Thursday, October 11, 2007

Grinding to a Halt

Well, in the depression which followed the loss to USA1 and the change in now starting to play I forgot to update my blog with the post script it deserved.

As many predicted the team exited the tournament in the quarter finals against a strong but not overly impressive USA team of Garner/Weinstein Katz/Jacobs Rosenberg/Zia. I should George Katz and his team and especially their captain Jan Martel for their kindness in providing the Australian Team with a complete system summary for every team in the Bermuda Bowl except their own - something that saw us exceptionally well prepared in terms of system.

The stats were:
Carry Forward -16
Segment 1 13-13
Segment 1 73-13 Clearly accounting for most of the margin by which we lost
Segment 1 10-40
Segment 1 49-25
Segment 1 27-23
Segment 1 12-26

Final Margin Lost by 92

12th 0.06
Murray-Andrew -0.68 -0.08 1.62 -0.63
13 -0.12
Pauline-Warren -1.98 0.60 1.02
21 -0.84
Ryszard-Bruce 0.70 -2.21 -1.83 1.13 -1.99

Why did this team do as well as they did. Here are some takes on that.
  1. They are long time friends who very much chose to play with each other resulting in no angst, oneupmanship or any other rivalries
  2. I have never captained a team when there were no arguments, heated discussions or other contratemps between partners or pairs. They simply knuckled down and did the business as they say
  3. They were the best practiced team I have ever captained
  4. They were focused on doing well and simply playing the game - see my earlier blog about the need for this focus
  5. Overall the team spirit was very much relaxed and an attitude of we can do it - even when we were running second last after the first day on a mere 33 VP's

I suppose the question which will be asked is where do our players rate among the likes of Helness, Zia, Bocchi etc. I don't think anybody would rate themselves in that league but remember that they are playing the bridge circuit in a major tournament at least once a month. Would our guys reach those levels if they had that type of background. Maybe or maybe not I simply don't know. What I do know is that living in Australia we have a very narrow focus on the big wide bridge world.

OK so those that can do and those that can't it is a move away from the frustrations of watching each and every board to playing in the Transnationals. This is a great tournament with many top international teams including many that have been knocked out of the main event. I am playing with Robert Krochmalik who flew over on short notice to partner me with Michael and Vivien Cornell, Jan Cormack and Allan Turner from NZ.

We started well reaching 30th but after matches 8-12 you can simply put a 1 in front of that position as we scores 2, 1, 11, 13, 13.

I was thinking I could write up a hand on which I did something brilliant, ok reasonably good, well OK then normal and can't think of anything.

So it is goodbye from Shanghai and thanks to all for the heaps of emails sent to me and the team with their good wishes.

Bye all from Shanghai

Sunday, October 7, 2007

USA1 - Glad to be Here

Another day and another great team to play some bridge against. First up I selected Bruce/Jedi and Murray/Andrew. They lined up Katz/Jacobs and Garner/Weinstein. While the scoresheet will not reflect some opportunities which we had during the match we held our own with a 13-13 result.

Try your methods on this hand
2C by East 2H by South - Both tables doubled sitting West - not a bid that I favour. Show some respect when the opponents in the 1/4finals of a world championship bid vulnerable vs not vulnerable over a game force hand. Then again - would you pass with the East Hand? Anyway both tables 2Hx -1 for a push with 6C cold.

The team was upbeat and glad to have played one set without too much happening. For the next set we had choice and I lined up Jedi with Rosenberg and Bruce with Zia and at the other table Warren/Pauline against Garner/Weinstein. My thinking was that Bruce would be better suited to resist the charms of Zia. Anyway whatever I did it didn't work. We lost 60 IMPS. While this might have depressed lesser mortals the team and I concluded that we were starting a nice long 64 board match with a carry forward.

So here I am sitting in the Press Room - yes I am a member in fact paid up till 2014 of the International Bridge Press Association - watching boards 33-48. Things are looking dodgy with the USA adding another 17 IMPS to their 76 IMP lead. But battle on we will. As I see South Africa 68 IMPS in front of Italy I can but believe all is possible.

BTW anybody wanting to back South Africa form a queue in front of my stand. I still have Italy a favourites to win this match - sorry to my SAF friends.

Thanks so so so much for all the kind wishes I have received from everybody. It has been quite uplifting to see so many people following our progress and even some American friends are rooting for us to win - that one I don't understand........

Nothing else I can think to tell you so I will update tomorrow morning as we face a new day.


