Monday, 30 September 2019

World Championships Updates - England Mixed Team captain's reports - Third-place play off (Paul Barden)

Third-place play off, Friday 27th and Saturday 28th September

Romania, who we beat handily on the first day of the event, outplay us in the first set, winning four double-digit swings.  There is one ray of light, on this deal.  The auction starts 1S-2H-3D-P, and the Romanians bid to 7D.  Michael leads the jack of spades, taking out an entry to dummy.  The only risk to the contract is clubs 5-1, the auction suggests that East will have spade honours and some shape to justify her overcall, and the lead suggests that East has spade length.  So the best line is clear: cash the king and ace of diamonds, unblock South's club honours, then cross to dummy while drawing the remaining trump, catering for East's actual shape.  But declarer simply runs trumps, relying on a club break or squeeze, and finds the unlucky lie where this fails.  Graham has not been challenged by the trump lead at the other table, so we gain 19 IMPs.  Or do we?  The partitions separating the BBO rooms are not sound-proof, and Frances reports to the Director that she'd heard some remarks at another table about a making grand slam.  After due consideration, the Directors award a weighted score, which takes one IMP off our gain.  We lose the set 53-29.

The second-set is strewn with errors by both side, but we make more than Romania, and lose another 10 IMPs.  All the players are tired after a fortnight of high-level bridge, and the fatigue seems to be affecting us more than our opponents.  I tell the team that unless they can recover their focus we will lose the match.  But we continue to make mistakes, and lose another 22 IMPs.  The play-off matches are only 80 boards - two sets to go, so we have a lot to do and will have to play much better to have a chance.

We do play better on the second day, and this deal gives us hope.  Michael, South, opens 1D, West overcalls 2S, Fiona, North bids 3H, and East bids 3S.  I expect Michael's 4H to end the auction, but no, West decides to save in 4S, and when Fiona doesn't double that, Michael decides to bid slam.  6H would be beaten by a club lead, but East leads a spade.  Fiona runs the jack of hearts to West's king, then does then right thing in both hearts and diamonds to make her contract. 

We win both sets, but not by enough - we lose by 24 IMPs.  Congratulations to all the medal winners, and especially to the England Senior and Women's teams.


World Championships Updates - Women's Team Progress - Bronze in the Venice Cup! (David Gold)

Gold wasn't possible after our loss to the brilliant Swedes but we had an 80 board play off for 3rd place.

We won a scrappy and very close match against old rivals the Netherlands by 5 imps. We picked up 9 on the last board.

We are all thrilled.

Thanks to everyone who supported us,

Thanks to David Burn for his great coaching and support,

Most of all thanks to my team for fighting so hard for 2 weeks and getting over the line when the going got tough.

Nicola Smith and Yvonne Wiseman
Gillian Fawcett and Catherine Draper
Nevena Senior and Heather Dhondy


Friday, 27 September 2019

World Championships Updates - England Mixed Team captain's reports - Semi-Final (Paul Barden)

Semi-Final, Wednesday 25th and Thursday 26th September

USA1 scraped into the knock-out stages only in the final round on Sunday, but that's ancient history.  Our semi-final starts badly for us.  On board 1 we have a poor 14 opposite a poor 11.  Michael and Fiona reasonably judge not to play game, but the lie is very favourable and it makes.  On board 2 USA1 save five-over-five in a 5-3 fit despite having three aces. Their suit is breaking 5-0, which means that our 5H contract was making, and they have a side-suit fit no one knew about which holds the penalty in 5Sx to 300.  Sally, unusually for a many-times World Champion, is a big fan of the weak NT.  Alas, several deals in this match will not favour it: on board six it walks into an 1100 penalty .  After only six boards we are 35 IMPs down.  Then the weak NT strikes back, concealing Barry's five-card diamond suit, which the opponents switch to in his aggressive 3NT contract.  He makes, while USA1 go off in 2S at the other table.  We have some more good boards, and finish the set only 45-38 behind.  But the rest of the day goes from bad to worse.  We are 58 IMPs behind at the end of the day, and need to play much much better on the second day.

Nothing very good happens in the first set: the only big swing is when they bid a vulnerable slam which is slightly worse than a finesse, while we do not.  At the score we need the slam to fail, but it makes.  We lose 7 IMPs on the set and trail by 65 with 32 boards to play.  But something good finally happens at the start of the fifth set - they have a misunderstanding and defend a cold 3Dx, while saving in 5Dx at the other table.  13 IMPs to us, and perhaps the first step back.  The boards are quiet, but we pick up some small swings and finally win a set.  We are 41 behind with 16 to play.

The boards stay mostly quiet; there are not 42 IMPs in them to be won.  We try a few things, and gain a few IMPs, but we don't get everything right and pick up only 13 on the set.  We have lost by 28 IMPs.  That's not a bad margin in a knock-out match - close enough to think you might have won on another day, but big enough that you don't have to reproach yourself over every adverse swing.  In the other semi-final, Romania tie with Russia: Russia will be in the final because they beat Romania in their match in the round robin, while we will be playing Romania for third place.


