Almost without effort, Denmark have secured victory in the first World University Championship. They quietly completed their victory over the Americans, and were then bye. Meanwhile the Netherlands had an off day; losing to Italy and scoring just 17VP against USA. That means that tomorrow's match between Denmark and the Netherlands is no longer the final that we had been expecting all week. Still Denmark are not mathematically certain, because Germany are less than 22VP behind.
Yesterday evening, Tom Cornelis started at 17:15 on a computer program to solve the German puzzle. At 18:05 the program was ready and it announced a solution. I think that's cheating but at least it proves Tom is a fine programmer.
Two countries saw their very first gold medals in European Athletics on the last day in München. Alex Averbukh of Israel became the winner of the Pole Vault, a fact that was even mentioned in the Knesset, particularly important since it was on the scene of the tragic events of 1972.
Another newcomer was Turkey, whose Sureyya Ayhan was the (surprise) winner of the 1500 meters for women. Surprisingly in particular was the way she managed this, leading from the front and withstanding every acceleration that Gabriela Szabo threw at her in the last half lap.
Janne Holmén of Finland won the men's marathon. He follows a strong family tradition at the European Championships, as his mother was the 1974 3000-meter champion, and his father was a finalist in the 5000 meters in 1971.
Carlos Moya beat Lleyton Hewitt, the current World No. 1, in the final of the Cincinnati Masters Series.
We had a bad result yesterday, and we can't determine who's to blame:
| Q 10 9 8 4
A Q 10 3
A J 3
| K J 7 6 3
A 7 6 4
Q 10 9 8 5 2
J 5 3 2
J 9 7 5 2
K Q 10 8
There was nothing I could do on the first or second round but passing, but I could hardly let them play 2. A double looked interesting, but I chose 2 in case of a good 5-card fit in parnter's hand. Next I imagined partner was simply showing preference for the spade suit after I had shown both majors (with spades much better than hearts), so I passed. He had intended it as a cue-bid however, and so we had a bad score even after making 2 (4 is cold).
I thought that there was only one opponent's suit (diamonds) so without special agreement partner shouldn't bid 2 with hearts because without agreement you cannot explain the difference between 2 and 3 (if 2 is with support).
But nowadays we have one valuable resource to Polish bridge: technology. So I SMS-ed the hand to some of our big stars, and they were quite interested in the case.
Cesare Balicki was adamant that it could not be natural.
Apolinary Kowalski and Piotr Tuczynski were at first reluctant to comment, stating that they had seen problems in far simpler situations than this one. But they were in the same car, coming back from a bridge festival in Slupsk, and after an hour's discussion they phoned me back to say that they agreed it should be conventional.
Balicki said 2 should show a singleton, while Kowalski said it should be a doubleton with fears for a ruff.
So it appears I am not as good a player as my partner thinks, but you can hardly blame me if you see the interest it caused among the top players of my home country.
For Julius Linde (25) this is his fifth participation. As he finished up with a silver medal once, a bronze twice, and a fourth place twice, he is now hot for his first victory. He studies Library Science in Hamburg and was a member of the U20 European Champion team 1996. His partner then and now is Matthias Schüller (24). Beside his abilities as a player he is a certified tournament director. We are very happy that he found the way to Brugge after he missed our train from Hamburg on the journey here.
Nils Bokholt (25) from Frankfurt studies computer science. This is his fourth student tournament and he won bronze in Rotterdam. He plays with Andreas Sauter from Mannheim. Andreas is also a computer scientist and he made a name on this championship as the best mosquito killer of our team.
Our Newcomers are Falko Gleichmann (24) and André Marx (23) both from Halle. While Falko goes with half of the team by learning computer science, André is adept at Musicology and Literature. He is an excellent piano player, at least one thing he has in common with Eric Rodwell.
Also on the team are:
Ralph Retzlaff, captain, psychologist and nurse.
Christiane Mielke, girlfriend and cheerleader, is on holiday.
