This page provides a daily review of the championships in Opatija, Croatia.
Tuesday 1 July
Scotland had the better of the wild eight hands at the start of the match, but Spain came back on the partscores to restrict the Scottish win to 27 IMP. This was not quite enough to overtake the Spanish in the table.
In their final match it was all level at the half but the Austrians powered away with a slam swing on a favourable lead and a game swing on a fortunate lie of the cards. A frustrating conclusion.
Monday 30 June
With Romania striving for a Venice Cup spot it was always going to be a tough opening match for the Women today. Three game swings to one meant a loss by 13 IMP.
The match against Bulgaria was tied after 14 boards with a game swing apiece. Then the Bulgars bid and made a dubious grand slam (but excellent small slam) while our pair languished in game. A defeat by 16 IMP and a loss of 4 VP just down to that one hand.
A very quiet set of boards against France, Scotland won on more boards but France had the slightly bigger partscore swings to win by 10 IMP.
Tomorrow is the final day of the championship with two matches for the Women.
Sunday 29 June
Despite a strong start to the match, Sweden eventually proved too strong as the Women lost by 23 IMP. At one point they were lying twelfth which shows how tight the mid-table is.
The last match of the day against Turkey was a turgid affair with most of the swings being down to overtricks but in the Turkish plus column. It burst into life on the last three boards when Scotland pulled something back, but they still lost by 6 IMP.
They have the night off.
Saturday 28 June
A very frustrating match for the Women against Serbia, a team that they were looking to beat. Imps were frittered away continuously as they fell to a big defeat despite no double-imp swings.
The Open team probably put the final nail in Finnish hopes as they strolled to a big early lead, built on it and only conceded small imps in return. A very big win should be a boost for the rest of the day.
The Seniors almost blitzed Italy in a tremendous display. They remain in third place but are only 6 VP behind leaders Israel with one match to play.
The last match for the Seniors was against Wales, a chance for revenge after an earlier defeat. They duly took the opportunity but both Germany and Israel above them won by larger margins, so they finished the consolation swiss in third place.
The Women had a comfortable 26 IMP win against Lebanon but will have hoped for more on a swingy set of hands. They have the rest of the day off.
The match against Portugal for the Open team was settled by who was apply to apply the axe (or double card) most effectively. Unfortunately it was not Scotland.
The final match for the Open team was against second-placed Germany. It's not clear they played the same hands, at least looking at the results, but all the swings evened out as Scotland only lost by 5 IMP. A good finish after a tough championship.
Friday 27 June
It's not how you start, it's how you finish. Only the Women were awake at the start of the first match as they stormed to a 40-0 IMP lead after six boards but Poland came storming back and Scotland eventually won by 9 IMP. Both teams did well to bid the excellent grand slam on the final board.
The Seniors were 22 IMP down after two boards against hosts Croatia. However this awoke them from their slumber and they just piled on the imps, scoring 63 IMP over the next ten hands. One final swing went the wrong way but it was still a 19 IMP win, great performance after the poor start and we lead the event. Now for the Germans, who are only 0.12 VP behind us.
Board 2 was a boring hand throughout the field, with West making eleven tricks in four hearts at almost every table. Suffice to say that Paul Barton found it harder to make four hearts doubled, mainly because he was sitting North. After this 18 IMP setback some might have thrown in the towel, but the team made a great comeback and went into the lead with four hands to play. Then a game swing away but Barton-Spears bid the grand slam on the final hand to win the match, redeem themselves, and make lunch far more pleasant for all.
A wild set of hands for the second match of the day but the Women had a bye and missed it all. The Open team played the fancied Ireland team who is in the middle of a fight for the last two qualifying places for the final - interestingly Scotland still have to play the other two teams in this battle. Scotland started with a slam swing but gave it back three boards later, with a game swing loss in between. But Ireland powered away in the middle boards and recorded a decent win. Time to regroup.
The Seniors built up a useful lead against Germany but could not withstand their late rally when they scored 25 unanswered imps to beat the Scots by three imps.
In the last match of the day was a lively set and a lot of matches had imps flying around. The Open team played well against Iceland, always to tough team to face. Aside from the 14 IMP lost when both pairs decided to sacrifice, they played a fairly even match as they lost by 24 IMP.
The Women also played well and would have had a resounding win if Norway had not twice picked the right game when faced with a no-trump/major decision. I guess they'd say better judgement. Scotland just withstood Norway's comeback to win by 4 IMP. A good day for the team.
Once again the Seniors opened up a big lead but then let it slip, losing 45 IMP in the final five boards for a 33-50 IMP defeat. A disappointing finish to an otherwise good day. The team are still third but now 12 VP behind second.
