THERE'S nothing like a good start. Many say that it's half the work and they may well be right. But early optimism soon turned to near despair for Ireland in the European Youth championship in Oslo over the past week.
We had just the one team in action - the experienced under-26 side - and having started on a very high note, they sank without trace, slip-sliding away from fifth to 19th.
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John Connolly, Stephen Burke, Nathan Doyle, Martin Donnelly, Conor Farrell and Jarlath McDonnell, captained by Tomas MacCormaic, have all been around quite a while - so I am at a bit of a loss to understand their collapse.
It all started in the match against lowly-placed Estonia, who won 20-0, but I have to say I have rarely seen such foul luck against a very poor team.
But I must mention one expensive hand due to an appalling opening by the Latvian West (see below), because this was not an opening bid under any system - and has nothing at all to do with real bridge.
And I just wonder about its legality. If that is youth bridge you can have it.
Bidding (all not vul)
WNE S 2D2HP 3D P3HP 4NT P5HP 6JH PPP
Given the bidding, 7H is reasonable and 6H very much with the odds. But with both finesses wrong this went down while Estonia stayed in 4H.
Quite ridiculous in my view.
♠ 108752♠ K94
♥ J7♥ Q10
♦ K8642♦ 109
♣ 7 ♣ KJ10842