10th World Youth
Web Log by Jonathan Steinberg
A Memorable Day & Memorable Moments:
Yesterday, during the second (of 4) sets, a BBO commentator
who was watching David Grainger & Tim Capes commented: "Canada
is quietly giving us a bridge clinic in how to play - some excellent
defences and a carefully played hand by Capes". Gavin Wolpert
& Vincent Demuy were at the other table. When we compared
scores, Canada had won the set 49-3. The smile that broke
out on Tim Capes was priceless.
Going into the fourth and final set, Canada was leading by
29 imps. Instead of a nice quiet set of 16 boards, there were
potential slam swings everywhere. Lots of distribution plus
a few 5-0 breaks thrown in for good measure. It was an exceptionally
action filled set (this evening's final Daily Bulletin will
feature hands and results from that quarter). When the smoke
had cleared, Canada emerged victorious with the bronze medal
-- the first medal for Canada in more than a decade! Charles
Halasi, who played the final 16 boards, had a smile that lasted
for several hours as he commented that "it was the most
exciting set of boards in his life".
For Canada's "third pair", instead of merely being
cheerleaders, Tim & Charles were full participants who played
50% of the boards in the bronze medal match. They had become
David Grainger was, as always, rock solid, dependable, and
under difficult circumstances, was able to play with both Tim
& Charles as needed. It was a superb perfornmance.
But the outstanding leader in Canada's junior bridge program
today is Gavin Wolpert. Away from the table, his advice was
invaluable and he helped make my job so much easier. But
at the bridge table, he is truly amazing. Whether he was
minus 880 (4S, doubled and redoubled, just in after not finding
the winning lead), or, as was more likely the case, scoring
big plus positions, Gavin's table demeanour never changed. Poised
and confident, no matter how provoked or annoyed, he just
moved on to the next board, always focused, always concentrating.
He is a model player not only for other junior players
to emulate, but for adults as well. I was impressed.
However, Gavin's talents at the bridge table clearly do not
translate into his ability to open a bottle of champagne as
he demonstrated at the post game celebrations. It was quite
amusing. Fortunately, as the cliche says, "a picture
is worth a thousand words" and all of the above memorable
moments have been captured on film. The ubiquitous cameras
were following us everywhere! If all goes as planned, all
of you will be able to see the finished one hour CTV
documentary in the Spring' 2006.
As I write this report, the Poland VS USA 1 match for
the gold medal continues. Regardless of the outcome, for the
first time ever, there will be two ACBL teams on the podium for
tonight's closing dinner, ceremonies, and medal presentations.
It was a tremendous performance.
Tomorrow, David & Vincent fly back to Canada while
the rest of the Team Canada remain in Australia for
another one to two weeks.
I'd like to thank the CBF for giving me the opportunity to
be a small part in this exciting event. It has been an
unforgettable experience in a beautiful country.
Looking forward to seeing all of you in September...
August 14 : Day 6 & 7
The biggest rugby match of the year -- the Bledisloe Cup -
took place at the Olympic Park yesterday -- 80,000 strong! Most
of the players and officials involved in this tournament
went on the planned excursion to Koala Animal Park followed
by a Sydney Harbour Cruise with good food and spectacular
nightime views. You can read all about it as well as see some
pictures in todays WBF Bulletin which is available on-line. Everyone
on Team Canada participated and had a great time. Clearly
the fresh air and day and a half rest worked wonders on
some of the players!
It was interesting to note while watching Canada VS Israel
on BBO this afternoon (we were also LIVE on VUGRAPH here in
Sydney) that BBO had 577 Kibitzers watching the Canada match
and only 117 watching the other two BBO matches. It's nice to
know people are watching.
I'd like to thank all of you who have sent their best wishes
by e-mail. As everyone reading this knows, CANADA has reached
the playoff round for the first time this Century (I believe
it was 1997 when Canada last made the playoffs).
As I'm typing this, Canada is playing Brazil in the final round
of the round robin; however, we are mathematically locked to
make the playoffs. In about 2 and a half hours (8:30 PM in
Sydney) I will attend the Captains meeting for the four teams
who will be in the playoffs to review the rules and procedures
for the next round.
Poland will get to select their opponent for the semi-finals.
It is almost certain that they will choose to play France.
Canada defeated both Poland and France in the round robin but
unfortunately, Canada suffered one of its few round
robin losses to USA 1. According to the official conditions
of contest, that means we will enter the 64 board playoff down
August 12 : Day 5 - A Cold Front
A cold front moved into Australia bringing strong winds and
record breaking temoeratures. Melbourne (1000 or so km South
of Sydney) had their first snow since 1951! In the mountains
that surround Sydney, it was a frigid minus 1 with snowflurries.
The city of Sydney has never seen snow but the 9 C was a record
low for this date. I'm not complaining! It's already warming
A chill also seemed to affect Team Canada last night as we
suffered our second big loss of the tournament, this time to
Australia. But we bounced back this morning with a 41 to 35
(16-14 VP) win over USA 2 followed by a huge 73-21 (25-5 VP)
victory over China Hong Kong.
