Missing a simple-to-bid slam was the high profile error but, much as I expected, the open team lost most imps in part-scores against the Bulgarians today. However it was a good performancel to hold them to 10-20 VPs. They followed this up with an excellent performance against group leaders, Israel, with only a late slam swing meaning a nine imps defeat (13-17 VP). A return of 23 VPs may not appear such a good result, but these are two of the strongest teams in the group. All of which meant it was a disappointment to lose to Lithuania by ten imps.
Spain, Ireland and Portugal for them tomorrow, all teams that they should feel that they can compete with. The Irish have been looking to repeat their silver medal from 2006 for some time now but have been practising hard on BBO, but they have not started well and perhaps home pressure is taking its toil. Mike Ash, in particularly, will be looking for revenge for our defeat by them in the Rosenblum in 2010.
I feel these three matches, together with the first on Saturday against Hungary, will go a long way to deciding the fate of the team in this championship. The team currently lies fourteenth, of seventeen, but has played three of the top teams. A stretch of matches against middle-ranked teams gives them the opportunity to move up the table and build up confidence for the tough matches ahead (Italy, Germany, Turkey). Now is their time!
A slam was the difference in the first match where the Poland woman dropped the singleton king of trumps offside to make the contract, leading to a 11-19 VP defeat for the women against the current leaders. They continued with their good form with a maximum win against Israel. A very good day that consolidated their mid-table position.
Illness (food poisoning) has been affecting the team and they played four-handed today. Less of a problem with the current schedule of just two matches a day but they should be back to full strength tomorrow. I've recommended deep frying everything in future rather than trusting this foreign food.
The women have tomorrow morning off and then play Estonia and Austria, both mid-table teams at the moment. However a couple of my friends picked Austria to be a top-six finisher, so not a team to take lightly.