Wednesday, 10 July 2019

European Youth Team Championships: Blog by Michael Byrne

Day 1: 

Day one of the European Championships has started well for England U21s. 

In Match 1 we enjoyed a comfortable victory over France, with two good slams bid and made at both tables and a third exciting one. Liam and Dan bid 6C (which was a good contract) but it should have gone down with the main side suit breaking 5-1 and missing the ace. The French doubled (I'm still not sure why) and this confused the singleton into leading something else, +1090 was just what the doctor ordered. 
On the last board they doubled us in 1NT and Sam had no problem rolling in the overtrick on careful play, +380 was a pleasing way to finish the set. 

In Match 2 we had a losing draw (-4imps) to Poland, which included a flat grand slam bid and made on the last board.  We opened 1D on Axxxx, A, AK109xxx, Void and reached 7S despite a weak jump overcall of 3C, partner introducing spades. They reached 7S by opening 1S (absolutely sick frankly), it was missed at several tables.

In Match 3 we faced World and European Champions Sweden, and we were leading comfortably with a few boards to go, but again a small loss resulted after a few slip ups towards the end. The result in itself was not so bad, but it could have been much better.

Today (by the time you read this) we face Turkey, Norway and the Netherlands, two of the weaker teams, then old friends from the Channel Trophy. 

Day 2:

After some tricky hands in the open room against Turkey we came out to find team-mates smiling, an easy 20-0 against Turkey was just what the doctor ordered. However we struggled against Germany in our next match, they did some really successful things (not good things mind you, just things that worked) and we got walloped by 42 imps.
Our last match was against The Netherlands and this time we got back into gear and crushed them from the get go. By the time the last board appeared on the table they were so dazed that they thought a 2S overcall of stayman was the unusual NT and went for 800 in a 4-3 fit at the 3 level. 
We are now just 3 vps off the lead and know we can beat anyone. 

Day 3:

Three more decent wins have moved us into the gold medal position, and we are enjoying good luck as well as good form. The hand of the day definitely has to be 6H rolled in by Liz and Sam. After an auction in which both players bid as if they had three more tricks we arrived in 6H, needing one of two club make 5. 6H was no play at all and we were prepared for a swing out. However after wrapping up the club suit we ran a few trumps and lo and behold one of the defenders through all of his diamonds away to let us make the last two tricks on dummy with the 10C and the 9D, and 1430. This was not only a huge swing (team-mates were -200 in 5S) but also the flurry of Italian under the screen made it clear the defenders were about to go on tilt and this they did in spectacular fashion. 

Day 4 and 5:

4 straight losses have brought us down to 5th, which whilst an excellent position (the top 6 qualify for the world championships) seems disappointing after leading the event. Losing to the weaker teams was a great shame but in fairness they simply played a lot better than they did in the first round robin. I am confident that we can raise our game and return to our winning ways. 

Day 6:

A very exciting match against Sweden led to a wining draw for us, which is important if we are going to overtake them. 
The second match of the day was against the French and everything seemed to go against us. They played for Kx in 1NT and we played for Jx so they made 6 tricks and we made 4, they passed a 12 count and it didn't cost, and finally they played in 6D with a trump suit of singleton ace facing KQ10xxx whilst we were in 6NT. 

So a loss then? No, unlike the French we played well and for every lucky board they had we had two sensible ones and we won by 20 imps. This has closed the gap at the top and given us a serious chance of breaking into the top 3 if tomorrows matches go well. 

Day 7:

Wow!! What a fantastic finish to a great event. On the final day we had a winning draw with Sweden (who are current world champions) then smashed the Poles and beat the Dutch for the second time. 

We moved into the Bronze medal position, and can go home happy. 

I am proud of all my players and it was truly a team effort, everyone gave their all and can go home with their heads held high. 

 Next stop the world championships in a years time!

Sunday, 14 April 2019

Lady Milne Match 4: England vs. CBAI

We got off to a good start in match four against CBAI (Ireland's second team) and were leading 36-8 at half time. A disappointing second half saw us lose three big swings whilst picking up a few part score swings. After the dust had settled we had prevailed 56-49.

Standings after match 4:
England            53.74
Scotland:          52.58
Ireland              40.33
N. Ireland          32.83
CBAI                 32.69
Wales                27.83

Full results are available at the following site: here

H J7
D K96
C K62
S A92
H AK953
C T874
S J75
H Q82
C J3
S 63
H T64
D 8532
C AQ95
1H (1S) 2S* P 4H AP

Susanna and Catherine bid to the thin 4H and Susanna received a lead of KS. One needs to bring the diamonds in but there is a real lack of entries to dummy and a spade ruff is threatened. Susanna took what looked to be the best shot of overtaking the TD with the JD and when that home she was able to arrange ruffing down the KH with getting back to dummy to cash them. Well played.

Its very close going into our final match which sees us play N. Ireland whilst Scotland take on Ireland. All to play for!!!

Saturday, 13 April 2019

Lady Milne Match 3: England vs. Ireland

Match three saw England face Ireland. There were lots of chances in the first stanza for both sides, after the dust had settled the score was 49-38 in Ireland's favour. In the second half we really got going and managed to make a couple of no play contracts as well as getting on the right side of some competitive boards. The score in the second half was 49-16 to England which meant the overall result was a win by 22.

Standings after match 3:
England            42.27
Scotland:          39.46
Ireland              34.27
N. Ireland          25.95
CBAI                 19.30
Wales                18.75

Full results are available at the following site: here

S K7964
D 632
H Q83
C K9543
S J8
H A972
D K875
C 872
S 7532
H K654
D J94
C A6
1NT P 2C P
2D P 2NT P

Sometimes in bridge you need a little luck...  An aggressive auction to 3NT lead to an unlucky spade lead from North but there will still quite a lot of work to do, diamonds would have to be 3-3 and the hearts needed to be brought home. Nicola lead a heart to the Ace noting the jack with interest, a small heart from the dummy produced a very smooth small heart from south...

The queen went in quickly and 9 tricks were wrapped up when the diamonds were 3-3 and the hearts came in. Nicola had realised than stiff J and KJ with North would not produce 9 tricks (the defence would have time to set the spades up before the 9th trick was established) so played for JT doubleton.

Well played, tomorrow we complete the round robin with matches against CBAI and N. Ireland.


Lady Milne Match 2: England vs. Wales

Match two saw England face Wales. After the first 16 boards the teams were match was close - 49 to 37 in England's favour. At the start of the second stanza Wales were briefly ahead but a strong end to the match, in particular a run of 44 imps in 5 boards allowed England to pull away and win the match by 111 imps to 56.

Standings after match 2:
Scotland:          29.46
Ireland              28.36
England            28.18
N. Ireland         21.05
Wales                8.75
CBAI                 4.20

Full results are available at the following site: here

S T5
H T9653
C 52
S 873
D T7543
C AK94
S AQ92
H J8742
D 86
C Q3
S KJ64
D K9
C JT876
(2H) 2NT (P) 3NT AP

2 hearts showed both majors weak, Susanna overcalled 2NT and was raised to game by Catherine. The opening lead was the 7S which went to the 10 and A, back came the 2S to the jack. Susanna tried the JC from hand which ran around to the QC and East returned another spade which Susana won with the K.

Susanna decided to cash her 4 diamond tricks and on the last one, East erred and pitched their small club. A hopeless contract suddenly had had new life breathed into it and Susanna was not about to miss her opportunity. She cashed her top two hearts and exited with her losing spade. East down to J7 of hearts had to give the last trick to dummy's T9 of hearts.

Next up Ireland.