Saturday, October 6, 2007

Egyptian Finale

Well Egypt for the last round. I was hoping for something good to take us into 3rd place to have some choice of opponents and to avoid Italy, USA1 and Norway. It was not to be. We started with good boards giving me some hope but this evaporated as time went by to leave us with 9 VP's and a very credible and exciting 5th place. If my memory is right this is one of the best performances by an Australian Team in international competition. We have finished 3rd in a Bermuda Bowl but at that time there were only 8 teams competing.

So a big round of applause for Pauline Gumby, Warren Lazer, Murray Green, Andrew Peake, Bruce Neill and Richard Jedrychowski. They have shown excellent team spirit and a resolve to win greater than any teams that I have captained in the past.

Captaining them was a joy as there was no angst between any of the partnerships or between any members of the team and this counted for a lot when we were running second last.....hmm that wasn't so long ago.

Italy chose South Africa
USA1 chose Australia (silly them I say)
Netherlands chose Sweden
Norway were left with China.

In addition Italy chose to play the winner of the USA1 v Australia match should they make the semi-finals. Silly them again I say - why would they want to play Australia in the semi-finals.

So another day tomorrow. We have the choice in segments 2 4 and 6 not that this will make much difference.

First session sees Murray/Andrew v Garner/Weinstein and Bruce/Jedi vs Katz/Jacobs.

As I am writing this in the Japanese restaurant and the Sashimi has just arrived so enough from me for now.


Stir Fry - Chinese Taipei

Well we were more than a little nervous going into this match without our position being secured. The team did us proud scoring 21 but with four boards to go 25 looked secure. This left us 25 ahead of the all important 9th place so a score of just one would see us in.

The minor problem, assuming we qualify is that is we are 5th through 8th we will either get USA1 or Italy depending on whether South Africa are an option. If we finish fourth we will almost certainly get Norway who I rate very highly. So the aim here is to finish 3rd and have some choice.

Anyway it will be what it is - by any measure an outstanding effort. To those pessimists who said this team had no chance of doing anything, and there more than a few people who expressed this opinion, we have proved them wrong.

I am so proud of this team. They have shown an immense amount of courage, fight and determination to prove their worth and at the same time have maintained the highest standard of integrity within their partnerships and as part of what has proved to be a solid team unit.

Well done guys....

More soon

Arrivederci Italia and Ni Hao Asia

I was asked in various emails, SMSs etc what was I expecting today and vs Italy - it was to win and finish 2nd in the qualifying. In reality anything north of 10 would leave us well placed for the last 2 matches. So it was that we scored 13-17. In keeping with most of Italy's opponents we were not outplayed, we certainly had opportunities for a small win. They played solidly throughout.

So I am happy to be 22 ahead of 9th at this stage (maybe some more scores to come in as our match finished 50 minutes before time.

Chinese Taipei - another team we have not had a particularly good record against in the past. They are running 16th and seemingly out of contention but that said 22.5 VPs behind qualifying.

The team spirit is strong but not too much so which is good.

Anyway back to the engine room.....



I am so much more nervous as a captain when we play teams running last like Trinidad and Tobago. I guess it is because "hey if we lose badly to Italy" many will say well that is expected but our expectations should be so much greater against the lower teams. Again some disappointment at a 15-15 result. Murray/Andrew had a fine match while Bruce/Jedi were not up to their previously excellent standard.

It was suggested that the team room has become a bit of a thoroughfare for our supporters and others so for today we have agreed that the room should be team only - fair call as long as it includes me!!!!

I felt a bit down about this result last night so had room service of Sushi/Sashimi - brain food - and a very quite and very much needed early evening back at the hotel.

Down to Italy. Well I am mildly comfortable that we will achieve a respectable result against this team. They are comfortably in first place and will therefore be quite relaxed - not to say that they wont be playing their best game but they are not like a wounded lion trying to qualify. In terms of lineups I have decided to go with Warren/Pauline whose natural vs natural style should work well and while I might have considered Murray/Andrew we have an appeal at 10:00am and going from appeal to immediate play is not optimal so it will be Bruce/Jedi.

I am hard pressed to imagine that we will suffer any loss at the appeal. The hand is
At a point in the auction North bid 4D. Murray (East) who was told that the bid showed shortage doubled this suggesting, as well documented in their notes, a sacrifice. South on the other side of the screen had explained 4D as a suit which now totally changed the meaning of Murray's double. Anyway the varying explanations certainly disrupted the auction. The directors reversed the final result of 4SXX -880 to 5DX -200 and the Argentinians, not unreasonably I guess, are appealing the board. I have prepared a solid case based on bridge logic and law but we'll see.

