September 26th, 2013 ~ Judith and Nicholas Gartaganis ~ 1 Comment
After a nail-biting run to secure a qualifying spot, Canada claimed 8th position, nosing USA2 by 3.65 VPs. Earlier in the match against Germany, both sides had incurred a .5 VP penalty for playing overtime, which luckily didn’t figure into the picture. (When half time had been announced, we were finished 9 of 16 boards. From there, the Germans crawled at a snail’s pace. It seemed as though it would take more time to call the director than to soldier on, but in the end we couldn’t get the Germans to ‘fess up to having caused the problem. Live and learn.)
With first choice of opponent, USA1 chose Canada for the quarter-finals (to no one’s surprise). By virtue of our win in the head-to-head round robin match, we started the playoff with a massive carryover of 1.67 IMPS. Both sides played fairly sound bridge, and after the fourth segment, the score stood 119 – 118.7. There were a couple of director calls which led to reviews of two results, the net of which had already reduced Canada’s total by 6 IMPs.
The first was a forgotten system agreement by us, where 1NT – (DBL) – 3H was (incorrectly) alerted by the 3H bidder as a transfer to spades. In that scenario, DBL by the defender showed hearts. On the other side of the screen, 3H was described as natural, pre-emptive and so DBL was takeout. Sigh. Eventually, we played 5Sx, which went for only -100 on an unlucky lead. No good! We received a calculated score based on combined likely results and likely probabilities (-200).
Later in the match, this auction arose with no interference bidding:
1H – 2H
2S – 2NT
3D – 4S
2S said “bid 2NT so I can make a HSGT”; 2NT said “OK … I will accept somewhere.
So what in the world is 4S?
Nick shrugged and bid 5D, reasoning that 4S must be a splinter with big diamond support (and he made the mistake of volunteering this reasoning to his RHO before he passed the tray). We landed in 5H, which went off one on the defense put up by the opponents (-13 IMPs).
Well, it turned out that 4S was a mechanical error (cards stuck together).That wasn’t good enough for the opponents … they wanted to squeeze blood out of a stone. They asked for a director’s review, with one contending that he would have doubled 4S (with K109x) if he had known it was a splinter (which it wasn’t) and the other claiming he would have doubled the final contract (and presumably led differently) had his partner doubled 4S. The director adjusted the result to -800 … they got a paltry 3 IMPs for their trouble.
Canada had a disastrous 5th segment and went into the final 16 boards stuck 50 or so IMPs. We were nevertheless determined to fight to the end.
Fortuna thumbed her nose at Team Canada on the very first board, when the opponents landed in slam needing two cards onside … -11 IMPs. It was game over!
Today, we are trying our luck in the Transnational Teams which is winding up the round robin.
September 19th, 2013 ~ Judith and Nicholas Gartaganis ~ No Comments
As the 5:20 p.m. match gets underway, Canada’s Bermuda Bowl team has experienced both good and bad on this, the third day of the round robin.
We got off to a really energizing start on Day 1, overwhelming one of the pre-tournament favourites (Poland) by 31 IMPs. Match 2 was a closely fought, low scoring affair in which Australia prevailed 21-20 IMPs. We closed out the opening day defeating Guadeloupe by a healthy margin (37 IMPs). With the new WBF 20-point victory point scale in use, we finished Day 1 with a total of 44.4 VPs, good enough for second spot. It was early days, but we felt we were entitled to smile a bit over dinner by the sea side.
Our opening match on Day 2 was against Bahrain, a somewhat surprising representative from WBF Zone 4 (Asia and Middle East) which is usually dominated by India and Pakistan. They put up a good fight, but Canada ended up ahead by 13 IMPs. Then we marched on to disaster, as the team took a drubbing from England (-22 IMPs) and then lost a back-and-forth battle to Japan by 12 IMPs. At the close of this day, the smiles did not come so easily. We had dropped into 9th place with 69.3 VPs.
We knew all along that Day 3 would be extremely difficult. First up would be Netherlands (the defending Bermuda Bowl champions), followed by perennial contender Italy, with China rounding out the day. We got back on track in a big way, handing team Orange their biggest loss so far (we prevailed by 34 IMPs) and vaulting back into a qualifying position. What a fabulous start to our toughest day! The camp had been re-energized. The feeling didn’t last long as Italy annihilated us by over 50 IMPs (on BBO, no less). We’ve lost a little to average so far today, having picked up just 17.62 over our first two matches.
As we write this post, Jeff and Paul, Dan and Darren are taking on the strong team from China. Let’s hope we all get to smile a little at dinner tonight.
