23:37 11 July 2015 Sioux Falls Sectional South Dakota.  GS Jade Barrett with Paolo Clair

Don Kardong
Don Kardong

«Cheer for your teammates, regardless of whether they’re fast or slow, veteran or neophyte, varsity or JV. Or rally the spirits of someone who’s had a bad performance. Also, encourage stragglers during tough workouts; jog back to ‘pick up’ a runner who’s behind during a long run» – Don Kardong

One of the special events here in Sioux Falls is the «8 is enough»  Swiss Teams. Competitors are separated into 3 levels of experience in the form of ACBL Masterpoint accumulation:

■   The team can contain A, B and C players.
■   A players are those with over 2,000 masterpoints and contribute 3 team points.
■   B players are those with between 750 and 2,000 masterpoints and contribute
2 team points.
■   C players are those with less than 750 masterpoints and contribute 1 team point.
■   The team can consist of any combination of A, B or C players so long as the total
team points does not exceed 8.
Paolo Clair
Paolo Clair

With all the joviality that a jet-lagged Italian with severe back pain can muster, Paolo agreed to participate in this half social half serious event – though to be fair, his good humor was somewhat diminished upon discovery of the 09:00 start time. Observing that bridge at this early hour was at best inhumane, our friend sat down with Dr Donna to bring his best effort to the table – to stay awake. Fortified with a sufficient amount of espresso, our protagonist successfully remained fully upright for the entire session.

These events do serve a great purpose, for they help break down the artificial barriers that separate the players. Newer participants often feel that they cannot approach the higher level competitors, except as mentees or students, and therefore they create their own circle of friends apart from the longtime members of the community. While in and of itself this does not harm the organization, it does provide extra opportunity for dissent. By taking positive measures such as the team competition mentioned above, the separate groups begin to communicate and before long everyone feels more comfortable with everyone else.

That being said, I am of firm belief that an active effort by the established players to welcome the lesser experienced is critical to the process. Those of us who have been around the world of bridge since before dinosaurs roamed the Earth often forget our own uncomfortable first steps. Now that we have the opportunity to provide a hand up by the judicious kind word or greeting, we can perform the stewardship that needs to be a part of our activities to support the game we love.

So I thank my friends who awoke at some dreadfully early hour, dragged themselves to the venue and participated in the promotion of the game, as well as the development of their fellow athletes.