Youth Teams World Championship U26: Captains Blog 6

Submitted by English Bridge Union on

Under 26 Coach Michael Byrne has written a new blog from the World Youth Teams Championships in Veldhoven:

Today our team entered the consolation Board a Match event, which is a great competition designed to make sure all of the teams that are knocked out of the main event have something to play for, and stay around to watch the finals.

The "BAM" (as it is known) is a great event, still using screens, and this time with bidding boxes rather than these awful tablets that the event has been using so far.

We got off to a flying start, and have kept it up, lying joint 6th out of 52 teams. Although Saturday and Sunday are only the qualifying events, there is carry forward going into the final, so the team wants to do as well as it can in order to win a medal.

Since the main event is still going on and featured lots of exciting matches I shall report on those in case of our readers have missed some of the interesting features of the competition so far.

The most notable event of yesterday was the fact that USA 1 composing several professionals and winners of top US competitions, lost to Singapore. This was not only an unbelievable shock (since USA won the round robin with 331VPs, a huge amount ahead of 8th place Singapore on 250.85 VPs). but also unbelievably painful for USA 1, who had chosen to play against Singapore in an effort to gain revenge for their shock defeat in 2018, when they lost the semi final to them.

More interesting is that Singapore only scraped in less than 1 victory point ahead of China, with boths teams suffering fines at various points in the event. (0.5 Vps for China, 1.5Vps for Singapore). Fines are allocated for various things including entering the line up late, slow play and mobile phones going off.  

Perhaps more relevant is that Singapore only qualified because China lost the anti-penultimate England!

Also in the main event Poland caused an enormous upset when they absolutely demolished Sweden, putting 63 imps past them in the first 14 boards!

The same Swedish 4 some won the World U21s Championships in China in 2018 (although they did finish behind England in the 2019 Europeans, when they were 5th and we won Bronze) and had looked very strong early on in this competition, although they were only one place ahead of Poland in the round robin.

In the other matches Israel won a close battle with Italy, and the Netherlands demolished the Greeks, who conceded with one set to play.

The Greek team contains a player well known to us as he was a member of the England squad a few years ago. Fillipos Kritsalis was a student in England and played regularly, including rubber bridge at some of the London clubs.

He represented England in the Channel Trophy in 2019, but sadly left to go back to Greece during the apocalypse.  He scored a major victory last week when he won the Gold medal in the World Junior Pairs, so guiding his team to the quarter finals was just the icing on the cake.

It was actually Greece's best ever result in bridge - not just at junior level but open level as well. I hope it is the start of a new emergence of a a top European country, but time will tell.

And finally no mention of the bridge yesterday would be complete without paying tribute to our great Under 21 team, who lost a close quarter final with Israel. The lead changed hands several times in the last set, and it was only with 2 boards to go that the match was settled. They did fantastically well and I am sure they will continue to do well in the future, everyone both back home and here in Veldhoven is incredibly proud of them. 

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