Sunday, 17 October 2010

Philly Youngsters, Part Seven

So it wasn’t meant to be. For the second World Junior Championship in a row, the U20s had to settle for the silver medal.

Starting the day 35 down and with only the single stanza to play, it was important not to let even more swings go out the gate and make the task much more difficult. Early on, we gained a game swing when Dan and James caused them to miss theirs. It went straight back after a Polish pre-empt kept us out of ours. But as the stanza progressed, we seemed to be making gradual inroads into their lead.

The advancement juddered to a halt halfway through the set. A deal which had seemed to be more IMPs in suddenly became a game swing out as the old defensive bugbears raised their ugly heads once more. This was followed by another on the next board and the critical momentum and pressure that we had built up had fully ebbed away. There were some brief flashes of hope in the dying boards, but the Polish demonstrated greater accuracy in card play at the critical moments to run out deserved winners.

Both Michael Byrne and I would like to say how proud we are of the team, the effort they put in and the performance they produced. For Dan McIntosh and Tom Paske it was a second disappointment in a world final after Beijing. For Shivam Shah, Tom Rainforth, Graeme Robertson and James Paul, this was their first international medal and surely not their last.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Philly Youngsters, Part Six

They certainly don't like to do things the easy way.

After yesterday's remarkable turnaround, the team faced 64 boards against the Polish. The first three stanzas to be played today, the other tomorrow (or today as you read this). Straightaway there were opportunities. A reckless slam try from one of the opponents looked to have scored an own goal, but Tom Paske made the completely natural lead - the only one to give it away. From there, things degenerated over the remainder of the first half of the match. More no play slams and games being let through the net in an ever increasing torrent of IMPs.

At 70 IMPs down with 32 to play, a line-up change was required and the new formation brought instant success. Over the course of the third set, the team halved the deficit to close play 35 down. Can lightning strike twice? Who knows, but psychologically the team is in the ascendancy, while the Poles have to sleep while mulling over the fact that it could have been all over already.

Do these English boys really know what defeat is?

Come and support them on BBO Vugraph at 3PM UK time for the final exciting stanza - well it will be if we complete the fightback.

Friday, 15 October 2010

Philly Youngsters, Part Five

I think it is fair to say that today will be burned bright into the history of English Bridge.

The World Championship semi-final against the Netherlands. As soon as board 2, the action had started. Dan and James had a mix-up using their defensive methods against a short club and conceded a 1400 penalty. However, there had been issues of whether the 1C bid had been alerted properly on both sides of the screen. The resulting ruling went against the team, but captain MGB decided to appeal. The rest of the set was up and down. Despite a couple of other big swings out, we still led by three at the end of the stanza.

Immediately things went wrong at the start of set 2. A tricky discard problem caused a slam to be let through and the psychological tone was set. The Dutch couldn't get anything wrong and we couldn't get anything right. The result? 1-78. It is fair to say that things weren't the brightest in the England camp at that time.

We regrouped. There wasn't much to the set three boards but we eked a few IMPs back. Twelve of them. So prior to beginning the final set we were looking at the wrong end of a 62-IMP deficit and only 14 boards to do something about it.

This lot are made of stern stuff. They have a lot of experience of generating obscene quantities of IMPs in very short spaces of time in online matches. So they didn't ever stop believing that it was possible to come back. Quite the opposite. If they could get off to a sharp start then they knew that the pressure would start to tell. After all, the opponents could only lose it from here.

The first few boards in the Open Room didn't encourage much, indeed we lost a further game swing next door. But then James and Dan threw caution to the winds and rolled in a couple of light games. In the other room Graeme was allowed to make a cold-off 3N and the noose was definitely tightening. We also received the news that we had won our appeal that transferred a further 17IMPs into the account.

The critical deal came four from home. The Dutch East came in over a 15-17NT and in a competitive sequence his partner made what he thought was a lead-directing double. His partner took him seriously and 'saved' over our 4H game. This resulted in a 1700 blowout and the decisive 15 IMP swing. Both pairs came out to score up thinking they maybe hadn't done quite enough. As the scores totted up, suddenly the impossible became reality. We had won the semi final.

