U16s reach online semis; team to be sponsored by Tetragon

England's U16 squad has continued its preparations for the World Youth Team Championships by progressing to the semifinals of the WBF Youth Teams Online Championships, after a narrow victory over France.

We are also delighted that Tetragon will be sponsoring the U16 squad. We are very grateful for their donation, and this takes the fundraising through the £50,000 barrier.

We are getting close to our fundraising target, so further contributions of any size will be very welcome. Donations can be made through the EBED website. Alternatively, please support West Midlands BC's fundraising Swiss Pairs taking place on 18th July.

Giorgio Provenza, squad leader for the U16s, has written another blog with further news on the squad's activities - that can be read below.

Road to China - part 4

Giorgio Provenza, Under 16 squad leader

It’s been a while since I have last been in touch and a lot has happened.

First the good news. When we left, we were leading the pack in the WBF Youth Teams Online Championships, having won our first four matches.

In the following three matches we scored a win and two losses and, although we dropped a little in the ranking, we comfortably qualified for the quarter finals.

Our opponents were France, who finished the Swiss in third place, three spots ahead of us.

The match was played as usual on BBO over two sets of 14 boards. In the KO stage however, to enhance security, each player is on a skype call with one of the opponents. They can see each other, and ask each other questions as if they were on the same side of the screen.

The team were in top form and the IMPs started coming our way. With three boards to go the score was England 71 – 42 France. All done and dusted? Not really. First an optimistic slam bid by us that didn’t make; then a French save at the 5 level vulnerable that we forgot to double; then a thin game bid and made by the French while we stopped in part score meant a flood of IMPs going the wrong way. Luckily, the last board was love all and we emerged victorious by a 5 IMP margin. (Somehow it reminds me of some football match I watched lately...). Results - session 1; session 2.

Good practice for me though, now I know what awaits me in China!

As you can imagine we are all very excited and looking forward to the semifinal. Our opponent will be the winner of Denmark – USA, which, incidentally, are the only teams who beat us in the Swiss. I guess that makes us the underdogs, but we can’t wait to have another go at it.

Second, some more good news. The U16 have a sponsor for China who will cover the best part of our expenses. Thanks to the auspices of Elizabeth and Reade Griffith, Tetragon have decided to link their name to our adventure. We are very grateful and I would like to take the chance to thank them on behalf of the whole team.

We are just a month away from boarding the plane to Shanghai and a lot more is going to happen before we check in.

On the weekend we will have a training event in Ardingly, where the Southern counties – which are contributing towards our expenses - are holding a Junior Bridge Camp. Following England's win v Colombia (that’s the match I had in mind!!) the organisers had to review the schedule to allow for the Quarter Final to be broadcast. What will the U16s choose, bridge or football?

Right after that, a large contingent of Juniors across all categories will fly to Croatia for the European Youth Bridge Pairs Championships. As someone pointed out to me, they will be there during the semifinals of the football WC. England-Croatia, anyone?

And finally, on the 23rd to 25th of July we will have our last training camp before China. Wimbledon Bridge Club will host most of our activities, but we are planning to play a few games around London. Why don’t you come along to meet the team and wish us luck? This will be our schedule:

Monday 23rd of July – Young Chelsea Bridge Club – 19.00
Tuesday 24th of July – Richmond Bridge Club – 19.30
Wednesday 25th of July – Wimbledon Bridge Club – 11.00

We would love to meet as many of you as possible and thank personally all of those who have generously contributed to the fund raising to send our Juniors to China.

I almost forgot. Somewhere in this busy schedule we will have to fit the semifinal of the Online Championship!!