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Bowling Along 5 - Wild Wednesday
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The middle day of the qualifying gave us the strong home side sandwiched by China and Monaco. We started the day on BBO & OurGame against China. China won the Asia-Pacific Championship in Seoul a few months ago but the Bowl hasn't been going so well for them.

There were quite a few wild hands throughout the day, starting with the 2nd board of the day (18)

West
10865
7
J97
KJ974
North
A72
42
A65
AQ853
East
QJ943
KQ6
104
1062
South
K
AJ109853
KQ832
D

David Beauchamp opened the South rocket 1. After a bunch of scientific bidding, our boys landed in 6 by South. East had smacked 4 (kickback) along the way so West put one of those on the table.

Double dummy it's obviously cold, and the right single-suit play in hearts is low to the Jack. However, cashing A and playing another is only about 10% worse. Meanwhile, diamonds are a problem - the 4-1 break is a 28% shot. You can pitch 2 diamonds on the black aces, but allowing for that means you lack entries to double-finesse hearts (and you may let them back in the game if diamonds are 4-1).

Everyone in 6 across all 3 fields went down sacrificing a bit of heart percentage to protect against the 4-1 diamond break - except the few who got gifted an extra entry to table courtesy of a club lead. Most people in 6 came home because there was no way to make against a 4-1 trump break.

We wound up losing the match 21-24 (9.09 VPs). Meanwhile 3 other Bowl matches turned over more than 100 IMPs.

Match 11 put us on Funbridge & BBO against France. French TV is following Les Bleus and filmed a bit of the match - and interviewed Matthew Thomson afterwards. The Blues played some pretty good bridge. In this captain's opinion, they are a mighty big threat for the silverware.

The scoring was a bit quieter but board 11 was full-on - and one of our few pickups so obviously I have to report it :)

West
85
3
Q1087
AK10962
North
A102
1096
96432
J3
East
Q963
AKJ5
Q8754
South
KJ74
AKQJ87542
W
N
E
S
 
1
2
2
4
P
5
P
P
5
P
P
6
6
X
P
P
P
D
6X South
NS: 0 EW: 0

Time for a bit of truth in advertising. I am a total result merchant. There are a lot of ways to go about bidding hands like South's and they can all go spectacularly right and spectacularly wrong. Any path can be right today and wrong tomorrow. I like any path that goes right today!

For us, Pete Hollands chose to "walk the dog". Or le chien, since we're in France. Across the 22 tables in the Bowl, 17 had someone doubled in something. Pete got the spade suit right for +1310, while a more straightforward auction led to a mere +1010 for France.

That's just one board though, and we went down 21-43 (4.62 VPs).

Our last match of the day was against Monaco. They had a shock early exit in the Spingold and have been a bit scratchy here by their standards. Still, it's handy to have the world's top-ranked pair in your arsenal.

The boards in this set were quieter than in the previous two, although some match always finds a way to crank up the volume. Monaco steadily snipped us for small swings so that we were down 35-9 after 14.

Remember a few days ago I mentioned that the best teams find a way? That sometimes you have to win ugly? Our guys found 14 IMPs over the last 2 boards to get out with a 23-35 loss (6.72 VPs). Not great but they stuck with it and salvaged a few VPs.

Tattoo status: 3 straight losses have dropped us to 12th, and 16 VPs off the qualifying mark. The qualifying pace usually slows a little in the run home so I reckon 8th will come in at around 225, much like it did in Chennai 2 years ago. That sets us a target of 12 VPs / match to get in. My tattoist suggests 12 drummers drumming in commemoration if we get up. The team and I are still dreaming of gold of course, and one of the guys has a big promise queued up if we succeed.

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