Competition well and truly got underway at the pristine Lovvang Bowl just after the crack of dawn on Monday morning, April 2, with the first of two squads of Boys Doubles.
Each of the squads calls for a six-game series and on Monday evening, when all games have finished, the top four teams will advance to
Tuesday's one-game play-offs for the gold, silver and bronze treasure.
The girls have Monday off duty and will play their doubles squads on Tuesday.
It was the talented Finnish duo of Saku Konttila and Juuso Rikkola who set the pace with 433 as the opener, Konttila having the high with 224. They were just two pins better than local favorites Denmark with Martin Pedersen contributing 189 and partner Victor Gundersen rolling 242.
Seven of the teams managed to break 400 for their first game.
In game two the Finns dropped down to fourth as the Netherlands took over the running, posting 482 thanks to 245 from Joshua Schuurman and Jordi Putman's 237, so totaling 887 over the two games.
The Norwegian duo moved up into second place (833) and dark horses Latvia placed third (819).
The Dutch were first to break 1,000 in the third game, attaining that by the third frame, even though both bowlers had suffered an open frame.
So, at the halfway stage of the proceedings, the leader board showed the Dutch well in command, posting a solid 1278 as the 'come and get me' total. Putman contributed 208/662 and Schuurman 183/616.
"Don't under estimate the Latvians," said EBF President Addie Ophelders when he visited the efficient press room. "They have some very talented bowlers." That was proved as the Latvia dup moved up into second place, but 47 pins behind the Dutch. Armands Velika posted thir best three-game score of 622 and Edgars Juberts squeezed into the 600 club by nine pins.
The Norwegians, however, are still in the hunt and currently hold third place with 1195.
So it is a call of "Soep, soep, soep, ballen, ballen, ballen," for the Dutch pair as they go into the final three games of this first of two squads. That is a Dutch expression that means if you are good you get meatballs in your soup.
But are they running out of puff, the question is asked. In game four's first frame Putman put his foot in it by getting a foul and nine. Schuurman had only one strike and then five consecutive nine-spares. So back under par for the pair as this game brought them only 343 but their running total of 1621 kept them at the head of the line, still with Latvia playing catch-up, now with 1596, again both players sub-200.
It is a close fought battle for the other medal places as Russia placed third (1578), Denmark fourth (1554), Finland fifth (1547) and Sweden sixth (1535).
The penultimate game now for this squad and the Netherlands duo need to buckle down to set a good target for the afternoon squad to attack.
The fickle finger of fate decreed that the run-in would not be easy for the Dutch pair and maybe the pressure from a very noisy crowd of fans at the back was telling and scores of 86 and 71 in the fifth frame had signs of leaving the door open. Putman had just three strikes and Schuurman missed two single pins, resulting in a fourth game total of just 327 and a five-game series of 1948.
That door left ajar was truly seen by Sweden's Pontus Andersson and Emil Nilsson. Andersson found the strike zone on lanes 5/6 to pile drive a 269 and Nilsson brought up support with 243 for a 512 game, the highest of the squad. This brought them the number one spot on the leader board now with 2047, and a leader board without Sweden is like beef without mustard. They placed well ahead of Finland's 1975. Denmark, still in the hunt with 1965 for third place and Russia back to fourth (1964). The slippery slope saw Latvia back to fifth place (1955) and the Netherlands now sixth (1948).
Now into the final game for squad 1. Neighbours Sweden and Finland fought pin for pin for pole position but the Swede's were determined to be first across the line, and they did that in style with a 471 final game that gave them a chart-topping 2518 to set as a target for the players in squad 2. That Swedish surge over the final five frames of the sixth game saw them well clear of the Finns, who trailed to fourth place on 2361 whilst the runner-up spot was claimed by the host nation with 2382, six pins ahead of third placed Russia.
"This is the first time I have played on the Swedish national youth team, so I am very pleased," said Pantus Andersson. "My sister, Ida, is also a national team member.
"The carry was tough for the first three games was tough but over the last three it all worked out."
"We got off to a slow start over the first three games and I was struggling," added partner Emil Nilsson, "but we certainly made up for that over the last three and it is great to be in pole position."
"We had had difficulty with the carry for the first three games but it all came good as we moved to the low end of the house."
Coach Peter Ljung added: "I was moving the boys left up until the fourth game but they didn't have to move at all after that and they hit some great scores. Once I asked them to change balls but they declined. They were right and I was wrong!"
The final squad took to the lanes at 13:15 CET and the names of the four finalist will be known around 16.30.
Full results and information: www,eyc2012.eu Keith Hale