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Bowling Along 7 - Frustrating Friday
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Friday rated to be a challenging day, with all 3 opponents sitting in the top 8. These are the days we play bridge for!

First up was the Netherlands on BBO. Peakey faced an awkward defensive position on board 19 where he had to decide at trick 2 if partner had good hearts, or a high spade honor. He guessed wrong and 4 came home while our guys played 5 where the defense had no such problem. 13 out.

Next board, Peter Gill got to double an artificial 1 bid which attracted the right lead to defeat 3NT. No such opportunity in the other room and 12 back.

Then the frustrator

West
64
AQ754
K104
1043
North
QJ108
K1086
AJ85
J
East
973
J932
9732
52
South
AK52
Q6
AKQ9876
W
N
E
S
 
1
P
2
P
2N
P
4
P
4
P
4
X
P
P
XX
P
5
P
5
P
5
P
7
P
P
P
D
21
7 South
NS: 0 EW: 0

As I understand it, 4 & 4 were cues, XX showed 1st round control, 5 was a grand slam try without diamond control, and 5 showed 3rd round spade control and 1st round diamond control (just based on the earlier auction). 7 then seemed optimistic to me - it's unclear to me why North needs to have any diamond honour other than the Ace, and if that diamond honour is the Jack you're bidding a granny on a finesse into the hand more likely to have the King.

In the other room, our guys found the spade fit (and 7 is of course vastly superior to 7) but finding the spade fit took them too high to sort out the red suit controls and they settled for 6.

Across a long bridge tournament you get plenty of good luck and bad luck, and it all evens out, but swinging 29 IMPs (and about 7 VPs) on the location of the K wasn't exactly what we were looking for at this stage!

In the end we went down 15-41 (3.91 VPs)

By the way, the World Youth Open has been on for 3 days now. When they arrived, the whole place just exploded with their energy. All over the venue kids are playing pickup games of bridge (and other card games) and buzzing around and just having a great time. Their joy and enthusiasm has got everyone else smiling with them.

Next came Sweden, again on BBO. We started brightly and got a game swing in early.

They caught some little swings ... and then came the frustrator:

West
Q986
A2
A62
A962
East
AKJ102
KQ
KQ105
Q3

Well, not so much frustrating as kudos to Nystrom-Upmark.

Our guys found the spade fit, did some cue bidding, checked for keys and potted the granny. Oops, both hands having a doubleton heart meant no useful pitch and down we went.

In the other room, the Swedish EW relayed to the point that East knew West was 4234 with Q and the other 3 aces. Apparently he also knew West didn't have any loose Jacks either. I've played a relay system for Australia and I can tell you it takes a fair old slog to develop and retain the level of system required to solve this hand - and all the other hands you're trying to cope with. Well done indeed to the Swedes.

Beauchy found a nice trump switch on the last board to help clip 4-X harder (500 vs 100) and close the gap.

We wound up losing 33-39 (8.24 VPs).

Tattoo Status: We were down to 11th and at -16.5 VPs we were getting a little far away from 8th for comfort.

The world had seen enough of us on BBO for a while as we lined up to play Italy. They were late getting their lineup in so we had a mad scramble to check their system notes, get to the table, figure out I'd sent our pairs in the wrong direction, and get to the right table ... and right on time. Phew!

They rested the legend himself, which was slightly disappointing because it would obviously have been fun for the guys to have a set against Garozzo at a Bowl. Fun factoid - Sr Garozzo is easily the most selfied person at the event, and I haven't seen him pull out a phone yet.

Most of the swings were about level judgment in the bidding. The frustrator ... for Italy ... was doubling 3NT.  The contract needed one hand to have both minor Kings, plus a 3-3 diamond break. +550 brought in a lucky 12 IMPs for us. Remember what I said about good luck and bad luck evening out in the long run?

We won the last match of the day 36-21 (13.97 VPs).

Tattoo Status: This win brought us up to 10th but more importantly back to 5.3 VPs behind 8th. 26.12 VPs on the day kept us in the tattoo hunt.

We have Germany, Indonesia, and USA2 tomorrow. I said a few days ago that 12 VPs/match from there would give us a decent shot at qualifying. We've run just below that schedule since then (about 11.7). I reckon running just above 12's tomorrow will qualify more often than not. Wish us luck!

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