with the Travellers in the “Results” section – informs us that it is possible for both East and West to make a Slam contract in any of 6 Diamonds, in 6 Hearts, or in 6 No Trumps!! You see the King of Clubs sits after the Ace of Clubs in North’s hand so there is only one trick lost in that suit. Then two Hearts leads from East allow West to finesse the Queen and Jack which lie with South, and so the 12 tricks are secured!! You have to say that a Slam bid would have been “courageous” at the least on this Board!!??

Board 23 gave West a great hand with 17 HCPs, 5 Clubs to the QJxxx and 4 Diamonds to the AKxx; they would open 1 Club. East has 11 HCPs in support with 5 Hearts to the QJxxx; they might raise to 1 Heart. West can now give a point count with 2 No Trumps; and East would move the bidding on to 3 No Trumps!! Is there any likelihood of anything bigger here, West might be thinking??!! Well last night nine East/West Pairs bid “game” in 3 No Trumps; six made 10 tricks for 630 points, and three made 11 tricks for 660 points!! One Pair took a look and settled for 5 Clubs; they made exactly 11 tricks for 600 points!! But one intrepid E/W Pair braved a Slam bid in 6 No Trumps; sadly they made only 8 tricks and so lost 400 penalty points - which gave a top score to their Opponents!!?? Now the “Expert Analysis” confirms that it is possible for East and West to make a maximum of 10 tricks in No Trumps against the best Defences. Indeed the most tricks would be 11 tricks in 5 Clubs or in 5 Hearts on this Board!!

Board 24 gave West an interesting hand; they had 11 HCPs with 6 Spades to the AQ10xxx and a singleton Heart; they must be sorely tempted to open 1 Spade. East has 4 Spades to the KJxx in support, with a whopping 17 HCPs and 4 Hearts to the AKxx; they would jump to 3 Hearts to emphasise their strength. When West repeats their Spades with 3 Spades, East may well move straight to “Blackwood” to check for Aces!!?? Well last night six East/West Pairs bid “game” in 4 Spades; five made 11 tricks for 450 points, but one made only 9 tricks and so gave up 50 penalty points!!?? Four more E/W Pairs bid up to 5 Spades; all four made 11 tricks for 450 points!! But one persistent E/W Pair braved a Slam bid in 6 Spades. Sadly they made only 11 tricks and so gave up 50 penalty points!!?? Now the “Expert Analysis” confirms that it is possible – even against the best of Defences – to make only 11 tricks on this Board in 6 Spades. The problem is that South has both the Aces of Clubs and Diamonds, and West can only discard one of these suits against the Hearts played from East. It would be amazing if South did not play both Aces once they got the lead!!

Finally there was Board 2 which is reproduced at the top of this Report. Do take another look at this Board to see how YOU would bid and play these interesting hands??!! You can see Dealer East has 14 HCPs with 5 Hearts to the KQJ10x and 5 Diamonds to the A10xxx; they would open 1 Heart. South has an unusual hand with only 6 HCPs with 7 Clubs to the KQJxxxx; they might bid a weak 3 Clubs!!?? West has 12 HCPs and a balanced hand; they might well raise the bidding with 3 Hearts. North has a singleton Ace of Clubs with 7 Spades to the K10xxxxx; they might well raise their Partner to 4 Clubs. Now it is up to East to decide whether something really big is in the offing or not?? Well last night surprisingly one East/West Pair bid 2 Hearts; they made 11 tricks for 200 points!! Another bid 3 Hearts; they made 12 tricks for 230 points!! One Pair bid “game” in 3 No Trumps; they made 10 tricks for 430 points!! But six more E/W Pairs bid “game” in 4 Hearts; two made 11 tricks for 450 points; three made 12 tricks for 480 points; and one made 13 tricks for 510 points!! However one intrepid East/West Pair braved a Slam bid!! Many congratulations must go to John Taylor & Alan Gardner; they bid Slam in 6 Hearts; and they made the full set of 13 tricks for an impressive top score of 1010 points!! Well done indeed!! Now the “Expert Analysis” informs us that it is possible for East and West to make a Slam contract in any of 6 Diamonds, in 6 Hearts, or in 6 No Trumps!! If South decides to lead their singleton Spade rather than the King of Clubs, then East can make all 13 tricks as they can extract trumps and discard their singleton Club; however most Defence Openers would lead their Club and restrain the contract to 12 tricks. Anyway well dome to our only Actual Slam Achievers of the evening!!