The last two matches are Chinese Taipei who, although running 17th defeated USA1 (2nd) 18-12 last night and Egypt running 14th who are a very competent outfit. So nothing is easy on this last day. If you want proof of this

We are 22.5 VPs ahead of 9th spot but..... only 19VPs cover 6th to 15th. So if we were to have a poor result on either of our first two matches we would be in this major ruck of qualifying contenders - soemthing I am passionate to avoid. I keep getting messages asking what I am expecting today - my answer - TO QUALIFY.

Oh well enough finger work and time to face the dawn.

Keep well

PS: I have changed the blog to allow anonymous comments so if you feel like commenting please do. David

Friday, October 5, 2007

Argentinian Grill

As the message just read says whatever I am giving the team could I bring some back. If somebody knows what it is just tell me.

Argentina are another one of those teams that can make life very difficult for the opponents. I personally would have been happy with a 15+ type score given our position on the ladder.

So as the match unfolded with an ever increasing lead I was delighted with the official score of 23-7 but was unhappy to see -880 on the last board. What happened there was that one side of the screen explained a 4D bid as suit while the other side explained as shortage. This meant that one one side of the screen the double suggested a sacrifice - well documented in Murray/Andrew's system notes but on Andrew's side where it was explained as a suit it meant anything but a sacrifice. The -880 was adjusted to -200 and a 25-4.

As many emails keep saying Aussie Aussie Aussie Oi Oi Oi.....

Dare we dream of perhaps running second in order to have our choice of opponents in the round of (quarter finals)..... Dream we may as we are only 9 behind second with Italy flogging USA 1 by 25-2 - ouch!!!!

So off to the Caribbean for a calypso against Trinidad and Tobago. My comment to the team focus and no contempt. If you read my earlier blog you will see the emphasis on focus and I think that this has played no small part in where we are now. The team have been focused on each match as it comes up.

In terms of Datums - I know data

5 0.45 Pauline GUMBY - Warren LAZER Australia
8 0.40 Bruce NEILL - Ryszard JEDRYCHOWSKI Australia
36 -0.03 Andrew PEAKE - Murray GREEN Australia

Having pairs 5th, 8th and 36th on the datums is a fine testament to how we are going to this point. Keep it up guys....

As I sign off we are losing 14-16 to T&T but hey there are 8 boards to go so fingers crossed.

More later

Carnival in Rio

Well I never like playing the likes of Chagas and Villa Boas as they have the ability to rip off your limbs one by one. So it was with some minor reservations that we arrived at the venue. I was asked to commentate in the VG theatre for the Germany/USA2. The beauty is that you can see the scores from all matches at the same time.

Things kicked off nicely with our jumping out to a 30-1 after 5 boards. A happy captain I must say. During the match it became evident that boards 10 and 11 had been fouled and so they were replayed. At one table the opponents bid and made a grand slam on a finesse - but we picked up 8 on the other board so no complaints.

24-6 and running 4th made the team jubilant. Of course it is important to temper this with the humility that we are yet to play Italy, Argentina and other contenders. The team had lunch in our team room and were, I must say the mood was excellent without being over the top.

I was very uncertain as to how we should line up for the next match but went with my strategy of playing winners so we line up with Warren/Pauline and Murray/Andrew. After that Murray/Andrew and Bruce/Jedi will line up against Trinidad and Tobago. The art against this team is not to be too aggressive and simply let them find their own trouble if this is possible. Going in contemptuously against teams running last is a shocking approach. After all they have scored 20 against Brazil and another 21 and 16. Maintaining focus will be critical to achieving what we hope for.

More later

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Round 14 and 15

Bouyed by our excellent, nay outstanding result against Norway we went back in against Sweden with the same lineup. I was quite nervous about this team - something like a wounded animal - doing badly and struggling back into contention. The team did well to recover for a worse position to lose 11-19. Still OK qualifying and in there fighting.

Next was Japan and I brought Andrew/Murray back in to replace Warren/Pauline. Japan is another of those regional teams that Australia has a poorish record against. And regrettably we continued this record with a 9-21 loss.

Again still not in bad shape 4 ahead of 9th but only 15 from 3rd. As we would hope our destiny is very much in our grasp. So tomorrow we leave Scandinavia via Japan to South America against Brazil, Argentina and then the warmer climate of Trinidad and Tobago.

The lineup for the first match is Murray/Andrew versus Chagas and Villas-Boa with Warren/Pauline against Brenner and Figuieredo.

I would like to write more but I am simply too stuffed to do it now. I also have a WBF dinner so have to change into something more respectable.