And by the way, none of the older members of the team appear in this picture. With age comes wisdom!
September 16th, 2013 ~ Judith and Nicholas Gartaganis ~ 3 Comments
Greetings from beautiful Bali, Indonesia. This is one view as we walk from our hotel lobby toward the beach. Awesome!
Call us crazy, but we truly are here for the bridge!
Canada’s entry in the 2013 Bermuda Bowl is a mix of young(ish) and old(ish), Easterners and Westerners, male and female, first-timers and past-timers. The team members are Judith and Nicholas Gartaganis, Daniel Korbel, Jeff Smith, Paul Thurston, Darren Wolpert and NPC Hazel Wolpert.
There is quite a time difference between Bali and Canada. As we post this message, it is just coming up 3:00 p.m. Monday afternoon. If you are in Ontario, it is nearly 3:00 a.m. in the morning Monday and for you Albertans, it is past midnight, heading toward 1:00 a.m.
Everyone arrived safely and smoothly several days ago (except for Hazel who landed on Saturday). We have used the lead-up time to relax and enjoy many of the sites and activities to be found on the island. The most amazing thing about Bali is the people. We have been welcomed warmly and everyone is exceedingly polite, helpful and happy (they do live in paradise, after all).
But it will soon be time for us to get down to business. The Captain’s meeting takes place in two hours, with the Opening Ceremonies scheduled for 8:00 p.m. tonight at the Nusa Dua Convention Center.
The team wishes to thank our sponsors for their generosity. We very much appreciate the financial support received from the Canadian Bridge Federation, Ron Zambonini, Master Point Press, Unit 192 (Eastern Ontario and Outaouais), Unit 166 (Ontario), ACBL District 18 (WASUMI) and Hazel’s Bridge Club in Toronto.
We also wish to acknowledge the incredible coaching support provided by Eric Kokish and Beverly Kraft, who invariably go far beyond what is required to help any Canadian player with a desire to tap their skill and experience in preparation for the competition.
August 16th, 2012 ~ Judith and Nicholas Gartaganis ~ 3 Comments
Two of our good friends from Edmonton wrote us an encouraging email message earlier today: “First Monaco, then the rest of the world!”
After a long and hard-fought match, Team Canada entered the final 16-board segment ahead by 18 IMPs. We could sense that victory was within our grasp and many teams were rooting for us to pull through. And why not? Monaco was the favoured team and Canada had an excellent chance to put them out of the way, not just for our own benefit, but for the benefit of the rest of the qualifiers as well.
Alas, it was not our day. Goodbye ‘Rest of the World”.
It was an exciting run … 224 boards in the round robin over 5 days plus another 96 boards in the round of 16 over 2 days. Doesn’t seem like much (just 48 boards a day), but to maintain the highest level of concentration for that many days takes a great deal of mental, and sometimes physical, energy. In the end, had the match been 48 boards or 80 boards in length, Canada would play another day.
Tomorrow, we are going to play in the Transnational Mixed Teams with Darren, Dan K. and their partners, Hazel Wolpert and Linda Wynston.
P.S. Finally got them to stand still!
Les – Darren
August 16th, 2012 ~ Judith and Nicholas Gartaganis ~ 1 Comment
Darren – Les Vince – Nick Danny – Dan
The tiny principality of Monaco is probably best known for its casinos and for actress Grace Kelly who became Princess Grace of Monaco. As one wag put it, Monaco is a pleasing sunny place where shady characters live. Who would have thought that Monaco could field a bridge team whose members include two of the strongest pairs in the world. Despite Canada’s size relative to Monaco, the over-under line here in Lille is 80 VPs in favour of Monaco.
On the Road to 16 Olympiad Way
Here is a critical deal from our last match against Argentina. Leslie Amoils and Darren Wolpert were East-West respectively. (They won’t stand still long enough for a picture 🙂 ).
This was the penultimate deal, with the score standing at 34-30 for Canada. Darren’s bold balancing double put Les on the hot seat. The spade suit was strangely missing, so partner was highly likely to hold both majors, making two hearts a safe haven. But if partner has hearts, maybe defending wouldn’t be too bad. Les’ well-judged pass turned a routine +200 (1NT down 2) into +500 for a welcome gain of 7 IMPs.
Canada Shows Its Teeth
Sometimes even the biggest bridge nation can be pushed around. Look at this result from the third segment of Canada’s match versus Monaco. Nick L’Ecuyer was North and Vince Demuy was South.
