Great excitement that our U21 team has reached the FINAL of the World Championships at the World Mind Sports Games. With the England teams in the Open, Women’s and Senior’s teams all still fighting in the quarter-finals of their events and so much going on in Beijing, it’s hard to get information, but when I woke at 4.05 this morning, I rushed to my computer to look at the running scores. The U21s are playing France in the final, the team we lost the bronze medal to in the European Championships by 1 VP. I’m not sure what we expected of the team this time. U21 Bridge is not exactly predictable, but Mike Byrne and Alan Shillitoe have worked so hard with the squad and I guess “nervous optimism” summed up the supporters’ general viewpoint. They finished second in the round-robin behind... yep France, so the final looked a close but realistic ambition. Good wins in the quarter-final against Netherlands and a nail-biter against the hosts, China in the semis saw the team into the final with a 5.7 IMP deficit because of the round-robin defeat in the first round. The only way of following progress in the final is by watching a feed of the running scores on an experimental webpage.
When I start at 4.10, we’ve scored 28 IMPs after ten boards and lead by 22. Go boys go! It’s not easy to master technology at this time of the morning. The computer is slow. I try to send a text message to Michael Byrne the NPC of the team with words of encouragement and support. After two failed attempts (sending messages to my brother-in-law!!) I succeed. What’s the score now? Where’s the coffee?
It’s 5.10, 16 boards played. There has been very little more scoring and the lead has remained fairly constant. +21. 48 boards to go. The next set starts at 6.00 am our time. Can they do it? Let’s hope so.
There’s no information on the team line-up at this stage but the six players are:
Tom Paske and Ed Jones
Ben Paske and Rob Myers
Adam Hickman and Dan McIntosh
Updates throughout the day. It is a 64 board match with three more segments of sixteen baords to play. It’s going to be a long morning.