Thursday 26 June
It is a rest day for the Open and Women. If you are missing the women, then some appear on this EBL video - Beautiful Girls.
It will have been tough for the Seniors this morning as they turned up to play Turkey. However an excellent grand slam on the second board, whilst the Turks languished in game, showed they were back to business. They continued to score well and ran out easy winners by 34 IMP.
Two late goals game swings against Spain turn a close match into a decent win.
With Iain safely watching some football match, the rest had a table one encounter with Israel in the last match of the day. It was a very tight match with no swinger bigger than 6 IMP, but the Israelis won it on the last board and Scotland lost by 2 IMP.
In other news, the Seniors have banned Mike Ash from ever 'helping' with the Bridgemates again.
Wednesday 25 June
On vugraph for the very first time in the championship and the Open team slipped to a 30 IMP defeat. Vugraph is very exposing and everyone sees any little mistake, with commentators and kibitzers often forgetting that the players cannot see all 52 cards. Even with the top teams, vugraph highlights how much bridge is a game of errors and the best players just make less of them - the number of truly brilliant plays is very small.
So sufficient to say that this was largely a self-inflicted defeat against a team they hoped to beat.
The Women built up a good lead against Ireland but could not resist their storming finish, losing by a single imp in the end. Losing a slam swing on the final board was the final nail.
The Seniors also had a very narrow defeat, 43-45 IMP, to Wales although it needed that slam swing on the final board to make it close. This leaves the team with almost an impossible task to qualify for the final round-robin as even two 20-0 VP wins may not be sufficient. They lie 21st, still 17 VP behind tenth.
In the second match of the day the strong and table-climbing Russians proved too strong for the Open team. They got a number of very tight decisions right leading to a x-x IMP defeat for the Scots. Despite the result it looks a far better performance from the team.
By comparison little seemed to go the way of the Women as they fell to a x-x loss to Croatia. All of the decisions are tough and there is often little difference between the winning and losing one, but in this match it seems that it was always the wrong one taken. Sometimes you just get matches like this and it happens to the best - Helgemo and Helness went for -1100 on one partscore hand in this set.
Considering that both teams would be looking for very big wins, the Seniors match against Romania was a damp squib with only two big swings. The end result was a tie, useless for everyone. The Seniors can no longer qualify for the Final, meaning no defence of their medal and no chance of a trip to India next year. They will be very disappointed. (update: apparently a scoring error meant a 7 IMP win for the Scots).
The last match of the day was a swingy affair and it just depended on getting difficult decisions right. For example it was possible to get everything wrong as the all-star Italy Open team did this. They lost 18-78 IMP to Poland.
The good news is that the Scotland Open team can play like the Italy Open team. The bad news is that they chose this set to show it as they were demolished by Slovenia, the bottom team in the group. I don't think we'll look too hard at this match.
The imps in the Women's match against Denmark were also flying around, but the Scots emerged with a 48-32 IMP win. An excellent performance against the team currently lying third. Time for a good meal.
The Seniors were on the wrong side of the swings as they lost 21-36 IMP to Finland. I expect they'd prefer a day off like everyone else, but they'll be back for the Consolation Swiss tomorrow.
Tuesday 24 June
The Seniors demonstrated some bouncebackability with a fine win against Turkey to move closer to a qualifying spot. We're still trying to work out how Iain made one of the game contracts and, for a change, were on the right side of the slam swings.
For some reason the Russian women are bottom of the table, but perhaps the Scots demonstrated why as they scored imps throughout the match on the way to a good win. Only a last board cow flying past prevented a significant victory. But two wins on the trot and some momentum for the team.
The Open team started poorly, playing in the same doubled contract at both tables and making neither. Then two slightly unlucky boards and they were 32 IMP down after three hands. Things did not improve as Slovakia picked up most of the small imps on offer during the rest of the match. Not ideal with two previous winners still to play today.
The Open team put up a great performance against Norway, 2008 winners, and were only 1 IMP down with three boards to play. This despite bidding a grand slam missing an ace (and the opponent leading the right suit) when they were in part-score at the other table! However three game swings on the last three boards ruining the scorecard.
The Women started and finished well against Greece and only bidding the wrong grand slam in the middle restricted them to a 12 IMP win. Three wins on the trot now and moving in the right direction.
It is not time for the Seniors to quite hit the panic button but they cannot afford any more defeats as they suffered their heaviest loss of the championship to Bulgaria. It all started so well with a game swing on the first board, but then points just flew in the other direction. Unlike the Norwegian Open team, we were unable to find the right lead against the grand slam missing an ace and that contributed to the defeat.
The final match of the day featured a fairly quiet set of hands, but of course this still includes the odd 6-6 distribution.