Last updated : 29th Jun 2017 19:11 BST
Traditions around the June Solstice

People take part in the 15th annual Times Square yoga event celebrating the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year, in New York.

A significant turning point during the year - the days start getting shorter and the nights longer – the June Solstice is often associated with change, nature and new beginnings. People around the world celebrate the day, which is also known as the Summer Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere and the Winter Solstice in the Southern Hemisphere, with feasts, bonfires, picnics, and traditional songs and dances. Celebrations surrounding the June Solstice have a time-honored history. In ancient times, the date of the June Solstice was used to organize calendars and as a marker to figure out when to plant and harvest crops. Traditionally, this time of year was also popular for weddings.

The summer and winter solstices mark the longest and shortest days of the year, depending on where you are in the world. In southern England, thousands gathered to watch the sunrise at Stonehenge on Wednesday morning, on the longest day of the year. Across the Atlantic, thousands of yogis travel to Times Square to celebrate the summer solstice with free yoga classes all day long in the heart of New York City. Not to be outdone, more than 1,000 Aussies celebrating the winter solstice down under bared it all in a skinny-dipping tradition with temperatures at 39 degrees Fahrenheit in the Derwent River as part of the Dark Mofo arts festival in Tasmania. Farther south in the Antarctic, researchers stationed at Australia's Davis Station marked midwinter's day by taking a chainsaw to the ice, cutting a small pool and taking a dip in water with a temperature of 28.76 Fahrenheit. The Davis Station is the most southerly Australian Antarctic station and is situated 2250 nautical miles south-south-west of Perth, Australia.

An expeditioner stationed at Australia's Davis Station takes the plunge to celebrate the winter solstice.

In ancient China, the Summer solstice was observed by a ceremony to celebrate the Earth, femininity, and the “yin” forces. It complemented the Winter Solstice that celebrated the heavens, masculinity and “yang” forces. According to Chinese tradition, the shortest shadow is found on the day of the Summer Solstice. In ancient Gaul, which encompasses modern-day France and some parts of its neighboring countries, the Midsummer celebration was called Feast of Epona. The celebration was named after a mare goddess who personified fertility and protected horses. In ancient Germanic, Slav and Celtic tribes, pagans celebrated Midsummer with bonfires. After Christianity spread in Europe and other parts of the world, many pagan customs were incorporated into the Christian religion. In parts of Scandinavia, the Midsummer celebration continued but was observed around the time of St John’s Day, on June 24, to honor St John the Baptist instead of the pagan gods.

 

In North America, some Native American tribes held ritual dances to honor the Sun. The Sioux were known to hold one of the most spectacular rituals. Preparations for the event included cutting and raising a tree that would be considered a visible connection between the heavens and Earth, and setting up teepees in a circle to represent the cosmos. Participants abstained from food and drink during the dance itself. Their bodies were decorated in the symbolic colors of red (sunset), blue (sky), yellow (lightning), white (light), and black (night).

 

Some historians point to the Stonehenge, a prehistoric monument in Wiltshire, as evidence of the fact that ancient humans used the June Solstice as a way to organize their calendars. Some believe that Stonehenge's unique stone circle was erected around 2500 BCE in order to establish the date of the Summer Solstice. Viewed from its center, the Sun rises at a particular point on the horizon on day of the June Solstice. Some theories suggest that the builders of Stonehenge may have used the solstice as a starting-point to count the days of the year. On Wednesday morning, revellers watch the sunrise as they celebrate the pagan festival of summer solstice at Stonehenge in southern England. The festival, which dates back thousands of years, celebrates the longest day of the year, when the sun is at its maximum elevation. Modern druids and people gather at the landmark Stonehenge every year to see the sun rise on the first morning of summer.

People touch the stones of the Stonehenge monument at dawn on the summer solstice. 

People touch the stones of the Stonehenge monument at dawn on the summer solstice.

