19:38  29 March 2015   Epply International Airport, Omaha, Nebraska GS Jade Barrett; CsbNews.org correspondent

Wilt Chamberlain
Wilt Chamberlain
«They say that nobody is perfect. Then they tell you practice makes perfect. I wish they’d make up their minds» – Wilt Chamberlain

 

In the undying pursuit of excellence, the Bridge Road Warrior journeys far and wide, practicing their craft, their art and their packing on a nearly weekly basis.

 

This week I find myself in San Diego, California, home to one of the great tournaments in North America. After the fierce winter we have experienced in the Northern United States, the prospect of seven days of sun and a gentle Spring is a welcome one, though the extremely tough competition will draw our attention to the details of our game.
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No one enters any event to lose, but the goals change based on the partner I have from week to week. The newer adventurers just hope to survive the session, the intermediate expects some success, the expert is very surprised when they experience defeat.

 

My individual goals are different. I intend to use good technique, evaluating tactics, testing my system and generally hoping to remember that playing well is its own reward. Anyone who truly knows me will say that my work ethic is superb, but that my discipline is uneven. Knowing this as a fact, I endeavor to improve that aspect of my character, for I believe that to be more about the frailty of my personality than a weakness in my game.

Defeating myself
Defeating myself
 When I first began the journey as a full-time bridge athlete, I was wild and free in my bidding. I would advance the auctions as quickly as possible, intending to harm my perceived helpless opponent’s auctions. The worse thing that happened to me and my game was that this tactic met with early success. Too much early success, for in fact these anti-percentage actions created a false sense of strength in my game and judgment, easily setting my development back for years. It was only after meticulously tracking the results of my reckless preempting style for nearly a year, that I came to the realization that I was defeating myself far more often than not.

 

So now I have become a closet conservative – disciplined weak 2’s; solid opening preempts; and highly structured opening agreements that while lighter than most every other competitor, have rules that are consistently and rigidly applied.

 

Yet I yearn for the freedom of my youth, when I could bid anything I wanted and -2000 was just another number.