Ray Lee

Ready for launch

Well, we’re here and settled after a 19-hour journey from home to the hotel.  The first impressions of Shanghai are quite astonishing — 50+ story buildings everywhere you look, and many more under construction.  The architecture is very modern, but has a faintly alien feel to it — more ornamentation on the top of the skyscrapers.  And what a joy to walk into a shopping mall that isn’t a clone of every other shopping mall you’ve ever been in!  This is a bustling modern city, thronged with crowds of young well-dressed people looking like a consumer society anywhere in the world.  I’m not sure what I imagined, but this is not it.  However, remember we are in Pudong, the newest most commercial part of the city.  Later we plan to explore the older areas, which I think will be more evocative of the mysterious East, the Opium wars, Franch colonialism, and everything else that represents the past of Shanghai.

Back at the bridge, I had a fascinating breakfast with Bobby Wolff and his wife Judy, discussing some of the details and content of his new book (see my last but one post, ‘The Lone Wolff’).  It was definitely the table to be at in the breakfast room — everyone who was anyone dropped by to say hello, from WBF President Jose Damiani to Kathy Wei, who was able to fill in some details for the book of a trip Bobby had made to China in 1993.

Then on to sort out Ray Leeistrative issues for my team —  we have two new partnerships, which means getting new systems approved and filing new convention cards.  We’re ready to do that now, and I’ll be meeting with the WBF Systems boss shortly to get them okayed.  We have had to bring 21 copies of each, one for each opposing team.  In fact, what with our sets of convention cards and defenses to 63 opposing systems, I have an extra suitcase entirely dedicated to paper!

Getting acclimatized is important, and all six of my players are right now doing — guess what? Yes, playing bridge!  There is an impromptu 12-table game going in the Convention Centre, so people can get used to the screens and the playing area and just get their heads into what they are here for.  For Linda and Pamela, it is a precious chance to play a few boards before they start a world championship — they will probably still set a record for the pair who plays in a Venice Cup having played the fewest number of deals together first!

The captains’ meeting is in an hour, followed by our team meeting, at which I’ll distribute the hospitality kits, team badges, etc., and make sure everyone knows how the event works and what is expected of them.  Then we’re off to the opening ceremonies; considering how well the Chinese usually handle pageantry, I expect this to be something special.

More later…

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