It was certainly warm enough in Oxshott last night as temperatures topped 34 degrees for the first time since 1976!! Maybe Members were returning from Stonehenge, taking a dive in the Antartic, or practising their Yoga in New York, but there were only 9 full Tables in attendance to contest our regular Club Night. The Star Performers were Daphne Pugh & Gillian Lowe who came First among the Pairs playing North/South; they scored an impressive 59.52% and scooped the maximum 30 Master Points!! Well done indeed!! They were seven Match points ahead of Mike Mulligan & Elisa Money who came Second with 57.44%, with Renate Lane & George Gardiner a further 12 Match points back in Third place with 53.87%. The scoring was much more tight among the pairs playing East/West. Congratulations must go to Jonathan Spring & John French who came First with 55.65%, but they were only 4 Match Points ahead of Elizabeth Gray & Rosemary Collin who came Second with 54.46; and Annemie Bisgood & Vernon Morton were just a further 7 Match points back with 52.38% in Third place. Well done to all our Master Points Winners!!

It was East who received the “good cards”; they played the contract on 10 Boards, while North played a further 9 contracts. That left poor old South and West with only 4 Boards where they got to play the contract!!?? The split between “game” contracts and “part-game” contracts was slightly in favour of the former. There were 15 of the higher-scoring “game” contracts compared to 12 of the “part-game” contracts!! Slam Opportunities were difficult to deliver although there were one or two Boards that offered a Chimera??!! A “chimera” is defined as “a hope or dream that is extremely unlikely ever to come true” in the Cambridge English dictionary. Board 11 gave South 14 High Card Points with 4 Spades to the Axxx and four small Hearts; they might open 1 No Trump. North has 12 HCPs in support with 5 Spades to the KQJxx and 4 Diamonds to the Q10xx with a singleton Club; they would bid a “transfer” with 2 Hearts. South might move up to 3 Spades, because they have good Spades, and this allows North to move to “game”. Well last night one North/South Pair bid “game” in 3 No Trumps; they made 10 tricks for 430 points. Six more N/S Pairs bid 4 Spades; one made 10 tricks for 420 points; four made 11 tricks for 450 points, but one made 12 tricks for 480 points!! However one intrepid N/S Pair bid Slam in 6 Spades; sadly they made only 10 tricks and so gave up 100 penalty points!!?? Now the “Expert Analysis” – which you can find along with the Travellers in the “Results” section – informs us that – against the best of Defences – it is possible for North or South to make only 10 tricks in Spades on this Board. You see East has the Ace of Clubs which they will have to play early as North has only a singleton. Then North and South have three or four Hearts each without the King, Queen or Jack, so there should be two tricks there!! However it is interesting that five out of the eight Pairs who defended gave up at least 11 tricks here?? Oops!!

Board 12 gave West an amazing hand; they had 13 HCPs, 7 Diamonds to the KQ10xxxx, 5 Spades to the AJ10xx, a void in Hearts and a singleton King of Clubs; they would open a weak 3 Diamonds. North has 11 HCPs with 6 Hearts to the KJxxxx; they must be sorely tempted to bid but will probably “pass”. East had only 3 HCPs but three small Diamonds, so they too will “Pass”. But South has 13 HCPs with 5 Hearts to the A10xxx and a singleton Ace of Diamonds; they would surely bid 3 Hearts. Now it would be interesting to see who would bid the higher; would it be West with their Diamonds or would it be North/South with their spectacular hearts?? Well last night, one East/West Pair somehow bid game in 4 Spades; they made only 9 tricks and so lost 50 penalty points!!?? Two North/South Pairs bid game in 4 Hearts; one made 10 tricks for 620 points, while the second made 11 tricks for 650 points!! Two East/West pairs bid up to 5 Diamonds; they were both doubled; one made 10 tricks to lose 100 penalty points, but the second made only 9 tricks and so lost 300 points??!! Two more North/South Pairs bid up to 5 Hearts; one made 11 tricks for 650 points, while the second made 12 tricks for 680 points!! However one brave N/S Pair bid Slam in 6 Hearts; sadly they made only 11 tricks and so lost 100 penalty points and a top score to their Opponents!!?? Now the “Expert Analysis” confirms that it should only be possible for North or South to made 11 tricks in Hearts on this Board. South must win the Ace of Diamonds and they can draw the Ace of Spades from West, leaving the second Spade trick to fall to the Queen in North’s hand. So it seems that the Slam was a “chimera” again!!