Credit to the Dutch, they had played superbly in a memorable match. We are sorry it had to be them, because we know them well. Their coaches Marten and Monique are genuinely really nice people who have their teams play the game the right way. We hope they can win the Bronze tomorrow as some consolation.

Anyway, we are just trying to wind down now to get some sleep before tomorrow. Poland await in the final.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Philly Youngsters, Part Four

World Championship KOs are places of extreme emotions.

We finished off the Round-Robin with two more wins - 20-10 against Germany and 18-12 against Poland. With first place wrapped up we exercised our rights by selecting Hungary for the quarter-finals and the winner of Sweden-Netherlands for the semi. Despite not being at our best, we prevailed in a scrappy match by 57 IMPs.

Who would we end up playing? At half time, Sweden were up by 20, but the Dutch came storming back to win by over 30 leaving several of the very young Swedish team in tears.

For every winner there is a loser.

Tomorrow we try to make sure that at least for another day it won't be us.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Philly Youngsters, Part Three

Consolidation was the name of the game today. And the boys duly delivered. After a tough opening match against Israel which they drew 15-15, we had a number of other contending teams to play. USA1 were up next having climbed through the field to second place. Despite a slam swing out, they didn't really have a sniff and a 20-10 victory propelled them back into the qualifying maelstrom. The dangerous Norwegians followed and tight play in both rooms limited them to a single partscore swing out and gave us another solid 22-8. The final match of the day was against the Chinese Taipei team who by now were well out of things. Again, ruthless play saw them through with a 25-4 victory.

These results leave them 26VPs clear of Israel in 2nd and 52VPs clear of the ninth placed team. Winning the Round-Robin is a huge advantage since it bestows the right to pick opponents in the QF and then which QF supplies the semi opponents, although we were informed in the Captain's meeting that there will not be any carry over.

So, time to keep calm and finish the job tomorrow against Germany and the perenially dangerous Poles. Then, hopefully see how things lie and negotiate a 40-board QF.

Now the team feels its collective stomachs rumbling. More updates tomorrow.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Philly Youngsters, Part Two

So fortunes can change. First up were USA2, who we turned over 20-10. Although it has to be said they were handicapped in that half of their team was even shorter than Shivam and could barely see over the table to see their cards. Emboldened by this, the team promptly nosedived to the Canadians 13-17. The field kept beating itself up though, so despite this reverse we were still well in contact. Knowing that a couple of big wins would see us go screaming skywards, they set right to it. The Hungarians were lasered 24-6, the French were fried 25-4 (simultaneously dropping them out of the QF spots) and the Aussies barbecued 25-4 as opponents were tilted out left, right, centre and pretty much every way imaginable. The end result? England U21s leading the RR qualifying after 9/15 rounds by 11VPs from the Germans.

Chickens, however, have most definitely not been counted. The remainder of the matches are mostly against teams who are currently in qualifying positions, so the boys will need to keep it tight to retain their spot at the head of the field. Much hard work remains to earn the right to pick QF opponents.

Now we are packing the kiddies off to bed nice and early to get their much needed snooze. I think tonight's story is the one about the big bad wolf who liked to splinter with singleton honours.

Monday, 11 October 2010

Philly Youngsters, Part One

Afternoon all, the coach here. Now we are settled in and play has started, it is time to reflect on a disappointing start to the event. Despite turning up bright, breezy and prepared (and with some insider advice from visiting Swedish pro Mr Hallberg) we were turned over by his countrymen 11-19 after a couple of iffy scores. Things were rapidly righted against the Dutch with a 24-6 pasting that saw the team move into something nearer top gear. However, as in many other sports, the half-time break came at the wrong time for the team and the rhythm was broken. Two more losses in the afternoon to Uruguay (13-17) and a tough Chinese team (10-20) have dropped us to ninth, one spot out of the qualifiying places.

