It felt strange to go a mere 40 miles or so to Manchester after directing in such exotic locations as Canberra and Moscow. Having got here I was pleased to find one of the friendliest tournaments at which I have ever been.
But not everything is perfect: to get to the hotel I had to take a bus. Not something I understand, but fortunately Richard Grenside our Chief TD imported from Australia, claimed to be an expert on the things. Grattan Endicott and I believed him until he told us to get off; when we walked round the next corner there was the bus, just stopping at a stop much nearer the hotel! Our revered editor, Paul Bowyer, has also had fun with Manchester buses: he was running to the bus stop when the driver took pity on him and stopped early: Paul tried to brake and turn simultaneously, and (having the turning circle of an oil tanker) sprawled inelegantly ....
We do get lost property handed to us: most is returned, but the toy koala bear was different. Eventually I offered it to a member of the Australian team, who agreed it was his team's. "How did you know it was ours?" he asked. Anyone heard of Sherlock Holmes?
I am beginning to understand the buses now [although they all charge different prices]. From one today I beheld a strange apparition indeed: a pink Hawaiian shirt wandering along the pavement. I finally realised it was Eric Kokish, our Commentator.
One interesting, if trivial, ruling: a good player was looking at his own convention card whilst dummy. His opponent wanted to know if it was allowed. The answer is no: memory aids are forbidden for all players while the hand is out of the board. It is difficult to see how it can matter for dummy, of course, but the rule is a general one. Of course, one might wonder whether a good player might not have discovered what he was playing before the last round!
Sid Travers looked at the hall nostalgically: apparently it was fifty years to the day since he graduated from the University of Manchester in this very hall! Search parties were sent out for Robert Plunkett of the Northern Irish team when he had not reached his digs by four in the morning, but he is a firm believer in the principle of not going to bed until the drinks run out. Apparently Ray Semp was sent out by his wife in his pajamas to look for him!
Finally Manchester looked as I expected today: it rained and rained! In Manchester, they say that if you can see the Pennines it is going to rain, and if you cannot it is because it is raining!
This morning Richard Grenside slept in. So, when he woke, he realised he had to really hurry: he had a very quick shower, dashed down to breakfast, wolfed it down, ran for a bus, and got here at 8.30 in time for the Final's start at 9.00.
Maybe it would have been better if I had told him it had been re-timed to start at 11.00!