03:05 10 January 2014 by GS Jade Barrett CsbNews correspondent
«That is our policy. You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: It is victory, victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be» – Winston Churchill
When I was a student in my late teens, my History professor played a BBC recording of what has come to be known as the «Blood, toil, tears and sweat» speech delivered on 13 May 1940 by the new Prime Minister of Great Britain. Its message of commitment to perform at the highest levels of both emotion and skill in the face of overwhelming odds despite our fear and trepidation of the seemingly unbeatable opponent has stayed with me these past thirty-five years.
Upon occasion, the [ilink url=»https://www.facebook.com/pages/Great-American-Bridge-Tour/124487180911255?fref=ts»]Great American Bridge Tour[/ilink] has a terrible start to the day, and we find ourselves in a huge hole. It is vitally important for the whole team to not collapse in the face of such adversity, and as a rule we do not. In fact, we always believe that we will carry the day. This faith has kept the team strong even in defeat, converting the disappointment of the immediate into the motivation for growth.
This critical attitude of the team invokes another great Churchill quote: «We shall never surrender».
I am proud of the fact that our team simply never quits. Losses prepare us for our finest hour, and it is yet to come.
22:50 8 January 2014 by GS Jade Barrett CsbNews correspondent
«Mistakes are a part of being human. Appreciate your mistakes for what they are: precious life lessons that can only be learned the hard way. Unless it’s a fatal mistake, which, at least, others can learn from» – Senator Al Franken
There seems to be some rule of social intercourse that requires a bridge athlete to blame their partner first, then think about their personal role in whatever catastrophic event has befallen the pair.
Whenever something bad has happened, I recommend that you always look to yourself, first. Frequently you will find that you have either caused the self-defeating action, or did not do all you could to prevent its occurrence.
Personal accountability is vastly underated by competitors in every athletic endeavor, typically beginning with inadequate practice or training. These missed opportunities to refine partnership understandings virtually always come back to haunt the arrogant.
With that in mind, I make every effort to practice as I will play, reinforcing the utilization of the knowledge that keeps our team successful and my partners from correctly assessing the shortness in my game.
03:26 8 January 2014 by GS Jade Barrett CsbNews correspondent
«If one can stick to the training throughout the many long years, then will power is no longer a problem. It’s raining? That doesn’t matter. I am tired? That’s besides the point. It’s simply that I just have to» – Emil Zatopek
Sleep does not come easily to many frequent travelers. The constant shifting from coast to coast is hard enough on the American players, I can only imagine the strain on the Asians, European and South Americans who also come to compete here in the USA.
I envy my teammates who have the ability to close their eyes and slip away into a comfortable rest, for it is a skill that despite my long years of effort has failed to develop. Those of you who notice my timestamps are well aware that I often exchange my thoughts for words during the darkest hours of the night. Sometimes I am charged by an especially well played match, sometimes aggravated by an equally energized defeat. In either case, I occasionally end up replaying the day, bid by bid, card by card until I have had my fill; when I finally determine that I can derive no additional useful insight from the session that keeps me awake.
Three possessions do assist my efforts to slumber, and they often provide comfort, if not the sleep that I desire. I travel with a Tempurpedic pillow, an eyeshield created from the same material and my tablet which stores and plays thousands of different pieces of music that both stimulates my mind and narrows my focus. These tunes often force me to concentrate on a single aspect of life, allowing me to set down the business of the day.
I appreciate Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart the most – though I must admit that I might have slept through his greatest works.
01:35 7 January 2014 by GS Jade Barrett CsbNews correspondent
«I told the doctor ‘I broke my leg in two places’. He told me to quit going to those places» – Henny Youngman
One of the ever present dangers of the Bridge Road Warrior is to come down with a cold, the flu, a severe sudden illness, or an injury. We are never near our «family practitioner», and with eight or more of our company traveling, it is not an infrequent occurrence that we need some typically minor medical advice.
Fortunately, there are literally thousands of medical professionals who play bridge. We appreciate their advice and while we try to leave them to their game as much as possible, sometimes we have to seek them out.
Only once has one of them said to one of our athletes «go to the E. R. or risk dying on the way home». With the strength of our faith in both his character and his correctness, we followed his directive and our man was held over for a few weeks, but walked out fit as a fiddle after his stint in the hospital.
If one were to look in my travel bag, they would find all sorts of over the counter remedies for a variety of potential ailments. I have been around long enough that other regular travelers ask me if I have «X, Y or Z» or who they might ask for something that requires a prescription. I have also been around long enough that I invariably know who to ask. While they remain nameless in this column, I want to assure them that the community of bridge participants appreciate all their considerations. I thank each and every one of you.
Just do not expect any mercy at the table.
23:45 5 January 2014 by GS Jade Barrett CsbNews correspondent
«Heights by great men reached and kept were not obtained by sudden flight but, while their companions slept, they were toiling upward in the night» – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Since New Year’s Day, I have been in Kansas City, Missouri; Elk Point and Sioux Falls South Dakota; San Diego, San Francisco and Monterey, California. Now on the fifth day of the year I find myself on the road to Biloxi, Mississippi.
So much for a slower start to the tournament trail for 2014.
Yet the journey to excellence allows for very few rest periods – even on my days off, I am working on my game. I do not have to be playing or reading bridge necessarily, but every activity I engage in can help my practice of discipline or creative thought. I enjoy reading history, playing my flute, listening to music, talking to everyone about everything. Through these experiences, I expand my personal universe and while I may not gain a complete understanding of a given topic or piece of music, it provides me something to think about.
I need plenty to consider, for bridge is a game of both intelligence and wisdom – the ability to synergize all that I have learned from every area of my life is critical to my development as a bridge athlete.
These frequent flights coupled with insomnia certainly provides the extra time required to expand my horizons. Tonight I will read about Babylon and Assyria, for I believe that every point in history has something to teach me.