This blog provides supplementary thoughts and ideas to the site. If you haven't seen the main site, there is a lot there including the Martel and Rodwell interviews, photos, and articles. This blog is focused on advancing bridge theory by discussing the application of new ideas. All original content is copyright 2009 Glen Ashton.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Mind Sports & The Next Board

Peter King is one of the best sport writers, and his Monday Morning Quarterback is a must-read for NFL fans.  Today he has a great quote from the NY Jets coach:
I think this is what the first month of the season has taught Eric Mangini about Brett Favre: "The biggest thing he brings to the team is he's exactly the same the next play whether the play's a big success or a failure. You try to teach your players that the only thing that matters is the next play, and to have such a great example of that on your team has been fantastic. With Brett, there's never a sense the game is over. He'd never act like it was anyway."

Imo, these are key attributes in bridge as well - the ability to focus on the next board, not the last one, and to never give up if there's a chance.

That said, to play Favre's position one still needs to have the talent to be a NFL QB, and that includes the ability to make good decisions quickly and under pressure.   This corresponds to the Time & Space concept that is key in today's professional hockey - from USA hockey magazine:
Time & Space

The goal is to limit time and space so you can gain control of the puck as quickly as possible: 

- Get on your opponent quickly before he has a chance to assess the situation and make a play

- Once you have proper coverage, you can quickly get on the puck carrier to limit the time he has with the puck

- Limit the space or deny use of the best space (Middle of the ice) until there's enough support to pressure the puck and thereby eliminate time.

This matches the pressure bidding concepts:

- Get into the bidding immediately

- Take away bidding opportunities from the next opponent to bid

- Bounce the bidding to limit the bidding space available for the opponents below game for them to explore for best strain and level

Mind sports often share some of the same ideas as the athletic sports.

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For the players, the best competitive approach is to focus on resting and prep work for the next match, when between matches, and to focus solely on the board being played during the match.  Regardless of the disaster or phenomenal result that just occurred, regardless of the errors that partner just executed, regardless of how out-of-sync the partnership was in the bidding of the last hand, forget what took place and concentrate solely on the new board, what is occurring, how your opponents are reacting, how you are not giving away tells to your screenmate, how you can make partner's next decision as easy as possible, how you can make the opponents decisions hard.

It's about the next board, so why talk or think about the last?

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For the Canadian Open team players, it is not about the South African match, a bad loss, or the great wins before that.  It's not about thinking ahead to the tough match against France later today, or the hopefully easier matches against teams with no chance of qualifying out of the round robin. It's about the match against Slovakia, and not even the whole match - it's about the next board - that's the sole horizon.

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For the team captain, like a coach in sports, it is about the upcoming matches, and putting the players in the best position to do their utmost. While the players focus on the next board, the captain has to consider a further horizon - how to win enough to get into the playoffs.  Just like pro sports the coach should not start planning for the playoffs until they are a lock.  Instead the captain focuses on the upcoming matches, and how the captain can motivate, guide, arrange and assist the players into achieving their common goal.

For example of this, see the blog of the NPC of Canada's Open team:

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For the fans of the team, they can think ahead, and they can indulge in what-ifs and what-could-have-beens.  The fans can look at the upcoming schedule, and estimate or hope what might occur.  They can allocate blame, if they believe there should be some, and they can highlight team or individual triumphs.  For the fans, it's not about the next board, which might be just humdrum - its about the drama, the big picture, the defeats, the battles, the victories, the championships.

For example Linda Lee is extensively blogging, including estimating how some teams will do each day:
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Its fun being a sports fan this time of year, with football, hockey, baseball, and more.  This week and next its fun being a mind sports fan too!


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