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Coaching experiences

Just over a year ago, I started to attend coaching sessions here in Auckland.

I am writing this to help other players who may be wondering about paying for coaching services.

I am not trying to promote my coach - how many readers here might be able to travel to Auckland?

I am not trying to promote myself - who would care? However, I give a comparison of my pre and post coaching performances to gauge the effectiveness of the coaching.

I am not writing about playing as a paying client with a pro. I have no interest in doing that.

Coach is established on the international scene and has played at the highest level.

Sessions are about four hours and consist of 24 boards with supervision, commentary and advice. Detailed written follow ups come by email and questions can be asked there.

Some boards are pre-prepared, others are random deals.

The smallest session that I have experienced was one table with three paying participants.

The largest was a 3 table session with 12 fee paying participants. Coach and his wife make up the numbers if required.

I do have a regular partner at the coaching sessions but when she is unavailable, I have played with a range of others.

For the two and three table sessions, the bridge is competitive and results are provided as head to head teams matches or as cross-imped pairs.

So, how has this worked out and what has been the effect on my bridge?

From 2011 to 2015, I played mostly club bridge in Auckland with the occasional tournament outing. On the NZ ranking scheme, I was graded as an inoffensive Hobbit with almost no masterpoints.

From 2016 to 2017 I found myself able to enter weekend tournaments and I did have some success, winning a couple of tournaments and picking up just over 40 A points each year. (A points are the ones that matter if you want to make higher masterpoint ranks.)

Up until the end of 2017, I had won one event each year. Sometimes a tournament, sometimes a club event run over one or more months.

So, what impact did the coaching have on my 2018 results?

I won two tournaments - including one National event at senior's level - and three of the month long club events. I picked up more than 80 A points thus doubling my all time total and came away with prizes in over half of the events that I entered. In most of the tournaments in which I have played, the final standings have had more Grand Masters finishing behind me than ahead of me.

Often, when facing a tricky problem, I find myself recalling advice from the sessions. One time, when an expert opponent commented that I had played the trump suit particularly well, I replied that I just played the cards that the voices suggested. The voices of course had exactly the same accent as coach. "Here you need to find the trump safety play."

The conclusion, paying for regular coaching services has had a major impact on my bridge success.

I certainly intend to continue.

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