Monday 30 September 2019

World Championships Updates - England Mixed Team captain's reports - Third-place play off (Paul Barden)

Third-place play off, Friday 27th and Saturday 28th September

Romania, who we beat handily on the first day of the event, outplay us in the first set, winning four double-digit swings.  There is one ray of light, on this deal.  The auction starts 1S-2H-3D-P, and the Romanians bid to 7D.  Michael leads the jack of spades, taking out an entry to dummy.  The only risk to the contract is clubs 5-1, the auction suggests that East will have spade honours and some shape to justify her overcall, and the lead suggests that East has spade length.  So the best line is clear: cash the king and ace of diamonds, unblock South's club honours, then cross to dummy while drawing the remaining trump, catering for East's actual shape.  But declarer simply runs trumps, relying on a club break or squeeze, and finds the unlucky lie where this fails.  Graham has not been challenged by the trump lead at the other table, so we gain 19 IMPs.  Or do we?  The partitions separating the BBO rooms are not sound-proof, and Frances reports to the Director that she'd heard some remarks at another table about a making grand slam.  After due consideration, the Directors award a weighted score, which takes one IMP off our gain.  We lose the set 53-29.

The second-set is strewn with errors by both side, but we make more than Romania, and lose another 10 IMPs.  All the players are tired after a fortnight of high-level bridge, and the fatigue seems to be affecting us more than our opponents.  I tell the team that unless they can recover their focus we will lose the match.  But we continue to make mistakes, and lose another 22 IMPs.  The play-off matches are only 80 boards - two sets to go, so we have a lot to do and will have to play much better to have a chance.

We do play better on the second day, and this deal gives us hope.  Michael, South, opens 1D, West overcalls 2S, Fiona, North bids 3H, and East bids 3S.  I expect Michael's 4H to end the auction, but no, West decides to save in 4S, and when Fiona doesn't double that, Michael decides to bid slam.  6H would be beaten by a club lead, but East leads a spade.  Fiona runs the jack of hearts to West's king, then does then right thing in both hearts and diamonds to make her contract. 

We win both sets, but not by enough - we lose by 24 IMPs.  Congratulations to all the medal winners, and especially to the England Senior and Women's teams.


World Championships Updates - Women's Team Progress - Bronze in the Venice Cup! (David Gold)

Gold wasn't possible after our loss to the brilliant Swedes but we had an 80 board play off for 3rd place.

We won a scrappy and very close match against old rivals the Netherlands by 5 imps. We picked up 9 on the last board.

We are all thrilled.

Thanks to everyone who supported us,

Thanks to David Burn for his great coaching and support,

Most of all thanks to my team for fighting so hard for 2 weeks and getting over the line when the going got tough.

Nicola Smith and Yvonne Wiseman
Gillian Fawcett and Catherine Draper
Nevena Senior and Heather Dhondy


Friday 27 September 2019

World Championships Updates - England Mixed Team captain's reports - Semi-Final (Paul Barden)

Semi-Final, Wednesday 25th and Thursday 26th September

USA1 scraped into the knock-out stages only in the final round on Sunday, but that's ancient history.  Our semi-final starts badly for us.  On board 1 we have a poor 14 opposite a poor 11.  Michael and Fiona reasonably judge not to play game, but the lie is very favourable and it makes.  On board 2 USA1 save five-over-five in a 5-3 fit despite having three aces. Their suit is breaking 5-0, which means that our 5H contract was making, and they have a side-suit fit no one knew about which holds the penalty in 5Sx to 300.  Sally, unusually for a many-times World Champion, is a big fan of the weak NT.  Alas, several deals in this match will not favour it: on board six it walks into an 1100 penalty .  After only six boards we are 35 IMPs down.  Then the weak NT strikes back, concealing Barry's five-card diamond suit, which the opponents switch to in his aggressive 3NT contract.  He makes, while USA1 go off in 2S at the other table.  We have some more good boards, and finish the set only 45-38 behind.  But the rest of the day goes from bad to worse.  We are 58 IMPs behind at the end of the day, and need to play much much better on the second day.

Nothing very good happens in the first set: the only big swing is when they bid a vulnerable slam which is slightly worse than a finesse, while we do not.  At the score we need the slam to fail, but it makes.  We lose 7 IMPs on the set and trail by 65 with 32 boards to play.  But something good finally happens at the start of the fifth set - they have a misunderstanding and defend a cold 3Dx, while saving in 5Dx at the other table.  13 IMPs to us, and perhaps the first step back.  The boards are quiet, but we pick up some small swings and finally win a set.  We are 41 behind with 16 to play.