Looking at the ranking, it seems the Danish team can easily win this championship. But why do they seem so unbeatable? Do they really play so well, is it their complicated system or maybe their presence at the table? So after our search for the ideal partner(s) we asked bridge playing Brugge the ultimate question. What's the best way to beat the Danish team?
First of all we have to notice that almost all respondents started laughing when we asked the question. Like we should have asked who could win the Tour de France this year. But after a little thinking, we got a lot of solutions!
Top answer must have been something with alcohol. First thing you associate with the word Danish must be "beer" of course. So you should give them a lot of beer before the game (even Anders told us that), but we know better: deprive them of beer! Or you can dip their 7NT-card in beer, so they must bid that every deal
Best way to beat them could also be with a baseball bat or a hammer. Danish team, you can buy the names of the persons who told me this for a couple of beers tonight!
It's not as if we don't like the Danish, but some of us have even more cruel solutions. The English team would put something in their lunch, almost the same the Americans told us. They only added that they should be poisoned with English cooking! And if the food-thing doesn't work, you can always lock them up in their room, with a bunch of mosquitoes attacking them.
Of course we also asked the Dutch guys what they thought about the upcoming match for tomorrow. Guess what, they answered typically Dutch! "Be ourselves, that will do". Their coach Marjolein may be more afraid of the Danish play, because she suggested to invite the Danish team to Holland and let them get used to "Holland, soft-drugs-land"
If they will manage to beat them, I doubt it. Maybe they can use the advice from the only two countries who actually did win from them. The players from Chinese Taipei almost didn't understand my question, so maybe a different language can do some miracles, because more useful answers I didn't get. And the Germans? They were just better
So the battle tomorrow will be an exciting one, but to be honest, I bet my money on Denmark. Or the Dutch guys should remove the X and 1 -card Good luck to both of you!
Tzu-Lin Wu (22), the smallest member of the team, studies Electronic Engineering at National Chiao-Tung University. We used to call him "son". While traveling abroad, he misses his mamma very much. By the way, he also called his girl friends "mamma".
Yi-Cheng Pan (24), a ball of fire, studies Computer Science and Information Engineering at National Taiwan University. He is very inventive at the table, and never passes because of his lack of defensive skills. As an energetic guy, he has toured the city many times.
Ying-Yi Lin (23), the largest player of the team, studies Communication Engineering at National Chiao-Tung University. He loves all the delicious food and chubby girls here. His best contribution here is to feed up a lot of local mosquitoes.
Yi-An Hung (27), the oldest member of the team, studies at the Department of Mathematics of Fu-Jen University. Time flies, he has been in college for 8 years (oops), finally comes to Belgium for the 1st WUBC. There are so many unforgettable memories for him, beautiful castles, lovely girls, delicious food and his lowest record of MP.
Shu-Ying Hseih (unknown), the only girl of the team (obviously), graduated from the Department of Chemistry at National Tsin-Hua University. Right ahead of leaving for Belgium, she got a job of teaching in a junior high school. She likes this job because she wants to educate juniors but also because it gives her more time for playing bridge.
Chi-Ming Lee (26), the handsome boy in the team (Can't you figure it out? Well, maybe we are on the same wavelength), graduated from the department of Chemistry at Chung-Geng University. He and his girl friend (yes, that one) participate in the championship to get to know many friends around the world. Also they have gone to many beauty spots and will bring good memories home.
Jui-Lung Lin (unknown), our Winnie-the-Pooh captain, is very kind to us and often has a tender smile on his face. Although he usually talks to us with cold jokes.
Chi-Kuo Shen (unknown), our blood and iron coach, teaches us very much about bridge. Please look at the picture, you can find how cruel he is.
The free tournament organized by Tom Cornelis was a big success, with 18 pairs competing, most of them trans-national.
The tournament was won by Piotr Lutoslawski and Matteo Sbarigia.