As we head into a min-break, we are in 4th place, at least
12 VPs ahead of 5th. There are just 3 matches left in the RR.
We play England, Israel and Brazil on Sunday. The top 4 teams
(out of 18) Q for the playoffs.
But first, it is time to head downtown this evening (no curfew
Tomorrow its a visit to a Koala animal park plus a BBQ lunch,
an afternoon of sightseeing, and finally a dinner harbour cruise.
The cruise will be over at 10 PM. We will then immediately return
to the hotel, get a good nights rest, and be well prepared for
Sunday's critical three matches.
August 11 : Day 4
I trust you are all following the tournament on-line and reading
the Daily Bulletins. There is a nice profile of Team Canada
in todays Bulletin (Thursday, August 11 - Bulletin 4). Don't
forget that Sydney time is 14 hours ahead of Toronto - it is
5:40 PM Thursday here while it it is 3:40 AM Thursday in Toronto!
The last few matches have been a little rough so it was
nice to see the smiling face of Andy Pederson this morning.
Andy is the Hlifax film producer who is in the process of creating
a one hour documentary for CTV on Canadian bridge (especially
juniors and featuring Gavin Wolpert). If all goes well, it will
air sometime in the Spring of 2006. Having Andy and his camera
on site for teh rest of the tournament should be worth a victory
point or so!
Last night we defeated the pre-tournament favourite Poland
38-31 (16-14 VP). This morning we suffered a tough loss to Egypt
(12-18 VP). This afternoon we recovered somewhat with a 39-31
(16-14 VP) win over Chinese Taipei. The matches are getting
tighter and tougher!
This evening we are playing the host country, Australia followed
by USA 2 and Hong Kong tomorrow. Then we get a much needed break
Friday evening and all day Saturday before the final three matches
on Sunday, which may well be crucial.
One of the inevitable side effects of mass gatherings of people
from around the world is the intermingling of germs and viruses!
Anyone in the playing area today might have thought they were
in a hospital ward, what with all the coughing and sneezing!
Unfortunately, Team Canada is not immune, so this weekend's
break may be just what we need.
It's always nice to hear from our friends back home: please
e-mail the team c/o myself at: email@example.com
August 10 :: Day Three
From a technical standpoint, this tournament is BY FAR the
best World Youth Team event ever. If you are following on-line,
you know what I mean. Instant real time updates, plus lots
of LIVE BBO and VUGRAPH matches. Here at the playing site, there
are other improvements. We no longer waste paper putting in
the line-ups (next match line-ups must be posted within 15 minutes
of the end of each match) because they have a computer program
set-up where we can easily post the line-up online. Hand records
and results are available almost before you have played the
last hand - even the method for recording hands has been improved.
All in all, an excellent performance from our Australian hosts!
From a hospitality standpoint, our hosts have been equally
impressive. On Saturday, they have a arranged for 40 or so private
cars, each to transport 3 or 4 players to a Koala Animal park
for a BBQ lunch. After that, you can stay at the park or ask
your private driver to take you wherever you wish to go. Later
in the day, we will all meet at the Sydney Harbour for a dinner
cruise. It will be a nice break.
At the bridge table, Team Canada continues to advance. Last
night we defeated Pakistan 69-40 for a 21-9 VP win. This
morning we downed Norway 70-42 for a very solid 20-10 VP
win over one of the always strong European teams. This
afternoon we tied Chile 29-30 which translates into a 15-15
VP tie. This was by far our lowest scoring match to date.
Junior bridge tends to see lots of imps flying about. Not for
the faint of heart!
So we here we are about half way through the round robin in
3rd place just a few VP's out of first. There is almost 20 VPs
between us and 4th place USA 1. But there is lots more bridge
to play. At the moment Gavin & Vince are LIVE on BBO everywhere
as well as on VUGRAPH on site as Canada just started their match
against first place Poland. You'll have to excuse me, because
I'm going to watch!
August 9 :: Day Two
Team Canada is in bed before midnight and awake with the rising
sun bright and early every day, eager for another challenging
session at the bridge table. One of my appointed taks is
to ensure that everyone is up by 8:45 AM and in all honesty,
to date, we have all been partaking in the sumptuous breakfats
buffet well before that hour! Truth is stranger than fiction!
Prior to the official opening day, the breakfast buffet cost
AUD $22.50! But now it is part of the room and board package.
I'm told the food is much better here than it was two years
ago in Paris. Everyone is very well fed.
Prior to the opening ceremony last Sunday, there was a huge
"Workers Rights" demonstration (estimated at up to
50,000 people) right here in the Sydney Olympic Park. While
there was lots of security, it was more like a family celebration
with many children, rock groups and other singers from a makeshift
stage, plus the usual array of press and photographers. It made
for an interesting day before the official opening ceremony.