The boards stay mostly quiet; there are not 42 IMPs in them to be won.  We try a few things, and gain a few IMPs, but we don't get everything right and pick up only 13 on the set.  We have lost by 28 IMPs.  That's not a bad margin in a knock-out match - close enough to think you might have won on another day, but big enough that you don't have to reproach yourself over every adverse swing.  In the other semi-final, Romania tie with Russia: Russia will be in the final because they beat Romania in their match in the round robin, while we will be playing Romania for third place.


World Championships Updates - England Mixed Team captain's reports - Quarter-Final (Paul Barden)

Quarter-Final, Monday 23rd and Tuesday 24th September

We learn that we are playing for the "Wuhan Cup", named along the lines of the "Bermuda Bowl" and "Venice Cup".  You can read the bulletins online here.

Board 1 of our quarter-final against Latvia looks like a good omen.  Both tables have the auction 3D by North, reopening double by West (the normal action at this level of play), all pass.  Sally leads a top spade, gets a count signal from Barry, and switches to hearts.  In due course she gets a heart ruff for two off.  The same contract goes only one off at almost all other tables in the four events, and we win five IMPs.

But it's not a good omen.  On the second board Frances comes in aggressively at the three level on a promising hand - passing is risky too - and goes four off in hundreds on a defensive cross-ruff.  On the third board Barry judges poorly to bid 5H over their 4S save and goes off instead of taking 500.  And on the fourth board they double Frances in a 6-3 fit at the two level.  This is an unavoidable one off, with our game contract at the other table also going off.  After four boards we are 26 IMPs down.  But there are still 92 boards to play.  We pick up 9 IMPs on board five when the Latvian East makes a huge underbid, and 12 more on board 6 when the Latvian South makes a passive opening trump lead, giving herself a later guess of which king to play her partner for, which she gets wrong.  But we bid a lot of non-making contracts for the next few boards, and lose a part-score swing, to trail by 30 IMPs after the first set of sixteen.

The second set starts with Latvia bidding a hopeless slam.  But then they open 3S at favourable on AQJ1098 J3 J852 6, while we open 2S.  The higher pre-empt makes it too risky to overcall on 7642 AQ6 4 AKJ83, so they get to play in 4S in one room, which could be beaten but isn't, and 5C in the other, which can't be touched, and we lose 14 IMPs.   We get 9 back by doubling them when they pre-empt too high on the next board, and recover 10 on the set to trail by 20 IMPS.

In the third set we get a game swing when Frances and Graham bid a sensible 3NT while the Latvians play a hopeless 5C, and another when they lead the right suit against 3NT but can't read the signal, and wrongly switch.  We are temporarily in the lead in the match, but then go wrong on two boards near the end and trail by 4 IMPs overnight.  Nevertheless, we have been gradually gaining IMPs.  We talk through the boards over dinner, and feel cautiously confident that the match is there to be won.

In the morning, Michael gets the chance to do something good on this deal.  He opens 3S, West doubles, North raises, and West doubles again in the pass-out seat.  West leads the king of hearts and continues the suit, East overtakes and switches to diamonds.  Whatever the merits of that, West really ought to have cashed the ace of  spades at trick two, as Michael swiftly demonstrates.  Ace of diamonds, diamond ruff, heart ruff, diamond ruff, spade, and West is endplayed for +590.  That gives us a double-digit lead for the first time in the match, and we end the set 20 IMPs ahead.

In a scrappy fifth set we extend our lead by 11 IMPS, so we're a fairly comfortable 31 ahead with 16 boards to play.  But the Latvians come out swinging - on this deal they bid 7H by South with J98532 of trumps in dummy opposite AQ6.  Declarer tries the technically inferior but psychologically effective line of leading the jack off dummy - that loses against on sivngleton king onside, but has the idea that RHO will probably not cover with Kx, so if she does you can finesse against the ten next.  K10x are onside so the contract makes.  That's admirably bold bidding and play, and lucky with it.  There are two more hands in the set where 7H can be made, one of them is a good contract but flat in 6H+1, the other one needs a finesse and guess of which squeeze to play: it's flat in 6H making.  But we lose a game swing when our declarer tries an obscure endplay instead of a winning finesse, while picking up a few bits and pieces.  The match is settled on the penultimate board: Fiona is on lead with Q96 Q104 103 AQ1086 against the auction 1H-1S, 3D-3NT.  She chooses the queen of clubs, logical when dummy is expected to be short in the suit.  In fact dummy has the singleton jack, and the defence is easy from there.  We win by a nervous 12 IMPs:  We start again tomorrow against USA1 in the semi-final.


Thursday 26 September 2019

World Championships Updates - Women's Team Progress (David Gold)

It pains me to write it, but 95 down with a set to go and a bronze medal playoff match v the dutch to prepare for,

We conceded.


