Ray Lee

Looking good

The job of any work force is to make the boss look good — and my team has certainly accomplished that.  It’s slightly embarrassing to be walking around here getting congratulated for something that I feel I had very little to do with — but it is fun!

Those of you who read yesterday’s post know that I agonized over the right strategy for the final day, but my team made me look like a genius.  I think I was right about the first match being the key.  Netherlands were by far the most dangerous team behind us — they won this event 6 years ago with a very similar team, and are always contenders.  They started the day 15 VPs back, and had the prospect of facing the US1 juggernaut in Round 20.  So they needed to beat us big-time. 

It didn’t happen.  Our pairs played a solid game, and the Dutch ended up with a 3-IMP win that must have felt like a loss.  They had gained only two VPs on us.  Sure enough, they went on to lose a near blitz to US1, and they were effectively finished.  Meanwhile, I was aiming for 40+ VPs for the day — 10 each in the first two matches, and 20 against Argentina to finish. We were 4 VPs ahead of that pace.

That being the case, I rested Linda and Pamela for the Germany match.  I positioned Francine and Julie N-S, where they would compare with Auken and von Arnim, and gave Isabelle and Sylvia a chance to play a set against the best women’s pair in the world.   They rose to the challenge and didn’t lose too much, which was great; meanwhile, Francine and Julie were playing a blinder (just look at their Butler for this round) and we emerged with the third big upset result of the day (the other two were in the Rugby world cup).

With an unlooked for 19 VPs out of the Germany match, we simply needed not to lose by more than 40 or so against tailenders Argentina.  I don’t think anyone was paying too much attention, and we had a meaningless loss to end 6th in the final table.

BTW, in these days of litigiousness and poor sportsmanship at the bridge table, I want to recount a small story to redress the balance slightly.  After the Argentina match, we noticed that the official scoreboard had a slightly different IMP total than we did, which actually made a 1-VP difference to us.  As I was about to go check this out, I was flagged down by the Argentine captain, who was very concerned that they had been credited with 3 undeserved IMPs.  Their scorecards agreed with ours, and she insisted we both go to the scoring desk right away and have her 3 IMPs removed.  That accomplished, she turned to me and congratulated our team on qualifying, and wished us luck the rest of the way.  I was very impressed with this classy lady.

I want to congratulate all our players on their performance this week.  Francine and Julie finished 8th in the Butler, and were outstanding throughout (of course, one expects that of Francine!).  Even more remarkable was Pamela and Linda’s 12th place finish — remember, this pair had never played a single deal together before this tournament, and managed roughly 2 hours of system discussion before they sat down to play last Sunday.  Sylvia and Isabelle seemed understandably nervous at the start, and a couple of poor sets early didn’t help their confidence.  But by mid-week they had settled down somewhat, and were able to come off the bench and produce the games we needed when called upon in the later rounds.

It’s been a great ride so far — let’s see how long we can keep it going!

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