Match 1 saw us take on Chinese Taipei, whose players are from Taiwan. This is the official name under which the terrority competes in Olympic and international events, and is regarded as a compromise.
Their bidding was somewhat mysterious, and as usual at U20 level it wasn't long before the doubles started flying.
This was a particularly mysterious effort from board 4.
|A 10 9 8 5|
|J 8 6 3|
|A K 8 5|
After two passes your right hand opponent opens 1.
What's that you say - you don't understand why I am asking you what to do when you have such an obvious pass?
Not so — the Taiwanese player (or should that be Chinese Taipanean player?) learnedly made a take out double. He was subsequently rewarded when his partner was able to make a penalty double of 3 and get 500. The full auction:
Amazingly enough this auction was not duplicated in the open room where England made 130 peacefully enough in 3.
It wasn't long until we got our revenge though as the red flag of doom proved to be their undoing.
I shall give the initial hand and see if you find Alex Robert's enterprising call.
|8 7 5 4|
|K 8 4 2|
|9 6 4 2|
Apparently the merits of a pass escaped him and he was there with 1. Shivam (who has seen Alex's "free bids" before) wisely held back and raised him to 2 and that was doubled to end the auction.
This was the dummy that awaited him:
|Q 10 9 2|
|A 10 9 7 6|
|K J 3|
Trumps were 2-2 so 9 tricks were solid. It got better when the ace of diamonds never made a guest appearance, so that was 1070 in the locker. With the jack of spades onside Alex might actually have managed 11 tricks but apparently he was fooled by a slow 3 when he led towards the dummy — "should I have called the director and tried to get it adjusted to 1270?" he asked me over lunch.
This and a few other Brucie bonus boards contributed to a handsome 53 imp win, 25-3 in Vps.
Our next match was up against Australia, who were vastly improved from the beginners we thrashed in Philadelphia.
This was one of their more aggravating efforts:
They saved in 4 over our 4 which we duly doubled. We led a heart to the ace, a diamond to the ace and then played the king of hearts to force dummy. Things were looking pretty grim for declarer as she hasn't been able to unblock the ace of clubs. However it was all smiles when the king of clubs appeared on the first round and trumps were 2-2 and declarer duly chalked up 790 (I suppose we should be glad she didn't try and make 5 as that would have worked too!). At the other table The Australians bid on to 5 which went a few down, but still 12 imps away.
We didn't lose any other double figure swings but a 12-18 loss was the best we could do.
In the last match we faced a tricky Swedish side and it was tough going for both NS pairs. Freddie and Chris were really struggling against Mikael and Ida Gronkvist (brother and sister, Ida will represent Sweden ladies in the Olympiad in Lille) and the hands were not friendly, but as usual we had respite from the other room, and a solid card gave us a victory by 1 imp.
Although we have dropped to 7th place, we are nearly a match clear of 9th place, but we need to duff up some of our rivals to ensure that we get a good knock out draw.
We face Israel and China tomorrow, both tough matches. (Well if we lose them they will have been tough. If we win them then we will have played very well, oh yes.)
Another interesting point is that we think this is the lightest England team ever selected, clocking in at somewhere around half the weight of the average open team. We are doing our best to build up strength with team bananas but we're gonna have to get through quite a lot...