Some of the Suspects

Vikings Suffer a Defeat at the hands of the Aussies

Well as Richard just noted there has been enough bridge so far and we should start the semi-finals NOW.

The team has done us proud by recording a 21-9 win to take a firm grip on fourth spot.

USA1 247
Italy 235
Poland 225
Australia 217
South Africa 210.5
Netherlands 209.5
China 209
Norway 205
Egypt 201

The trick now is to remain focused and not to get caught up in the hype of the moment.

Sweden started the tournement well below expectation running 13th after 6 matches. They have improved their position to be just 9 behind qualifying so we dare not take their resolve for granted.

In terms of lineup I have decided to go with winners by playing Bruce/Jedi and Warren/Pauline for the third match in a row. While having one pair sit out for 3 matches straight is not a preferred option qualifying is the goal and we have to put our best performing pairs at the moment into the lineup.

For the last match I will likely go with Bruce/Jedi and Murray/Andrew. Even though there are only 48 boards a day, this is a significant number with screens and the pressure of the moment.

Well off to war....

Day 4 Wrap and Day 5 Thoughts

Indonesia is another one of those teams who Australia don't seem to fare very well against over a long period of time. And so it was that we were hoping to turn this history upside down.

I hadn't done the datums for the New Zealand Match but relied on the players comments after the session. History proved them to be accurate with Murray/Andrew being -20 imps and Bruce/Jedi being +4. As the lineup of Bruce/Jedi with Warren/Pauline would be in accordance with the rotation we went with this.

I was enlisted to do some online VuGraph for this match which was featured online BBO so was following every board with increasing delight. With each board of the middle eight we built on our lead to win the match 21-8 - an excellent result.

Despite scoring 13-11-21 for 46 we managed to move up to equal fourth place but only 13 ahead of the all important ninth position.

With the datums being

8th Bruce/Jedi +0.54 IMPS a board
26th Warren/Pauline +0.12 IMPS a board
42nd Murray/Andrew -0.11 a board

I decided to field the two better performing pairs for the all important match against Norway tomorrow morning. Norway are running 4th= and are in my opinion a good chance to make the finals with the likes of Helgemo, Helness, Brogeland, Saelensminde, Tundall Groetheim.

But hey their pairs are only averaging 0.42, 0.00 and 0.16 - we can beat these guys.

You may be aware that Boye was on our team that won the NOT this year. As has been our tradition for the past few years at World Championships I took him out for dinner this evening in the hope of getting him to have a few drinks and perhaps play a little worse than normal tomorrow. Damn if he wasn't sitting out against us. Uncharacteristically his is the third best performing pair in the team but when you are in a team with the other four, fighting for the title of best pair is a tough call.

After that we have another toughie against Sweden who are under-performing badly in this tournament running 14th at this stage after being in the last few earlier in the tournament. Certainly a team to watch. We then finish the day against Japan who are knocking on qualifying running 9th.

A tough day ahead not that any match is easy. At this stage 15.5 is qualifying so we have to simply play good bridge, be solid and focus on each match as it comes along.

More soon

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

After 11 Rounds - The Half Way Point

Today we have scored 13 against China which is better than most Australian teams have scored against this well oiled bridge machine in the past. While we might have hoped for more it was a score that hasn't damaged our chances too much.

On to New Zealand where Warren and Pauline sat out. I am always very nervous when we play New Zealand and this match proved no different. I decided to go for an hour's walk during the first half of the match only to return to my computer screen and see the bad news 11-19 and so the match finished there. Murray and Andrew were unhappy with their set and not upset to be in rotation to sit out the next set - something they may have suggested as appropriate anyway.

So off to Asia again to play Indonesia. This is the team we had three online practice matches against in the weeks leading up to the main event. Their pairs play very natural with a weak NT something which I think may suit our team.

Interestingly we are still running 6th with a 7 point buffer ahead of 9th - same as before the last match.

Again we still have the following teams to play:

Norway (4)
Sweden (15)
Japan (6)
Brazil (12)
Argentina (9)
Trinidad Tobago (22)
Italy (2)
Chinese Taipei (18)
Egypt (10)

Some movement there from this morning with 3 teams ahead of us two teams proximate and 4 teams below us.

More soon

Wrap Day 3 and Thoughts Day 4

The second match on Day 2- India was not one which could be taken lightly. India have a fine record in international tournaments which is surprising as there are a very limited number of Indian bridge players. That said though they were running last so perhaps their morale or lack of it was going to benefit us.