World Championships Updates - England Mixed Team captain's reports - Quarter-Final (Paul Barden)

Quarter-Final, Monday 23rd and Tuesday 24th September

We learn that we are playing for the "Wuhan Cup", named along the lines of the "Bermuda Bowl" and "Venice Cup".  You can read the bulletins online here.

Board 1 of our quarter-final against Latvia looks like a good omen.  Both tables have the auction 3D by North, reopening double by West (the normal action at this level of play), all pass.  Sally leads a top spade, gets a count signal from Barry, and switches to hearts.  In due course she gets a heart ruff for two off.  The same contract goes only one off at almost all other tables in the four events, and we win five IMPs.

But it's not a good omen.  On the second board Frances comes in aggressively at the three level on a promising hand - passing is risky too - and goes four off in hundreds on a defensive cross-ruff.  On the third board Barry judges poorly to bid 5H over their 4S save and goes off instead of taking 500.  And on the fourth board they double Frances in a 6-3 fit at the two level.  This is an unavoidable one off, with our game contract at the other table also going off.  After four boards we are 26 IMPs down.  But there are still 92 boards to play.  We pick up 9 IMPs on board five when the Latvian East makes a huge underbid, and 12 more on board 6 when the Latvian South makes a passive opening trump lead, giving herself a later guess of which king to play her partner for, which she gets wrong.  But we bid a lot of non-making contracts for the next few boards, and lose a part-score swing, to trail by 30 IMPs after the first set of sixteen.

The second set starts with Latvia bidding a hopeless slam.  But then they open 3S at favourable on AQJ1098 J3 J852 6, while we open 2S.  The higher pre-empt makes it too risky to overcall on 7642 AQ6 4 AKJ83, so they get to play in 4S in one room, which could be beaten but isn't, and 5C in the other, which can't be touched, and we lose 14 IMPs.   We get 9 back by doubling them when they pre-empt too high on the next board, and recover 10 on the set to trail by 20 IMPS.

In the third set we get a game swing when Frances and Graham bid a sensible 3NT while the Latvians play a hopeless 5C, and another when they lead the right suit against 3NT but can't read the signal, and wrongly switch.  We are temporarily in the lead in the match, but then go wrong on two boards near the end and trail by 4 IMPs overnight.  Nevertheless, we have been gradually gaining IMPs.  We talk through the boards over dinner, and feel cautiously confident that the match is there to be won.

In the morning, Michael gets the chance to do something good on this deal.  He opens 3S, West doubles, North raises, and West doubles again in the pass-out seat.  West leads the king of hearts and continues the suit, East overtakes and switches to diamonds.  Whatever the merits of that, West really ought to have cashed the ace of  spades at trick two, as Michael swiftly demonstrates.  Ace of diamonds, diamond ruff, heart ruff, diamond ruff, spade, and West is endplayed for +590.  That gives us a double-digit lead for the first time in the match, and we end the set 20 IMPs ahead.

In a scrappy fifth set we extend our lead by 11 IMPS, so we're a fairly comfortable 31 ahead with 16 boards to play.  But the Latvians come out swinging - on this deal they bid 7H by South with J98532 of trumps in dummy opposite AQ6.  Declarer tries the technically inferior but psychologically effective line of leading the jack off dummy - that loses against on sivngleton king onside, but has the idea that RHO will probably not cover with Kx, so if she does you can finesse against the ten next.  K10x are onside so the contract makes.  That's admirably bold bidding and play, and lucky with it.  There are two more hands in the set where 7H can be made, one of them is a good contract but flat in 6H+1, the other one needs a finesse and guess of which squeeze to play: it's flat in 6H making.  But we lose a game swing when our declarer tries an obscure endplay instead of a winning finesse, while picking up a few bits and pieces.  The match is settled on the penultimate board: Fiona is on lead with Q96 Q104 103 AQ1086 against the auction 1H-1S, 3D-3NT.  She chooses the queen of clubs, logical when dummy is expected to be short in the suit.  In fact dummy has the singleton jack, and the defence is easy from there.  We win by a nervous 12 IMPs:  We start again tomorrow against USA1 in the semi-final.


Thursday, 26 September 2019

World Championships Updates - Women's Team Progress (David Gold)

It pains me to write it, but 95 down with a set to go and a bronze medal playoff match v the dutch to prepare for,

We conceded.


World Championships Updates - Women's Team Progress (David Gold)


We are 92 imps down at the halfway point v Sweden

They played well and with a following wind.

Hope we can somehow turn it around.


Wednesday, 25 September 2019

World Champions Updates - England Seniors Progress (David Jones)

The England Senior Team have had a great 10 days in Wuhan and it continues Wednesday and Thursday with a semi final match against the Netherlands.

The team qualified in the round robin in fourth place of 24 teams winning 15 matches and drawing one out of 23.