World Championships Updates - Women's Team Progress (David Gold)


We are 92 imps down at the halfway point v Sweden

They played well and with a following wind.

Hope we can somehow turn it around.


Wednesday 25 September 2019

World Champions Updates - England Seniors Progress (David Jones)

The England Senior Team have had a great 10 days in Wuhan and it continues Wednesday and Thursday with a semi final match against the Netherlands.

The team qualified in the round robin in fourth place of 24 teams winning 15 matches and drawing one out of 23.

As a result we were matched  with China in the Quarter Final  a team including a former Venice Cup winner.We took an early lead against China and at the half way mark led by a useful but inconclusive 30 imps.In the fourth and fifth sets we lost a total of 36 imps to enter the last set 6 imps down.

In the final set of 16 boards we had slightly the worst of it for a good while and with 3 boards remaining we were 18 IMPs down so to the fateful final boards.

On 94 the lay out was as follows



So an excellent and cold heart slam missed by China but bid by Kendrick and Ward to win 11 IMPs. The deficit was down to only 7 IMPs.

Then the penultimate board



China reached 3NT which was defeated by a club lead whilst in the other room England played in 2H making 10 tricks for a gain of 6 IMPs to make the match score 164 -163 to China. At this stage I should mention that we would lose the match if the scores finished level based on the round robin match.

So to the last board of the match which I give as a bidding problem.Alan Mould held at favourable vulnerability the following hand


The bidding went pass pass 1NT (13 -15 in the Chinese methods)?

Three possibilities spring to mind 3C, pass or double. Here opponents were vulnerable so may go more than one off in this contract on a top club lead and if you bid or warn them with a double they are off the hook so Alan passed and the defence defeated this by 3 tricks for +300 while in the other room 3C made four for a gain of 5 IMPs and the match by 4 IMPs.

It has been an exciting 10 days  and the team has played some fine bridge.

David Jones (Non-Playing Captain)

Tuesday 24 September 2019

World Championships Updates - Women's Team Progress (David Gold)

Well that was a sweaty last set!

Having been up 80 at one point today we were only up 19 with a few swingy boards to come, they went our way however and we won by 52 in the end which looks more comfortable than it really was.

Tomorrow we play Sweden who turned round a deficit to beat the mighty USA1. It is not going to be easy.
Tonight we are having a meal at a highly recommended vegetarian restaurant which is making Gillian, in particular, very happy.

Well done to the Seniors and Mixed for surviving tight matches. I am gutted for the open who had a big lead but got blown away in the last two sets by the front 4 on USA1.


Monday 23 September 2019

World Championships Updates - Bermuda Bowl Blog - Day 9 (Neil Rosen)

Day 9

The biggest day of many of our lives had arrived! The famous USA1 squad.

Their regular style is to play their sponsor; Nick Nickell for the first two sets out of six. He then tends to sit back and watch.

We won both the first two sets to take a 17IMP lead. Chris Jagger and Jeffrey Allerton played both sets and played really, really well. 

There is one board still outstanding where we have asked for a ruling - we will await clarification on this tomorrow.

The third set saw the other two pairs take on their big four players. We achieved a near blitz! 53-7. Fantastic stuff. Look at the form we were in:


AJxx                    KT98
KJT98x               xx
x                          AKTx
Jx                        xxx


A spirited auction:

P      1H    P    1S
P      2S    X     XX
2NT 3S    P    P
4C    P      P    X

Tony Forrester found a sharp double and Andrew Robson proved well up to the mark. He led his singleton diamond to the K, then played AD (on reflection the A then K is better as suit preference). Tony then returned the diamond T as suit preference for Andrew to ruff. He was up to the job - under-leading his spade A in an instant for another diamond ruff. MAGNIFICENT - 12 imps to us.

Overnight we have a healthy 63 imp lead. It’s a terrific start - but tomorrow will be a huge day for us as their world class team will attempt to come roaring back.

Fingers crossed!

I note at the moment that all the England teams are doing ok - what an amazing achievement it would be to get all four teams into the semi-finals.


World Championships Updates - Bermuda Bowl Blog - Day 8 (Neil Rosen)

Day 8

The final day of qualifying arrived. China were a tough team playing well but fortunately both our pairs played a very tight match - leaving us with a terrific 14-6 win and putting 10VPs of daylight between us and not qualifying.

The final match initially started shakily but the other results were all going our way so there was never too much pressure. 

A late rally saw the scores almost level leaving us qualifying in 7th place!!! A magnificent achievement from my team.

Tomorrow the team will face the leaders of the round robin - USA 1, in the quarters finals. Our whole squad is looking forward to the match immensely - particularly as we beat them at the same stage in Chennai 4 years ago.