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10th World Youth Team Championships
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 players.

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... 

Jonathan Steinberg

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 by 16.

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 up.

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 tonight).

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:

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 results.

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 Bridgebase 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 (16-18 C).
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 standards.
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 Steinberg