As a result we were matched  with China in the Quarter Final  a team including a former Venice Cup winner.We took an early lead against China and at the half way mark led by a useful but inconclusive 30 imps.In the fourth and fifth sets we lost a total of 36 imps to enter the last set 6 imps down.

In the final set of 16 boards we had slightly the worst of it for a good while and with 3 boards remaining we were 18 IMPs down so to the fateful final boards.

On 94 the lay out was as follows



So an excellent and cold heart slam missed by China but bid by Kendrick and Ward to win 11 IMPs. The deficit was down to only 7 IMPs.

Then the penultimate board



China reached 3NT which was defeated by a club lead whilst in the other room England played in 2H making 10 tricks for a gain of 6 IMPs to make the match score 164 -163 to China. At this stage I should mention that we would lose the match if the scores finished level based on the round robin match.

So to the last board of the match which I give as a bidding problem.Alan Mould held at favourable vulnerability the following hand


The bidding went pass pass 1NT (13 -15 in the Chinese methods)?

Three possibilities spring to mind 3C, pass or double. Here opponents were vulnerable so may go more than one off in this contract on a top club lead and if you bid or warn them with a double they are off the hook so Alan passed and the defence defeated this by 3 tricks for +300 while in the other room 3C made four for a gain of 5 IMPs and the match by 4 IMPs.

It has been an exciting 10 days  and the team has played some fine bridge.

David Jones (Non-Playing Captain)

Tuesday, 24 September 2019

World Championships Updates - Women's Team Progress (David Gold)

Well that was a sweaty last set!

Having been up 80 at one point today we were only up 19 with a few swingy boards to come, they went our way however and we won by 52 in the end which looks more comfortable than it really was.

Tomorrow we play Sweden who turned round a deficit to beat the mighty USA1. It is not going to be easy.
Tonight we are having a meal at a highly recommended vegetarian restaurant which is making Gillian, in particular, very happy.

Well done to the Seniors and Mixed for surviving tight matches. I am gutted for the open who had a big lead but got blown away in the last two sets by the front 4 on USA1.


Monday, 23 September 2019

World Championships Updates - Bermuda Bowl Blog - Day 9 (Neil Rosen)

Day 9

The biggest day of many of our lives had arrived! The famous USA1 squad.

Their regular style is to play their sponsor; Nick Nickell for the first two sets out of six. He then tends to sit back and watch.

We won both the first two sets to take a 17IMP lead. Chris Jagger and Jeffrey Allerton played both sets and played really, really well. 

There is one board still outstanding where we have asked for a ruling - we will await clarification on this tomorrow.

The third set saw the other two pairs take on their big four players. We achieved a near blitz! 53-7. Fantastic stuff. Look at the form we were in:


AJxx                    KT98
KJT98x               xx
x                          AKTx
Jx                        xxx


A spirited auction:

P      1H    P    1S
P      2S    X     XX
2NT 3S    P    P
4C    P      P    X

Tony Forrester found a sharp double and Andrew Robson proved well up to the mark. He led his singleton diamond to the K, then played AD (on reflection the A then K is better as suit preference). Tony then returned the diamond T as suit preference for Andrew to ruff. He was up to the job - under-leading his spade A in an instant for another diamond ruff. MAGNIFICENT - 12 imps to us.

Overnight we have a healthy 63 imp lead. It’s a terrific start - but tomorrow will be a huge day for us as their world class team will attempt to come roaring back.

Fingers crossed!

I note at the moment that all the England teams are doing ok - what an amazing achievement it would be to get all four teams into the semi-finals.


World Championships Updates - Bermuda Bowl Blog - Day 8 (Neil Rosen)

Day 8

The final day of qualifying arrived. China were a tough team playing well but fortunately both our pairs played a very tight match - leaving us with a terrific 14-6 win and putting 10VPs of daylight between us and not qualifying.

The final match initially started shakily but the other results were all going our way so there was never too much pressure. 

A late rally saw the scores almost level leaving us qualifying in 7th place!!! A magnificent achievement from my team.

Tomorrow the team will face the leaders of the round robin - USA 1, in the quarters finals. Our whole squad is looking forward to the match immensely - particularly as we beat them at the same stage in Chennai 4 years ago.


World Championships Updates - Bermuda Bowl Blog - Day 7 (Neil Rosen)

Day 7 

Day 7 started with a disappointing smallish win against unfancied Bangladesh. We picked up loads of scraps on the part-score boards but unfortunately two large adverse swings kept our win to 14-6.

Bottom team Morocco followed and the result didn’t disappoint! We were just a hair’s breadth away from a maximum 20-0 win. A 1700 penalty after an an injudicious vulnerable unusual 2NT call on - KQx K98xx J98xx certainly cheered up all the kibitzers.

The last match of day 7 was a tough one against in form Sweden. Upmark and Nystrom, in particular, were on fire and a heavy loss resulted. This left us needing a decent final day against China and USA2 (the later who had already failed to qualify which boosted our hopes and expectations).

