Departure Day: We leave for Bali tonight, and I’m basically ready to go with 3 hours until the cab gets here to take us to the airport, so I thought I’d start my Bali report. People are always asking me what exactly an NPC does and why do teams need NPC’s? It’s hard to answer that, because each team, and each NPC, is different, but I’ll tell you a little about what I’ve been doing since my team qualified for Bali (I am the NPC for USA2 in the Bermuda Bowl).
As soon as the team won the USA2 spot for the Bali Bermuda Bowl, we started thinking about logistics – how will we get there, where will we stay, that sort of thing. I had done some study of the hotels in Bali a few months ago when the USBF Board was considering whether to block rooms for our teams, so I had an advance start on the hotel question. What I had discovered then was that there are a very large number of hotels within walking or short driving distance of the beautiful Nusa Dua Convention Center, but no hotel immediately adjacent. As far as I could tell, all of the hotels had plenty of rooms available for the tournament weeks. With no obviously “right” hotel, the USBF Board had decided to let teams book hotels on their own.
Now, looking for an appropriate hotel for our team, I did some more research. All of the players on my team want to stay together and all of them want a comfortable, quiet hotel, within walking distance of the playing site. I started with the Convention Center’s helpful map and then read reviews of the nearby hotels online, mostly on TripAdvisor. There seemed to be three reasonable choices, the Nusa Dua Beach Hotel, the Westin and the Laguna. We chose the Laguna (a Starwood Resorts hotel) primarily because it doesn’t have a kids’ program so we hope it will be the quietest. We’ll find out in about a week whether it’s as nice in person as it is online. We worked with a travel agent to get good rates for the team and to reserve 6 rooms that we hope will be close together (no guarantees from the hotel, of course, but we did specify which rooms we want – it’s a huge property, so near each other is important). The same travel agent helped us book plane tickets using frequent flyer miles. I think all of us are flying through Hong Kong – some are stopping to sightsee there for a few days. Chip and I spent most of our “acclimation week” before Shanghai in Hong Kong, so opted to go straight to Bali and sightsee there.After Atlanta, I got to work on the pre-tournament system stuff, while the three pairs worked on practicing and firming up their understandings (especially Chip & Zia, who are a relatively new partnership). I was also responsible for dealing with uniforms for our team and explaining the uniform requirements to other teams on behalf of USBF.
WBF requires the teams to have uniforms; for the playing rooms, “all players, captains and coaches of participating teams are required to wear T-shirts, polo shirts, shirts or blouses that are of the same colour and contain the Federation’s logo.” Two years ago, in Veldhoven, the USBF Board decided that the teams could choose to wear red, white or blue polo or dressier shirts (no t-shirts) with the USBF logo. It turned out to be a little difficult to coordinate having everyone on the team wear the same color on the same day (“but I don’t feel like red today!”), and there were some times when the dress code wasn’t fully followed. So last year, the Board opted for white shirts all the time, and they continued that rule for this year (of course that led some of the players on my team to express a preference for red ), so at least I didn’t have to worry about colors. But we still had to get enough white shirts to avoid doing laundry all the time and have the logo embroidered on them. The WBF requirement for sweaters, etc is a little less clear than that for shirts: “If sweaters, cardigans and sweatshirts are used they must be either the same or a complimentary colour and carry the Federation’s logo.” The USBF has interpreted that to mean that everyone on the team has to wear more or less the same color sweater, sweat shirt of whatever, and has specified navy as the color. USBF supplied each team with magnetized logos to put on the sweaters or sweatshirts.
Luckily there are no rules about what else people wear, except that “All players are expected to be respectably dressed,” so the players were on their own about what to wear with their white shirts and navy cover-ups. I live in a small college town and the local t-shirt store does embroidery, so I was able to arrange to have the USBF logo embroidered on shirts my players chose. I’ll try to take a team picture one day so you can see the results. What do I mean by “pre-tournament system stuff”? Well, there are 22 teams in the Bermuda Bowl. Those teams have filed a total of 69 convention cards (most teams have 3 fixed partnership, but 2 filed 4 convention cards, one filed 5 and one only 2). My first job was to read over and summarize all of those convention cards. That takes more days than you might think, because after 4 or 5 of them everything starts looking the same and I need a break. As I go through the convention cards, I look for new methods for which we might need to develop defenses, but there are very few. The only Brown Sticker method being used in the Bermuda Bowl is a suction defense over a natural 1 club opening bid – we can worry about that if we play New Zealand in the Knockout stage of the event.
After I’ve finished summarizing all the convention cards, and changing the summaries when revised cards are filed, I make tables of “Who Plays What” and update our defenses for bids where we think it will be useful to have defenses written out. Interestingly, there are some things (transfer responses to 1 club, transfers in competition, 1 club opening either natural or balanced) for which we had defenses but no longer need them – those things have become so common that “everyone” knows what they do against them. We have defenses from prior years for most things, but of course Chip wants to make a few changes, so he edits for substance and I deal with form (trying not to have lists of possible bids go over a page break, making everything as clear as I can), before saving the defenses with a current date.
