The 18th World Youth Teams Championships is taking place this week in Veldhoven, the Netherlands. Under 21 Coach Charlie Bucknell has written the below from from the teams first day:
The U21s started bright and early (8.15am!) at breakfast this morning, where the (now) traditional breakfast puzzle hands awaited them. After a smooth solve, they were ready to start the first day of the contest. Let’s meet the players:
It wouldn’t be unfair to describe Andy as the “veteran” of the team (a few grey hairs have been spotted) and Tom is certainly an excellent partner to curb the outrageous overbidding that results from Andy’s “experience”. These two have bounced from strength to strength as a new partnership (although for a junior partnership, a year is practically a decade) and are a reliable pair of hands.
Both from Cambridge, these two have a penchant for picking up IMPs where others only see flat boards. Extremely ethical players, they have been known on occasion in defence to allow opponents to look at closed tricks to get the count of the hand only for declarer to then go off in a cold 3NT.
Henry is our team soothsayer with his ability to “feel” good results, and it certainly proved so today when he “knew” that England would be on to a winning start. Tom is a much more down to earth character that spends most of his time at the table trying to figure out partner’s thought process – we’re still working on that too.
So, to the event. I’m pleased to report that after four testing matches against Canada, Hungary, The Netherlands (hosting the event) and Ireland, England are averaging just over 17VPs (out of 20) per match. They now lie comfortably in 2nd place (the top 8 qualify for the Knockout stages). Tomorrow they will be facing Denmark, China, Germany and USA1.
Here is one excellent example of our team’s judgement:
Liam overcalled 2NT to show both minors and Jamie gave preference to clubs. East came back in with a strong hand and bid 3♠ and West put them back into their fit.
Liam made a very normal lead of the Ace of Diamonds, partner following with the ♦8 and declarer with the ♦7. Playing reverse attitude, Liam knew that partner would discourage with a doubleton diamond so deduced that the ♦8, being the lowest remaining diamond, must be a singleton and played the ♦10! This was covered with ♦Q and now Jamie ruffed it. Knowing that Jamie was ruffing, Liam has to play a card to tell partner which suit to return, and Jamie could rightly figure out that Liam was looking for a spade ruff since the ♦10 was the highest diamond spot card and now declarer had to lose a club, a spade ruff, a diamond ruff and a top diamond. If Liam had played the ♦K at trick two, Jamie would have to do very well to ruff it to switch to a spade, so playing the ♦10 ensures partner won’t go wrong. A very tidy and excellent defence to win 13 IMPs when the opponents at the other table switched to a club at trick 2, unable to figure out what was going on in diamonds.
Please do come support our Juniors and watch their results come in, or watch them on BridgeBase Online on the VuGraph!
By Charlie Bucknell