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.