Bringing you the latest news from the Venice Cup at the World Championships courtesy of Alex Adamson, our man in Wuhan - get the full story from @SBUWomen at Facebook, and #SBUWomen on twitter. For those who don't do either, edited highlights here!
Thursday 18 September
This was a day to forget for us. Indeed, I hope we put it as far behind as possible when we return to the table tomorrow.
Our first match was against China. It was a high scoring match, but most of the points were against us, and could have been avoided. We got 3.5 VPs out of 20. Next we played Norway. Our play was better here but we seemed to have no luck. It was disappointing to lose - I think we were worth more than the 7 VPs that we got. Our third match was against Japan. After a slow start, we were in the lead going into the last four boards. Unfortunately, we couldn't hold on and slipped to another small defeat.
The good news is that there are still eight rounds to go, we are still above average, and we have played eight of the nine top teams. If we play well then we will qualify.
Wednesday 18 September
We started with the strong Swedish team. They gave us few chances. We missed a penalty double, and they bid and made a game against us that was very hard to beat when played by South. Had our pair bid it they would have played it from the North side and very likely gone off. The result was a medium sized defeat, with us getting 5.4 VPs out of 20.
In the second match of the day we played Hong Kong. The Round Robin is effectively a 368 board event, and in that number of hand it is inevitable that there are times when the wheels will come off. That happened to one of our pairs, causing us to drop quite a lot of points, and the other pair were not having a great match. The important thing is that both pairs kept their focus and fought back. The lost points were recouped, and a slam swing at the end allowed us to record a small win, by 5 IMPs.
Match three of the day was on BBO, against Canada. This proved to be a fairly close affair with few swings of note. We took an early lead and held on to most of it to win by 5 IMPs once more. The net result is that we have slipped a few places, down to 11= (with Canada). We scored 28.4 VPs our of a possible 60 today. If that is our worst day then we will probably be okay. The top 15 are now all at least 12 VPs above average! This one is going all the way.
With that last match, we passed the halfway point of the Round Robin. Tomorrow is going to be one of our toughest. We will face the teams currently placed first (China), third (Norway) and fourth (Japan). We hope to take the chance to close up on them. The first two of these will be on BBO (at 3:00 and 5:30).
On a different note, I had one of my greatest bridge accolades. The system in place is that when a player has a complaint about something that happens at the table then the Director consults with a number of experts to see what their opinion is before coming to judgement. In a ruling on an incident between two of the top teams in the Bermuda Bowl (the Open Teams Championship) I was one of the people that the Director consulted!
Tuesday 17 September
Were you one of the few watching Scotland - England at 3:00 AM? If so, you saw a close match with two big swings each way, but Scotland won the small swings and came out 6 IMPs ahead. England had been sitting second so this was a good win for us. In the second match we played South Africa. This was easy viewing for the captain, with the traffic running very heavily our way. A slam swing on the penultimate board carried us to a win by 60 IMPs, and a maximum 20 VPs.
We went into the last match of the day in fourth place. We faced the Netherlands, who had had a dreadful first day but since then had won five consecutive matches to climb from 21st to 7th. This proved to be a set of boards with a lot of potential slams and grand slams early on. Three of them provided swings in our match. We each bid and made one missed by the opposition, then we bid one that went down on bad breaks, missed at the other table. Sadly, the closing straight went poorly for us until we staged a small recovery right at the end - another slam bid and made by us that the Dutch missed. We scored just under 6 VPs - not great, but it is important not to get wiped out. That meant that we finished in 7th place on 108 VPs - averaging 12 a match, and above both USA teams.
The field is becoming quite skewed: fifteen of the 24 teams are above average, one is just below, and the bottom eight are starting to lose touch. We are not at the halfway point yet, but we will start to see the number of realistic top-eight finishers be whittled down. Mind you, it would not surprise me if at least a dozen teams had a chance come the last match on Sunday.
Tomorrow we start against European Champions Sweden, followed by Hong Kong, and then finish with Canada, who have spent almost the whole event in the top eight. That match will he on BBO at 9:30 AM. Now I'm going to do my paperwork for tomorrow: get out the system cards for Wednesday's opponents and the summaries that I have put together in advance, write the players' names on the cards of their first opponents, and their table number, file away todays' cards in readiness should we play any of the same teams in the knock-out stages, and write an email to the team with all tomorrow's details.
Then to bed!
The Scotland v Australia match is covered in Bulletin 3.
Monday 16 September
We started on BBO against Poland, one of the best teams in Europe. We played a very tight match against them. We had a nice start. On the first two hands we judged correctly at both tables to let them play, and we beat all four of these contracts. These two 4 IMP swings proved to be the biggest of the match as we finished winners by 11 IMPs to 9.