When the draw (order in which the teams play each other in the Round Robin) is released, I put the list of our opponents on one page and add in some notes about what methods we’ll face for each team. Then I start printing and filing things. I will bring 2 copies of each opposing pair’s convention card and 4 copies of my summaries with me to give the players the night before we play the team. I’ll also bring extra copies of our convention cards to replace the ones that will surely get lost during the event. I put together binders for the players with our multi defense, defenses to other things, Who Plays What & our draw. When I collect their shirts from the logo person, I send off the binders with the shirts. Then Murphy strikes, and after bidding some practice hands against multi, we decide to make a couple of changes to the multi defense. So I’ve printed replacement pages that I’m bringing with me to put into each player’s binder. Since these defenses can be referred to at the table, it’s important that they be identical for both players, and using the same defense for all 3 pairs means if someone forgets or misplaces his defense before a match, he can borrow one from another player.
That’s about it for pre-tournament preparation! As I packed our binders and my folders with convention cards, etc in a suitcase yesterday, I wondered whether all of that paper would cause me to go over 50 pounds, but it didn’t. One benefit of the boring white uniform shirts is that we didn’t have to think much about what to bring with us to wear. We leave from Sacramento at 7:00 tonight, arrive in LAX at 8:30 and leave for Hong Kong at about midnight. Arrive in Hong Kong on Monday at 5:45 am after about 15 hours of flying time, crossing the International dateline to lose a day, and a large number of hours of time change. We have a 4 hour layover in Hong Kong before leaving for Bali, arriving in Denpasar at 4:00 or so in the afternoon (4 hours 40 minutes flying time, some more time change), then it’s off for some much-needed r&r in Ubud, the cultural and geographic center of Bali and then at a resort on a cliff overlooking the ocean.
Monday, 9/9 – Arrival in Bali (Sunday, 9/8 didn’t exist because of the dateline, but to make up for it we’ll have two October 30ths on the way home)
The trip to Bali was long and thankfully uneventful. We had used frequent flyer miles on American to get Cathay Pacific business class tickets from the US to Hong Kong and the helpful Cathay Pacific person I spoke with on the phone got us seats at the very front of the Business Class section, where there’s a small separate cabin – only 2 rows of seats (6 seats per row) so it was very quiet. The Cathay Pacific seats actually become completely horizontal for sleeping (unlike some other airlines “flat” Business Class seats that may be flat but are at an angle to horizontal, which I find makes a big difference when I’m trying to sleep. We had dinner and then slept for most of the trip. Spent the 4 hours in Hong Kong airport in one of Cathay Pacific’s several Business Class lounges. The first one we went to (closest to our landing gate) didn’t have showers but they sent us off to a larger one that did, so I was able to take a shower and feel much refreshed. There was also, of course, lots of food, as well as internet access.
Another 4 hour plane trip to Bali, where we were met by a representative from our hotel (Amandari in Ubud), who made the entry experience the easiest we’ve ever had (including return trips to the US). He met us at the very first place where it was possible, took our passports and $50 and went off and arranged for our “visas on arrival,” which is mainly a tax on entering Indonesia – at least for US citizens. He went to a special window where there wasn’t a line, and had the passports, properly stamped, back before our luggage had even arrived. As soon as we got the luggage, he whipped us around the fairly long immigration lines and through customs and out to a car. It probably took no more than 15 minutes from start to finish and would have been even shorter if the luggage had arrived faster.
At the car, we were greeted by a friendly driver, who gave us ice cold towels to wipe our hands and faces, and off we went to Amandari. It was a little over an hour from airport to hotel. Lots of traffic, both cars and many many motor scooters, which seems to be a major means of transportation here. During part of the ride we drove past one store after another selling giant stone carvings of gods and such. They must weigh a ton, so are probably sold mostly to locals – it was amazing that there is a market for so many of them!At Amandari, another smiling Balinese welcomed us and took us straight to our “villa.” Each room is in a separate building, with a wall around the outside and lots of flowers. The villa is one large room with windows on three sides and the bathroom on the fourth. There’s an outdoor tub with plants around it, as well as more usual facilities.
At first we thought that there weren’t any curtains on the windows and were worried that the light would wake us in the morning, but then I leaned against a wall and noticed it moved and realized that there are very large sliding screens that can be pulled across the windows. And we shouldn’t have worried about the light waking us, because the roosters did a fine job of that! Luckily we had gone to sleep pretty early, so had a good night’s sleep before being waked up by our personal alarm clocsk.Tuesday, 9/10 - Our first real day in BaliWe’d arranged for a morning “trek” in the beautiful Ayung River gorge next to our hotel. Hoping we would be able to sleep in, we scheduled our trek for 8:00, the latest they start. We were actually up well before that thanks to the roosters and other birds, so we were ready to go off promptly at 8.
