Day 4 from the World Youth Teams Championships in Veldhoven, the Netherlands. Under 21 Coach Charlie Bucknell has written the below update following the team's progress:
As we continue through the middle of the tournament, it is important not to become complacent! It can be quite tiring playing 56 boards a day, so it is a test of stamina as well as mental fortitude. This board from our match against India shows how our pairs push constantly to win IMPs when opponents test them!
Thomas doubled 2♥ to show a decent suit that would be safe to lead or support. West’s pass shows a doubleton spade and North with 5 hearts in support, raised to 3♥ (4♥ might be pushing it with such a poor hand!). East tried a practical a 4♠ bid and found themselves responding to Blackwood! After bidding ♣5 to show 1 Keycard, West signed off in 5♠ and Thomas was on lead. Thomas led his singleton and Andy took the Ace and considered the hand – could East really be 5-5 in the blacks? From a defensive prospect, if partner had a spade honour and a stiff club, the contract would immediately be defeated and the club suit was already murdered if partner had led a doubleton. Andy returned the ♣J and was rewarded when partner had K4 in Spades and the contract was now defeated with ♣A, a ruff and a natural spade trick.
At the other table.. Tom Furness and Henry Rose had an excellent auction (or so they said) to 6♣.
Tom’s 3♠ bid agreed the club suit and Henry’s 4♣ bid expressed slam interest. Tom was very interested in bidding a slam (he always is) and bid 4NT. Henry showed that he held two keycards without the queen of clubs and Tom realised that he was quite happy to sign off in 6♣. It is not too tricky to envisage (from Tom’s perspective) that Henry might hold ♠KQxxx ♥x ♦xx ♣AKxxx, a reasonable minimum and 12 tricks would be cold with our magical ♠AJ. Instead, Tom found himself in a slightly dangerous slam but fortunately the spade finesse for Furness was onside and England won 16 IMPs.
At the end of Day 4, England found themselves in 8th place, needing a solid final day since we only had 4 VPs to spare over 9th place! Tomorrow finds us playing against Japan, Singapore and France.