You are behind 53 IMPs with 16 boards to go - what do you do? First, you do not withdraw. If you are behind less than 5 times the number of boards to play (here, 5*16=80), continue to play.
Next, over the 16 boards you will not play 2NT or 3 of a suit, except for 3 of a suit in a competitive just-to-play-there situation. In short, there are no invites and game tries, either blast the game, or stay low (1NT, 1 or 2 of a suit). For 2NT to be the exactly right spot to play, you need 2NT to make and 3NT down 1 and anything else can't help enough - that's too much that needs to be right. If 3NT is down 2, and 2NT down 1, you will not pick up enough IMPs for this to be the right decision (2 IMPs not vul, 3 IMPs vul) - compare with the IMPs that can be obtained from 3NT down 2 and 1NT making (5 IMPs not vul, 7 IMPs vul) - now you are covering ground.
Let's take a look at the last CNTC segment in this year's final:
17: 12 IMPs gained when leading team plays in cuebid
18: 11 IMPs lost due to 1NT opening range differences - back to square +1
19: You have near 9 tricks - if you bid 3NT a 4-0 diamond split stops it and you are down 2 - in 3D you are down 1. By not bidding 3NT, the trailing team gained only 2 IMPs here, too low a reward for missing the 3NT shot.
20: You have:
S: 762H: Q53D: QJ643C: J5
It goes 1C-1D-(1S overcall)-2NT(18-19)-?. You would pass in normal circumstances. Here, 2NT is forcing when behind lots. If you bid 3NT you gain 10 IMPs.
21: You have:
S: QT8H: KQ852D: A8C: A63
You open this 1H (in your style, NT ranges), it goes 1NT forcing by partner, 2C (2+) by you, 2D (Bart but here for a 1H opening, forcing), 2H(nothing special), 3D (long Ds, to play). At this point, close your eyes and bid 3NT. Partner will deliver S J64 H 6 D KT95432 C: 87 - yuck! Hey, Ds are 2-2, and you have bid Cs - if they start with a low spade away from AK, you are home with 10 IMPs - passing 3D wins you 4 IMPs.
22: Your side bids 3S on a competitive auction, but this is just to play - collect 3 IMPs.
23: Your side opens a two-under preempt - 2D showing Ss. You have S A8 H AK7 D K96 C K9765. Understandably you try 4S and this is down 2 vulnerable, a push with 3NT down 2 at the other table. However you have another way to swing on this board - if 2H over 2D would ask if a bad preempt (it should, taking advantage of the two-under), and 2S=bad, then you would get +110 and together with +200 from your teammates that would be 7 IMPs.
24: 3NT, push result
25: You gain 3 IMPs on a fairly random result
26: You have:
S: 7H: JT9D: KT6C: AT8652
Partner opens 1D, your bid. 1NT seems bad with a singleton spade, and 2C requires more points, so you bid 1H. LHO doubles, and partner bids 2H showing 4Hs, RHO passing. At the table, this hand made a game try - forget those, either bash or hide. If you bash, you go for -1100 in 4H doubled and the match is almost over. The game try chosen got to 4H anyway, for the same score. If you notice your small spade and nobody bidding spades is a bad sign, you get out with a push or a possible small gain. The key decision point is over 2H, as the risk/reward ratio is poor for game trying this hand to 3H.
Boards 27-32: Not much is available for IMPs for you - this happens, not every story is a Hollywood miracle comeback ending.
If board 18 had been a push, instead of a loss due to different NT ranges at the two tables, on 17-25 you could gain 12 + 10 + 10 + 3 + 7 + 3 = 45. After 18 and the -11 imps, you would be up +34 IMPs, and would hope for a net two more big swings your way on 26 to 32. The chances are this will not take place, but teams down -53 with 16 boards usually lose - it's up for you to win them when the cards are happening for you.
Congratulations to the CNTC winners: Nicolas L'Ecuyer, Marc-André Fourcaudot, Dan Jacob, Kamel Fergani, Robert Lebi, Vincent Demuy - they will represent Canada very well in China
Congratulations to our Senior team, from Ottawa-Gatineau: Stephen Brown, Edward Zaluski, Bill Bowman, John Bowman, Jurek Czyzowicz. These five will be unavailable to win events at the Ottawa regional October 7-13, as they will be in China, so this year is the year to come to Ottawa for the regional as some of the very best local players will be gone! Doug Fraser is listed on the winning team as well, but I believe he will not end up getting a medal for the Seniors event, as he was on the Silver medal team for the CNTC event, and thus did not play a board in the Seniors match (unless cloning works). Having said that, he would make a great addition as the 6th member of the team, so I hope to see him on the team sent to China.
We look forward to see all our winning teams in action during the World Mind Sport Games in Beijing, China, October 3-18, 2008.