Michael Byrne, NPC of the Under 20s
A change is as good as a rest and after a change in line up we are back in the driving seat.
We crushed Germany this morning and then lost very narrowly to Latvia. The bridge has improved significantly and I am hopeful, with all of the good teams out of the way that we can rise through the field.
This was a nicely bid slam hand today:
1C 1NT (GF with clubs)
2D (unbal) 3C (waiting)
3S (natural) 4H (cue)
4S (cue) 6C
With trumps 2-2 this didn't even require the spade guess for 920.
This hand was played 16 times in the U20s and not a single pair reached 6C apart from Sam and Ben. (8 teams bid it in the U26s)
Tomorrow we face Israel who are normally a little "tricky" in several departments and then Denmark who are 7th.
Alan Shillitoe, NPC of the Under 25s
Into the meat of the schedule - the procession of tough matches we knew were coming our way. Israel and home team Norway. The two worst boards of the day were unerringly similar. A grand slam in diamonds off a keycard. The one against Israel cost momentum in the match and we never really recovered losing by 17. The one against Norway took us out of the lead in the match and precipitated a slide to be behind by 20IMPs. It looked pretty ropey at that point, but a comeback was mounted, aided by another false card of a Queen - there seems to be a theme going on here too - and we came back to win by 15. Approximately all square on the day then.
The hardest part is the watching. I'm normally in the VG theatre. They're all big boys now and have been here before. They have their way of handling themselves at the table and can look after themselves. When I'm watching the scores come in, I'm still living every deal, but I can't influence it any more. If you see a game swing go out, it's difficult and you want to rage, but usually there's some quite rational reason and the Bridge gods simply weren't smiling on you. Jon has found the watching harder than me - this is his first major championship as a coach. Both of us would rather be playing as any player worth their salt wants to take their destiny into their own hands. But we can't do that. Instead we are left to agonise from afar outside the arena. All we can do is make sure they are in the best prepared manner to face the battles facing them.
Tomorrow Sweden, Italy and Germany await. More nails will be bitten.