Monday, 21 December 2009

Review of weekend's international action

Hello everyone, I am going to try to replace David Muller as Internationals blogger. Please feel free to chip in with your questions and comments.

Last weekend's international action featured seniors and juniors.

Stage I of the Seniors trial was at the Young Chelsea. The day before play, team captain Denis O'Donovan was a player short and threatening to scratch. A phone call to Malcolm Lewis proved productive, he was recruited to join Denis and his team-mates, Patrick Collins and John Short. Even with four players at the table, this team wouldn't have been favourites to qualify at the expense of Tony Waterlow's all-international quartet, and other respected opponents, but they managed it. O'Donovan lost the head-to-head match 14-16, but outscored Waterlow 54 to 53 VPs over the weekend round-robin, ahead of Jepson and Palmer who scored 36 and 35 VPs respectively.

This entitles Denis and his men to play Ross Harper's exempted gold medallists over 96 boards, winners to represent England in the Senior Camrose and the Senior European in Ostend.

Ostend also hosted the Junior Channel series, in which the EBU fielded three teams. Our girls finished third behind the Dutch, and our Schools team trailed in fourth behind the French. But our U-25s team carried the flag, winning for the first time for ages, but I think slightly less than the 25 years of hurt as reported on the front page. Perhaps someone can recall the exact year and winning team?

Many congratulations to our 2009 Junior Channel champions, hope they've all made it home by now:

Tom Paske, Ed Jones, Ben Paske, Graeme Robertson, James Paul, Alice Kaye, and n.p.c. Simon Cope.

Friday, 9 October 2009

Thanks David

I am sad to report that David Muller is stepping down as the Selection and Internationals blogger as he is no longer a member of the Selection Committee. David first took on this role in April 2008 at the inception of the blog, and since then has produced numerous reports of European and World Championships, bringing the excitement of those events to a wide audience of bridge lovers on a daily basis. His good humour and detailed insight will be missed by all who regularly read this feature.
On behalf of the Selection Committee and the readers of this blog I would like to thank David sincerely for his contribution.
Heather Dhondy
Chairman of Selectors

Sunday, 13 September 2009

England, Senior World Champions, reflection

A key to the success of the English Senior World Championship winning team was their excellent defence. Here is just one example which occured at a crucial stage of the final against Poland, just 8 boards from the end.

Final - Board 89 (of 96) Dealer N EW Vul

S K 9 8 4 3
H 2
D 8 3
C A 9 8 6 2
S A 10
H A Q 8 4 3
C K J 5 3
S Q J 7 5
H J 9
D Q 7 6 4 2
C 10 7
S 6 2
H K 10 7 6 5
D K 10 9 5
C Q 4

At this stage with eight boards to go England led by 12 imps.
In the other room England were in 4H after a 2S opening by the Polish north. This had no chance with the trumps 5-1, down 3 for 300 to Poland. In this room the Polish east got to 3NT after a 1S overcall by north. If this contract were to make the Poles would pick up 14 imps and take the lead, so it was vital to defeat it, one down would mean a loss of only 5 imps and England would still be in front by 7 imps.

Against 3NT Simpson (south) lead the S6, dummy played low and we saw the first good play when Price played low so that he didn't set up two spade winners in declarer's hand. Declarer now played DA DJ and Simpson won with his king. He exited with a spade, declarer winning it with the ace in dummy. Now declarer played a low heart to the jack and Simpson took it with the king and was on lead again. He returned the H10, pinning declarer's nine and putting the lead back in dummy. Declarer cashed dummy's ace and queen of Hearts, the tried lead the CK from dummy. Price (north) ducked this while Simpson (south) unblocked his club queen, and it was all over, the defence had control and communications, declarer could not avoid going one down. 5 imps to Poland which could so easily have been 14 on less sharp defence. In the final seven boards that followed this one, England picked up 23 imps and lost just 6, to run out match winners by 24 imps.

Saturday, 12 September 2009

England Seniors are World Champions!

After a roller coaster ride of a match, where they were down by 60 IMPs after one set, fought back brilliantly to lead by 30 IMPs after five sets and had to face an exciting late rally by Poland, England Seniors emerged victorious by 187 IMPs to 163.67.

