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The Bridge Road Warriors: Torrance

10:21 20 October 2013 by GS Jade Barrett, USA CSBNews correspondent
Vladimir Kramnik
Vladimir Kramnik
«I believe every chess player senses beauty when he succeeds in creating situations that contradict the expectations and the rules, and he succeeds in mastering this situation» – Vladimir Kramnik
The constant facing of the same opponents occurs at smaller tournaments, and the vigilant player may suddenly gain an insight to a weakness in his opposition’s style or system that will allow him to gain an advantage in the future. I constantly vary my tactics in order to test those limits, sometimes with spectacular results – for both sides.
I have always considered my personal game as one in flux, seeking better solutions for long term success. What comes as a surprise to me is how often I revisit the early thoughts and methods of my youth.
The game has evolved so dramatically since my childhood that it does not surprise me that when people return to the game after a long absence they initially have trouble adjusting to the advances in theory and language that have transpired. It also does not surprise me how adaptable these same players are. Many of them are quick to adopt these new treatments and conventions as they embark on one of the great journeys of life – the exploration of the human mind.
I have long measured the age of bridge athletes by the length of time they have been playing, or perhaps the number of hands they have experienced. A constant among our newer students is the thirst for knowledge and the frequent joyful energy they bring to their side of the education program process – be their chronological age 14, 40, 60 or 90.
The dynamic relationship between the educator and their charges is analogous to parent and child in some ways – providing the opportunity to explore and challenge while having a band-aid readily available for the occasional skinned knee.

18:04 17 October 2013 by GS Jade Barrett, USA CSBNews correspondent

Poor Richard’s Almanac by Benjamin Franklin
«Keep your eyes wide open before marriage, half shut afterwards» – Poor Richard’s Almanac by Benjamin Franklin
So you have played a few times together and your budding partnership feels right. Taking the next step seems appropriate, but you have a few lingering doubts: Can I really be happy with someone who likes to play a Short Club? I am uncomfortable with Bergen Raises, but will they still play with me if I ask to drop them from our convention card? He declares very well, but his opening leads are dreadful! Can we be successful over the long haul? For 24 out of 26 boards she is a genius, the other two make me wonder if she has ever seen a deck of cards before.
A long term partnership shares many of the same dynamics that are found in the strongest marriages: passion (for the game), kindness, forgiveness, empathy, compassion and occasionally states of confusion, disbelief and denial.
The best of partnerships have ebbs and flows which vary in lengths of time from a few hours to what seems like an eternity. Some give up too soon, abandoning the relationship before it has a chance to return to its proper balance. This crisis of faith can be carried over into new attempts to partner, continuing the cycle of promise turned to failure. The only way to break this pattern is to recognize that the belief that someone is worth playing with is worth wading through the trough of poor results until you reach the other side.
The judicious use of hope and balanced long term expectations will allow the potential of the pairing to flourish, weathering the storms of difficult days and basking in the limelight of the great ones.

Katey Sagal
Katey Sagal
17:40 16 October 2013 by GS Jade Barrett, USA CSBNews correspondent
«I had to accept the fact that sometimes things happen that are out of our hands» American Actress and Musician Katey Sagal
«They bid a horrible slam…. and made it».  Lose another 13 IMPS and the match by six.
You and your team deserved a better fate, but life is not always fair. The Great American Bridge Tour team lost in the second round of a Knock Out in Torrance, California this way when we stayed out of a bad slam that made, and bid a good one that went down (in the first eight 1430 auctions we have had as a partnership, Bjorgvin Mar Kristinsson and I are now achieved the success rate of 1 and 7). We accept the results, because we recognize that we are bidding for a chance – but not a guarantee – of success.
At least we have the benefit of the knowledge that our actions were correct – though it often feels like the old adage «The operation was a success, but the patient died». It is easy to be unhappy when these things happen; nobody likes to bring an unfortunate result back to the other table. With good teammates, you gain empathy and solace, but you still hate feeling like you let them down. As a group, we recognize the disadvantage of playing an aggressive, attacking style when suits break badly, resulting occasionally in disasters of epic proportions. At least somebody gets a story and perhaps a drink or two out of it.
Yet we soldier on, summoning our intestinal fortitude and drawing on our vast experience of failure to create future success, for that is what creatures of athletic competition are – winners born from losers.

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