At the end of day 7 we were in the final qualifying place. 


World Championships Updates - Women's Team Progress (David Gold)

We are halfway through the quarter final v Poland and are up 45.
All 3 pairs played well today, it was a real team effort so I am very pleased
There were many good boards but I am a little under the weather so for now will share only my favourite,

Nevena found her self in 4S doubled with these hands:



Rho had opened 4H, pass, pass and Heather as north doubled. Nevena bid 4S- a questionable decision, pass pass double and the 4H bidder doubled (suggesting extra offence) all pass.

She had to back up her bidding with great play.

Heart lead ruffed. King of spades ducked... and they key moment had arrived. Only 3 cards from dummy make the hand, 8 of clubs, 9 of clubs and queen of clubs which all look counter intuitive but Nevena called for the 8 of clubs! Rho won, forced dummy with a heart. Nevena played ace of clubs, club ruff and ran the jack of diamonds which held. Now queen of spades which held, pitching a diamond. Another diamond finesse, club ruffed and over ruffed. And after lho cashed the trump ace she had to play a diamond from kx which Nevena finessed making a hugely valuable 790 as teammates had lost 500 in the other room so we won imps instead of losing.

Opponents hands:


We have plenty of work to do tomorrow so tonight a quiet dinner in our hotel.


World Championships Updates - England Mixed Team captain's reports - Days 8 (Paul Barden)

Day eight, Sunday 22nd September

We've decided to give Sally and Barry, the senior members of the team, a day of rest before the knock-out phase starts.  The other four sit down against Pakistan feeling confident.  The first board is a dangerous double-fit hand - the high cards are equally divided but East-West can made 6D while the limit for North-South is 2S.  Fiona and Michael bid hearts then sell out to 4S doubled.  In the other room, East-West for Pakistan try 3NT by West, doubled by South.  Frances leads spades, Graham wins and returns the jack, and Frances ducks.  Declarer happily claims the rest, that's -850 instead of the +500 available, lose 13 IMPs.  Not to worry, one of the strengths of the team is that the players don't let a bad board affect them.  The boards are swingy,  and for most of the rest of the match the swings are positive, so we end up with the big win I'd hoped for, 67-25.   Meanwhile, USA2 lose 44-40 to Romania, and we lead by 12.28 VPs going into the last round, making us big favourites to finish on top.

In the last round, we play China, who are in 5th place, while USA2 face mid-table Taipei.   We have some good boards and some less good boards, but it all seems to be under control, and when we score up we find we've won 41-34.  We have bar-coded photo-ID cards, which we can scan to get a printout of the official scorecard: Michael gets one and alertly spots that a score has been put into the Bridgemate by the Chinese North with the wrong declarer. I find a Director to correct the mistake, changing +50 to -50, and the result becomes 38-34.  That small difference promotes China from 5th to 3rd place. USA2 have lost heavily to Taipei, so we finish a full match ahead of them.

As winners of the round robin we have the right to choose our quarter-final opponents from among the 5th to 8th placed teams, then USA2 picks their opponent, then China picks theirs.  Russia in fourth place will get the remaining team.  After that we can pick which quarter-final our semi-final opponents will come from.  We have a team meeting and agree a strategy.  At 4:30pm there's a "Captains' meeting" in the Vugraph theatre for these picks to be made in the four events.  When it comes to the mixed teams, I call out "Latvia" - they have one good and one competent pair, but they're playing four-handed and are bound to find the going tough in a long match against strong opponents.  Then I choose to face the winners of China v USA1 in the semi-finals.  However, if both USA teams win their quarter-finals, under the rules they will have to play each other in the semi-finals while we, I hope, play the winners of China v France.

Matches in the knock-out comprise 96 boards over two days, played in three sets of 16 each day.  At least the first two sets tomorrow will be shown on BBO.

All four Englanad teams have reached the knockouts.  Captains aren't allowed to watch at the table in the BBO rooms, so there's likely to be a row of England officials sitting anxiously in the Vugraph theatre, paying some attention to the commentary but mostly watching our teams on BBO.


World Championships Updates - Women's Team Progress (David Gold)

It was the last day of the round robin today and just two matches. In the first match we beat the dangerous Danes by 9 imps but with other results going our way we are almost 100% to qualify. In the last match we played USA2 and won by 13 IMPs so we finished 5th. The way it works, the top 3 teams get to choose between 5th-8th with the team in 1st picking first and so on, so there is no advantage to being say 5th or 8th but it is good for confidence nonetheless.

China picked Japan, Poland surprisingly in my opinion picked England,  Norway picked the Netherlands leaving USA1 to play Sweden.

Gillian did very well on this hand v USA2:

She saw 1S on her right, 1N on her left, 2S on her right which she did well to pass - in the open USA2 doubled England for -670, now when it went 3S on her left passed back to her she decided she couldn't resist a double.
After leading a top heart dummy produced:


After the heart held the only way to beat it is to switch to a low spade and she found it!