Our trek took us past rice paddies with rice in all different stages of growth, from some that had just been harvested and were waiting for the stalks to dry so they could be cut down, burned and then turned under the soil to provide fertilizer, to one area with brand new plants, just a few inches high. The seedlings are started in a separate area, with the seeds covered with coconut leaves (or plastic sheets J) to protect them from birds, who would like to come eat the seeds and new shoots. When they are a few weeks old they are transplanted into the fields, which have been flattened and flooded and then drained so the plants can be put into the soil. Then the fields are flooded again. The water is constantly moving through the fields, so there aren’t the hordes of mosquitoes we had expected to see. Our guide explained all about the rice and also told us of other crops – one we saw was sweet potatoes – he explained that the leaves were fed to the “figs” – took me a few repetitions of that comment before I realized he meant pigs – I guess “p” isn’t in the Indonesian alphabet! We also saw banana trees with some bunches of bananas. I’m still not quite sure I understood what he said about how the bananas are planted and harvested, because he seemed to say (twice) that each tree only has one crop of bananas and then is cut down and new trees planted – but that doesn’t seem right to me. He also pointed out papaya & mangosteen trees (no fruit at this time of year), lots of coconuts, jack fruit, cocoa, vanilla & tapioca (I think) – both the leaves and roots are harvested from that. We saw some more familiar plants as well – corn and squash.
Our trek took us down the steep side of the gorge to the Ayung river, which we crossed on a rickety suspension bridge (don’t look down!) and up the other side to walk through two villages. Each village has up to 100 families, but a “family” means a lot more people than we’d mean by it – several generations live together in a walled area with at least one temple and several houses. The villages also have lots of public temples – one to the North, one in the middle and one to the South. Each temple has its own god – Vishna is first and is the god of creation, then there’s Brahma who is the god of the middle part of life and then Shiva, the god of death (but in the Hindu religion that’s not really death, but rebirth. Just as I was starting to worry about climbing down and up again to return to the hotel, our guide explained that we were now going to be met by a car to take us the place where we’d have breakfast and then back to the hotel. We ate at a charming little restaurant overlooking (you guessed it) a rice paddy – watched people working in the paddies as we ate delicious fruit. One woman was carrying a plastic bag full of something (who knows – fertilizer maybe?) on her head – that seemed like a real mix of old and new to me.Then back to the hotel to rest and write this report up. Later we’re going to watch dance practice – every afternoon little girls from the neighboring villages come to Amandari to practice native dances.
After watching the dance practice, we came back to our villa where we were entertained by a youngster picking coconuts. He sort of shimmied up the trees in a fascinating way – he had a rope tied in a circle and then twisted so there were loops at both ends and the twisted part in between. He put his feet in the loops and stretched the rope between them around the trunk of the tree and then grabbed hold with his hands as well and sort of jumped his legs up the tree – amazing! And the trees are probably 30-40 feet tall, so it wouldn’t be pleasant to fall off. He asked me if I wanted a coconut and when I said yes, he cut me a green one, hacked off its top and gave it to me so I could drink the coconut water.
We had a delicious dinner in the Amandari restaurant, serenaded by two people playing the gamelon, which is made of pipes (probably bamboo) of differing lengths and diameters and is played with mallets. Makes amazingly lovely music.This morning the rooster was quieter (or maybe the earplugs I had put in to help me ignore Chip’s snoring helped ), so I slept until about 7:00. We spent most of the morning in Ubud, where we visited a museum of “Traditional & Contemporary” art – mostly paintings, but some carvings as well. Most of them are from the 1930’s. They’re extremely complex, with almost mosaic like detail, and usually tell a story from the Hindu religion. The museum itself is beautiful - several buildings set in a parklike setting, with pools filled with lotus flowers and many flowering bushes.
We also walked around in the center of Ubud, where there are lots and lots of shops selling touristy stuff. This afternoon I had a Balinese massage, which was very much like a Swedish massage, except for the setting – the massage table was in an outdoor area with a roof over the top, which was a good thing, because it’s been raining a bit this afternoon. There was a waterfall right next to me, providing wonderful music. I got back to our villa just in time - it’s now pouring outside!
This morning we have a cooking class – well, class might be the wrong name (it’s what Amandari calls it though) – it was just the two of us. First we drove off to a native market where we bought various vegetables and seasonings, for very little money. Then we went to the home of our driver & market guide, where we were welcomed with coffee, tea & banana fritters, all very good. Then the chef from Amandari and an assistant taught us how to make an Indonesian meal, using some of the ingredients we had acquired in the market and also some other things they’d brought. We were going to make a green papaya soup, a vegetable curry, steamed rice with sweet potato, a vegetable side dish and a vegetable salad, some spicy chili sauce for those (Chip) who like their food hot, and a black rice pudding for dessert.
