Restart at 6am our time. Must be mad here. England start with a lead of 21 IMPs.
Board 17 of the final (-2)
A not unreasonable sacrifice by NS costs 500 against the 420 for 4 by E/W. Even though it’s IMPs out it shows the boys are keeping the pressure on their opponents. Meanwhile in the Open and Women’s series, both teams in the quarter-finals have healthy (60 IMPs or so) leads after 4/6 sessions. I don’t think anyone would have dared predict so much success for the team. The Senior team are sadly a similar margin behind Japan in their round of eight, which nonetheless is an excellent performance following on their tied sixth place in the recent European Championships.
Board 18 flat in 4 a pretty straightforward hand. More coffee. I cannot see the score for Board 19 yet, but I know England have gained 13 IMPs!
Board 19 was flat — West making eleven tricks in 4 so the swing must be on Board 20, which I know is a potential slam for N/S.
Board 20 Got it now. Ben and Rob are playing N/S and have made 6 for +13. The slam depends on a finesse, which for once wins so the lead is extended to 32 IMPs. Let’s hope the Bridge Gods continue to smile on the team. If the East and West hands had been swapped, the lead would have been down to single figures. Phew.
Board 21 Flat in a rather odd way. Ed and Tom (E/W) went one off doubled in a rather ambitious 3NT for -100 but Ben and Rob defeated 3 by two to save any IMPs.
Board 22 I cannot see the hand yet, but France seem to have gained 13 IMPs. It’s a long time before the fat lady will sing (or indeed cry). Tom has gone off in a 4 contract made at the other table. Ah now I see the hand it appears that nine tricks is the normal result so on the surface it looks like the swing came from some defensive lapse by Ben and Tom.
(Now an hour or so later I know this is wrong — a board was misscored – this one I think and not -13 but flat — so all the later margins are wrong — England are 13 IMPs better off than I feared)
Board 23 is flat. A slam for E/W. Well done Ed and Tom. (Truthfully, not so hard, but a test of nerve at this stage).
Board 24 Our boys are in part-score contracts at both tables failing by a single trick, but that’s 4 IMPs away. It’s one of those hands where the contract and outcome seems to be different at every table. There are some penalty doubles and -500s flying around so perhaps it’s not so bad. Starting to get nervous again.
Board 25 I can see that Ed has failed to make 4 and after five minutes or so I get the even worse news that 4 has made at the other table. Mmm. 4 looks cold for one off so more defensive problems. As dawn breaks (07.10) on the English-Welsh border, the lead is down to just three IMPs. I cannot see the hand for this board yet, but I know that on 26 and 27, Tom has declared 4, making one and going one off on the second.
Board 26 4= at both tables
Still worse, no score for 27 yet, but France have gained 10 imps to take the lead. Looks like a passive spade, a trump lead from Ben, solved declarer’s problem of finding J. An unlucky way to lose ten imps, the 4 contract looks normal, but failing more often than making. Lots of games have made at Tom and Ed’s tables in the next few boards, two at each table, but Ben and Rob’s scores are slower coming through so we shall have to wait to see if they are flat.
Phew ten imps back on 28. Tom succeeded in 4, while his French counterpart failed. We’d settle for our 3 IMP lead in 36 boards time though if finishes that close we’ll have lost about a half our hair (not much to lose there) and about three pounds (plenty to go there)
Board 29 flat in 3NT=. Seems like a normal result. Three boards to go in this stanza
Board 30 flat — ten tricks to England in 4 and the same number to France in 3NT. The latter looks somewhat eccentric with South holding a 6-1-1-5 shape, but you cannot argue with success. Still 3 ahead.
Board 31 flat too, eleven tricks for West in 4. A pretty dull hand to be truthful. Tom and Ed have gone three down in 4 on the final board but it’s impossible to tell if that’s good or bad until we see the hands.
Bad I’m afraid – 5 IMPs away, 3NT only goes one off at the other table. Not a good set, England led by 32 IMPs at one stage, but ending up losing 23 and surrendering the lead by 2 IMPs at the halfway stage in the match.
Correction: So the real margin was -10, not -23. Not great but England still lead by 11 IMPs. I’ve been talking to Sheepy — Rob Myers on BBO. Team in good heart and looking forward to the fray.
Both teams know how close the match is and what is at stake — a gold medal in a world championships. There is little between them and I’m sure that there will be plenty of swings in the decisive 32 boards still to be played. Good luck to our team and their coach and NPC, wish I was there with them, but not sure I could cope with the agony and ecstasy.
Two more sets to go, playing again at 08.50 and 11.40. You can see running scores here or here and maybe some BBO coverage of the same hands from the U28 event