The lineup was Warren-Pauline and Bruce-Jedi. My thinking behind this was that Jedi expressed a mild desire NOT to play against Poland which made the lineup for this match almost automatic.

The team did us proud defeating them by 21-9 and we could hold our heads high now being 4th on the Leaderboard - 17 above 9th - remember we need to finish in the top 8.

What was pleasing in the last 5 matches (all wins) was that the team seemed to be settling down to playing solid bridge. Reaching good slams
which was missed at the other table. Again we lost 6 imps on the last board to drop a VP - the team asked if I would like to start scoring from the bottom board up? I declined.

Now came Poland. Now with Poland the last thing you want is swingy boards with lots of competitive auctions etc. as they I think that this favours them. Regrettably we got a very swingy set.

I watch the scoresheets come up board by board and rub my hands in glee at board 2 - 6Sx +1660, but no same score in the other room. A sacrifice in 7H is sensational but hard to find as it wasn't clear who was sacrificing on this hand.
Strangely Argentina doubled Trinidad and Tobago in 4S which made six for 1190 and Indonesia vs Netherlands at both tables scored up 5Sx making six for 1050.

A run of 5 board early in the match cost is 40 imps from which it was hard to recover. We lost by 20 IMPS and 10-20 in VPs. So a 52 VP day which was enough to see us in 5th spot but now only 7 ahead of ninth place.

So now we face China, New Zealand and Indonesia. China will be tough but they play a fairly straight up and down style which will suit our players. While I would like to think that New Zealand would be a soft match, my captaining history suggests that we need to be on our guard. Put simply we under perform against NZ maybe because of the sporting rivalry which underpins the psyche going into the match - something I will try and diffuse.

The Indonesians this time are not their normal crew, some of whom are now competing in the seniors. That said my form man (Peter Gill) suggests that the team is very competitive.

Still to play after today with current positions:

Norway (3)
Sweden (17)
Japan (9)
Brazil (7)
Argentina (10)
Trinidad Tobago (20)
Italy (4)
Chinese Taipei (18)
Egypt (15)

The official website is where you will also be able to find the daily bulletins

Anyway that's all for now

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Day 3 Match 1 Vs Canada

Interesting what you wish for and what annoys you. On the first day I would have been happy with some 15 or averaging 15. Today is was furious that we lost 5 imps and therefore 2VPs on the last board in this match against Canada. I only hope that the those 2 VP's don't become meaningful. What was correctly pointed out was that if it was board 1 I wouldn't have cared at all.

Anyway 21-9 is good. I mentioned in the team score-up that I was pleased to see USA1 continue their run and how I hoped they would blitz the field. One of the team members felt that this was an inappropriate comment - my thinking is that the more they lead the field by the lower the qualifying score. Remember we need to finish in the top 8 to continue in the event.

So analysing out position

USA 1 147
Italy 133
Norway 129
Poland 128
Australia 120
Brazil 118
China 111
Netherlands 110.5
Argentina 108
New Zealand 107
Japan 107
South Africa 106.5
Indonesia 104

The problem if we have one is that we are to play all of the teams in red. Not that they are necessarily the top teams in the event but they are competing for the same spots as us.

Anyway enough from me. Off to the tailor to have a fitting for my sports coat.... hey I am allowed a little time to myself.

Be well

What a Difference a Day Makes

Well Day 1= 33 Day 2 = 66 The only real pity is that Day 3 can't = 99. So it is with a great deal of increased optimisim and expectation that we arrive at the venue for day 3. An important day in terms of building on the solid base that we have established. Canada, India and Poland is on the menu and as always I never take any teams for granted.

The line-up for the first match is Bruce-Jedi with Murray-Andrew. This was in part the result of my wanting to play Warren-Pauline against India and not having them play two Polish pairs in one day - Oh I should mention that the Canadian Team is substantially composed of Polish Players.

You may have wondered just how dangerous Bridge is as a sport. Well the team is carrying an injured Andrew Peake with a badly sprained and swollen ankle following a tumble down the steps at the very poorly lit VuGraph Theatre. As I have heard of two other people doing the same thing I have made the appropriate suggestion. Anyway Andrew is OK when seated but finding it difficult to walk. A doctor mnay be in order in the future as we observe the patient.

One interesting hand
(sorry but this is the easiest way to show the hand)

Sitting West Richard opened
1S (P) 1NT (P)
2H (3D) X

The opponents paid out 1100 for their intervention when Bruce held QJT754 in both suits - exactly the same pips......hmm maybe the computer was stuttering.

What's interesting? The opponents can make 5S - Richard's first bid suit, they can make 4H his second bid suit and even 3NT.