A special mention must be made of the two Danish - Italian pairs that competed, a proof that the Italians did not bear a grudge against the team that had beaten them 25-1 previously that day. Obviously they had a bet going on, as the cheers were very loud when Anders and Francesco were announced in sixth place - just one point ahead of Kasper and Fabio. The bridge lessons helped, as Italy scored 47 on the next day, including beating the Netherlands, giving their Danish friends some breathing space at the top of the table.
Average : 189
Anders Hagen (28) is the oldest and most experienced player in the team. Since his debut in Palermo in 1997 he has missed only one tournament: the 1999 one which was played at the same time as the World Junior Championships in Florida. Along with his study (he has tried to become a building engineer for nearly a decade) he finds time to work as a highly respected bridge teacher.
His partner Kasper Konow (28) benefits from Anders' experience as a bridge teacher. Whenever Kasper has taken a dubious action, the right bid or play will be immediately explained to him in a calm and patient manner. When Kasper is not taking lessons from Anders he is studying History at the University of Copenhagen, where he is currently preparing a paper on genocides. Some of his and Anders' halves might serve as field stories for this paper.
Michael Askgaard (at 27 the youngest member of the team) is a student of mathematics and chemistry. He is playing in his second University championship (also Weimar 1999) where he and his team-mates, a bunch of agricultural students from Jutland, obtained the worst Danish result ever. Knowing that a similar result this year would probably get him excluded from the Danish Bridge Federation, you will find Michael concentrating very hard on every board.
Michael has the privilege of playing with me, Gregers Bjarnarson (27), a student of mathematics and economics. I am the playing (although at some times not bridge playing) captain of the team. I am participating in my fourth championships, as I have previously played with Anders (1997 and 1998) and Kasper (2000). Much to my surprise my partnerships don't last that long. Perhaps I should start looking for a victim for the 2003 championships.
Match of the Day
Poland - Germany
With three matches to go, and an encounter between co-leaders Denmark and the Netherlands scheduled for the last round, this match between the numbers 3 and 4 of the ranking was crucial. Any team scoring a convincing win here would be almost certain of a medal with still a good chance of snatching gold.
For the first half, the line-up was:
N: Piotr Lutostanski
S: Grzegorz Narkiewicz
E: Julius Linde
W: Matthias Schüller
N: Nils Bokholt
S: Andreas Sauter
E: Jakub Kotorowicz
W: Krzysztof Kotorowicz
The Germans stormed to a useful lead at half time 36-10. A few examples of what happened.
| K 9 8 7 4 2
Q 9 6
K J 10 3
| Q 10
J 8 7
9 7 6 2
10 7 6 5
| J 6 3
A 4 3 2
A 8 4
K J 8
K 10 5
A Q 9 4 3 2
After a club lead to the jack, North signalling spades, declarer played hearts to the jack and queen. Now spades to the ace of South who cleared East's clubs. A and put South in who played clubs. In the end East went 2 down.
Club lead to the king and ace. Strangely enough declarer preferred not to test the spades. He first played on diamonds, East taking the second one. His club jack was taken by the ace. Heart to the queen let East in with the ace to unblock the 8; the J was the entry for the setting club trick. First (and last) blood to Poland by 9 IMPs.
| 10 9 2
10 5 3
Q 7 3 2
Q 5 3
| K 8 5
9 8 7 6 4
J 9 6
| A Q J 4
K Q J
A K 8 4
7 6 3
9 8 7 6 4 2
3NT showed 25-26. 4 was transfer. 5NT asked partner to bid 6 or 6NT. A nice sequence. 12 tricks.
After a Polish Club sequence West bid what he thought could be made and so it was. No score.
| Q 6 5
9 8 2
K Q 5
9 8 7 6
| 10 9 4
J 10 6 5 4
J 10 9 8 6
| A K J 8 3 2
A Q J 4
A Q 7 3
A 4 3
K 10 5 3 2
South's pass over 2 showed either a minimum with 4+ and 4 or 18-20. West did not bother and bid 4.
After the A Grzegorz switched to trumps for the queen and ace. Declarer presented the Q which South covered and now it was plain sailing to 10 tricks.
