Our final round robin matches were a roller coaster ride; a 17-13 win against Egypt, a 7-23 loss to Singapore, a 17-13 win over Canada and a 19-11 win against Hong Kong left us in third place with one match to go. Since this was against bottom-of-the table Morocco, and the team in second place, Indonesia, were playing top-of-the table France, we had high hopes of finishing second in the pool.
Alas, Morocco played well and beat us 19-11 and so we ended up in fourth place, with no control over our opponents in the first round of the knock-out. The draw was a tense affair, squeezed in between the last round robin match and the start of the knock-out. France chose neighbours Netherlands and Indonesia chose near-neighbours Japan. Germany could have continued the pattern by selecting Poland, but opted for the USA, leaving Poland to face England.
Poland were not the opponents we would have chosen if we had finished second, and their team contains five World Champions. On the other hand we have won our last four encounters with them, including at the European Championships in Dublin in June. We started extremely well and have a 52-10 lead after 16 of the 64 boards. I have had a nice meal and feel compelled to share this poem with you:
There was a bridge player called Hackett
Who said of their five clubs "I'll whack it".
The defence it was sure,
The result was down four,
And the board cost the Poles quite a packet.
In the interests of historical accuracy, the Poles were only three down, but Papa H tells me they might/could have been down four, and so I exercised a bit of poetic licence.
The team has retired early and left me with the (pleasurable) task of bringing you up to speed with the good news. I hope I will be this cheerful this time tomorrow night.