Congratulations to all the team (pictured here):
David Price & Colin Simpson
Gunnar Hallberg & John Holland
Ross Harper & Paul Hackett
NPC Peter Baxter

Friday, 11 September 2009

England Seniors recovering after bad start in Final

The England seniors started the World Championship final really badly against Poland losing the first stanza 1 - 59 to trail by 61.7 imps when the carryover is added on. However they fought back in the second and third stanzas, taking them 57 - 23 & 37 - 31 respectively, cutting the Polish lead to just 21.67. The final will be concluded today, with stanzas 4 ,5 & 6 being played.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

England Seniors In World Championship Final!

England are through to the final of the Senior Bowl in São Paulo. Those watching on BBO were treated to another close match, with Indonesia coming within touching distance towards the end, but England held on magnificently. They play Poland, who beat USA, for a gold medal in the final.

Good luck to the team:
David Price & Colin Simpson
Gunnar Hallberg & John Holland
Ross Harper & Paul Hackett
NPC Peter Baxter

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

England Seniors fighting back against Indonesia

It's the half way point of the semi-final match between England and Indonesia in the Seniors World Championship, and England are trailing Indonesia by 12.5 imps. After two stanzas they we trailing by 43.5 imps, but they made a great comeback in the third stanza and have fought their way right back into the match. In the second half they will need to continue what they did in the 3rd stanza, if they can do that they should win. In the other semi-final USA2 are 22 imps ahead of Poland. The two semi-final winners will meet in the final where they will play for the gold and silver medals, plus of course the trophy, while the two losers will play off for the bronze medal.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Seniors Trials for 2010 European and Camrose

1. The teams who have provisionally entered are required to confirm their team line-up and pay the entry fee of £260 per team by 4 October.

2. Teams may add players to their team (up to a maximum of six in a team) at any stage, provided these players have not played for any other team.

3. Should the England Senior team reach the Final of the Seniors Bowl in Sao Paulo, it will be exempted into the final of the Trials, on the condition that it contains exactly the same six players.

A. Preliminary Round:
- A Preliminary round may be necessary to reduce the field for the Round Robin stage.
- The entries will be seeded according to Gold Points to determine the Preliminary round.
- A maximum of one match to be played privately.
- Teams eliminated at this stage will receive a rebate of £200.

B. Round Robin
- To be played on the weekend of 18-20 December.
- To be played at the Young Chelsea Bridge Club.
- A round-robin, with probably six or eight teams.
- Approximately 48 to 56 boards a day.
- Each player must play at least one third of the boards.

C. Final
- To be played by the two leading teams from the Round Robin, subject to para 3, above.
- 96 boards to be played over two consecutive days.
- The location will be determined after the conclusion of the Round Robin.
- To be played on Jan 23-24.
- The teams may play at a different venue or on a different date, if mutually agreed.
- The match must be completed by 28 February 2010.

5. The team that wins the trials will have the opportunity to play as a team in the European and the Camrose. In the event that the full team is unavailable for either event, the Selection Committee will select a team. If a team-of-four wins, the third pair(s) will be chosen from trials participants by the SC, in consultation with the winners. If a team of five wins the trials then the Selection Committee reserve the right to add a sixth player to the team, in consultation with the winners.

6. NPCs will be selected by the SC, in consultation with the winners.

England Seniors squeak into world semi-finals

The England Seniors made it into the Semi-finals of the world championships by the narrowest of margins, just 1 imp. There was drama right to the finish. With one board to go England were 10 imps ahead, this was the last board of the match:

Board 96
Dealer W / EW Vul

S 10 9 8 6 5
H A K 7 2
D Q 10 5
C 2
S A K 2
H 6 5 3
D A 8 3 2
S J 7 4
H Q 10 8
D K 9
C Q 9 8 7 3
S Q 3
H J 9 4
D J 7 6 4
C 10 6 5 4

THe Egyptian EW played in the routine 3NT contract makng two over for a score of 660 to Egypt. In the other room the Egyptian NS stole the contact in 2H and went five down for a score of 250 to England. This resulted in a swing of 9 imps to Egypt, but it was not quite enough to catch England.

In the semi-final England will face Indonesia who beat Belgium in one of the other quarter-finals. England start with a carry-over of 14.5 imps. The other Semi-final is berween Poland & USA2.