Declarer held


And had to lose 2 aces and 3 spades when she lost control. Without the spade switch declarer can play clubs through Gillian and make the hand. This scored up nicely with +670 from Heather and Nevena in 2Sx for a 15IMP win.

We have been without Yvonne for a couple of days due to a nasty throat bug that has been going around but she seems a lot better now and we will have 3 pairs again for the quarters v Poland, starting tomorrow (today as this is published).

It will be a 96 board match, 48 each day and it will be on bridgebase,com at 3 am, 6.30 am, and 9.30am UK time so please tune in for the last set at least, if you can.

The team is in good spirits and each day we have a little exercise walking 10 minutes (for some, 30 for some others) to and from the venue. Crossing the road here should require life insurance and motorbikes think they are pedestrians. Buses do not obey red lights.

The venue is pretty good but there are too many smoking areas.

Oh and England is one of only two countries which got all of its teams through and is in all 4 events, the other is China. USA has a team in all 4 events too but it had an advantage as it began with 8. Pretty good going.

OK enough for now,


World Championships Updates - England Mixed Team captain's reports - Days 7 (Paul Barden)

Day Seven, Saturday 21st September

The first match against Chinese Taipei starts badly.  Sally and Barry miss a difficult odds-on slam, then have a horrible accident and concede 1600 in 1NT redoubled.  But they rally impressively, registering all plus scores from board 8 onwards.  Michael and Fiona have a good card and we win the match 54-35.  USA2 surprising lose to Egypt, and we have a double-digit lead again.

We are ridiculously unlucky in the second match against Brazil. First they overbid to 4NT, but 3NT goes off at the other table so it costs them only 3 IMPs.  It's an interesting play hand.  West leads a spade, and you play a club to the king, which holds.  Now if you can tell that West has six spades, the right line is to continue with the queen of clubs - you can afford to lose two club tricks so long as it's West who wins the first of them.  Alas Graham got a hand wrong for once, playing a low club in an attempt to duck out the ace.  Next they play 4H in a 4-3 fit rather than the comfortable 5C.  And they play the wrong line, needing a 3-3 heart break.  Hearts are 3-3 and they gain an IMP.  Then they play 4S from slightly the worse side.  But as the cards lie - a 5-0 trump break offside, the only thing that matters is whether you lead a heart.  We have put the hand with KQx of hearts on lead, so they lead one, and we lose a game swing.  Two boards later, they play an inferior line in a thin 4S contract, and find exactly the lie it works on to win another game swing.  They round it off by bidding 3NT needing two finesses, rather than 4H needing one of two.  Both finesses work.

However, we hold the loss to 30-24.  Not surprisingly, USA2 have registered a big win against Morocco, so our lead is cut to 3 VPs.

The last match of the day is against Indonesia.  They play quite well and we are soft; the result is a 23-20 loss.  USA2 lose by two IMPs to Australia, so our lead is now 2.75 VPs.  There are only two matches to play tomorrow to complete the round robin, and our first match will be against Pakistan in last place.  And whatever happens we will be playing in the knock-out phase.

The other three England teams are all in the qualifying places too - good luck!


World Championships Updates - Women's Team Progress (David Gold)

It is the penultimate day and we started with Japan who were lying just behind us.
I sent in Catherine and Gillian with Nicola and Yvonne. Yvonne was feeling unwell which is a worry.
Opponents played very well and we lost by 29 imps (3.42 VPs).

Not great but not a disaster, thanks to some cushion provided by our brilliant day yesterday.
I sent Yvonne to rest and she will have the rest of the day off, leaving Catherine and Gillian to play throughout.

In the second match we played Brazil and won by 22 imps (15.38 VPs) with solid cards in both rooms. So after two matches on the day we are almost average.

I am writing from the Vugraph theatre and we are currently playing the tough USA1 team and it is currently 1 imp all. I will update later today.


Blog Update

We lost by 30 to usa1 which handed us 3.27 to complete a poor day.

We are now on 6th, about 9VPs ahead of 9th place USA2 who we play tomorrow in the last match. We play Denmark in the morning, it is just a 2 match day.

These events are hard work and very stressful for everyone so this evening it will be nice to have a small celebration for a milestone birthday for Nevena. Rest assured the players know how big the job at hand is and will certainly not over do it.


World Championships Updates - Bermuda Bowl Blog - Day 6 (Neil Rosen)

Day 6

A very tough day on paper proved to be the case. We held Poland to a narrow loss but the crack USA1 team got the better of us and won comfortably.

The final match of the day was perhaps our most disappointing experience of the day with only a narrow won over the inexperienced Guadeloupe squad.

However with 5 matches to go we are still in a qualifying position and have real aspirations toward making the top 8 particularly with two much easier matches tomorrow.


World Championships Updates - Bermuda Bowl Blog - Day 5 (Neil Rosen)

Apologies for the delay in the blog but it’s been a tense couple of days with a lot of tight matches for the team, some of which didn’t quite go the way we hoped. 

