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Welcome to China!

Hi everyone, I'm going to try and keep a (somewhat) daily blog about some interesting hands and/or interesting stories here in China. I'm on the USA1 U21 team, my partner is Zach Brescoll, and the rest of our team is: Adam Grossack, Zach Grossack, Andrew Jeng, andRichard Jeng. There are four other US teams here, as well as several NPCs and coaches. The other four US teams are USA2 U21, USA1 U26, USA2 U26, and USA Girls. Most of them were on our flight here as well.

After a rough week in Philadelphia, I stayed up all night on Sunday night to help myself sleep on the plane and adjust to the 12-hour time difference. Our bus to the airport left at 4:30am on Monday morning, and so I played barbu and creights with a few other people to pass the time. After a quick shower and some last-minute packing, I was ready to go. For those of you who don't know me, I'm a huge slob when it comes to packing and unpacking... When I started re-packing in Philadelphia, not only did I look like I was undoing the work of a natural disaster, but I also discovered numerous things that I didn't even know I had with me in the first place.

Once we got to the airport, everyone checked in, which was a rather painful ordeal with only two check-in agents available at the Air Canada desk. When it came my turn to check in, I was unfortunate enough to get the crabby old lady who quite obviously didn't want to work there. After putting one of my bags on the scale, I felt like I was playing "The Price is Right". The check-in lady made an announcer-sounding "Ooooooooohhhhh" followed by "... so close!". My bag was 53 pounds, and she wouldn't let it slide. After removing a few things, she told me that she could only give me one boarding pass and that I had to get the other one in Toronto.

Once we arrived in Toronto, I decided my first priority was to get my boarding pass, and so I went to the Air Canada service desk, I got my boarding pass, but was informed my bag was probably only checked through to Toronto. After spending numerous hours playing phone call ping-pong with United and Air Canada, I finally confirmed my bag was checked all the way through about an hour before my flight. For the first time in my life, I was very glad I had a 5 1/2 hour layover.

After the baggage scare, it was relatively smooth sailing (well, as smooth as a 14 1/2 hour flight can be), and we arrived in Shanghai at 3pm on Tuesday. A 2-hour bus ride took us to our hotel, and we relaxed and went to bed relatively early: Most people hadn't slept Sunday night, and many people didn't sleep much on the plane. Wednesday we went sightseeing including a visit to a Chinese garden and a boat tour of Shanghai. It was quite relaxing and nice, and I discovered my cell-phone camera takes pretty good pictures. Maybe I'll try to upload a few later in the week.

We returned from the tour around 5pm, got dressed and ready for the opening ceremonies, and I managed to prove that I couldn't read: We were given a USBF jacket to wear during the opening and closing ceremonies, but I thought it was only for the closing ones. The USBF outfits were all white, and I wore my formal black jacket. I stuck out from the US players like a sore penguin... Needless to say, I learned to read after last night.The opening ceremonies dragged on for quite awhile with the usual broken-English and badly translated thank yous and well-wishers, but then we had a nice dinner and relaxed for the rest of the night while going over some system notes etc...

That brings us to today: Play starts at 10:30am, and we are heading to the Stadium around 9:15am to get settled, receive our badges, etc... Zach and I are playing the first match against Singapore, the second match against Sweden, and sitting out the third against Israel. The format is 16 board matches, and there are 17 other teams to play in the round-robin which lasts for 6 days. Look for us on Vugraph if you aren't completely asleep, and I'll try to post if I know when we will be broadcasted.

More to come soon...


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