Ross Taylor

Penticton CNTC Final preview June 12 2009

128 boards to decide Canada’s team champion. Who will win? This is a tough call – both teams are laden with experience and talent, and are not afraid of winning. On the one hand, Team Carruthers has more experience, and seem to know their agreements well, and are quite comfortable in a long grinding match.

Joey and JC have both won this event multiple times, and have shined on the International stage for many years. Nader and Jim Green are a tough pair who always bring their A game to the CNTC, and Roy Hughes and David Turner are also gifted players. David in particular thrives on adversity and complexity, and the tougher the hand, the brighter he shines.

Team L’Ecuyer though has Kamel and Nick – who always seem to be around at the end – and Nick of course won a Nationally rated pairs game this year at the Spring Nationals in essentially a new partnership; Darren and Jurek, past winners with a great pedigree and two better guys you could not ask for as teammates, and the “kids” Daniel Korbel and David Grainger.

I may be wrong, but I think only David and Daniel have not yet won this event of all twelve players in the final. They may be the hungriest pair at the table today, and are playing with great confidence.

I know all the players well, some for more than thirty years – so it is risky to go out on a limb and pre-select a winner.

For all the skill and experience that everyone brings to the match, intangibles come into play during a long match. First there is momentum. Can a pair get on a roll and feel invincible ? – that can wear the opponents down over a long match.

Does another pair suffer a couple of adverse results at a key point in the match, and in spite of their better judgment, this gets in their heads and stops them performing up to their true capabilities. Will the hands favor a certain type of bidding style – eg pinpoint part score bidding in a grind-out type match, or scientific slam bidding in a potentially high scoring match?

They all know how to take their tricks both on play and defense.

Having said all that, I pick L’Ecuyer to win, but I would not be surprised if I am wrong – this is a tough call.

Korbel is on a personal mission to add this event to an already impressive resume, and losing is simply not an option at this time for he and Grainger.

Unless they get irritated by the much slower pace of play than they are used to, they should be fine.

Having said that, whichever teams wins, Canada will be well represented first in Mexico in July, and then in Brazil in the Bermuda Bowl in early Fall. Sit back and enjoy the match on BBO folks – you will see Canadian bridge is very much alive and well.

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