But what about the bridge you ask? If you are following Team
Canada on-line, there is an abundance of information available.
Last night in Match 3, Team Canada picked up another 25 VP against
a strong team from France (they had been leading after match
two). What was particularly gratifying to me was that while
each table had one "soft" board, no one got upset
and the team just picked up the next hand and kept on picking
up imps. Well done.
This morning Team Canada continued its winning ways against
Hungary - another 25-5 VP win to solidify our first place position.
Then this afternoon, a starnge thing happened -- I looked outside
and discovered that - yes even in Australia - there are
clouds on the horizon. A bad omen, as with the darkening skies,
Team Canada suffered it's first loss in 5 matches. 6-24 VPs
to USA 1.
But onwards and upwards. As I type, we are playing match 6
against Pakistan. Tim & Charles are back in the line-up
(they are undefeated and I hope they remains so!) playing
with Gavin & Vince. When you wake up this morning and read
this, you will be able to go to the WBF website and get the
I will try to write daily updates which will usually be around
4 AM Toronto time (6 PM here in Sydney). Wish us good luck!
August 8 :: Day One
It is now 4:30 AM Toronto time and no doubt everyone is
awake watching Canada play France live on BBO! Oh, you mean
some folks are sleeping. They'll just have to read about it
on the CBF website!
The Sydney Olympic Village is quite spectacular -- it is a
pleasant 5-10 minute walk between the hotel/dining room and
the playing area. This ensures that the kids get some sunshine
and fresh air every day! The evenings and mornings are cool
while the afternoons tend to be quite warm. Bkue skies and bright
sunshine are the norm -- actually, Australia could use
some rain as the country is in a bit of a drought.
At the bridge table, I decided to give Tim Capes (the one player
with no international experience) his first taste of world junior
bridge starting with match one. Tim & Charles played with
Gavin and Vince as we defeated Japan 52-32 or 19-11 in VP's.
Daniel and David replaced Gavin & Vince for match 2
which was a relatively easy 81-30 win over New Zealand
which gave us all 25 VPs. So far so good.
The next three matches will be tougher as we play France (on
BBO live as I type) followed by Hungary tomorrow morning and
then the powerful USA 1 after luch. We will finish day 2 against
Pakistan. Stay tuned. The fun is just beginning!
August 7 :: The World Youth Team Team Championships
gets underway in Sydney, Australia, at 10 AM on Monday. That's
8 PM Sunday Toronto time. The event will be broadcast on
Online, with three tables shown at all times. Matches will
start at 8:00 PM, 12:10 AM, and 3:40 AM Toronto time, or
perhaps 10 minutes later. The event runs through August 17.
18 teams have entered. The event will start with a complete
round-robin of 17 matches of 20 boards each, with two or three
matches each day. Team Canada plays Japan, New Zealand, and
France on Monday. We play USA 1 in the middle match Tuesday
afternoon. According to some sources, Poland, USA 1, Canada,
Israel, & Norway are supposed to be strong contenders. We
will do our best and hope that the "bridge gods" will
be smiling on us. Cheers!
August 6 :: Just a brief note to let you know
that everyone has arrived safe and sound in beautiful Sydney.
We are 14 hours AHEAD of Toronto time which means it is now
a little after 10:30 AM Sunday morning Sydney time. It must
still be Saturday evening where you are. The opening ceremonies
start this afternoon. First match will be tomorrow morning.
Yesterday Charlotte Blaiss, Joan Gerard, Charles Halasi, Erin
Anderson, Jon Rice (USA 2), and I had a wonderful
day visiting downtown Sydney and the Tarongo Zoo. You take a
ferry from Circular Quay to the zoo which affords you spectacular
views of the city and famous opera house. Then it's a cable
car ride to the top of the zoo which besides the kaolas and
various animals also gives you spectacular sights of the city.
The weather was typical Sydney "winter", incredibly
blue skies, bright sundhine, and pleasant afternoon temperatures
Our group parted ways as the ladies returned early to join Panos
Gerontopolous for an opera and dinner, Charles & Erin went
off on their own, while Jon and I spent a few mores hours walking
around Sydney before ending in Chinatown for a reasonably priced
meal. It's a definite plus that starting this evening food is
included with our room. Prices tend to be quite high in Sydney;
even the ubiquitous McDonlads are expensive by Canadian
We are staying at the Sydney Olympic Park, almost 30 KM from
downtown but there is a train/subway that only takes 30 minutes
or so to get downtown. JAN: We did well to stay the IBIS.
There is almost no difference between the two hotels except
the cost! The Novotel/Ibis share the same lobby, restaurants,
etc. The Novotel rooms have slightly nicer decorations but the
room sizes appear to be identical.
There are only 8 computers in this room and I expect access
will be extremely difficult once the tournament starts, but
I'll do my best to send updates periodically. Cheers!Jonathan