The ingredients to use to season each dish were set out on individual plates, on top of palm leaves. The ingredients that will go into the dishes are set out on other plates. Our first project is to make the seasonings for the soup & curry. We chop garlic, shallots, ginger, something called galangal, which is similar to ginger but milder, lemon grass and both mild and hot chillies, then chop them some more until they’re very fine and then grind them in a mortar and pestle, but one that is nothing like what I’m used to – no shiny white marble here! The mortar is stone and about a foot across. The pestle is a long, heavy piece of wood (probably petrified wood from its weight!). I lift it up and slide it down the side of the mortar to turn the seasonings into a paste. Meanwhile, Chip does the same with his batch of similar seasonings and a similar but smaller mortar and pestle, both made of stone.
Then we chop the ingredients for the dishes, making neat cubes of green papaya, sweet potato, tofu & tempeh, while our chef supervises and chops about ten times more stuff than we do. After everything is chopped and ground, we head for the kitchen, where we first learn how the rice is being made – it’s been put in a steamer over boiling water – the steamer is sort of like an upside down pointed straw hat, with the woven straw fairly widely apart at the point, so steam can come in. Incidentally, we were impressed that they used bottled water for all of the cooking, even steaming the rice. After the rice has been steamed for about 20 minutes, it’s taken out of the steamer and put into a bowl and boiling water is poured over to about cover it. It’s then covered and left to steep for another 15-20 minutes until it absorbs all the water, after which the cubes of sweet potato are mixed in and it goes back in the steamer for another half an hour or so.
Meanwhile, we make the soup and curry. First we cook the ground up seasonings in oil until they smell wonderful. A couple of times they get too dry and the chef adds a small amount of vegetable broth. Once the seasonings smell and taste wonderful, we add vegetable broth for the soup and cook a little longer before adding the green papaya cubes. For the curry, we first add some broth and cook some more, then fry the tofu and tempeh cubes and add them. Last, we add vegetables – cauliflower, mushrooms, green beans, carrots, broccoli & zucchini. We also make the vegetable side dish and vegetable salad – we blanch long green beans, spinach & fern tips in boiling water – oh, the rice and this pan were over a wood stove, the chef occasionally added wood and blew on the fire through a round pipe to make it hotter. After the vegetables were blanched, some of them were chopped for the salad (the chef’s assistant did that, I think) and some went back in the pan with oil and a little of the curry seasoning to be cooked.
The dessert was pretty much finished before we started – black and sticky rice had been cooked earlier, and all we had to do was put them in boiling water and bring it to a boil and then add some sugar, salt and coconut milk (I “made” the coconut milk by squeezing water through some ground coconut and then squeezing it some more and finally squeezing the milk out, discarding the coconut, and eventually straining the last of the coconut out).
After we’d finished cooking, we went to make offerings at the household shrines before eating. We dressed in sarongs to show proper respect and took 5 small plates with bits of the food we had cooked to the house temple (each “house” which is really several houses, where a family lives has its own temple in its walled area). The chef’s assistant placed one plate on each of 3 shrines and 2 plates on the fourth one (because it honors the dead and the men and women are separate, I think). As he placed each plate and an incense stick with each, he sprinkled water and made some gestures honoring the gods. Then we returned to the house in which we had cooked and then walked back behind that house to where we would eat the lunch we had cooked, sitting in a beautiful bale (a small raised pavilion) overlooking the Ayung river gorge, surrounded by gorgeous flowers and not a person in sight! After our delicious lunch, we returned to Amandari to pack up and leave for our next 3 days at Bulgari, on the South Coast of Bali.
Amandari to Bulgari is traditional to modern – they’re both beautiful and in beautiful settings, but they’re completely different. Amandari is rural and low key; all the staff dress in traditional Balinese dress, sarongs and I don’t know the name of the top; there are no televisions in the rooms; the villas are along narrow foot paths. Bulgari is shiny and modern and although I saw a few people in sarongs, most of them are in western clothes; the paths connecting the villas are wide enough for “buggies” – sort of elongated golf carts; the television is top of the line. The welcome is equally warm though – we are met at the reception area by a manager type, who offers us a delicious fruit drink and tells us a little about the resort before handing us off to our butler for the trip to our villa. The villas (there are 69 I think) are spread out over a hillside next to the ocean, with paths winding through them.
We get into a buggy, with our luggage in back, for the ride to our villa, which takes several minutes. On the way our butler shows us the main swimming pool and the restaurants, bar & shops. Our first villa was at the very top of the hill, with an expansive view over the resort and out to the ocean. The villas are built in traditional style, with a fence around the outside and several separate spaces, each with a high, slanting, thatched roof, just like a typical Balinese “house.” We have a huge outdoor terrace with a dining table and a sofa, as well as a small swimming pool (something like 15 feet square I think – not really enough room to swim, but will be nice to jump in if it gets hot). Inside there’s a comfortable bedroom, a desk area, and a luxurious bathroom with a lovely deep tub and inside and outside showers.