Despite these results, the team know that things are very much in their own hands and they have much more in reserve to give than the others. The field is still tightly bunched and the short ten board round-robin matches do throw up some freak results. One or two bits of bad luck or bad play and it can be difficult to catch it back on even the weak teams.

Still, I have now devised part one of my coaching masterplan. I have located somewhere where we can get our morning cup of tea in. Can't really function until we have got a good brew into the system. That is the first thing, for part two, where can I get hold of some Weetabix...

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Ostend Women, Final

Well we got very close but in the end we came up painfully short - we managed to not lose in all of our last 11 matches, we could just not get enough VP's to carry us over the line to a medal.
We finished a very gallant 5th behind some of Europe's other well known teams but at least we did qualify for the Venice Cup in Eindhoven next year.

Winners were France who pipped the Netherlands by 1VP.
Third were the Swedish another 4VPs behind.
Germany were the other team in the top 5.

Watch out for the European teams in the Venice Cup - they all gave very good accounts of themselves here.

Friday, 2 July 2010

Ostend Women, Eight

An honourable draw with the Netherlands and some results elsewhere going in our favour mean that with two matches to go we are second behind the Netherlands, but any one of SIX teams can win medals and no one team is standout for any one in particular.
We have, on paper, the toughest of the matches left - we are playing Denmark at the moment and finish with Israel, but if we play well - who knows?

Ostend Seniors, Four

The Seniors continued their campaign on Wednesday with losses against Scotland, Bulgaria and Poland whose narrow win avenged their defeat in Brazil.

Thursday was a different story with wins against Norway, Switzerland and the hosts Belgium.

They now lie 15th, 44pts adrift of a qualifying place for the Bermuda Bowl and with only 6 matches left it is unlikely that they will qualify.

Peter Baxter

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Ostend Open, Eight

Today we needed 3 wins to stand a chance. We started with a good win against Latvia (20-10) and then beat Switzerland 17-13. We were behind in this match but gained 20 imps on the last board when Sandqvist-McIntosh bid a grand slam and Nick played it correctly to make it. The last match against France was the most important as they were also potential qualifiers and we won this 22-8 in a well played match by our side. 4 matches to go and we can afford no slip ups if we want our ticket to the Bermuda Bowl and today the team were playing like they wanted to get there.

Ostend Women, Seven

The last match on Tuesday turned out to be a fine one for us as we gained 25VPs v Czech Republic.
We followed that with another good day yesterday scoring 19, 21 & 22 v Sweden, Spain and Turkey.
This morning's match was against a very experienced Austrian side who held their own, we managed to win narrowly 17-13.

In the meantime the German Ladies squeaked a win against France by 16-14 - tightening the top of the table a little.

1 FRANCE 419
4 SWEDEN 402
6 POLAND 395

Poland - courtesy of a 25-4 win over Wales are making a late rush for a medal place.

Still all to play for but it looks like we are going to need some help to catch the French.
We play the Netherlands in the first match of the last day (Friday) - to use yet another sporting phrase - "a real 6 pointer"

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Ostend Open, Seven

Two tough matches to start with and we got 14 against Bulgaria and 12 against Italy. It's critical we score well tomorrow in our matches against Latvia, Switzerland and France.

You hold (against Italy):

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

It goes pass pass to you and you open 1H, next hand doubles and partner raises pre-emptively to 3H. The opponents bid 3S raised to 4S which is the final contract. It's your lead. David Gold earned 13 imps for England by leading the DK reasoning that a heart lead was unlikely to generate enough to beat the contract. Partner held S x x H 10 x x x D Q 10 x x C K x x so if declarer won the diamond a ruff was coming and if he ducked there were two diamond losers. Well worked out and 13 imps to England.

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Ostend Open, Six

Today was the end of the first round robin and the open team qualified for the final stage. We start tomorrow in the final round robin keeping our scores against all the other qualfiers from, our group and playing the 9 qualifiers from the other group starting with Bulgaria then Italy. We start in 11th place and will need to move up to 7th to qualify for the Bermuda Bowl to be held next year.