Sitting North, you hold ♠ J9653 ♥ — ♦ A10643 ♣ Q106 and you hear this auction
Nick L’Ecuyer didn’t fly all the way from Montreal to pass. He closed out the auction by doubling, or so he thought. But wait! East now bailed out to 5C, passed around to Nick. Again he doubled, and this time it did end the auction. Vince carefully led the ♥J (K from A king at the 5-level) to get the defensive cross-ruff going. And, in the best of Scandinavian accents, 1400 was the agreed-upon result. At an identical juncture in the closed room auction, the Monegasque North opted to pass 4♠ and +200 didn’t help the big nation’s cause. The full hand:
The Key to My Heart (Game)
The enterprising duo of Daniel Miles and Daniel Korbel demonstrated that hearts are not only a higher paying strain than clubs, but that sometimes you can get rewarded with a games bonus.
This was the second board from segment in our 6-segment match against Monaco.
Here is how “the Dans” bid the hand:
As you can see from the diagram, only a club lead (or an early club shift) will beat the heart game, not too likely on the bidding. At the other table, the auction subsided in 3C when opener bid just 2C at his second turn. A nice 6 IMP pick-up!
August 14th, 2012 ~ Judith and Nicholas Gartaganis ~ 3 Comments
As we write this post from Lille, there is one thing we could, but will not, complain about — staying up late to do team prep for tomorrow’s knockout phase. Canada has advanced to the round of 16! On this, the final day of round robin play, our guys stood their ground, refusing to squander their opportunity to capture a playoff berth.
We started out with a (somewhat expected but pretty easy) blitz of Kenya, a group whose enthusiasm couldn’t compensate for lack of experience and, arguably, skill. Italy and Russia battled to a 15-15 tie while Argentina and Sweden came close to the same (16-14 for Sweden). Romania’s 17-13 win over Thailand put them in a tie for fifth with Canada, while South Africa’s 23-7 victory over Singapore was too little too late.
With two matches to go, the standings looking like this:
South Africa 217
Seriously, could the race to qualify get any tighter?
For the middle match, we headed off to play Romania, with whom we were tied for 5th place. We knew this might be the make-or-break point. If we were unable to come away with a victory, Canada’s hopes of advancing would be slim. On this day, we had the best of them and notched a 20-10 victory. Sweden’s blitz against Morocco gave them some breathing room as they moved into third. And Scotland did us a big favour, holding Argentina to essentially a tie (16-14 for the South American squad). Suddenly, that left Canada not just alive, but in reasonably decent position! We had finally crawled back into a qualifying spot for the first time since the second round. With one to go, here is how it stood:
South Africa 220
Amazingly, as though the organizers had used a crystal ball, the match-ups would provide some drama, at least for the teams still in the hunt:
Romania versus Italy
Sweden versus South Africa
Canada versus Argentina
With South Africa still smarting from their Day 4 disaster, they couldn’t muster much of a fight against Sweden, who won easily by 21-9. That locked down third place for the Swedes. Romania jumped out to a 25-5 IMP lead against Italy but could not hang on, falling 20-10. Fourth place came down to the head-to-head match between Canada and Argentina, the latter having started 3 VPs behind in the overall standings. Canada ground out an excellent victory, winning 17-13 to claim a spot in the round of 16.
Amazingly this is the first time since 1972 that a Canadian Open team has qualified for the knockout phase of a World Team Olympiad (now called the World Bridge Games as part of the World Mind Games).
Now off to finish our preparations for tomorrow’s match against Monaco, the pre-tournament favourite to capture the gold medal, and fresh off their recent win in the European Team Championship.
August 14th, 2012 ~ Judith and Nicholas Gartaganis ~ 2 Comments
At the beginning of play today, Canada faced an uphill climb. It looked as though the top three qualifying spots were secure (Russia – 190; Italy – 183 and South Africa – 174 and 14 ahead of fourth place). Four teams were fighting for the one chance to move forward to the next stage of play.
Canada had to face two of our toughest opponents — Russia and Italy. The matches were at opposite ends of the spectrum. At the red end, against Russia, the going was so good that we wanted it to never end. We came away with a near blitz, posting a 23-7 victory. Down at the purple end, things were darker. We had a 7-IMP lead at the halfway mark, but we lost ground during the final 8 boards and the Italians prevailed by 26 which translated into a meagre 9 VPs for Canada.
We had our bye during the last match of the day, so that gave us a little extra time for R and R.
While all that was going on, South Africa was having a damaging day. They managed to take only 20 VPs from Singapore, Argentina and Italy. Suddenly, after holding down first place for so long (rounds 2 through 7), their claim on any qualifying spot has been eroded and they have dropped to 7th, 19 VPs back of 4th. That is good news for Canada, as now realistically, two tickets to the Knockout phase are up for grabs. This is what it looks like after Day 4:
South Africa 194
So we are still in it, although 12 VPs is a substantial amount to make up with just three matches remaining in the Round Robin. On the last day, we have Kenya, Romania and Argentina. Since the latter two teams are currently ahead of us in the standings, every VP will have double value. At least we will have some control over our own fate.