Before I started to unpack, I lounged on the sofa outside and read email for a bit, but then I noticed an irritating “tap-tap-tap” sound, almost like hammering. Well, actually it was hammering. When I called the butler to complain he explained that there was construction going on next door and they couldn’t do anything about it. I asked whether we could move to a different area of the resort where we wouldn’t hear it, and he said he’d talk to the manager. Soon the phone rang and it was the manager saying that if we didn’t mind moving at 8:00 that night he could move us to a quieter location. Our new villa is at the opposite end of the resort from the first one, right on the cliff overlooking the ocean – we can hear waves in our bedroom! I like the location even better than the hilltop one, and we’re optimistic about the hammering and looking forward to a relaxing three days before heading off to Nusa Dua and the tournament site.
As we were waiting to move last night, Chip & I discovered that our computers thought we had changed time zones. We still haven’t figured out why – for some reason they think Kuta (which is definitely on Bali) is in the Western Indonesia time zone, whereas the rest of Bali is Central. So we’ve given up on Apple’s automatic time zone setting for now and told the computers we’re in Denpasar. We slept well last night and are having a relaxing day today.
Chip and Zia (who’s in Singapore, where he chose to go to acclimate to the time zone) will spend some time on Skype later discussing some detailed agreements they hadn’t yet solidified. I’ll go over the convention cards for our first day’s matches and highlight things that we might be interested in. I may also go to the Bulgari shop here – I can save a fortune by not buying things there! Or just listen to the waves rolling in on the beach below, which is gorgeous, but currently inaccessible – the resort has an “elevator” (tramway I think) to go to the beach, but it got slightly damaged in high winds in August and hasn’t yet been fixed. They offer to take people to a different beach if they really want to go to one – but that would involve a drive in a car and I’ll bet no one takes them up on it!
We were up in time for breakfast this morning, in part because they serve until 11:00 am – very civilized. Another difference between Amandari and Bulgari is in the breakfast – here it’s a lavish buffet and also a menu for hot items, which include eggs for the Westerners, noodles and rice for the Asians and something called a Japanese breakfast for the Japanese. We both settled for just the buffet, causing the restaurant manager to come over and assure us that if we wanted pancakes or waffles they could make those as well as the eggs listed on the hot food menu! We assured him that coffee, tea, juice, fruit, yogurt, cereal, croissants, toast, dim sum and sweets were quite adequate! At Amandari, breakfast was all from a menu, but that might have been because there weren’t very many guests just now.
The best part of my day today was hearing that the Indonesian authorities in Jakarta had authorized the issuance of a visa to Migry zur Campanile, who has been waiting in Singapore for the last 3 days, hoping that the visa would be authorized. Because Migry is an Israeli citizen, she couldn’t just get a “visa on arrival” as we did, but had to have a specially authorized visa, which could only be granted personally, and only in Singapore or Bangkok. Issuance of the visa was contingent on approval from Jakarta, and we had been told it could take anywhere from 3 to 5 days. Ever since Migry arrived in Singapore we’ve been getting inconsistent messages about the process for getting the visa and how things are going. This morning, Migry was finally told that the visa has been approved and she went to the Indonesian consulate in Singapore where the visa has been “chopped” on her passport appropriately. I know that Migry and her team (USA2 for the Venice Cup) are even more relieved than I, and we all appreciate the efforts of the Indonesian Bridge Federation and Arnold Laseduw in particular, for making this happen!
We didn’t do anything today, except lie around and relax. All I can really report on is food. Last night we had a wonderful dinner at Il Ristorante, an Italian restaurant here. Everything was delicious. The start of our meal was “amuses bouches” in a wonderful presentation – there was a cornucopia made of phyllo dough I think, crispy and brown, with a cheese mousse in it, a small taste of tuna tartare, a cheese fondue, another fish taste, and a tomato bisque served in a cleaned out little egg shell – really pretty and also tasty. And yes, I know amuse bouche is French and this was an Italian restaurant, but that’s what the waitress called it! Then I had chestnut soup and Chip had pumpkin soup. Both were delicious, and each of us thought ours was better. For a main course, I had wanted risotto and was disappointed to see that the only risotto on the menu was mushroom – I know, everyone loves mushrooms, at least everyone but me! I decided to be a demanding American and asked if there was any chance they could make me a risotto that didn’t involve mushrooms as the main flavor; the waitress said she’d ask and came back to offer either a cheese risotto with the beef cheek that was served with the mushroom risotto or a seafood risotto. I ordered the seafood and it was delicious, making me glad I’d asked for something not on the menu. Chip had ravioli with eggplant, which was also delicious.
After our main courses (of course the pasta was just supposed to be a “first course” to be followed by more, but we opted to skip the main course – a good thing, because we were both stuffed), there was a palate cleansing raspberry sorbet and then we found that we had a tiny bit of room for dessert – a delicious warm chocolate fondant with amaretto gelato and raspberry sauce. Then they gave us a little more dessert – another cornet filled with chocolate mousse and pistachio and coconut truffles. We couldn’t quite finish the truffles and asked if we could take them back with us and they brought us a bag to take. When we got home we discovered that the two truffles we hadn’t eaten had miraculously multiplied and we had four truffles and two macaroons for later in the evening.
