Saturday, 3 October 2015

The finishing line ~ Seniors Day 7

As you probably know by now, we did it! Thank you Manchester; we may call on you again. We settled the nerves with a fine win against India. Our hosts were hospitable. We dropped 5 IMPs on the first board – again! – but then recorded 11 plus scores to win by a Millennium Max and move up to fifth place. The way the draw for the quarter-finals is done, it doesn't really matter where you finish in positions 4 to 8; only the first, second and third teams get a choice. Our sights were set on avoiding ninth place, rather than rising to an unlikely third.

The match against USA 1, including Zia, Rosenberg and Hamman was a wild affair, with 114 IMPs changing hands. After four boards we were 1-38 IMPs down, including two slam swings, so it was a relief that the guys managed to get us back to a 48-66 loss. We had dropped to sixth but, with some of our rivals playing each other, we only need 9 VPs from our last match, against Canada, to qualify. As it happens, we won by 47 to 27 IMPs, and got 15.00 VPs (a Granada – the year that France & Aragon divided Naples) and finished fifth. The last two days have been among the most emotionally draining of my life, and it was great that the Open and Women's teams qualified too. Only England and USA have teams left in all three events.

Then, while team went off to to a relaxing dinner, I was in a Captain's meeting where the details of the quarter-finals were sorted out. The England Seniors got a sort of compliment/complement (delete where not applicable) in that the first three teams didn't choose us, so we will play fourth-placed Poland over the next two days and over 96 boards. Poland will start with a 4.5 IMP lead, because they beat us by 9 IMPs in the Round Robin. If we beat Poland, then our semi-final will be against Australia or Sweden, but I am not going to mention them again until Poland is/are (select to taste) done and dusted. The other difference in the knock-out stages is that we no longer have a blind line-up; for half the six sets we will choose who we play against, and vice-versa.

With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts.Eleanor Roosevelt

Before all the bridge, I went to the annual meeting of IBPA (International Bridge Press Association). Among the awards (best bid hand, best played hand, etc) was one for IBPA personality of the year. That was given to Boye Brogeland  whose name will be forever associated with bridge in 2015.

I was stopped in the corridor by an Austrian player who asked me my opinion of one of the cheating scandals. Since he began by saying “Eric, ...” it was apparent that I was not who he thought I was. I could have used an American accent and told him that I (or rather, Eric Rodwell) thought they should be publicly flogged, banned for life and exiled, but I didn't think of it in time and, anyway, it would have broken the EBU guidelines on the impersonation of a real bridge player.

Derek Patterson, my opposite number with the England Women's team, had the idea of going up to Mr Rodwell and saying “Simon, I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoy your articles in English Bridge.” He says he will do it if five other Englishmen/women do the same thing on the subsequent five days. He'll tell you how it goes in his blog  over to you, Derek.

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