We started with a thumping win against the famous Italian squad, the highlight of which was Tony Forrester finding a lead of the queen of clubs from Q9 (uncontested auction) to beat 3NT. This was followed by two disappointing narrow losses against Australia and Chile. A number of individual errors contributed however tomorrow is another day!


World Championships Updates - England Mixed Team captain's reports - Days 6 (Paul Barden)

Day Six, Friday 20th September

Today we play USA1, Denmark, and France, in 9th, 10th, and 4th places overnight.  All three matches will be on BBO, so I will be in the VuGraph theatre hoping to get enough signal to follow them.  You can review what happened by going to the BBO archive at

USA1 takes the lead by taking four vulnerable undertricks against a partscore we play in a 5-1 heart fit, then bidding an excellent slam which we miss.  We recover by defeating a poor slam, then taking a 500 penalty when they try 2H in a 5-1 heart fit - they play 2H at the other table also, one off.  On the penultimate board they bid a game off four top tricks, but the tricks are hard to cash, and we don't cash them (in the Bermuda bowl, the game makes at both tables in the USA1 v England match).  That ties the match, and on the last board we bid to 4S instead of the somewhat better 3NT.  The lie is the one that favours the better contract, and we lose a game swing, and the match by 47-37.

Against Denmark, there is little action for the first two thirds of the match, then we double our lead to 20 IMPs with a thin 3NT.  But it all goes wrong at the end.  A normal overcall costs 500, they bid and make a fair slam which we miss, and on the last board they make a conservative pass while our overcall helps them guess the trump suit in their 4H contract.  We lose the match 40-28, the first time we've lost two in a row.  But both matches have been close, and we had a sizeable lead at the start of the day.

Denmark has asked for a ruling on a board where we gave different explanations on either side of the screen.  It's not at all clear that this affected their bidding, but it's a question which should be considered.  The Directors decide to make a small adjustment, and the score becomes 40-26.  The adjustment is somewhat generous to them, but that's as it should be: we have no complaints.

The players go back to the BBO rooms to play France.  The French take an early lead, but we get our noses in front when Sally makes a winning decision to bid five over five.  We're a few IMPs down approaching the last quarter, but now it's our turn to have a run of good boards.  They bid a poor slam which fails, then go off in 3NT which we make against an inferior opening lead.  On the last board, Frances and Graham find a nice defence to beat 1NT by two, and we have won by 46-23.

We were bound to have a poor day sooner or later, and this was it.  But as poor days go, it was pretty good - we scored just below average, and we're still in the lead.  USA2 are now quite close behind us: we each have only one match to play against a team from the top eight, but their run-in looks slightly easier.  We shall see.


Friday, 20 September 2019

World Championships Updates - Women's Team Progress - A Dream Day! (David Gold)

A dream day!

We started the day in 7th place and were looking for a good day to give us a cushion as the last 2 days are tricky.

In the first match we played Pakistan and a string of huge results from Catherine and Gillian combined with an error free card from Nicola and Yvonne meant we won 19.85 to -0.10 despite them missing a slam they really should have bid. Pakistan were fined 0.25 VP for late arrival, hence them actually getting minus VPs in the match.

Match 2 we played China who are leading and look very strong. I sent in Catherine and Gillian again, with Heather and Nevena. Mentally I was hoping for 7 or more VPs, just wanting to avoid a bid loss. With two boards to go not much had happened and we trailed by an imp.Suddenly we missed a decent slam on these cards:



China though, bid 7H and although they can make it they fail to guess the QXx heart onside and we actually win a swing.

Then on the last board Nevena found herself in 4H after south LHO had made a takeout double:



And did very well to make it by guessing hearts with J9x onside. In the other room they went down so we ended up winning by 25 IMPs and almost 16VPs! So much for hoping for 7VPs or more - what a pessimistic captain I am.

We are currently playing South Africa and are up 50-7 after 10 boards and in 3rd place so I am very happy with my team.We have 5 matches left and they are not easy.Not in order: USA 1 and 2, Denmark, Brazil and high flying Japan.

We eventually beat South Africa by 58 imps scoring 19.85 VPs twice in the same day.
With scores of:


We have scored 55.62 out of 60 on the day and are now 3rd almost a match clear of 9th. (Top 8 is what matters most).

Japan, Brazil and USA1 is a tough day tomorrow.