Lead 3 for the queen followed by the 4 ruffed. J to the king and ace. Later declarer did not finesse in trumps and went one down. 12 IMPs to Germany.
| K Q 10 9 2
A 9 8 3
A 6 2
| A J 3
K J 7
Q 7 4 3 2
| 8 5 4
Q 10 5 4 2
K 10 9 7
Q J 5 3
A K J 10 9 8
South told West that he did not have 3 spades with his 2 bid but North still thought it was the best spot. After the lead of the 6 declarer started on a cross ruff line for 1 down.
East led the 4 to the king of West who played the jack that held. That meant 2 tricks + the spade ace and the Q. So West hoped to find his partner with the Q and switched to the J. Declarer took the king and played the queen. West took the trick and played a diamond for the king. Now Nils did not need the Q anymore. Contract made and 12 IMPs to Germany. A heart instead of a diamond seems to beat 3NT.
| K J 10 3
K 8 7 6 4 2
| A Q 9 6
A K 9 7 5
| 7 4 2
A K Q 8 5 3
10 6 4 3 2
Q 9 5
J 10 6
4NT = 2 + Q ; 6 = no more Kings.
When knowing the presence of the Q with partner, Matthias thought that they had a fair chance to make 6 and bid it. The heart suit was very useful for the discard of a few losers. 12 tricks.
Krzysztof contented himself with 3NT after a similar start of the bidding. 11 tricks. 10 IMPs to Germany.
So half way Germany led 36-10.
For the second half, the Kotorowicz brothers were replaced by Krzysztof Buras and Wojciech Strzemecki.
| A J 5 3
9 5 3
7 5 4 2
| 6 4 2
A J 8
A 9 7 5 3 2
| K 10 8
Q 10 7 4 2
K J 10
Q 9 7
10 8 6
A Q 9 8 3
2 = 8-10 and all passed. 11 tricks.
3 was a transfer to diamonds with 3 card support. After the diamond lead for the queen and king there were no problems for declarer. 12 tricks. 10 IMPs to Poland who were back in business.
At board 14 both Norths landed in 5, 4 down on a cross ruff in defence but Poland had doubled, 12 IMPs to them. They were nearly even now.
| Q 6 5
K 7 6
A 10 4 3
K 10 4
| 9 3
10 9 5 4 2
K Q J 5
| A 8 7 4
8 7 6
A Q 9 2
K J 10 2
A J 8
J 7 6 3
In the open room West reopened after 1NT by North and went 2 down in 2, 300 to Poland. In the closed room 1NT was passed out for 8 tricks. 5 IMPs to Poland.
At board 17 same script, 3 in the open room -3 and in the closed room -2 but again the Polish had doubled, 9 IMPs to them.
| A K 6
A 9 3
K J 10
A 9 8 7
| 7 2
K Q J 10 7
A 8 7 4 3
| Q 10 4 3
Q 9 6 5
Q 4 2
J 9 8 5
8 6 2
K J 10 6 5
2NT showed and .
After diamond to the ace, diamond for the jack and queen and diamond for the king, Piotr played well: he first played ace-king of spades, and when West followed to these, the club finesse is clear cut. 3 NT made.
Wojciech reopened the bidding with 1 giving North/South the occasion to make a restart but Nils passed on 3, only 130 to Germany. 10 IMPs to Poland.
| Q J 10 8 6
K 9 8 5 2
| A K
9 7 4
A 9 7 6 3 2
| 9 7 5 3 2
K 10 8 6
Q J 8
A Q 3 2
K 10 4
A Q J 7 6
In the open room 1 meant spades and North/South came no further than 4 making twelve.
In the closed room 2 showed a good hand without 3 cards in spades. When Andreas bid 3NT, Nils at his turn, took a long huddle before electing the good contract, just made and a well deserved and well needed 6 IMPs to Germany. They took another 5 IMPs in the last 2 boards but the score of this half was 47-19 in favour of Poland, a nice recovery.
Final score 15-15VP.