Ostend Women, Six

Moving day it turned out to be -

We started with a narrow loss to Portugal 14-16 but followed it up with 23 & 25 v Finland and Hungary respectively.

We were in second overnight — the Netherlands still had a useful lead. First match today we played old adversaries the French who were hot on our tails. Sadly by the end of the match we were hot on theirs — they beat us 10-20. Next up were more old adversaries — this time the Italians — but this time we did come out on top, winning 19-11

The top 5 looks like this with one match to play today...
2 FRANCE 307
5 SWEDEN 298

Ostend Seniors, Three

The third day saw England playing three top teams and apart from a close match with France lost 20:10 to Sweden and Netherlands. Today there are two difficult matches, and then the competition eases. However, at 18th we are a long way from a qualifying place.

Against the Netherlands you hold an 0-6-6-1 with three Aces and the KQ of diamonds. The bidding reaches 6C, so do you double or bid 6D? England doubled and found the opposition with a diamond void in one hand and a hear void in the other. The Netherlands bid 6D only one off; huge swing.

England also missed a grand slam bid at the other table in the match v France, so not a lucky day!

Peter Baxter

Monday, 28 June 2010

Ostend Open, Five

Today, the penultimate day of qualifying was good for us as we took 22, 22 and 24 to all but guarantee a qualifying position. Tomorrow we end with two tough matches against Israel and Poland who are almost certain to qualify.

Ostend Seniors, Two

The second day of the Seniors championship saw them record two good wins against Israel and their old adversary Turkey before just losing to Sweden.

This enabled them to move up the field from their poor position on the first day.

Italy seem to be establishing an unassailable lead.

Peter Baxter

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Ostend Women, Five

We have had a good day today 43 out of a possible 50 - we beat Lebanon 25-4 and came back from a very bad start v Switzerland to record an 18-12 win.

In the overall ranking list we are back up to 6th but it is worth noting that positions 2-6 are covered by only 5 VPs. We are, however, quite well placed having played 4 of the other 6 in the top 7.

The Netherlands are the clear leaders - we play them on the last day, hopefully we will be in a position for that match to still be meaningful.

We have another three matches tomorrow where we are playing teams from the lower half of the ranking list - let's hope it is moving day, to coin a golfing phrase!

Ostend Open, Four

Not a great day with a heavy loss against Netherlands followed by a narrow loss against Luxembourg. We are still qualifying but we need some VP's tomorrow.

On the good side the Seniors after a poor start on Day 1 have perked up by winning the first two matches today.

Best image of the day was a large crane on the beach lifting people up and down in a large basket. When the basket had reached it's highest point you could see that on the bottom it said "Benji fun"

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Ostend Seniors, One

The England Seniors joined the European Championships in Ostend today, hoping to add the European Championship to go with their World Championship in Brazil.

The opening two match's against the Czech Republic and Austria did not go well with losses of 20:10 and 18:12 leaving the team next to bottom overall.

Tomorrow they play Israel, Turkey and Denmark not an easy day.

Peter Baxter

Ostend Open, Three

First of all an answer to the bidding question. At the table McIntosh bid 4C (normal in my view) and that went all pass and down 4. In the other room South bid 4D and it went pass pass and North went to put the bidding cards away but Justin was having none of that and doubled. The contract was not a success and went for 800. If you bid 3NT hoping to escape you might get lucky and have it passed out but probably not and that will result in a big penalty when you eventually come to rest. The advantage of bidding 4C is that you have a chance to move it to 4D if the double seems swift and confident.

Yesterday started with a narrow loss against Romania but then a chunky win against San Marino revived spirits. San Marino have been a bit hit and miss with some good wins and some big losses.