Today we went for a walk around the resort. Yesterday when we went for a walk we saw some monkeys eating lunch in a tree and on top of a building. Today we didn’t see any monkeys, but enjoyed the beautiful flowers all over the area and also saw some para-gliders out over the ocean. Then Chip & Zia skyped some more, discussing esoteric Redwood auctions.For dinner tonight we went to the Indonesian restaurant here, where the food was also excellent. Tomorrow we go to Nusa Dua, where the tournament is being held.
Our drive from Bulgari to Nusa Dua is smooth (after we get off the road up to Bulgari, which still has all the pot holes it had three days ago) and reasonably efficient – maybe there is less traffic on Sunday than during the week, or maybe it was a better time of day, but for some reason we didn’t encounter any serious traffic jams. Arriving at Nusa Dua is like going to a different world – you’ve been driving along a road with wall to wall tacky little stores on either side, and then you go through the ever-present security gates and the road is wider and has trees on both sides and down the middle. This is luxury hotel land – one huge hotel after another. The Laguna is very nice, with a non-stop pool all the way from the lobby to the ocean. Our room wasn’t quite ready when we got there, so we walked around the property a bit, stopping at the deli where I had heard there was wonderful gelato, and there was . We went down to the beach, but not out on the sand – will save that for another time. The sun was very bright and Chip started to get sunburned, so we headed back inside to wait in the lobby for our room to be ready, which took only a very short time. Our butler showed us to our room, our luggage arrived promptly, and I’m now all unpacked.
Chip and I walked over to the Convention Center where the tournament will be played. We only got lost twice, both times because we wanted to go more directly than the approved route, and it turned out we couldn’t. We think the walk will be about 15 minutes if we go more efficiently, but it’s very hot and humid here, and we may end up taking a cab. Even in the late afternoon, it was humid – we both wanted showers when we got back to our room. It turns out that the Westin is closer to the Convention Center than the Laguna, but not by much, so we're still okay with our hotel choice.
At the convention center we saw Gianarrigo Rona, WBF President, who’s busy getting things organized. It’s a large, modern convention center and it looks as if the playing conditions will be great. Tomorrow morning I’ll go over to pick up badges, welcome gifts and whatever else is on offer for all of the team, and then to the Captains’ Meeting at 5:00 and the Opening Ceremony at 8:00, with dinner with our team in between (we’ve decided that after the Opening Ceremony will be later than we want to eat).
Today players and officials from all of the participating countries have arrived in Nusa Dua and will start to converge on the Nusa Dua Convention Center where the tournament is played. Registration starts at 10:00 in the morning. We’ve managed to get pretty much on “tournament time” and wake up about 9:30, eat a delicious breakfast in the hotel’s buffet restaurant, where they have everything anyone could want for breakfast – fruit and yogurt for me, sushi for some other team members, made to order eggs, various different bread and rolls and sweet things, even a chocolate fountain with marshmallows to dip in the chocolate (I managed to resist chocolate for breakfast, but probably won’t hold out for the whole time we’re here). Then I walked over to the convention center, taking the scenic beach route this time, which was prettier, and about the same distance – still too far to walk in the heat and humidity before playing bridge, but fine for just going over to register the players and collect their souvenir bags and shirts. The bags are backpacks, which I think is a great improvement on the usual briefcases.The registration desk is very efficient, having all of each team’s badges in one stack and then handing out backpacks and shirts. I was happy I had complied with WBF’s request for pictures of all the US players when I heard one captain being told that the players from their team would have to return to have pictures taken before they could get their badges.
I took all of the backpacks, shirts and badges back to our hotel to distribute to the players, and then we discussed lineups for tomorrow and I gave them all summaries for the teams they’d be playing. Marty’s wife, Andrea, is here and asks if she will be able to kibitz. The Conditions of Contest say that spectators will be permitted in the Open Room during the Round Robin, but also that the NPC and Coach might be able to kibitz in either the Open or Closed Room, so we decide to register Andrea as the team’s coach (I remember long ago when I went to the Bermuda Bowl in Jamaica and the only spectators allowed were reporters – I occasionally wrote articles for Bridge Today magazine, so joined IBPA in order to be able to enter the playing rooms. I’ve stayed an IBPA member ever since then and have appreciated the opportunity to interact with the wonderful members of the bridge “press corps.”
I have to return to the Convention Center for the Captains’ Meeting, which is scheduled for 5:00, so Andrea and I go over at about 3:15 to see if I can sign her up as our coach and get a badge for her (she has to come to have her picture taken). It turns out to be more difficult than I had expected to do this, because I have to find the password I originally used to enter the US teams, and then go into the registration page, where I find that Andrea isn’t registered with WBF, so we have to register her. Meanwhile some of the other US teams are also trying to register coaches and I need to find the passwords for their entries (each team had a separate one) as well.
