15:30 15 March 2015 New Orleans, Louisiana NABC by GS Jade Barrett, CsbNews correspondent
«This is your day to be the best team in the World» – GS Jade Barrett
Some twenty eight years ago I was invited by the USA JR TEAM Non-Playing Captain Bob Rosen to work with him to help develop the under 25s into a more cohesive unit. He had encouraged me to try out for the team when I was in that age range, but real life had prevented my participation in the World Championships – something that I regret to this day and now given the opportunity to represent my country, I readily signed up.
That journey lasted until 2008, and I certainly miss working with the rising stars. Bob was an amazing NPC, and led many teams and players to the top of their game. After one particularly difficult day of competitions, he instructed me to start the next morning by saying something inspirational. When I expressed my doubts about my ability to do so, he reminded me that my father was a clergyman and that with any luck he might have taught me something over the years. So with my assignment in hand, and the knowledge of the actions that many authors – and especially bridge journalists – do, I headed to the nearest establishment to seek enlightenment.
While I was nursing my second or so Irish libation, I overheard a discussion between several NPCs and Coaches from other parts of the world and one story stood out. A player from the Pakistani team had made what could only be described as a great series of plays on a number of different deals in this one match. What made the situation all the more notable was that he had only taken up the game a few months before and in line with the pesky requirement that dictates all teams must have four players, found himself in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada playing for his country.
It was not that he was spectacular new arrival, nor that his performance was outstanding on board or match, but that on one particular hand, he was the only player in the field who recognized what he needed to do in order to attain success. On this one hand, and several before and after, he was simply spectacular, while on others he took the actions of those less experienced in the game.
And here I was, draining a glass at the aptly named Corktown Pub when I experienced my first true eureka moment in relation to bridge athletes as a whole: at any point, at any time and on any one hand, every single being who plays the game can be the best player on Earth.
With that knowledge now well in hand, I find that it is indeed true. Bridge is the ultimate democratic game. There is truly no talent save the ability to work very hard, and when you do, you will be justly rewarded if not by victory, than by the satisfaction of a job tremendously well done.
Bob passed on a short while ago, leaving behind a legacy of great players that will be competing for decades to come. The two of us worked together for many years and I learned a vast amount at his side. I attribute much of my career’s success to the encouragement and support he provided, but I consider the best gift from him to be the simple instruction that led me to the bar and the words above that I have given every team I have trained, coached, captained or played with since.