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SWEDEN - My Kingdom for an IMP!
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Note: I was originally going to publish this only if Sweden won gold; but I couldn't let a good story go to waste!

Hearty congratulations to both POLAND and SWEDEN for an exciting Bermuda Bowl final.

This article is in no way trying to detract from or taint SWEDEN's performance; rather trying to show how in all sports, there is sometimes a team of destiny and how the intangible known as 'fate' can play a large role.

Let me take you back to round 20 of the Round Robin, the penultimate round. SWEDEN are desperately trying to get back in the top 8, sitting 10th, almost 17 VPs behind 8th place BRAZIL. A match-up with a frustrated squad from CANADA awaits.

First twist of fate - CANADA went into the final day out of contention, and had agreed to play each pair for two matches. Miles/Smith were supposed to sitout vs SWEDEN. However, after our morning victory over INDIA, Dan Korbel could not locate his passport. This was a problem since he was scheduled to fly out that night, and had the passport in his pocket that morning. The entire team searched everywhere, but by game time, there was no sign. Korbel was understandably focused elsewhere and Smith/Miles were inserted into the lineup with the directors' permission. Would things have turned out differently? Who knows.

Second twist of fate - Smith sits West, Miles sits East. Always. However, the last day, captain Yan decided to mix things up and switch directions; hence Smith sitting East would be responsible for verifying scores in the Bridgemate. Why should that matter? Read on...

Final twist of fate - Upmark and Nystrom played well against us. Particularly board 20 where they quickly relayed their way to the excellent 7 contract.


Smith (East) was pretty much endplayed on opening lead. A diamond lead let declarer freely take the ruffing finesse he was likely going to take eventually. However, with trumps 3-0, Upmark (who had leaned over, ready to claim at trick 2) had to guess the play, and eventually took a heart finesse to go one down and give CANADA 16 IMPs. CANADA picked up a couple more swings.

Then board 29 came along.


The Swedes arrived in 3NT by North as did all but one pair in the BB. Smith (East) led a spade. Upmark won the J in dummy and thought for a long time, eventually playing a heart to the 10, winning, followed by a club to the King, ducked by Miles. Upmark returned to hand with the 9 to play another club to the Queen and Ace. Miles shifted to the 2 (the 9 may be better if partner has H7x and can read the 9), ducked by Upmark to Smith's Q. Smith continued spades. Upmark won, crossed to a heart (the suit breaking 3-3), cashed the 13th heart, played a diamond to the 10 (yes, I should split), and cashed out.

That gave Upmark 3 spades, 4 hearts, 2 diamonds and 1 club. Ten tricks, impossible to score more. I believe he thought he had taken 11 tricks, as +660 was input into the Bridgemate. And as I later learned, the results weren't being verified on the other side of the screen. So our match was scored as a 20 IMP victory for CANADA (15.00 - 5.00), instead of 21 IMPs (15.19 - 4.81). 1 IMP doesn't matter, right? Well, as we know in the final round SWEDEN drubbed EGYPT, BRAZIL took it on the chin vs BULGARIA, and JAPAN got a healthy victory over NEW ZEALAND.

Look at the final standings:

8th SWEDEN 225.18

9th JAPAN 225.04

Losing by 21 instead of 20 would have cost 0.19VP which would have meant JAPAN finishes 8th and SWEDEN would have been out.

Why wasn't the score corrected? We did not notice it until it was too late. The turnaround time between matches 2 and 3 was very short, and the same lineup was thrown back in. Barely enough time to grab a quick snack and clear your head. And of course, helping Korbel look for his passport, filing a police report, and rearranging his flights. After the final match, the team had realized the scoring error and mentioned it to the directors, especially when we saw it might matter; the rules however, say once the next match starts (or 30 minutes after the last match of the day), no more scoring corrections unless it is something drastic, such as a score being entered in the wrong direction. Number of tricks must be corrected prior to the next match starting.

And so it was, Sweden made it by literally 1 IMP, and as fate would have it, went all the way to the finals. And all ended well for Korbel - his passport was eventually found in the playing area washroom by a French player and returned in time for an overnight flight home.

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