Anyway I have to rush off to the VG theatre to do some commentary

Monday, October 1, 2007

Day 2 a New Dawn

Well we arrived at the venue early this morning ready to battle a new day. Experience has taught me not to be too down after a disappointing series of matches especially early in the tournament, nay at any time during the tournament.

I decided on a new approach. I told the team that nothing less than 20 was acceptable against Ireland. And so it was that Pauline and Warren as well as Bruce and Jedi marched onto the battlefield with their marching orders.

OK I know that second last (Australia) playing last (Ireland) allowed us to have some expectations but then remember that Ireland were placed in the European Championships and expected to do quite well in this event, even being touted as last 8 or last 4 candidates.

Being the diligent soldiers that they are they came back to the score up with a 20-10 win. Well as you can imagine the feeling in the team room was more upbeat than it had been.

OK so I thought 'that seemed to work so why not try again' At least 15 against this team please - after all we were playing Meckstroth-Rodwell and multi National and World Champions in their team so 15 sounded like it would be quite a pleasing result for me.

I go out for coffee with my friends Boye Brogeland, Peter Gill, Bruce Neill and Simon Hinge allowing myself the luxury of thinking how sweet 20 would be. After a great cappuccino and hearing the tales of Brogeland's swindles in the previous set I head back to the team room and fire up my computer to see 40-20 wow that's down a lot until I refocus my eyes to see that Australia is leading by this amount. 'Yes' I yelled out. The last few boards came in and it became an 18-12 result. Well that isn't too bad against one of the top teams.

But wait there's more......Board 3 shows N/S playing 5Cx -500 - conceivable in their 5-1 fit and not impossible. The scoreup starts and I hear +800......I don't recall seeing that on the score sheet. Hold on i say - team yells back - your instructions are no interruptions to the scoreup......duly chastised I wait till the end and for those of you who know me know how hard that is. OK so what happened on board 3 it was 5Cx by the opponents -3 vulnerable. So what appeared to be 18-12 was now 22-8 and one very happy team and ecstatic captain.

The full scorecard can be found here

So there is no reason not to keep playing in rotation so Pauline who confesses to being a little tired anyway thereby making the decision obvious and Warren sit out.

South Africa are no easybeats running 5th at this stage. I guess the shock results for me at this early stage are:

SWEDEN Last, IRELAND second last, INDONESIA 15th USA2 13th=. CHINA are underperforming a little to my mind and PAKISTAN are doing a shade better than I would have expected.

But hey it's early so don't write anybody off yet.

In case people are wondering what I do while my guys are playing - I really dislike watching my team at the table. I was once accused of not showing enough interest in watching the players so I thought OK I'll watch my team some more. After 6 disasterous boards I left the table only to be told (semi-jokingly) by a team member and don't come back. Now that I think about it I haven't watched a board since.

I do however like to watch BBO, having been doing some live VuGraph commentary in the theatre where there are about 120-150 spectators each match and I sometimes go for a walk. Let me assure anybody out there reading that captaining is tiring.... hmm think I wrote that somewhere else in this blog.

For those interested in Datums go to

After 4 rounds
Rank Per Brd
18 0.41 Bruce NEILL - Ryszard JEDRYCHOWSKI
40 -0.24 Pauline GUMBY - Warren LAZER
66 -1.31 Andrew PEAKE - Murray GREEN -

That's all for now
Catch you soon

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Rounds 2 and 3

Not that I have said anything offensive but the Chinese do not allow access to my blog from within China. I guess I could say something offensive about that but .....

So for the technofiles out there I am remote desktopped into the DBBC Computer and doing all of this through that medium but it is a bit slow.


I went out for the first hour of the match against Netherlands (Team Orange). When I returned I logged on to which has all of the scoresheets 'live' from the table. The bad news was that we were 34 IMPS down - Yuk. My patience (not that I am known for this) was rewarded when we picked up 33 IMPS to draw the match against one of the more fancied teams. So despite not having a win the team was upbeat.

Little did we know....

Next was the match against USA 1 - certainly one of the fancied teams for the event. Katz, Jacobs, Garner Weinstein with Rosenberg Mahmood sitting out.

The match started quietly enough - 29 IMPS turned over in the first four boards without much in the match. The real action was about to come when we lost the match by 42 IMPS or 5-25. Unfortunately the one IMP on the last board cost us a VP.

In future I will have to discuss hands by referring to the website as trying to format them on this medium is very hard.

I am writing this using a wireless internet access at the Japanese restaurant near the venue. The team shared a Sashimi and Sushi followed by scallops, pork chops (not me) and other Japanese delicacies.