The Women had a narrow loss to the leading Italians. It started very well with a slam swing on the first board, but the two other significant swings went in the minus column. Overall a reasonable day.
Twenty imps slipping away in the last four boards turned a tight match against Israel into a big defeat for the Seniors. As has occurred too often in this event, the team just struggled to score imps. It is now time to hit the panic button as they are 20 VP, one match, behind a qualifying spot. It will need three big wins tomorrow.
Finally, and definitely not least, the Open team beat Monaco by 1 IMP. Easily their best result of the championship against the defending champions and the popular favourites to win again. Ironically, on a day when the Monaco coach was discussing how much slam bidding practice they'd been doing, it was a slam swing to Scotland on the first board. The other big swing was when Monaco did not find the lead to beat a game contract. Well done everyone.
Monday 23 June
Yesterday there was a board where we got a slam swing in every match. Unfortunately on board 23 this morning we lost a slam swing in every match. Bridge is all swings and roundabouts.
The Seniors suffer their first setback as they were beaten by England on a wild set of boards. A late slam swing saved the blitz but not a great start to the day. But better now than later in the event and the Swiss format gives every chance of recovery.
The Open team also showed how swingy the morning session could be with two single-imp swings and six double-imp swings but, unfortunately, just two in the plus column. A disappointing result against one of the middle table teams.
The Women had a far tighter match against the Netherlands but two slam swings were the difference as they lost by 20 IMP. Again the VP seems ruthless but demonstrates that that it does not take much to swing a match.
In the first of the afternoon matches pride of place goes to the Open team who beat the professional Sweden team by 25-18 IMP. In a tight match it swung when Sweden failed to make a slam despite the favourable lead. We'll try and find out how from young Wilkinson and Stephens. A great result for the team, especially with all three youngsters playing.
The women struggled to score imps against Israel, current leaders of the event. A poorly judged overcall and a thin vulnerable game failing by three tricks were the major losses and other imps just dribbled away as they fell to their third defeat in a row against a top team.
The Seniors fell to their second defeat as they lost to the strong France team. Missing a thin slam and then getting on the wrong side of a thin game (same board as the women) was the (only) difference between the teams. At this level you do not have to do much wrong to see a paltry imps return.
The final match of the day and a quieter set of hands, so maintaining concentration and competing partscores effectively would be important.
This time the women led the way with a win against Estonia by 7 IMP. After conceding a game swing on the first board they scored consistently to win. Like the Open team, this is the type of match that they should be winning if they want to move up the final table.
The Open team continued their run with a very solid performance against Greece, losing by 15-17 IMP. Only three significant swings, the largest to Scotland but a loss on the final board gave 3 IMP to Greece. Still a great day with a significant win and moving up the table. Fun awaits tomorrow.
The Seniors finished a poor day with another defeat. They scored one game swing against Austria but could only get one more imp as their opponents waltzed away with the match. But this is only the halfway point of qualifying and plenty of time for the team to climb back up the table. But, tonight, time to regroup.
Sunday 22 June
Harry Smith, Sandy Duncan, Tony Wilkinson
A great start for the Seniors as they beat Slovenia by 19 IMP in the first round of the championships. Sweden up next.
The afternoon matches started well for Scotland as each team won an 11 IMP slam swing on the first board. This was a springboard for the Seniors who got a big win against Sweden and, after two matches, LEAD the Swiss. The Women also had a great start and a tremendous win against the Auld Enemy, who are also the defending champions. The Open team led Austria at half-time but two early goals in the second-half saw them slip to defeat.
The Seniors continued their good run with a convincing 31 IMP win over Estonia. A great first day and they lead overnight. A lot for them to build on tomorrow when they'll face England in the first match.
The Women slipped to a disappointing 18 IMP defeat to Germany although they were the beneficiaries of the 17 IMP swing this time. But the Germans got the better of the partscores and scored 11 IMP without reply on the last three boards.
The Open got their first win of the event against Spain. The red double card was responsible for many of the Scottish swings as they ground out a 19 IMP win. A good day for the team.
The Seniors will be first to the table as they take on Slovenia in the first round of the Swiss, starting at 9.30am on Sunday. They will be joined in the afternoon by the Open team, who play Austria and Spain, and the Women who take on defending champions England and then Germany. A tough start for them!
Harry Smith, Scotland Women NPC, is blogging at http://scottishbridgeinternational.co.uk/.
Alex Wilkinson has resolved his passport problem and will join the Open team on Saturday before play starts - story in the Herald.
The SBU pays the entry fee for all three teams. It also makes a contribution to the expenses of the Open and Women's teams, that will normally cover most of the cost of accommodation and travel.
*Both teams fined 0.5 VP for slow play