Saturday, 26 September 2015

On your marks ~ Seniors D

Things started happening today. First there was the registration process – signing in and collecting our badges, programmes and goodie-bags (two packs of cards and a small stationery kit). The programmes were printed in Italy a week or so ago and they do not include the most recent team change, brought about by the withdrawal of Germany.

Next there was an eagerly awaited Press conference, in which the WBF was expected to explain its process for handling the recent allegations of cheating by players from Israel, Monaco and Germany. The meeting was a big disappointment to all the attendees I spoke to, but it seems that while their leader waffled, the WBF had been doing some real work behind the scenes; 95 minutes later we were informed that the WBF Credentials Committee had withdrawn its invitation to play in the Bermuda Bowl from the Polish pair, Cezary Balicki and Adam Zmudzinski. It remains to be seen whether Poland will withdraw the whole Open team.

Then there was the captains’ meeting, in which we were reminded of some of the specific rules for the championships. Mobile phones are not allowed in the playing area, even if switched off (unlike in the European Championships). There will be no Appeals allowed against a director's ruling (unlike in the States), given that the director will have gone away and consulted his fellow directors and a panel of peer players.

And finally there was the Opening Ceremony. One is always fearful of too much cultural dancing and too many over-long speeches. This evening’s ceremony was the best I remember and I would give it eight out of ten; a little long at one hour and twenty minutes, but the band and singers were first class.

In case you didn't know, the EBU only pays for the entry fee and uniforms of the Senior team. I would like to thank Roger O'Shea and Pharon Financial Advisers, without whose support I would not be here. It is the Pharon logo that you can see on the team's blue shirts.

And so to bed. The team are under strict instructions not to watch the England-Wales rugby match (which starts after midnight, local time); I will be ringing them all at 1:00 pm to make sure they are asleep. After the cheating scandals, it will be a relief to get started on some proper bridge. There will be three matches every day for the next seven days, making up a complete Round Robin. The top eight teams will qualify for the knock-out phase next week. Our first three opponents are Brazil (bridge playing membership: 937, about the same size as Richmond Bridge Club), Australia (34,500) and Guadeloupe (170).

My third Senior quote is 
I know not age, nor weariness nor defeat.” 
Sounds a bit Churchillian, but it was said by Rose Kennedy.

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