Tonight Friday we have the start of the Camrose Trophy. Teams from England Scotland Wales along with 3 teams from Ireland will contest the event.
Information can be found at the above links .
On paper the two main contenders should be IRELAND (CBAI) and ENGLAND but the whole event is going to be measured by how the NORTHERN IRELAND teams shape up after their initial heads up tonight.
The IRELAND team is proven at European level and field professional bridge and poker player Thomas Hanlon among their roster. However in a recent 96 board training session held at the Regent Bridge Club in Dublin with Jason Hackett and Thomas Paske as the invited filler ins ...it was Rory Boland and Mark Moran who led the standings. Grainne Barton is the NPC and she sttempts to keep this gang in line.
The Northern Ireland teams seem to be a little disrupted as the original 2nd place trialists are missing due to illness, Thats Robert Plunkett and Paul Tranmer. I don't know all the details but the original reserve pairing also appear to be missing. Also the decent pairing of Murchan and Burns did not appear to enter the trials. However this information is just gleaned from reading the NIBU website as opposed to talking to anyone.
Northern Ireland is as ever backboned by the ironman pairing of David Greenwood and Rex Anderson who most people would deem to be the class pairing of NIBU bridge for many years.
They have other strong partnerships but these other pairs seldom operate beyond the Camrose and to the best of my knowledge don't put in the training time required to compete at the levels of ENGLAND and IRELAND teams. The problem for most Northern Ireland pairs is the Camrose is a step up in class from their normal levels of play so they are under pressure from the off.
One item sticks in my memory from a conversation with John Matherson after last years Camrose.
A Northern Ireland player showed him the AQ of clubs over his KJ in dummy during the play and this took the pressure off and allowed John a cold line to his game contract.
In the heel of the hunt it did not matter as the trump queen finesse was working and the contract always made. However sometimes it is not about that one sees but the big picture is different.
However John did not know he was cold at the time.
SCOTLAND AND WALES both field very experienced CAMROSE teams
Scotland with youth and experience and Sime
Wales look very experienced with multiple Camrose caps among their squad.
Stamina plays a large part in bridge these days so one wonders about match fitness when looking at the amount of grey hair on show in the Team pictures.
I will be attending the Final weekend in Northern Ireland to help out with vugraph.
So 1900 hours on BBO it all kicks off ..
www.bridge-now.com is the place to play bridge these days. No sign of the magical BJ O'Brien entering the site yet. Declan the Don player continues to improve after posting a 52% session this week. Shane the poker player is playing less and remaining below the radar but he was looking over my shoulder last night and still maintains a strong interest in the game.
Myself and Declan the Don player played a few games of DON on Wednesday night against Jimmy the Donplayer and Declan the Trustee. DON is a similar game to bridge except 9s and 5s are the important cards. Trick taking and cardplay is the same as bridge.
However on one occasion spades were trumps and I knew Declan the Don player had some and he had no hearts. Declan the trustee who does not know any bridge made the error of leading out a Heart and with Eamon and Declan the Don player both off hearts ...Eamon was able to drop a 9 and Declan was able to scoop in the trick. Jimmy the Don player not knowing Declan the trustee had suicided him attempted to cross the small DON but Declan stemped on it with the BIG DON.
In bridge this would be termed a ruff and discard play.
Declan the Trustee prides himself as a top class card player and wins money most weeks in the local poker derbies. However he is outclassed in the world of DON by painters and decorators who spent their youth playing DON at lunch breaks and if they played badly they got the dirty jobs in the afternoon.
So myself and Declan the Don player won 2 euro each for the 2 games of DON
Last night Declan the Don player informed me that I missed out on the Xmas DON action as Stephens Day DON was 5 euro a corner. Apparently Declan the Trustee got thrashed again.