Board 19 gave North 18 HCPs with 6 Hearts to the AK10xxx; they would open 1 Heart. South has 9 HCPs with 5 Spades to the Axxxx; they would reply 1 Spade. North would surely jump to 3 Hearts to show their strength, and South would move it on to “game” with 4 Hearts. Now it is up to North to decide if anything bigger is potential??!! Well last night all 8 North/South Pairs decided on a “game” contract in 4 Hearts; four made 11 tricks for 450 points; three made 12 tricks for 480 points, and one made all 13 tricks for 510 points!! Now the “Expert Analysis” tells us that it is possible for both North and South to make a Slam contract in 6 Hearts on this Board!! You see with a fist-full of Hearts and the Ace and King of both Spades and Clubs, the only difficulty for North/South lies in Diamonds. Now North had the King and Jack, while the Queen sits with West and the Ace of Diamonds sits with East. If North remains calm and finesses a Diamond lead from West, then the contract is secured.

Finally there is Board 1 which is reproduced at the top of this Report. Have another look at these interesting hands to see how YOU would bid and play this Board to maximise the potential offered!!?? You can see that North has a whopping 9 Diamonds to the Axxxxxxxx but only 4 HCPs and a void in Diamonds; they would surely open 4 Diamonds!!?? East has a massive 19 HCPs with a 4441 distribution; they would double. South had only 6 HCPs so they will “pass”. West has 11 HCPs with 5 Hearts to the Qxxxx and 4 Spades to the AQ10x; they would respond 4 Hearts. Now there has got to be a temptation for North to bid on in Diamonds and so may East in Hearts!!?? Well last night one East/West Pair bid “game” in 4 Hearts; they made 12 tricks for 480 points!! Four brave North/South Pairs bid “game” in 5 Diamonds; all four were doubled; one made 9 tricks and so gave up 300 penalty points; but three made only 8 tricks and so gave up 500 penalty points!!?? Three more East/West Pairs bid up to 5 Hearts; one made 11 tricks for 450 points, while the other two made 12 tricks for 480 points!! Now the “Expert Analysis” informs us that it is possible for South (but not North) to make a Slam in 6 Hearts on this Board!! In addition it tells us that both North and South can make a Slam in 6 No Trumps!! You see when the opening lead comes from South, they will almost certainly lead a small Spade which will be trumped by North who has a void. Then the Ace of Diamonds defeats the Slam contract in 6 Hearts!! Of course North cannot lead Spades so they will play the Ace of Diamonds which is their only winning trick. In No Trumps, a Slam is similarly delivered by finessing the King of Spades in South’s hand!! How did YOU do on revisiting this hand?? It is certainly a stressful decision to bid Slam in No Trumps when you can see that your Opponent has at least 8 Diamonds and you have only a singleton King of Diamonds in Defence!!??

Anyway there were no successful Slam contracts made last night, although there were two attempts that were unsuccessful. Maybe next week we will see an avalanche of Slam Opportunities. Let’s hope so. See you there, prompt at 7.30pm.!!

 

 

Last updated : 22nd Jun 2017 11:53 BST
Surprises and Innovations abound at Art Basel

A cast-iron tree by Ai Weiwei has been installed for the Art Basel fair in Switzerland.

Marc Spiegler, the global director of Art Basel, said Hong Kong has its galleries, while Miami is known for its private collections and Basel for its museums. For all the obvious differences among these cities, when the Art Basel fair visits them each year, it anchors its shows in the same way, with a large showcase of presentations by international galleries. “There’s a relatively standard way of handling booths,” Mr. Spiegler said. Level walls, good lighting and wide corridors are prerequisites. Indeed, the particular character of each city’s show begins to reveal itself only outside its Galleries sector, as these centerpiece exhibitions are known. “Where they get really distinct from each other is once you leave the fair halls,” Mr. Spiegler said. Even for an exposition as established as this one is (in 1970, the inaugural Art Basel was one of the first shows of its kind to be mounted), surprises and innovations abound this year. Artworks make their most decisive break with halls and walls in the Parcours sector, the slice of the Basel show dedicated to exhibitions of site-specific work in the public sphere. The city’s neighborhoods are temporarily overtaken by so-called interventions at plazas, classrooms, riverbanks, water fountains and more.

Although the main Art Basel compound is at the Messe Basel exhibition site, there are treasures to be found on the opposite side of the Rhine. A cast-iron tree by Ai Weiwei, the Chinese artist and political dissident, has been installed for the fair on Münsterplatz, in the shadow of the historic Basel Minster cathedral.