I for one am most tired. The captaining job while it sounds easy is very tiring. You don't get a match and the administrative duties are an important part of the job.

Tomorrow it will be Ireland USA2 and South Africa. No matches in this tournament .are easy but we will have played 4 of the fancied 8 teams after round 5. I don't see this as too positive and we will certainly have to get 40-50 tomorrow to stay in touch.

Wishing you all the best from a warm and humid Shanghai.

Round 1

We arived at the venue full of excitemnet and anticipation. We checked into the team room which we managed to get at the venue at the last minute. We will use this room as a base for players who are sitting out, scoreups and general chill out. It is full stocked with drinks, nuts, cheese, ham (for some) nd other comfort food. It is essential to have a home at the venue as being homeless simply adds one more layer of difficulty for the team to deal with.

Our hopes for a flying start were a little dampened by a 13-17 loss to Pakistan who we rated ourselves as some chance of beating. The 11 imps loss was about equally shared at both tables so nothing for the captain to do in terms of adjusting the lineup. Here is one board from the match:

Q 2
A J 5 2
K 2
10 9 8 3 2
10 7 5 A 9 6 4
K 7 4 10
9 7 6 5 4 3 A J 10 8
7 Q J 5 4
K J 8 3
Q 9 8 6 3
A K 6

The uninteresting auction led to 4H at both tables where both West's led the C7. At Warren;s table East ducked leaving declarer on dummy where he simply played HA and another hoping for hearts being 2-2 and making the contract. We can see that overtaking and finessing the club is the winning play as you can discard the club loser on the DK anyway. At the other table Murray covered dummy's club ten placing declarer in his hand and able to take the heart finesse. However, again fearing a club ruff declarer again played HA and another also going one down.

The next match is against Netherlands who are always a very tough unit to play against. Part of their success is constantly playing and practicing.

More soon

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Well here we are the day before the event.

Yesterday we h
ad a practice against the three New Zealand Teams and the Brazilian Open Team.
This was followed by an excellent meal at the local Noodle House - $A5 per head which was well within our budgets. Actually in the ‘Super Brand Mall’ opposite the venue there are two levels with I am guessing 20 restaurants so expect to see us there again. Tonight we have booked for Japanese and Korean may follow soon.

Today the team is practicing against the three New Zealand teams and the Australian Seniors so 7 tables. They have elected to play the same direction mixing the teams about. So my three pairs are all E/W with the New Zealand Seniors all N/S as team mates. Anyway the purpose is that they can then discuss the hands more meaningfully.

The captain’s meeting is at 14:30 today and will deal with all of the administrative issues. For the first time the event will be paperless. The captains will all have home pages where they can get their team scoresheets after each match.

By the way (or BTW for you computerheads out there) Swan games will be having live scoring similar to that provided by Matthew McManus and including all the play provided the scorers can keep up with it. Go to to see this in action.

Also don’t forget that you will be able to watch up to 8 tables at once, including Australia from time to time at BridgeBase Online

Tonight is the opening cocktail party and ceremony so after the captain’s meeting it will be back to the hotel to change into the team uniform and back to the venue.

Tomorrow’s matches are against Pakistan, Netherlands and USA1. Pakistan will likely be the easiest of these matches but all should be quite tough. Netherlands and USA1 are both short priced to make the final eight so we will have to battle hard to do well against these teams.

Again my keyword is focus. All we need to do for reasonable results is play our normal games and remain focused.

Anyway that’s all for now. Catch you all soon.....

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Nearing the Event

So here I am on the plane to Shanghai so with an abundance of time I thought I would prepare my next Blog entry to upload when I get to the hotel. Well that's what I thought not realising that in China the Blog page is censored and when you can get it up and running it is all in Chinese. So here's hoping

My personal situation makes this journey somewhat harrowing but when the team and other good bridge friends from around the world arrive over the next few days I am hoping things will improve.

I have a reasonable amount of experience in captaining teams for big-time events and I am pleased to report that this team of Pauline Gumby/Warren Lazer Bruce Neill/Richard Jedrychowski and Murray Green/Andrew Peake have shown more commitment to practicing and preparing themselves for the event than any other team I have been associated with.

Another two factors which I view as positives for our team is that Christy Germboux is flying to Shanghai to be the recorder for our team and the team have all contributed towards a room at the venue for scoreups, chill out between matches and a home for the pair sitting out. This is made more important by the fact that the BB this time comprises three 16 board matches per day starting at 11:00 and finishing around 20:00 – so with 16 boards the pair sitting out has limited opportunity to do very much if they leave the venue.

