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!