I had a chance to hold an Olympic gold medal last week and I was impressed by how heavy it is - I thought it would be some trinket but instead it is a solid circle of metal. I was told that it was pure gold, but the Internet says it is approximately 244 grams of silver covered by 6 grams of gold (that is some cover-up - the last gold medals made of all gold were for the 1912 games). That still is a nice take-home prize for winning an event at the 2008 Mind Sport Games, if they used the same medals - or for the 2002 Grand Prix in Salt Lake, won by Canada, if they handed out Olympic medals.
The first modern Olympics were in Athens (1896), and recently there was some more Gold in victories there - not Olympic Gold but ETM Gold, the bidding system. The pair of Nikos Delimpaltadakis & Dimosthenis Dionysopoulos were part of the winning team of the Greek National Teams Championship, and they also won, as a pair, the Athens Matchpoints Championship, and came in third in the National Matchpoints Championship. Given they were in a process of converting to ETM Gold just this fall, these are solid gold results!
If you read Greek you can read the results here:
Let's take a look at how you can look at those results when you don't know the language. First do a search on the web page you are interested - in this link I've used the main page of the above site:
Now Click on "translate this page" and the page is no longer seemingly mathematical formulas.
Here is an example of translation already done, with a picture of the winners:
At this point you might want to switch to ETM Gold but hold your horses!
Last weekend an Icelandic Teams championship was won with one pair, Sveinn Eiriksson & Hrannar Erlingsson, using the ETM Spry system.
If Google would translate the Icelandic language, you could read it here:
Swan has the final boards and IMP exchanges here:
This summer Nikos Delimpaltadakis will be playing with Sveinn Eiriksson in the Washington NABC's - this again demonstrates that the NABCs are no longer a North American only Bridge Championship, but a world event hosted by the ACBL, albeit without gold/silver metals.
Should they play Gold or Spry?
Spry is faster to pick up, but now requires a small adjustment to play in ACBL general events. 1D as a "catch-all" opening is allowed in ACBL events, but they no longer want "catch-all" to end up just catching one defined suit - in Spry 1D shows spades. Thus it is necessary to incorporate other hand types into 1D so that it catches more that just spades. One adjustment is to play 1D as it is in Spry, or having an eight card minor with 13-14 points. Please note that Spry does met the ACBL regulations as written, and this adjustment is only necessary as there has been a selective interpretation of the regulations that appears not to have used Google translate on "catch-all".
Gold is more sophisticated, and provides more depth in agreements - this can be counter-productive for a new partnership: do you both remember what is on page 82 and agree with it?
The key success factor is how comfortable both players will be with the system picked. That seems simple, except here we have one partner who needs to adapt to a new system, while the other has to teach them how they want the system played. This teaching aspect is very important too, since how a system is portrayed on paper is often not how it is actually used by a skilled partnership.
For other partnerships reading this post, you might think: "Great, we just pick Gold or Spry, which ever we feel most comfortable with, and it's off to the races".
Not so fast.
Systems assist partnerships in doing well in events, but they are not key factors in themselves. The events noted above were won by very strong expert players. If the players were not very strong experts, the system would not have been enough to put them in a winning position.
If I was given Lance Armstrong's best bike, sadly I still could not compete in any serious bike race, even with the aid of this marvelous technology (Armstrong accidently twittered his email address this week to 700k of us, so I could email him about his bike). The bike assists Lance Armstrong in winning events, but it requires a very strong cyclist to use it to win.
Playing any particular system does not make you instantly competitive in every event. To use a system effectively, first you must be already competitive in the event, able to play well against the participants, and then the system can assist you in winning. Use systems like Gold and Spry to give you an edge, but don't never expect a system to take you from last to first.