Actually our hotel (The Sofitel) is 4km from the venue due to the fact that Australia holds their trials very late compared to other countries. This invariably results in difficulties in getting rooms at the venue.

This took the form of:

  • three online matches versus Cayne team from the US/Italy
  • three online matches versus Indonesia
  • three training sessions with guest speakers including Peter Gill, Sartaj Hans, Ishmael Del’Monte, and others (who we would like to thanks for the generosity they have shown with their time.
  • partnership Bidding practice using the Bridge Base Online Partnership practice rooms
  • participation in a large number of events since the time they won the right to represent Australia and leaving for Shanghai

So what can we expect to be the outcome of all this practice – a well prepared unit with a lot of espirit de corps.

In furtherance of that theme and in keeping with my normal objectives I am planning a practice on the Friday and Saturday after the team arrives (round robin starts Sunday. Teams that have shown interested include Ireland, Brazil, USA and Trinidad and Tobago. My challenge here is to get a venue and equipment but in the past the WBF have been quite accommodating to our needs in the past so I am hoping for a positive outcome. Interesting and on this note some teams don’t arrive till the Saturday – something I simply cannot understand. How can people arrive from all around the world the day before a World Championship and expect to be match fit – beats me.

Another positive aspect of this team is that I believe that they don’t hold the lesser teams in contempt – certainly a failing in teams I have played in and captained. If the field was ranked then I expect that Australia could be in the lower half and maybe if one were savage the bottom third although I would challenge that notion. So our right to treat others with contempt is limited.

An example of this attitude backfiring is when in the late 1970’s I played in the NOT with Gerda Stern, Tom Kiss and Egon Auerbach and we made it to the later stages of the finals and members of the team who had chosen us for what I am guessing was the quarter-finals were heard crowing at the bar about their good fortune – you can guess what happened the next day.

The team met on Sunday night as a sort of final drinks before the more serious environment of the Bermuda Bowl. They types of things which we discussed included:

  • approach to lineups such as rotation not being automatic
  • team discipline issues like retiring times, drinks with meals etc.
  • the need for pairs to move from the playing area directly to the scoreup and not hang around the doorway discussing hands

Previously discussed team disciplines mainly based on my past experiences and advice from the wise Maurie Stampf of Israel:

  • no expressing an opinion as to how you went before scoreups
  • no hand or result discussions until after scoreups
  • while as captain I generally ask players if they have views regarding lineups I am not prepared to hear any opinions after a match such as “I think we should have played that match”
  • a curfew not expressed in a specific time but sensible having regard to the 11:”00am start.each day.

The question I keep being asked is “what are our chances of making it beyond the qualifying stages:. As I previously noted it would be unreasonable of me to express a view on this subject but the team believes that we are 25%-33% which is probably close to the mark. To achieve this milestone we will need to have all three pairs playing at the top of their game. In this regard toredness shouldn’t be a problem with the relatively light playing schedule – 32 boards per day average per pair. The real key issue for me focus focus focus. We have to lower our error rate. Allowing a vulnerable game to make by sloppy defence is the difference between drawing a match and losing 18-12 so you have handed that opponent 6VPs against you and each of other teams 3 VPs – this is out challenge.

So there we have my pre-tournament thoughts. I should perhaps temper my comments by saying that they are mine and mine alone and I am sure the team would perhaps disagree with some of my theories and ideas noted above.

Regards from Shaghai

Monday, September 10, 2007

Team and Event Details

Hi There

My name is David Stern and I am the captain of the Australian Open Bridge Team competing for the 2007 Bermuda Bowl. This tournament is held in Shanghai starting 29th September 2007.

Our Team is:
  • Pauline Gumby and Warren Lazer
  • Bruce Neill and Richard Jedrychowski
  • Murray Green and Andrew Peake
They qualified via the Australian team Selection trial winning by just one IMP.

The Bermuda Bowl comprises 22 teams playing a round robin of 16 board matches finishing 6th October 2007. This is then followed by quarters and semis and a final.

Participating Teams (by Zone) are:

Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Sweden
Canada, USA 1, USA 2
Brazil, Argentina
India, Pakistan
Trinidad & Tobago
China, Chinese Taipei, Indonesia, Japan
Australia, New Zealand
Egypt, South Africa

The website for the event is

For teams not making the quarter finals there is an open event known as the Transnational Teams. This even comprises 15 matches of 10 boards with semis and a final.

I am planning to keep a blog before and during the event. Let me know if you have any questions or would like to know anything about the team or the event.