Day 4 from the World Youth Teams Championships in Veldhoven, the Netherlands. Under 26 Coach Michael Byrne has written the below update following the team's progress:
Today we had some easy matches and some tough matches, and whilst we could have scored more VPs, it was a lot better in terms of the bridge.
Match 1 saw us face Argentina, one of the weaker teams, and we shot out to an early lead, then were pegged back a little before increasing our margin towards the end of the match.
This was an interesting deal that was handled well by Daniel Winter:
You reach 4S by West and get a club lead from North, what is your plan?
In the interests of full disclosure I will tell you that South has made a take out double of diamonds, and North has led a small club which is 3rd and 5th, so it doesn't disclose the presence of an honour or not.
If you play low from dummy South wins the King and switch to a heart, if you put the Ace up South discourages - does this change your plan?
A popular line was to duck the club, win the heart switch and lead a spade to the Jack. When this draws the ten, you are already down! This was the full hand:
South's double was of the "imaginative" variety, but this doesn't change the basic way to play the hand. Win an ace and run the QS, when this is covered all round and then ten falls you can afford a spade from hand. South wins and knocks out the AH but you draw trumps with the marked finesse and then give up a diamond.
What you can't afford to do is duck the club, as the heart switch will cost an entry and give the opponents to set up a force on you.
Daniel's nice play only flattened the board though, as at the other table our South player put the 10C in at trick one. Not an unreasonable one, but declarer subsequently just lost 2 spades and the King of diamonds for ten tricks.
In match 2 we faced USA 1 who are mostly made up of professional players. We made several mistakes to concede 60 imps, but we salvaged some points by messing them around in the auction. We saved in 7S against their contract of 7H, and they could have doubled to take 1400, which would have been 1 imp to them after 6C was made in the other room.
Instead they bid on to 7NT which went off when their side suit broke badly - who could have guessed you weren't going to get even breaks when the opponents bid up to the 7 level?
(Note to readers - I am told sarcasm doesn't come across well in print, I trust that is not the case here)
In Match 3 we faced China Hong Kong and were headed for victory but had to settle for a draw. We ended in 3NT with one heart stopper and a natural loser in our long suit, they played in a 5-2 spade fit after a bidding misunderstanding which proved more lucrative and scrambled home for ten imps away.
Another swing was lost through sloppy declarer play, which was disappointing against the sort of team we should really have been putting away.
In Match 4 we faced USA 2, and the bridge was fairly shoddy from both teams.
We would have won but we took a wild shot on this hand:
2NT P 4S* 5S
P P 5NT P
6C P ?
Anything could be right on this hand.
If partner has
AKQx then a grand slam is cold,
Whilst if he has
we can't even make a small slam.
In any event we leapt to 7D (after putting pressure on ourselves by thinking for a long time) and this proved to be off the AC for -17 imps.
The final match of the day was against Barbados, who have sent a team to make up the numbers and have lost every match by a margin of at least 30 imps. They were very nice guys and we chatted about how they played chess as well as bridge, and then beat them 76-0 in imps to take the same 20 victory points that everyone else has taken against them.
This has brought us up in the table and tomorrow we are hoping to win several matches and end on a positive note.