Monday, 7 September 2009

England Seniors have slender half-time lead over Egypt

It's the half way point of the Quarter final match between England and Egypt in the Seniors World Championship, and England are just holding onto the slender lead they started with. Their lead is now 15 imps, so since they started with a carry over of 12 imps, it means they've gained just 3 imps in the first three stanzas. In the second half they will need to show some of the form they showed in the round robin matches, if they can do that they should win. If England win, they will play the winners of the match between Belgium and Indonesia, which at half time could go either way.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

England Seniors coast into the Quarter-finals

The England Seniors have qualified for the quarter-finals of the Seniors World Championship, finishing the round robin a comfortable 23.5 vps ahead of second placed Belgium. The knockout stage begins today. All matches in the Seniors will be 96 boards in length played in six stanzas of 16 boards, spread over 2 days. As round robin winners, England could pick their opponents from the teams that finished between 5th and 8th place, and have chosen to play Egypt. They also get to pick their semi-final opponents, snd they have chosen the winner of the quarter-final match between Belgium and Indonesia. In the other half of the draw, Poland play Sweden and USA1 play USA2, the winners of these two matches meet in the other semi-final. England begin their match against Egypt 12 imps up due to the carry over from the round robin match. The first three stanzas will be played today, and the match will conclude with three more stanzas tomorrow.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

England Seniors big favourites to win round robin

England Seniors surged ahead of all their rivals yesterday, just as I predicted they would. Today is the final day of the round robin, and England start the day 22.5 vps ahead of second place Belgium. They have one hard match today, USA 1 who are 6th. They need just 53 vps from their three matches to day to be certain of winning the round robin, and I'll stick my neck out again today and say I predict they'll win the group and finish between 15 to 20 vps ahead of 2nd. Winning the group will give the team a very useful advantage going into the knockout stages, as it will enable the then to choose their opponents for the quarter & semi finals.

Friday, 4 September 2009

England Seniors lead into the finishing straight

Just six matches to go now in the round robin stage and the England Seniors are still holding onto their lead as they "round the final corner into the finishing straight". They had a tough day yesterday having to play two of their main rivals, Poland and USA2. The lost both these matches, but only by narrow margins, not enough for them to be overhauled, and they have probably the easiest run in of all the teams at the top. The only top team they have to play is USA 1 who are currently lying 7th, their other 5 matches are against teams in the bottom half of the standings. I feel confident the our Seniors will gain ground on their rivals in the next six rounds, and finish the round robin comfortably in first place. If they achieve this it will give them a big adrantage in the knockout stage s it will entitle them to pick their quarter final opponets, and choose who plays who in the semifinals.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

England Seniors lose unbeaten record but remain comfortably in the lead.

The England seniors finally lost their first match of this championship. It happened in round eleven, when they were beaten 19 - 11 by Belgium who have moved up into 2nd place as a result. Nevertheless England had good wins in the other two matches, so they are still in the lead with a slightly reduced margin of 16.5 vps over the field. England have still won eleven out of their twelve matches, and there are now nine matches to go to the end of the round robin stage. England have probably their toughest day today, they play fifth placed Poland in their middle match and third placed USA2 in their final match, both these matches are being shown live on Bridge Base Online and BBOTV.

Today's Matches
3.00pm Turkey
5.30pm Poland (on BBO)
8.20pm USA 2 (on BBO)

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

England Seniors have clear water

After three more wins on day three making it nine out of nine, England are now 20 vps clear of 2nd place Egypt. We are still less than half way through the round robin stage so it's far too early to count chickens, but certainly the team have done everything asked of them so far and I see no reason that should not continue. England will be hoping to keep their lead at the top and win the round robin, as this would allow them to choose their quarter-final and semi-final opponents.

Today's Matches
3.00pm New Zealand
5.30pm Belgium
8.20pm Venezuela

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Board by Board Round 7 v Sweden

Round 7 England v Sweden 33 - 29 imps 16 - 14 vps at the end of the match

Board 5
Price sitting north plays in 3NT. NS have a combined 25 count and no major fit. However there is no heart stop and hearts break 6 - 3 wth the six card suit on lead, so Sweden cash the first six tricks and get one more later for down three, 300 to Sweden. At the other table England buy the contract in 3H and make it 140 to England, but a 4 imp swing to Sweden. England now trail 1 - 15 imps, 12 - 18 vps.

Board 4
Hallberg, sitting East plays in 3NT. The defence can cash the first four tricks after which he has to get three tricks from a diamond suit of K J 10 3 opposite A 5 2. He guesses the suit wrong and goes down one. Sweden play in 3H making four for 170 to go with the 100 in the other room. 7 imps to Sweden. England now trail 1 - 11 imps, 13 - 17 vps.

