Archive for March, 2009

What do you lead?

I was given this hand recently, I believe it is IMP scoring.

c xx
h1 Q9
d1 AJ98x
c A10xx

RHO deals and opens 2NT 20-22 and now a puppet Stayman sequences puts you on lead to 4S – a 4-4 fit. Along the way dummy cues 1st or 2nd in clubs, declarer in hearts.

NB: just for today I have changed comments so that they are not automatically published. The idea is to let everybody make their choice of leads in a neutral atmosphere. Comments will then be put up tomorrow. Comments made other than on this post – if any – will be approved during the course of the day….

March 31, 2009 at 7:11 am 14 comments

It’s my blog and I get the last word, don’t I?

I really want to put some bridge in my bridge blog, but this morning I woke up with thoughts on selection that I felt were worth mentioning….

(1) I have played a sport in which national teams are selected. I was lucky that selection for those two Olympiad teams I played on in chess were pretty clear cut. But selection in general in that sport has had some very sad outcomes including, in Australia, a High Court of Australia challenge and an impact on a murder-suicide. And this is in a sport of relative integrity. Players who apply have all the chess they have played available for scrutiny. They have meaningful ratings. Bridge has nothing approaching that on which selection can be based. There would be few players in Australia who couldn’t submit a hand or two which made it look like they are world beaters. We seem to have established that WINNING bridge doesn’t count for much.

(2) Is it interesting that nobody has mentioned Oz 1? We had a million dollars a year, hand-selected players and what came of it? NOT MUCH. Except that it created a clear rift between those that were selected and those that were not. Of those who applied and were rejected, they immediately set about doing notable things. David Appleton went to NZ and won their premier event and is now on the Australian team. Peake and Green (surely they weren’t rejected, surely they didn’t apply?) immediately qualified for the Australian team beating the Oz 1 selected team in the process. Chua-Hinge easily won what was touted to be the strongest Butler ever. I’ve never had so many people barracking for me. Eveybody wanted to see the Oz 1 bunch fail. It was nothing personal. Selection does that. I dare say others spoke with their feet after being rejected by the selectors for Oz 1 but I mention just a few I know about.

There seems to be this impression in the talk about selecting, not that we are going to get a slightly better team that way – a team which will come 13th instead of 14th – but that this is how Australia is going to win. Surely those in favour of selection don’t think that.

The path forward to doing as best as possible at world championship level (let’s say winning a world championship, for the sake of the argument) is by IMPROVING OUR BRIDGE. It is pretty obvious that our bridge isn’t good enough and that this is the way forward.

(3) A few weeks ago on this blog I spent a while trying to convince one and all that the administration of bridge in Australia has to do more for the players at the top. Providing them with as much bridge as possible which is of integrity would be one step in this direction. Providing them with expert guidance is another. Why is it that the bridge administrations organises teaching tours etc for weak players and not for expert players? Why not provide expert assistance and make it open to all good players who wish to avail themselves of it, not some selected group picked to be THE ONES? We don’t have to improve the selection process, we need to improve our bridge.

(4) Those who count the successes of teams at w/c level who are selected don’t seem at all bothered by the failures. Do they not count for anything? Do we not think, for example, that Italy and the US would have won quite a lot of world championships whatever the route to selection? Please don’t respond to this by saying that at least they have won something….I don’t think anybody reading this has the gall to suggest that selecting an Australian team at the moment would result in a world championship win.

England has had selection since the beginning of time for exactly one open world championship win: 1955. (Well, I assume this team was selected?) Meanwhile, there are a large number of players in England who quite rightly feel that they should have been given an opportunity to play for England and haven’t. What is the point of that? Why create misery for 80 years for one measly result?

(5) The Icelandic team that won the world championship didn’t win because it was selected. It won because it spent 6 months preparing single-mindedly for it. However the team was gotten together, with this preparation it had to be a chance. Maybe even an Australian team would be a chance if it worked on its bridge for 6 months before the world championship. But this isn’t going to happen, is it?

March 30, 2009 at 11:04 am 40 comments

Yawn….is it over yet?

Sounds of snoring in background.

Oh, pardon me, I was napping. But I gather that the Grand Prix is over for another year.

This year the winner was declared to be the person who was winning at a particular point in the race when two cars had a prang. It almost makes bridge look like it has integrity….you wouldn’t have wanted to be carefully timing your challenge for the lead, would you?

I’m liking this whole poll thing, so please take a vote in this one…

March 29, 2009 at 5:46 pm 1 comment

I had a dream…

In reference to comment 12 here by Peter Gill….

I had a dream that this blog was MY blog. I thought because it was MY blog I would get lots of nice people writing in and agreeing with me. After all, what’s the point of having your own blog otherwise?

But it appears in reality that this blog is Peter’s and I am merely the facilitator….sigh. At least he hasn’t taken over my other blog yet.

You all can keep on talking about selection. I’m going shopping. But come back on Monday for something I think you might like.

March 28, 2009 at 6:37 am Leave a comment

Bits and Pieces

Some bits and pieces before they get lost.

(1) Andrew Webb has posted a comment here which is worth looking at, going back to earlier ideas.