Our second match was against Chinese Taipei. They had made a good start to the event and were sitting above us. We gave them very few chances and capitalised on their mistakes. Again, we held them to less than an IMP a board, beating them 39 - 14.
Our final match of the day was against Pakistan. This one had more of the character of yesterday's matches in that to start with all the swings went against us. With a 6-1 spade fit and all the suits stooped do you play 3NT or 4S? We chose wrong (3NT), they chose right. 21 points between you and a 10 card diamond. Are you thinking about 5D? They bid it, we didn't - wrong again. We were 24 IMPs down with six board to go. Finally, the momentum turned our way. We pulled back 23, so lost by 3 IMPs.
Still, it was a good day. We have scored 71 VPs form six matches, so just about the 12 average I think will be good enough. And we have climbed a place to 7th, though the field is very bunched.
Tuesday will be a difficult day for us. As well as starting with high-flying England we will finish with the Netherlands. In between, we have the South Africans. Though they are low in the table they have played five good teams already - undoubtedly the toughest start of anyone in the competition.
Keep Bridge Alive in the Wuhan Bulletin
#keepbridgealive in bulletin 2
Sunday 15 September
We started with Tunisia - not one of the favourites, but for the first ten boards they were comfortably up against us, leading by 20 IMPs. However, our players stuck to their usual style and were rewarded with a series of swings in the final boards. We edged a win by 6 IMPs.
Next we faced Russia. All of the European teams are good and for the first half they overwhelmed us, as we fell behind by 33 IMPs. Again, we fought back. This time we had left it too late, finishing the match 6 IMPs behind. That meant that after two matches we were exactly average.
Our third match was against Australia, who were on almost the same score as us. This match was pretty close for the first hour, then we took control. We won by 24 IMPs to finish the day 8th/24, with an average of just under 12 Victory Points (VPs).
It is really too early to be looking at the table seriously, but there is no doubt that some of our rivals got off to poor starts today. 8th will be the magic number at the end of the round Robin, next Sunday, as that many teams qualify for the knockout stage. My modeling suggests that an average of 12 VPs is likely to be about the cutoff score. So all-in-all, a solid start.
Tomorrow we start with one of the hottest teams in recent years - Poland. This match will be on BBO at 4 AM. After that we will play Chinese Taipei and Pakistan.
Saturday 14 September
Today was about final preparations, familiarisation, administration and then the Opening Ceremony. At 18:30 we all gathered for the Opening Ceremony - 96 teams in four events all still hoping for what they judge to be glory! So now we are as ready as we are going to be. Systems have been read and reread. The team knows when and where they are to be tomorrow. I'm looking forward to getting started.
Friday 13 September
The venue was much busier today, ahead of registration and the opening ceremony tomorrow. Fiona and I went for a look around. It is psychologically helpful to have stood in the playing area and the BBO room, sat at a table, opened and shut the screen, even pushed the bidding tray backwards and forwards a few times. It's good to know where the nearest toilets are, where the second nearest set are in case the first is too busy, where the snacks are and the vugraph room etc.
We have over 350 boards ahead of us (and hopefully more) but experience has shown us that it helps to hit the ground running. We have also seen that teams that turn up just in time usually start slowly. That's why we are here a couple of days early.
Thursday 12 September 2019
The Wuhan International Conference and Exhibition Centre is massive. Big though the bridge event will be, it will only take up a corner of the building. The main event just now seems to be the Contemporary Arts and Crafts Exhibition.
Most importantly, some tasty looking bakeries have been identified on the route.
Updates from Alex Adamson in Wuhan.
Nobody likes sport and politics to mix except in a good way, so pleasing to see that Brian Whittle MSP has raised the following motion to the The Scottish Parliament:
Motion S5M-18843: Brian Whittle, South Scotland, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 11/09/2019
Scottish Bridge Union’s Women’s Team Qualifies for World Finals
That the Parliament congratulates the Scottish Bridge Union’s Women’s Team on qualifying for the World Finals of the Venice Cup, which will take place in Wuhan, China, between 14 and 28 September 2019; understands that the team qualified by being among the top eight teams in the European Qualifiers held in Belgium earlier this year; commends the members of the team for their significant achievement, and wishes them every success.
Supported by: Alexander Stewart, Kenneth Gibson, Miles Briggs, Margaret Mitchell, Stuart McMillan, Finlay Carson, Tom Mason, Richard Lyle, Edward Mountain, Rachael Hamilton, Bill Bowman
6-7 March 2020
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For further information on the festival please visit https://www.facebook.com/torshavnbridgefestival/