World Championships Updates - England Mixed Team captain's reports - Days 5 (Paul Barden)

Day Five, Thursday 19th September

Playing in a World Championship, you hold 1096 KQ1053 K82 QJ at game all, and see 1S on your left, 1NT on your right, 2D on your left, passed to you: your call?  While bridge is a bidders' game, there are times to go quietly and this is one of them.  Helped a little by RHO's slow pass, and remembering one of his own articles, Michael did pass, conceding 170.  His Thai counterpart evidently hadn't been reading English Bridge, because she competed with 2H.  Suddenly everyone started bidding, opponents landing in 5D as Frances realised that her four small hearts were perfect opposite Graham's presumed void.  With the king of diamonds finessable and the club honours and spade intermediates falling, you can actually make all 13 tricks.  The next board, at unfavourable vulnerability, the same Thai player held void AK9654 J974 J109 and saw 1NT (15-17) from partner, 2D on his right, described as hearts or spades and a minor.  Perhaps not sure how partner would interpret a heart bid, she passed, waiting for opponents to clarify matters.  She had a longer wait than expected, since Graham, looking at a 4324 two-count, elected to pass also.  Frances made three tricks for -250, but opponents had an easy eleven in hearts or diamonds (you can see all the hand records by clicking on the board numbers here).  These boards contributed to a 48-15 win in our morning match.  After we'd played the 16 boards, our opponents at each table kindly presented us with gifts of dried mango - any suggestions for reciprocal English gifts we might bring to the next World Championships?

Our second match goes equally well.  An Australian opponent elects to open a constructive weak 2S at favourable vulnerability holding AK1085 Q9 9843 92.  That was passed round to Graham who did very well to double with 432 A1062 AK75 73.  Since the normal contract was 4S the other way, failing on the 5-0 break, 2S doubled was a highly desirable contract for us - with the advantage of the opening lead, and being able to see the distribution, 4S could be made our way, and was, for +1100 (the full deal).  We win the match 62-18.

Twelve matches in each round are broadcast on BridgeBaseOnline, one of them being shown in the VuGraph theatre at the venue, with commentary led by sometime Englishman Barry Rigal.  Our third match of the day, against second-placed Latvia, is chosen for VuGraph.  I'm not allowed to watch at the table when we play in the broadcast rooms, so I go and join Barry R and try to guess what the players will do.  Exchanges are even in the first half of the match, but then we put together a run of good boards and win 56-27.  This deal is the highlight.  South opens 1D and West arrives in 3NT on a diamond lead.  When Barry Myers declared the hand, South won and continued diamonds, the jack winning the trick.  I suggested that he would solve his entry problems by leading the queen of clubs and ducking North's king.  These things are harder to see at the table, but Barry M obligingly found the play, and had nine easy tricks thereafter.  The fate of the Latvian declarer showed the wisdom of this simple approach: she was allowed to win trick one, and led the queen of clubs to the king and ace.  Now she crossed to the ace of spades, unblocked the queen of spades, and made the normal misguess of running the nine of clubs to Michael's ten.  Michael simply established a spade trick for one off.

We have had our best day yet: everyone played very well and we earned three good wins.  I do a little dance, and we go for dinner at a Thai restaurant to celebrate.  There are eight matches to play in the round robin.  Tomorrow we face three good teams and will need to play well again.


Thursday, 19 September 2019

World Championships Updates - Bermuda Bowl Blog - Day 4 (Neil Rosen)

Day Four

An excellent day with two close matches and a big win against fancied Israel.

All three of our pairs continue to do well with Jagger/Allerton, in particular, playing very well with very few errors.

Andrew Robson showed much better judgement than his Israeli counterpart on the following board with identical starting auctions at both tables:


AQJ9x                                 Kxx
A98                                      Jxx
AQx                                     9xx
xx                                        xxxx


Both Norths opened the gambling 3NT and both Souths removed to 4C. Andrew doubled which Tony wisely passed with nowhere to go. At the other table West decided to over all 4S - the East hand was not what they were hoping for! A nice double figure swing resulted when this drifted one off.

In situations like this double is usually a winning action - it is far more flexible: it brings the other suits into the game, allows partner to pass when they have nowhere to go and you can always bid spades later if you judge that to be right.

Tomorrow we have two teams fighting hard to qualify in Italy and Australia, together with Chilie who have faded a bit after a fast start to the event.


World Championships Updates - Women's Team Progress (David Gold)

We have played 13/23 matches and are lying 5th with 8 teams qualifying for the knockouts. With India and Australia to come today we are hoping to score well and give ourselves a little breathing space as we are currently only 7vps ahead of 9th.

Just to show you that even at the top level mistakes are made:



These hands were bid to 7N in the Bermuda Bowl off 5 spade tricks and the club ace and yes, it was doubled! The pair in question were Fleischer-Martel, the defending champions.

My team of:

Nicola Smith and Yvonne Wiseman
Heather Dhondy and Nevena Senior
Catherine Draper and Gillian Fawcett

Provides a good mix of youth and experience. Yvonne is playing her first of many Venice cups, (her partner won her first Venice cup before Yvonne was born!). It is a Venice cup debut for Gillian also.

All 3 pairs are playing well and the team is a joy to captain. Coach, David Burn is doing an excellent job preparing everyone for play and keeping us all amused.