Time manages to fly by and I get to the Captains’ Meeting just in time to hear them say “USA2?” as they are calling the roll. I say “is this for the Bermuda Bowl?” Someone says “yes” and I say “here,” so I guess I was just in time!
At the Captains’ Meeting we learn of the details for submitting lineups, making changes to system cards, and entering scores on bridgemates (they have given up on asking the person using the Bridgemate to enter the bidding and play, which was amazingly difficult to do and mostly didn’t happen, and now are asking only that the contract, opening lead and result be entered. They comment that it is important to enter the opening lead accurately and there will be penalties if the 7 of diamonds is shown as the opening lead on every hand!). We also learn about things like the location of the bathrooms (there will be one set for the Open Room and one for the Closed Room, so there is no risk of running into a teammate in the bathroom). There had been some speculation about whether this tournament would have Appeals Committees or only appeal to Directors. The answer is that it will be possible to appeal to an Appeals Committee, but it is discouraged. We also learn the kibitzing rules – spectators will be permitted in the Open Room, but only 6 per table, with the teams’ NPCs or coaches having first priority (but only one per team), press having second priority and first come first served after that. In order to enter the playing room spectators will have to get badges, which will necessitate going to the registration desk, providing some form of identification and having their picture taken.
As in the past, lineups are to be submitted electronically – there are 4 computers to use for this and as soon as some technical problems are worked out, we’ll also be able to enter lineups from our own laptops and iPads and phones. There is free wifi in the convention center – it’s very fast, but has a limited number of connections, so they ask that we not connect from more than one device at the same time. Lineups are due 15 minutes after the end of each match and will be disclosed as soon as both teams have submitted them. So for the first match each day we will know the lineups the evening before and for the second match about an hour before play. For the third match of the day, however, there will be very little advance knowledge of who will face whom, since there is only 20 minutes between the end of the second match and the start of the third. We will know when we submit the lineups if the match is going to be on Vugraph, although I didn’t see anything about that when I submitted our lineup for the first match tomorrow, but it seems that we are on Vugraph. The Daily Bulletin will have all of the Vugraph matches listed, so for the second and third matches each day we’ll definitely know if it’s a Vugraph match before we submit the lineup.
After the Captains’ Meeting I go back to our hotel for dinner with my team. We decided to eat in the buffet restaurant, which is a good thing since the Captains’ Meeting plus submitting lineups takes quite a while and I certainly wouldn’t have time to order and be served at a regular restaurant. The food is delicious and varied – salads, a noodles station where they’ll make whatever kind of noodles you want (the chef looked a little doubtful when I asked that he omit chillies entirely from mine, but they came out perfectly!), a selection of Indian dishes, another of Indonesian dishes, a sushi bar, the chocolate fountain (I didn’t resist this time) and many other delicious desserts.
For the Opening Ceremony we sit by countries and the first order of business is to introduce the teams, in alphabetic order. As each country’s name is read, the players stand up and we all clap. I remember Tunisia, when the teams all walked across the stage to be introduced – that took a lot longer! Then there are speeches of welcome from different officials, a Balinese dance performance, an Indonesian singer, and a final Indonesian dance performance.
After the ceremony, I go upstairs to see whether Argentina, our first opponent tomorrow, has submitted their lineup (for the first match, the captains have been encouraged to submit the lineups tonight, but don’t have to submit them until 10:00 tomorrow morning. I’m happy to see that Argentina has submitted its lineup so I know who is going to play whom and the players can review the opponents’ convention cards this evening. I also see that there’s a symbol next to our match that I’m guessing means we’re on Vugraph, because the same symbol appears by the Netherlands-Indonesia match and surely the defenders against the host country will be a Vugraph match.
Please watch Vugraph for the next two weeks and cheer all of the USA teams on!
First day of play. We start against Argentina on a very swingy set of boards, on which we mostly make the wrong decisions and end up losing the 16 board set by 30 IMPs. The good news is that the opponents are all nice, so at least we don’t hate losing to them – but there are many nice teams here and we don’t want that sort of good news to continue for too long!
Our second match is against Italy, and is very close – we end up losing by 1 IMP. Yes, they’re nice too . Third match is against USA1. I’m watching it on BBO as I write this, and so far it has been pretty flat – no double digit swings. Everyone seems to be playing well and no one has yet had a problem with the time zone or food or water.
The playing conditions, at least in the Vugraph playing rooms where we’ve been all day, are great – the tables are spaced well apart, the bathrooms are convenient and there are separate ones for the Open and Closed rooms. The Convention Center is very well air conditioned – actually a little too well and everyone is freezing, but they’re working on warming it up a bit. Perhaps the fact that it’s a little cooler outside today than it’s been has thrown the engineering off.
