Day 4 - At the Halfway Point
Day 4 brought an end to the first round robin for all of the teams except the Juniors who play a triple round robin (there are less teams in their category). We are just past the halfway point of this eight-day tournament. The draw has been re-shuffled, and the top teams will all face off against each other towards the end of the second round robin. Expect drama at the end as there usually is in this prestigious tournament.
Before I go any further, I should mention that the Australian Juniors play on BBO in the last match on Friday, against Indonesia - 6:30 PM Australian Eastern time. Come online and support our youth players!
I shared a funny moment yesterday with Dawei Chen, one of the stars of the Japanese Open team. As the final match of the first round robin came to an end, New Zealand were lying first, but Japan were close to overtaking them with a big win over India. New Zealand had a bye so were always going to score 12 VPs, and it remained to be seen whether Japan could win by 48 IMPS or more to score the 19.25 needed.
I was commentating the end of the last match and saw Dawei and his partner walk in to the player's lounge with smiles on their faces, having just finished their set. They looked at me and Michael Whibley (NZ Open team) who had just seen Japan score up yet another swing, and who were now leading the round robin by 0.14 VPs. We gave them the thumbs up.
Michael asked Dawei why he had to go and win so big, why not let New Zealand win the first round robin? Dawei simply replied "Oh, it is very simple. We are trying to save New Zealand. You just had a bye now, and the winners of the round robin have a bye in the morning. So if you win, it is Bye-Bye!"
Unluckily for Dawei and his team, Japan lost a game swing on the second to last board and slipped to second place. The final standings in the Open after the first round robin were:
The Australian Open team had about 27 VPs from their three matches on Day 4, a little under average. They had moderate losses to India and Japan, two teams that are doing well, but had a win at the end of the day against Korea 2 who are near the bottom.
The Open team are about 30 VPs out of the top four. They would prefer to be in better shape, but they certainly have the potential for better results than they are having. They play a few of the weaker teams on Day 5 over four matches - hopefully they can make a move up the standings. The important matches will be towards the end of the second round robin as they play India and Korea 1, hopefully in matches where they can overtake them if they beat them up.
For the New Zealand Open team, it is a different story entirely. It’s far too early to start popping open the champagne, but the Kiwis are certainly surprising a few commentators. New Zealand has only won the Open championship twice, and the last time was 22 years ago. It would be a very strong result if New Zealand manages to hold on to the lead from here.
Our Australian Ladies had a good day yesterday by all accounts. They played against China and Chinese Taipei, who are certainly two of the stronger teams as you can see from the above standings from the end of the first round robin. Against China, the Ladies had a swing in when China failed in a slam, not bid in the other room, but lost IMPs on a missed game after a preempt and a big distributional hand (at the bottom of this article) to record a small loss (6.52).
But against Chinese Taipei, the Ladies did very well. Before the match, Australia trailed 2nd place by 17 VPs, but they scored up a massive 44-14 win against Taipei to put 17.04 VPs on the scoreboard and catch up almost all the way to second. They will have their work cut out to challenge the dominant Chinese for the gold medal, but the Ladies are a great chance for the podium - hopefully in one of the top two places. Singapore, China Hong Kong and Thailand are their opponents on Day 5.
Like the Open, the two Seniors' teams played three matches yesterday.
Australia 1 had a similar day to the Open team: two losses and a win, and 27.76 VPs from the day. They are lying sixth going into the second round robin, and are almost 30 VPs behind third. The dream is not over for them, however, and a few well-timed wins against the right teams will put them right back in the mix. Keep in mind there are fifteen rounds still left to play over four days.
Australia 2 had a disappointing day compared to their previous efforts, losing to Korea 2 in the morning and following up with a big loss to the leaders, DJARUM ICBA from Indonesia. They had a win at the end of the day to finish ninth in the first round robin.
The Australian Seniors' teams play off against each other in the third match tomorrow.
The Juniors had a decent day, starting off with a big 19.28 win against a Japanese squad that should have stayed in bed. Against China Hong Kong, one of the teams vying with us in the middle, the final score was all square, 21-21 and 10.00 VPs. We hoped to pile things on against the Thai team in the last round but only won by five IMPs, a disappointing result. A win is a win, however - and the Juniors are there or thereabouts in the standings.
Tomorrow is a crucial day for the Juniors. They play China, Chinese Taipei, Singapore and Indonesia, all fancied teams. Watch them play against Indonesia in the last round at 6:30 PM Australian Eastern time!
The Girls had only one match yesterday to finish the first round robin, against China Hong Kong. They had a moderate loss, 76-59, scoring 6.52 VPs. This was not a result we wanted, as Hong Kong are one of the teams battling with us to get onto the podium, but Australia is still in third (just). The Girls now play each of their opponents once more, playing China Hong Kong again in the morning followed by a bye in the afternoon. The Hong Kong match is quite important as Australia is fighting them for 3rd/4th place at the moment.
Probably the most spectacular hand of the day was this deal from the first match:
North is the dealer, both sides vulnerable. We saw a huge range of scores across all of the matches, with lots of IMPs flying around.
In the Australian Open match, the board was flat, both sides bidding and making 6S for +1460. In the NZ Open match, it was also flat: 6S doubled making an overtrick, good for +1860! The best result on this hand from our youth teams was 5Dx played by Matt Smith and Jamie Thompson, making a quiet +1150.
You can score +1390 two ways on this hand: bid and make 6D with an overtrick, or get doubled in 4S, making three overtricks! Both scores occurred at least once.
Pride of place goes to the +2470s, however. There are also two ways of writing down that juicy number. The Thai Open team bid and made 7S doubled, the simple way to get 2470. The Chinese Taipei Ladies and the Chinese Juniors found the other way to get 2470: 6S redoubled, making an overtrick! That would feel good to put into the scorebook.
Good luck to all of our Australian teams as we go into the second half of the APBF Championships.
Posted by Liam Milne on Friday, 2 June 2017 at 16:34