Nicola reached 6S after west had bid 4H. 7s is cold and a loss looked possible but East doubled it. However, with a surprise void, Nicola redoubled it to record a beautiful +1820, significantly more than the 1510 available for bidding 7 which opponents missed anyway- not at all easy to bid.

Heather and Nevena helped us steady the ship yesterday by hammering Sweden, bidding and making two doubled partscores in a row.

Gillian and Catherine who have been consistently good throughout bid a nice 5D in the first match today against Chinese Hong Kong missed at many tables on:



It may look easy but even many time Bermuda Bowl winners Italy could not get past 2D, playing against our open team.

Unfortunately, despite a good win against India we suffered a heavy loss against Australia in the 3rd match of the day. We are still 7th, 5vps ahead of 9th.


World Championships Updates - England Mixed Team captain's reports - Days 4 (Paul Barden)

Day Four, Wednesday 18th September

We start against two couples from Canada. We bid, play, and defend better than they do to pick up five double-digit swings, winning the match 64-20. Next up is a Russian team who are pleased to point out that our two teams are placed first and second. On the third board they have a Precision auction, in every sense, to 5C which is the best contract in theory. But the defence knows a lot about declarer's hand, and Barry is able to give her a problem which she gets wrong. Meanwhile, Frances and Graham bash 3NT, the defence misguess which suit to lead, and it rolls home. The Russians hit back with a cold grand slam, but then they again misdefend 3NT at one table while going off in 5minor at the other.  In the end we win a scrappy match 49-36, and Russia are no longer in second place.

We are politely informed by a Director that, after careful consideration, it has been decided not to adjust the score from our match against New Zealand. What had happened was that an opponent failed to see that his partner had doubled an artificial spade bid - if he had he would have bid the suit - and passed. Major bridge events are played with a wooden screen placed diagonally across the table, separating North and East from South and West. Bidding cards are placed on a tray which is slid under the table after both screenmates have made their call. The New Zealander realised his error before the tray had been passed, and wanted to change his pass, so the Director was called. The rule is that a call is considered to be 'made' when placed on the tray and released, and then cannot be changed unless the player has made a mechanical error. The Director established that the call had been made, and that the call was the one the player had intended, and therefore could it not be changed. Meanwhile, the players on the other side of the screen could not hear the discussion, but they knew that the Director was ruling on something, and taking a few minutes doing it. And when the tray eventually came through the New Zealand woman elected to bid again in a position where she might well have passed us out in three clubs, enabling her side to bid and make four spades.

The ruling was the Director call hadn't, in the words of Law 16B, 'demonstrably suggested' anything in particular, and that the player was therefore free to do as she thought best. It's fair to say that opinions differ about the interpretation of 'demonstrably' and I respectfully disagree with this one.  There are no appeals here, but we can ask for a review of the ruling if we choose. However, the ruling given had been carefully considered by very experienced Directors, so we accept it with thanks for the trouble they have taken.

Our third match was against Poland, like Sweden fielding a different team from in the Europeans.  Frances and Graham had an excellent match against Russia, but this time things go badly for them.  It's a relief to find that Michael and Fiona have done well, and we lose 39-28.

I conduct a brief review with the team of results so far. All three pairs are doing very well playing two out of three matches each day, so we'll carry on with that: my aim is simply to play each pair at the times they're likely to perform best. The system is that after each match I have to log on to a computer and declare which of our players will sit North, South, East, and West, without seeing the opposing captain's choice. Once both captains have submitted their line-ups, they appear on a big screen for all to see.

Over dinner, we award play-of-the-day to Fiona, for this board against Canada. Defending 3NT, she led a diamond to the king and ace. Declarer tried leading the two of hearts to the 5, 8, and jack. Michael continued with the seven of diamonds, which held, and a third diamond to declarer's queen.  Declarer pressed on with hearts, hoping to find the suit 3-3 and to keep North off lead. This plan was doomed, but Fiona alertly simplified matters by putting in the king, crashing Michael's queen. Meanwhile, Barry after the same play to the first trick tried the jack of spades at trick two, which North wrongly covered, so he had three spade tricks and his contract.

We're just past half way in the Round Robin and we're still in the lead.


Wednesday, 18 September 2019

World Champions Updates - England Seniors Progress (David Jones)

England Seniors Progress

We are half way through the qualifying and the team is presently in the top 8 which is excellent.

Morale is high and all three pairs are playing well.

Problems which we have suffered include some luggage which arrived three days late, the propensity of one player to lead out of turn, some minor stomach ailments and a feeling that yet another Chinese meal may be a bridge too far!

My favourite bridge hand is this play problem in 3NT.



Right hand opponent has shown 6 or 7 hearts and an opening hand and you play in 3NT on a high heart lead.

You have 4 clubs and 2 spades plus 1 heart off the top. Thus you must broach the diamond suit but if you play a diamond to the ten left will win and clear the hearts and right of course has the diamond ace and you have only 8 winners. Therefore with the diamond ace marked on the right you should play a diamond to the king which guarantees the contract. Well played by the England declarer who did this.