Board 3
Sweden play in 1NT by North for -90. England play in 2H which goes one down for -50 when the hearts break 5 - 1 offside. 4 imps to Sweden. England trail 1 - 4 imps, 14 - 16 vps.

Board 2
4H by South at both tables. England pick up 1 imp for making an extra overtrick. 1 - 0, 15 - 15 vps.

Board 1
3NT by West with 9 tricks on top at both tables. A push. 0 - 0, 15 - 15 vps.

Monday, 31 August 2009

Board by Board Round 6 v Italy

Round 6 England v Italy 32 - 27 imps 16 - 14 vps after 16 boards.

Board 32
S J 10 9
H A 10 7 5 2
D A 5 4
C K 6
S 7 5 4 3 2
H Q 9 3
D 10 3
C 9 8 4
H J 8 4
D Q J 9 7 2
C A J 10
S K 8 6
H K 6
D K 8 6
C Q 7 5 3 2

Holland (west) led a club against 3NT. We don't know the auction but probably clubs had not been bid. 3NT made for -400. 3H +1 was made at the other table but that was still 6 imps back for Italy, making the final score 32 - 27, 16 - 14 in vps.

Board 31
S A 10 8 5
H 9 5 2
D Q 10 5 4
C 9 8
S J 9 7 6 2
H 10
D A 9 7 6 3
C J 5
S K Q 4 3
H 7 4
D 8
C A Q 7 6 5 2
H A K Q J 8 6 3
D K J 2
C K 10 3

A missed opportunity for England here. England play in 4H by south making. In the other room the Italian south is in 5H, presumably pushed there. This can be beaten on a diamond ruff privided the right lead is chosen. Holland (west) led the S6 so the contract made. 1 imp to Italy when it could have been 10 to England. England's lead reduced to 32 - 21, 17 - 13 in vps.

Board 30
S 7 5
H J 5 4
D A 9 3 2
C J 10 9 2
S K 8 4
H K 7 6 2
D K 6 5
C K Q 7
S A Q 6 3
H A 10 9
D Q 9 4
C 6 4 3
S J 10 9 2
H Q 8 3
D J 10 7
C A 8 5

For both teams East was declarer in 3NT. Hallberg for England made it on the SJ lead, the Italian East went one off on the DJ lead. 10 imps to England who are now ahead 32 - 20, 18 - 12 in vps.

Board 29
5C by West made by both teams. Another push. England still lead 22 - 20, 15 - 15 in vps.

Board 28
A push in what looks like a routine 3NT+1 by NS. Still 22 - 20, 15 - 15 in vps.

Board 27
4Hx -1 by West at both tables. England still lead 22 - 20, 15 - 15 in vps.

Board 26
3S by East at both tables, but England made an overtrick. 1 imp to England who now lead 22 - 20, 15 - 15 in vps.

Board 25
S 6 4
H A K 8
D 10 9 3 2
C A 9 5 2
S Q 9 8 5 3
H 9
D K 6
C K J 10 6 4
S K 10
H Q 6 5 4
D Q J 8 7 5
C Q 7
S A J 7 2
H J 10 7 3 2
D A 4
C 8 3

For England, Price (North) plays in 1NT making +1 for +120. The Italian North lands up in 2C. This is not a success. Down five and +250 for England. 9 imps back and England regain the lead 21 - 20, 15 - 15 in vps.

Board 24
S J 8 6 5 3
H K J 8 2
C 9 6 3
S 4
H A Q 10 5
D A K J 5 3
C J 8 7
S A Q 2
H 9 4
D 10 9
C A K Q 10 4 3
S K 10 9 7
H 7 6 3
D 8 7 6 4 2
C 2

Hallberg sitting East plays in 7C and gets a heart lead. It's makeable double dummy but most lines will fail. He goes one down, -50. Italy stop in 6C in the other room for +920. 14 imps to Italy. England now trail 12 - 20 imps, 13 - 17 vps

Board 23.
Price (North) is in 3S. His hand is SJ9873 HAQ DA64 CT73, dummy's is SKT62 HKJ97 D953 CQ9. He guests a small spade lead. We don't have play records but my guess is that he read the lead correctly and rose with the SK (the lead unlikely to be from Qxx or Qx). Made for +140, down 1 in same contract on heart lead for +100 and 6 imps to England who now lead 12 - 6, 16 - 14 in VP's

Boards 17 - 22. Score is 6 - 6 15 -15 Vps after 6 boards. I pick up the story here.