Ray Lee

Open for business

All quiet now — it’s 3.45 am local time, I’ve had seven hours sleep and I’m wide awsake.  Actually, with a 12 hour time difference, a 4-hour dislocation isn’t bad at all after 2 days.

There was a somewhat stormy captain’s meeting this afternoon, mostly centred around the new computerization for this event.  First, the days of submitting your lineups for each match in writing to the officials are over: there is now a secure intranet, each team has its own password-protected page, and that’s where it all happens now.  You can access it via your own laptop, or from one of 9 workstations set up for the purpose.  We were all concerned about the prospect of 66 team captains arriving at the workstation at the same time, all with a deadline to meet, but the process seems to be quick and easy, and will likely work well. The system also serves as a messaging system for the team captains.  Once both teams have entered their lineups for a match, it is possible to see the names of all four players, and know who is opposing whom at each table.  This information becomes public, and can be seen on a large plasma screen in the lobby of the convention centre outside the playing room.

More potentially fraught is the recording system. For the last tow years, the Bridgemate system has been in use for electronic recording of results as each board is played. At each table sits a records who entered the contract and result in something that looks like a large calculator.  That’s how the results are sent to the scoring system and thence to the Internet as soon as each board is completed.  The difference this time is that recording the details of the auction and play, previously also a pencil and paper task, will be done via the same system.  Thus in theory the play of every card at every table will be available for inspection on the net – certainly here internally, and possibly more widely too.

There will be 5 Internet feeds from each session: 3 will be carried by BBO, including the official Vugraph match here onsite.   Swan games will concentrate on matches by Scandinavian teams, while Our Game, a Chinese site, will (I believe) carry all matches played by the host country.  So you can look for Canadian teams live on the Net on several occasions, it appears.

Shanghai is a sporting hub right now — the final of the FIFA Women’s Wold Cup goes tonight here, while there is also a special Olympics meet.  Many of us travelled on planes with the some of the SO teams — on ours were Canada, Argentina and St Kitts/Nevis.  The Chairman of the Chinese Olympic Committee attended our Opening Ceremonies last night, no doubt thinking ahead to 2008, when Beijing will host not only the Summer Olympics, but the 1st Mind Sports games.

After all the welcome speeched from various dignitaries, it was (as always) exhilarating as the teams from each country were introduced.  Seated alphabetically in a large auditorium, each group stood up in turn to receive applause from the other competitors.  I’m sure like me we all felt proud when ‘Canada’ was announced, and four rows of us stood and waved — my team resplendent in their neat uniform jackets.  Bridge teams, probably for financial reasons haven’t really gone the whole hog with uniforms yet for the most part — a jacket, or matching scarfs, are often as good as it gets.  The Indian ladies, as always though, were unmissable in their magnificent dress saris. For some reason while this was going on, the sound system was playing ‘The Stars and Stripes for Ever’ — stirring music, yes, but one wonders if anyone had paid any attention to the title of the piece?

Then onwards to what was announced as cocktail party, but turned out to be a magnificent buffet for 500-odd people.  This included hand-rolled Peking duck, and hosts of other fascinating dishes, not all of which were familiar to us.  Everything was labelled in English and Chinese, though, so no worries. The only negative was the ‘wine’ — quote marks deliberate.  If you can imagine a sort of red, sweet vinegar — well, enough said.  Fortunately there were copious amounts of orange juice (the juice here is very tasty, but not as sweet as we’re used to — personally I like it a lot).

So today the play starts — as the great chess master Thchigorin once commented, looking at the playing hall before a tournament ‘The mistakes are all there, waiting to be made’.  As the event unfolds, that room is going to witness triumphs and disasters, with everything in between.  We just don’t know yet which teams will have which experience!


From l to r: 

(back row) Pamela, Isabelle, Sylvia,

(front row)  Francine, Julie, Linda

(obvious) Ray

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