There are several snack bars at the venue, with pre-made sandwiches and made to order coffee as well as soft drinks. The servers are cheerful and helpful, although most of them have very limited English, and this seems to be one of those parts of the world where everything takes a long time – I went to get a sandwich for one player and coffee for another when they were on the penultimate board of the second match. I was the only person at the snack bar, except for the 5 or 6 servers. I asked for a sandwich and coffee, and they wrote up three separate slips of paper, took my money, gave me the coffee … I finally pointed at the sandwich in its box and asked if I could have it. They were very apologetic and smiled cheerfully as they gave it to me. I couldn’t help wondering how long it would have taken if there had been other people wanting to be served. But the coffee is excellent (guess it should be since much of the coffee we drink comes from here), and the sandwich seems fine also.
Yesterday Zia, Michael Kamil & I went on a shopping expedition. My goal was to buy some pants that would be cooler than the jeans I’d brought with me, which really aren’t suitable for this humid climate. I spent the grand total of about $30 and am now the proud owner of 3 pairs of long, thin pants, one pair of shorts and two light weight shirts. Today I didn’t feel as if I was going to drown in my own perspiration every time I took a step outside, so it was definitely a successful shopping expedition. Today I bought Zia a soft drink and had to laugh when I realized I’d just paid the same amount for a very small can of Sprite as I paid yesterday for a pair of slacks!
To see the standings, as well as get to scores for each of the matches on each day in each of the three events, go to < http://www.worldbridge.org/repository/tourn/bali.13/microsite/Results.htm>. At the top of the main part of the page there’s a section that says “Running Scores” – there you’ll find the scores in the match being played. Below that are the scores after each match – click on a match (“round 3” to get the scores after this match is over for instance) to see the standings after that round and the results of each of the matches played that round.
After a disappointing first two days, the US teams in the Bermuda Bowl rallied today; both teams won all of their matches, including a convincing win by USA1 over the Netherlands. Those results moved USA1 into 8th place and USA2 into 14th, 13 Victory Points behind 8th, so both of us now have hopes to make the Quarterfinals after another 4 days of Round Robin play.
In the Venice Cup, USA2 is currently 3rd and USA1 is currently 4th, both more than a match ahead of 9th. In the Seniors, USA2 is 5th and USA1 is 10th, so there also our teams have a reasonable chance of making the Quarterfinals.
The playing conditions continue to be excellent, in fact even a little better today because the convention center people have adjusted the air conditioning to a point where the playing rooms are no longer freezing. Results are posted very fast, and there’s a wonderful feature where you can take your badge to a printer, scan the bar code on it and get a print out of the scorecard for your team for the current match. I’ve started doing that at the end of each match and can follow along as the players compare.
Today’s Daily Bulletin reported that the 2017 World Championships will be in Lyons, France, which everyone is happy to see.
Tomorrow is a Balinese religious holiday and the schedule has been changed to leave some time in the middle of the day for prayer. The first match will start at 10:00 instead of 11:00, the second at 2:00 instead of 2:30 and the third at 4:40 instead of 5:20. So we had an early dinner at the hotel's excellent buffet and will try to get to sleep soon, in order to wake up in time to eat breakfast before going over for the first match.
We started today well, beating Chinese Taipei by 38 IMPs, to score 17.85 VPs. I haven’t been putting hands in this blog, because we’ve been on Vugraph so much that you’ve seen them all, but I can’t resist gloating at how well my wonderful husband played board 23 in this match.
Board 23. Dealer South. All Vulnerable.
♠ A J 9 6 5
♠ K Q 7 4 3
♠ T 8
We started off against Canada; both of us were just below qualifying. We lost the match by 9 IMPs on a bunch of little swings and one slam that they bid and we didn’t. If you were watching the livestream web camera on Vugraph, you might have caught a glimpse of me kibitzing Zia in a gorgeous teal and gold scarf. In case you did, I’ll tell you the story behind it. Migry was wearing that scarf a few days ago and I complimented her on it. Then two days ago, she was wearing it again and Andrea Bierstein, Marty Fleisher’s wife, also complimented her on it. I said “yes, I told her how much I liked it earlier.” Andrea said “well of course you did, it’s your color!” and Migry promptly removed it and wrapped it around my neck! I said that wasn’t what I had meant and she said she was happy to give it to me but I had to promise not to say how much I liked her husband! Since I have the best husband in the world, that was easy for me to promise.
Our second match is against Monaco and the hands are wild. The first five boards include a grand slam they bid needing a 3-2 trump split and a little more; it makes. Then we bid a small slam that they don’t needing some luck that we don’t get, so we were trailing by 28 after 5 where we could have been leading if the cards had been friendly for us and not them. We end up losing to them by about 30 IMPs and then defeat South Africa, but only by 10.
We end the dayin 13th place, 22 VPs behind 8th. It’s not looking good but we’re still not out of it. USA1 has moved into 2nd, our Venice Cup teams are 3rd (USA1) and 5th, and in the Seniors, we’re 4th (USA2) and 5th.