Three wins on the trot for the Open as they took a tight opening match against Slovakia by 16-14 VP. With only one double-imp swing in the match it was probably their quietest set so far. This good run clearly gave the team some confidence as they tore into Argentina, a team that was sitting third in the group. Only two late sacrifices (one good, one bad) that the Argentines got right enabled them to beat the Scots by seven imps, meaning a 14-16 VP loss. This result pushed Argentina out of the qualifying spots, no consolation for Scotland but it shows that they can compete occasionally if not consistently. In the final match the second-placed Russian team proved too strong and the team lost 9-21 VP.
The end of the competition for the Open team and they finished in twelfth place out of fifteen. I had hoped that they could finish a couple of places higher but expectations were never high for this team that was the only one that wanted to represent Scotland at this event.
As I said after the Europeans in June, "we are among the weakest open teams in Europe. Does the SBU, and its members, want to do anything about it?". Unfortunately it seems that the answer is no. The Selection Committee is keeping the same trials process, the concept of a premier league has been watered down to meaningless by compromise to the masses and funding looks set to continue to fund trial participation rather than team improvement. Disappointing.
I presume that the open pairs are staying on for the Transnational Mixed Teams. Apparently Jim has refused to wear a dress this time and so I believe he and Jun will be playing with some Irish women on Friday. Two days off first and then we'll see them in action, but this could be the time to charge for vugraph!
I was concerned that the position of the Women's team was more precarious than it seemed. Third place looked okay, but they were playing the fourth-placed team and the other teams in the top seven had easy looking matches. But, to be fair to myself, I was never sufficiently concerned to have checked how the 'best' sixth place in a group was actually decided.
But I need not have worried as they exploded to a 32-0 imps lead after four boards and continued powering away to a 25-4 VP win. A great performance for the team.
They have finished their round-robin group in a clear second place and will play France in their round of sixteen knock-out match tomorrow. This will be played over two days, 96 boards.
The team has played well and have qualified with greater ease than I expected. Congratulations to them all, and to Alex their NPC, but this is not the time to think that the work is done. Time to get stuck into the French. Good luck to them all.
Again, after the Europeans I asked why where the women more successful than the open. The lower standard was one reason combined with the fact that the women are (probably) stronger than our open team, but I forgot to add that the women do invest a lot of their own time and money seeking experience outside of Scotland: I know that they have played in tournaments around the USA, England and Poland over the past year, playing top Open players. Experience like this is invaluable (but expensive), it's just a shame I do not see many of the Scotland open pairs doing this
While the women were charging, unfortunately the Seniors were retreating. The South Africans failed to play like a bottom-placed team and, when they scored 37 imps in the last four boards, delivered a huge defeat to the team. I think this 6-24 VP put the final nail in the qualification coffin.
However the team showed resilience by coming back and getting a maximum 25-5 VP win over Morocco and then gaining a winning draw over Australia
Final match in the round-robin tomorrow for the Seniors as they play Egypt.