In the final match against Sweden the pairs in one room sat the wrong way. This could have been spotted by either pair concerned, either coach, either captain or the BBO operators but wasn't. Naturally the regulations don't cover this and the decision was a replay today which has just started and England are down after 10 boards of it. It maybe that a replay happened just because there is the time for this as today is only a one match day but also because it was on BBO. At all tables not on BBO there are large signs showing how the players sit and they are hard to miss. On BBO these are not visible from the table and the operators are also supposed to check.

It's not the only event for which the regulations are deficient. In an early match between Netherlands and Russia, two strong teams there were some fines meted out for slow play and there is now discussion as to whether this fine is carried forward to the second stage if either or both teams qualify.

Tomorrow sees England have a tough match vs Netherlands followed by an eaiser one and the bye then the last two days of qualifying have what looks like a relatively easy day but on the final day we end by playing Israle and Poland which is a tough finish.

Jeremy Dhondy

Ostend Women, Four

Only one match today, against Germany. A dramatic last two boards saw us go from 18-12 to 15-15 and finally 16-14 in our favour.

We are still well placed with tomorrow's matches against two of the teams nearer the foot of the table than the top; both teams, however, have given good accounts of themselves versus strong opposition and so nothing should be taken for granted.

Friday, 25 June 2010

Ostend Women, Three

After two matches we are now up to 5th courtesy of beating Greece 18-12 and Belgium 25-5. We are only 6VPs behind the leaders.

About to start Match 3 v Ireland, who incidentally have just beaten a strong fancied German team 19-11.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Ostend Women, Two

Day two was not good for us - we did not have a good match against Russia and came out losing 8-22. The afternoon match v Belarus was a very tight affair that once again we came out on the wrong side of - although this time it was only 14-16. The early evening match against Croatia gave us a chance to steady the ship and this we managed with a 21-9 win.

We are currently lying 11th out of 28 but there is a lot to play for. Tomorrow we play Greece, then the home nation, Belgium and finally Ireland. A good day will see us right back in the hunt.

Ostend Open, Two

Day 2 was a significantly tougher day, with matches against three potential qualifiers. We ended Day 1 2nd in our group. So far on Day 2 so good. It's been quiet which means that Townsend-Gold can play a match or two without a brass band rehearsing in the next room. We won the first match against Spain 19-11. If you want to try for the team decide what action you would take on:

S 975
H 43
D Q1043
C 10965

You are vulnerable in 4th seat and it goes 3H — Dbl — Pass to you. Answer next blog (no cheating and looking it up on BBO).

The second match was against the fancied Russian team and we managed a narrow 4 IMP win including bringing home a grand slam on a finesse (no law against being lucky). Last match of the day is against Denmark just started. Ostend is basking in sunshine and it is not too hot to play bridge.

If you have nothing to do pop over.

Jeremy Dhondy

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Ostend Women, One

Hopefully you will have read about the Open team's first day and know that they have started well. The English Ladies have also begun in fine form. Their lot is a 28 team Round Robin which means 27 x 20-board matches. Our goal is obviously to get a medal; failing that, to finish in the top 6 to earn a place in the next Venice Cup.

We had a tough start against a competent Norwegian team — we managed to win that one 18-12. A nice homeland tussle against the Welsh followed — we dispatched them 20-10. We finished with another tough one — the Polish — we managed to sneak a 17-13 win against them.

All in all a very satisfactory start that leaves us lying third at the end of the first day.

Ostend Open, One

The Open series started today (Wed 23rd). There are so many countries that the field is divided into two groups. We will play every other team in our group and then the top 9 out of 19 qualify for the second and final round robin together with the top 9 in the other group. We will carry forward our entire score against all other qualifiers. Our first two matches were against teams from the lower half of our group. We beat Monaco 25-5 in our first match. We played them first in Pau in 2008 also but then lost 8-22. We then played Estonia in the second match winning 25-5 again to head our group at this early stage.

Jeremy Dhondy

European Championships 2010

The European Championships kick off in Ostend on Wednesday so good luck to all our teams. We'll keep you up to date with progress here throughout the event and you can also view a lot of the matches on Bridge Base.