(2) This is a rewriting based on further information supplied by Peter Gill as given in comments below. One of the players on the losing finalist team in the Women’s played although she was unavailable for one of the events under consideration. I understand this was permitted on the basis that she might win the final and then the issue, which was the suddenly changed dates of the PABF championship would not have been relevant. Immediately the tournament was over, this player was then replaced by a player who had not played in the playoffs at all, as I understand it, nor had any partnership experience with the player who had been left without a partner.

Now, I find this fascinating in view of Gill and Markey’s stance in favour of selection by selectors. Are you two going to actually respond in print that this piece of selection was appropriate, compared with filling the gap with an experienced pair, presumably from one of the losing teams, but even perhaps from the winning team – there may well have been a pair available for both events.

Frankly, just this very act on its own is enough to damn the process of selection if you ask me. It is hard to see how the interests of the team and Australia have been served, but Peter and Phil, naturally your input will be keenly looked forward to.

(3) It does seem obvious, looking so far at the discussion of selection by selectors rather than by bridge, that by bridge is the obvious answer – we are merely quibbling, as Ben has pointed out, how to organise the bridge. I think it is a great shame that finals in Australia have been watered down to a point where they are becoming a bit of a joke. Most recently the final for the ANOT has been decreased to 64 boards, which is an absurd number of boards for a final, is it not?

I guess we have so many national events now that none of them really mean much. Maybe in some respects we were better off with fewer events where if a team got to a final it was excited to do so. As far as I can understand the logic of the decision for the ANOT, the players consulted didn’t want the Final to cut into dinner and drinks time.

Well, I for one, dissented, but by the sound of it, as usual, most of those consulted disagreed with me.

So, the players can’t have it both ways….they can’t vote for shorter finals and then complain that the finals aren’t long enough.

Whatever form of playoff there is for the Australian Team should be two weeks long with no match shorter than, say, 100 boards – so that there isn’t any question of luck coming into it. If the playoff is kept pretty much open as it was this year, (as long as you were prepared to pay the ridiculous entry fee), then anybody can afford those two weeks – because, after all, they don’t have to play all those interminable national championship events during the year.

(4) What do you think about the resignation in the Final? Remind me not to call in Gold-Ebery-Simpson-Antoff to play bridge for my life in the next James Bond film. Again, is that just because we play so much national level bridge that even the playoff for the Australian team is not worth playing for the sake of it?

March 26, 2009 at 3:07 pm 8 comments

Final of the Australian Playoff

NB: This is the second post I have put up today.

Australian Playoff
Board 10
All Vul
Dlr East

NORTH
Antoff

Ian Robinson
sQ
h1A743
d1J73
cA10943

WEST
Brightling

Gold
s43
h1QJ1052
d1Q842
c86

EAST
Ian Thompson

Ebery
sK1098765
h18
d1A103
cK5

SOUTH
Simpson

Delivera
sAJ2
h1K96
d1K95
cQJ72

When I saw the auction in the closed room, it made me recall my NOT finals match this year against Simpson-Antoff….they walked on water, and here it was, happening again. Am I the only one who wouldn’t have dreamt of passing 3S doubled on the South hand, after RHO opens 3S and this is passed around to your partner who balances with double?

Well, I guess that’s why I’m writing and Simpson is playing. The pass was doubledummy correct as East, having two entries, just manages to beat 3NT…as long, that is, as partner starts with his suit.

I say that because in the other room, East opened 1S and rebid them, South ended up in 3NT and West – well, pulled out a heart and there rested the defence. +630 in one room and -200 in the other when 3S lost the obvious 5 tricks was 10 IMPs to Thompson, who have a handy lead as I write.

March 25, 2009 at 12:13 pm 3 comments

Australian Playoff concludes today

What a shame that we weren’t able to watch the last 16 of the semi between the Gill and Thompson on BBO. Could somebody please explain to me why we had a women’s match on which virtually nobody watched – and I include blood relatives of the players in ‘nobody’ – while there would have been a large audience for the 16 which saw if Gill could pull of a major coup.

The final of the Open is fascinating for its composition. There isn’t one Sydney player in the two teams!! On the one hand we have 5 ACT players and a Queenslander. On the other we have – well, you might say 3 NSW players and a Victorian, but the sentiment of the situation is different. Ebery, Simpson and Antoff are more or less outsiders in their own town.

For my money Delivera-Robinson have been about the best pair in Australia for a long time…why they haven’t been sort as teammates by all the best players in Australia is beyond me.

Thank heavens, however, that the teams in Australia are decided by bridge play and not somebody’s opinion. I don’t think for one moment that if we had selectors instead of bridge deciding our teams that Delivera-Robinson would be picked for a team. Wrong address, if nothing else.

What we are going to hear, however, for the nth time lately is that we need methods which will select the ‘right’ team. Sorry, but if the ‘right’ team can’t do it at the bridge table, I don’t understand why another method of selection will be preferable.

It does make me wonder, though. If it were preferable to pick the team to play for Australia instead of having it decided by bridge competition – if we really don’t think that actual bridge competition results in an appropriate winner – surely we should logically skip the world championships too. Why doesn’t a panel of selectors pick who is the best team in the world this year…and let’s leave it at that!

By the way, David Thompson must be thrilled at this result. He thinks that the reason Sydney players, aka Australia’s best players, don’t perform at their best is lack of partnership. Well, here today we have 5 very hard working partnerships, all of whom have been together for a long time, fighting it out. Food for thought…

March 25, 2009 at 9:17 am 28 comments

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