It is Day One of our Under 20 World Championship campaign and team morale is high. Our team is altogether for the first time since April with the arrival of Chris Huber, who has just returned from travels abroad. Coincidentally he was just around the corner in Japan, only 800 or so miles away (and more importantly nearly on the same time zone) so he is probably feeling the most at home of all the team. I discovered today that his partner Freddie Illingworth (who claims to be from Oxford) spent the first 8 years of his life in Vietnam. (Almost certainly a prison camp, placed there due to his poor record in 3NT contracts.)
Also competing in their first World Championships are Michael Alishaw and Toby Nonnenmacher, both from London, although Toby must have some foreign blood in him as he was faced with a tricky choice of which passport to travel here under.
Alex Roberts is one of the two players that played last year in the Europeans where we finished 4th and qualified us for this event, and this time he has brushed his enormous fringe back from his eyes just long enough to start a new partnership with Shivam Shah, who has been playing bridge for longer than the rest of the team put together. (Those of you that don't believe me can trawl through your old EBU magazines to the 1998 issue which features him on the front cover, aged 6).
Today coach Alan Shillitoe and I survived the captains meeting and then the whole team enjoyed (or should that be endured?) the opening ceremony. Tomorrow the bridge starts for real. Wish us luck!