August 12th, 2012 ~ Judith and Nicholas Gartaganis ~ 2 Comments
In Lewis Carrols’s Through the Looking Glass, the Red Queen offers Alice some advice during the Red Queen’s race:
“Well, in our country,” said Alice, still panting a little, “you’d generally get to somewhere else — if you run very fast for a long time, as we’ve been doing.”
“A slow sort of country!” said the Queen. “Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!”
Canada had ended Day 2 in 8th place in Group C, just 6 VPs back of the last qualifying position (4 of 16 qualify to the next stage). Over dinner last evening, we set our goal for today: to earn at least 60 out of the available 75 VPs. We had a great day but we did squander some chances which would have made it even better. We started by earning the maximum (25 VPs) against Morocco and followed with a somewhat disappointing 15-15 split with Thailand. The team came up huge in Match 3, snaffling 16 IMPs over the last two boards for a 21-9 win. Our total for the day — 61 VPs!
So what’s the problem, you say? The teams ahead of us at the end of Day 2 earned (in no particular order) 71, 63, 62, 59, 47, 35, and 30 VPs. Only the last two fell behind Canada in the standings. Sweden, who had finished Day 2 just 3 VPs behind us, managed to pile up 65 VPs today to inch ahead in the standings.
The Group C top 8 after Day 3 (remember that the top 4 qualify to the next stage):
South Africa 174
Tomorrow Team Canada faces a serious challenge: Russia in the first match and Italy in the second. Our bye comes in Match 3, when we will rush out to either celebrate a good day or to drown our sorrows.
August 11th, 2012 ~ Judith and Nicholas Gartaganis ~ 1 Comment
Today was an opportunity day, we thought. Team Canada had the opportunity to come out strongly against Slovakia who had struggled the day before, the opportunity to bring South Africa (Day 1 frontrunners) back to the pack, and the opportunity to finally break the jinx against Trinidad and Tobago in the day’s last match.
In fact, we got off to a bad start against Slovakia (stuck 15 after three boards and still down 7 past the midway mark). But Team Canada put together a 24-0 run over the next 4 boards and eventually won a small victory.
Canadian supporters were optimistic when Canada drew first blood against South Africa. This board earned a 9-IMP pick up early in the match:
Danny’s enterprising 3♦ raise manoeuvred North-South into uncomfortable territory and when North rated his hand as “some extras with no clear bid”, South really had no sensible action other than Pass.
The play was relatively straightforward. +470 more than compensated for their teammates’ -100 in an aggressive 3NT. Alas, fortunes turned shortly thereafter and Canada ended up garnering just 10 VPs, far less than what we had hoped.
Canada has lost important matches to Trinidad and Tobago, an archipelagic state in the south Caribbean consisting of the two islands for which the country is named (the total population of the country is 1.3 million). In 2007, Trinidad and Tobago trounced Team Canada in the World Team Championship in Shanghai. The very next year, at the first World Mind Sports Games in Beijing, Trinidad and Tobago knocked Canada out of a qualifying spot with a last-round victory. Today, we had our revenge of sorts when we secured a 18-12 VP win.
Tomorrow will be critical. Surprisingly, after 6 of 15 matches, our Group’s fourth place spot is held down by a far-from-normal score of 98 VPs (average is 90). Canada has 92 VPs, but is surrounded by tallies of 97, 96, 93, 89 and 82. We’ll see what the morrow brings.
August 10th, 2012 ~ Judith and Nicholas Gartaganis ~ No Comments
Canada’s Open Team
(From L to R) Nicholas Gartaganis (NPC), Darren Wolpert, Leslie Amoils, Vincent Demuy, Dan Korbel, Nicolas L’Ecuyer and Daniel Miles
Get a load of those comfy jackets courtesy of Master Point Press!
Canada started the day like a house on fire, spanking Scotland 24-6. We continued with a hard-fought 16-14 win over Singapore (our lead was seriously downsized when the finesse was on in a 50-50 slam bid against us). Then somebody decided to call the fire department. In the final match of the day, Sweden was on top of its game and we didn’t do enough good stuff to catch up. That left us with a near mirror image result … a 7-23 loss to close the day.
We’re in the hunt. Tomorrow, Slovakia, South Africa (the current Group C leaders) and Trinidad-Tobago are up. For now, it is time to rejuvenate.