By Louisa Li (16A13A)
Additional reporting by Teo Xue Heng (15S06C)
Hidden behind a veil of confounding and ridiculous sounding terminology (ruff, dummy) is the complex world of Contract Bridge: a realm where only the bravest dare enter, and where only the fittest survive. Over the June holidays, Raffles Bridge sent 2 teams to prove their mettle in the annual Hunger Games, or rather, the National Inter-Schools Bridge Tournament. They engaged in 2 grueling days of intense competition, fought endlessly from 9 in the morning to 7 at night, and eventually emerged from the fray with commendable results- as Champions.
The 2 RI teams consisting of 12 members in total duelled with the other 6 teams in double round robin matches. In an effort to amass Victory Points (20 points per round) to gain an upper hand over their competitors, RI pitted 4 members each round against their opponents, facing fierce competition especially from That Chinese School Near Bukit Timah Road, which sent 3 of the 7 participating teams. To win the tournament, RI had to match their results and beat them head-on as well.
However, it was not a smooth-sailing journey. After a horrifically unexpected 2-18 destruction by VJC in just the second match of the day, RI Team 1 (RI1) bounced back to beat HC Team 1 (HC1) 20-0. RI2, trailing close behind leaders HC1 performed stunningly well after two defeats by winning all the other matches on the first day, including a brilliant 20-0 win over VJC. Cheng Xingyu (16S06M) and Shi Jing Lin (16S06J) in particular played especially well as a partnership to bring in VPs. By the end of the first day, RI2 had propped themselves up to a comfortable 2nd place, trailing HC1 by a mere 4 points. As Bridge Chairperson Teo Xue Heng (15S06C) shared, “both RI teams performed beyond their expectations, except in different ways… so there were mixed feelings going into the second day playing a ‘catchup game’”.
It is with those feelings of trepidation and anticipation that the 2 RI teams went into the second day, and the tables were turned this time. RI1 got off to a very strong start with 20-0 wins over RI2, HC2 and HC3 and 16-4 win against NUSH, but HC1 played just as strongly and the VP difference still remained at about 5 VP before lunch. The turning point came when HC1 lost to RI2 6-14, allowing RI1 to overtake HC1 by 5 VP. The slim lead was maintained until the final game where RI1 had to play HC1 head on. HC1 had to win by at least 5 imps to clinch the championship title, and as an insider shared, “4 imps is almost a non-existent cushion… the scores were dangerously close.” And it did seem like the tides were turning. HC1 slowly built up a 12 imp lead, and all hope was almost lost – until Wang Tingxuan (15S06L) made a 3NT on the final board of the entire tournament to score RI1 10 imps. Despite HC1 beating RI1 by 2 imps, it wasn’t enough to prevent RI1 from clinching the title.
On the other hand, RI2 bounced back from an early 0-20 loss to RI1 to cement their position at third place, having a 19 VP lead over VJC in fourth place before their final head-on match. They could afford to lose 1-19 to VJC and still get third place, but it was not to be: the last set of 8 boards were tough and a slew of errors left them to a punishing 0-20 loss. Despite the good plays and the build-up, RI2 had faltered at the final moment to allow VJC to nick 3rd place away from right under their noses. RI Team 2 Captain Wu Hao Hsuan (15S06C) shares: “It was a really great experience for the team especially for the J1s who will have the opportunity to represent the school again in the Nationals next year. Although RI2 didn’t fare as well as RI1, I think all of us gave our best shot and that’s what really matters. I truly hope that the J1s would treasure this experience and dominate the event next year, bringing back glory to the school.”
All in all, Xue Heng reflects that the journey “wasn’t easy” as “all 3 partnerships in our team had partnership issues at some point or another during this 1.5 years.” Despite that, Raffles Bridge managed to rally together and pull through to emerge victorious, and the last win was “really emotional”. Raffles Press would like to congratulate Raffles Bridge on their victory, and wish them luck for the upcoming tournaments!
Team 1: Liu Yuchen (15S06J), Yu Yuxiang (15S06J), Teo Xue Heng (15S06C), Liang Shi Yi (15S06G), Wang Tingxuan (15S06L), Ren Siyu (15S06L).
Team 2: Wu Hao Hsuan (15S06C), Ng Wei Jie (15S03F), Daniel Tan (15S06P), Reuben Foo (15S06L), Cheng Xingyu (16S06M), Shi Jing Lin (16S06J).