The 17th Youth Bridge team Championships have officially started!
It seemed so far away – in time and space – when I started working working with the U16s, that I am struggling to believe that in about 12 hours it will be time for boards, cards, bidding boxes, screens, IMPs and VPs. At last!
The trip to Suzhou has been relatively smooth, except for a suitcase that did not arrive with us. The piece of luggage has since been found and reunited with the legitimate owner.
We had a couple of days to recover from the jet-lag and get used to the Chinese summer. If you think the British one has been very hot this year, here it’s worse! Together with temperatures in the high 30s, the humidity level is unbearable. When outdoors, you sweat even if you do not move. Indoors there is A/C everywhere, and that is where we will be spending most of our time.
We managed to do some sightseeing though. This is a picture of the team taken in one of the gardens Suzhou is famous for. Yes, you are quite right, there is only 5 of them. The 6th (Henry) flew in one day later, because he did not want to miss the first weekend of the Summer Festival!
Today things have started to come properly alive. First there was the registration of the team. Basically they check the kids’ passport – in case someone is trying to cheat on the age. That was particularly necessary for one of our kids. Given he is 6’2” (or 6’3”, he keeps growing), the person at the desk was quite dubious he could be only 14 years old.
Shortly after lunch we had a team meeting, where the kids were given the line up for tomorrow’s matches and then – together with Laura, the team’s coach – we went through the opponents’ convention cards.
Then came the captains’ meeting. During which some information about the running of the events are shared and then comes a long list of ways to get fined and lose VPs: submitting the line up late, bringing a mobile phone – even switched off – to the playing site, raising an appeal which is deemed frivolous, slow play, and more.
The day finished with the opening ceremony and the welcome banquet. After a few speeches by Chinese authorities and WBF officials, medals were awarded to the winners and runner ups of the 1st Kids Team Online Championships. It was time for the U16s to step up onto the podium and receive their well deserved silver medal (I am sure you will have read that we lost the final to the mighty Chinese). I don’t have a picture to share of the prize giving, because I was on the podium too! (One is now available on Facebook here) Despite not having won one single trick myself, I got a medal. The perks of being an NPC, I guess.
The kids were very happy – as you can imagine – and so was I, very proud of this amazing group. They are not losing focus though. They are well aware tomorrow a new competition starts and they are really looking forward to get things going.
The schedule is very tight. Four matches a day mean bridge between 10am and 8pm (with lunch somewhere in between). Then dinner and another team meeting to get ready for the day ahead. As you can see it would be very demanding for anyone, let alone for kids of this age. But they have worked very hard before the event and they are ready.
I know you will be following our scores online, but I hope to write again soon to add some details and let you know how things paned out.