Friday, 23 April 2010

Date of U25 trials announced

This year’s trials will be held on the weekend of October 16/17th. These trials will help the selectors choose teams to play in the Channel Trophy, the Junior Camrose and the Amsterdam White House tournaments, as well as selecting the squad for the 2011 Europeans.

The venue is West Midlands Bridge Club. If you would like to take part, please click here to email the organisers.

Monday, 8 February 2010

Blog In Japan

To tell the truth Blog is from somewhere considerably less exotic than Japan, but a few of our leading players are in Yokohama for the 15th NEC Bridge Festival. Here's the link:

Our official representatives are England Ladies, Olympiad (or whatever) champions Heather Dhondy and Nevena Senior:

and newly recruited (for the Europeans in Ostend) Fiona Brown and Susan Stockdale:

Then we have Kendrick. Unimaginative teamname, highly imaginative players. David Kendrick from Royston partners Brian Senior from Nottingham. We all know that Brian on a going day can play like a magician. David also has a few ideas about the game, the pairing is very effective when these don't interfere with Brian's spells. Last time out they reached the final of the Reisinger in San Diego. Their team-mates are Jon Cooke and Martin Garvey. These two have spent many hours developing their complex strong club system. Another high variance pair, they were on last year's winning EBU Camrose squad. On one of their going days Cooke-Garvey can dismantle any opposition. On a not-so-going day for this team you can look up the scores on the back of the bidding cards.

Two of the strongest of many Davids in English bridge, Gold and Bakhshi

play on team CANUKUSA (pass the sickbag) with North Americans John Carruthers and Howard Weinstein. This team are a banker to make the knockout stages.

It's all on BBO, here's the schedule:

Good luck to you all!

Friday, 22 January 2010

Lady Milne Trials

The selectors have chosen the team for the ladies European Championship in Ostend. The "Big Four", reigning world champions Brock/Smith and Dhondy/Senior, selected themselves. (Not literally!) Youngsters Fiona Brown and Susan Stockdale got the nod to complete the team, ahead of Catherine Jagger and Sarah Teshome who are the reserve pair.

Trials take place this weekend to find England's teams for the Lady Milne Trophy, the ladies home international series. I do mean teams plural, we have two this year, to make the numbers even.

The top three pairs will automatically be the funded "England" team. The next three may play on the self-funding "English Bridge Union" team if they wish, and then down the list in order if a pair declines.

20 pairs have entered in total, a very good turnout. Perhaps we will have debut internationalists by Sunday night? A list of pairs and further information here:

It's going to be on BBO, starting 7.15 tonight (Friday). Good luck to you all!

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

1st Camrose weekend

The first of this season's two Camrose weekends takes place 8-10th January at the Edinburgh Novotel. There's plenty of information on the local website:

The England team looks like this:

Peter Crouch & Derek Patterson from Kent, the only English pair selected for both weekends. Peter and Derek are in fine form. They topped the Butlers whilst winning the Premier League, and faced each other in the final of the Gold Cup, Peter coming out on top. Derek was on the winning British team in the 1987 World Juniors.

Michelle Brunner & John Holland from Manchester, where they run a bridge school together. John has recently won the Senior Bowl in Sao Paulo. Michelle has won the IPBA prize for the best defence two years running, and everything in the ladies game over the years.

David Price & Colin Simpson, from Suffolk and Buckinghamshire respectively, were also on the Senior Bowl team. They played on the 2004/5 England team, the only one ever to qualify for the Bermuda Bowl.

The captain is Paul Hackett, vice-captain Simon Cocheme.

As usual the Irish will be the main opposition. Four of the six "whaaaales of Irish bridge" (as per their npc David Jackson) will appear each weekend. I don't suppose Jacko will risk his third pair very much, so the whaaaales will have to play more or less throughout. This might just give England the edge. Wales won't be far away. On form Scotland and the two Northern Ireland teams are there to make up the numbers.

The first match starts 7.30pm Friday, if you'd like to cheer on your team every board will be broadcast live with commentary on BBO.