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Mentor Mentee Games: "come play this hand"

Here in Vancouver, Canada, we have a healthy new player program. Clubs are attracting new players with lessons, supervised play and new player games and the Unit sends welcome packages and incentives to new players and runs 3 NLM Sectionals and 4 Mentor Mentee games annually.

Thanks to the support of our members, the Mentor Mentee games typically run as 30 table events, 60 keen, new bridge players. We have a 200 Masterpoint limit for Mentees. Not only do we want to attract and nurture new players, we want to embrace and help existing players to become the A/X players of tomorrow. This is the 4th year we have run the games and we are seeing a number of Mentees progress to become Mentors,  ready and confident to play in A/X

We are always looking to improve the program and one initiative we want to introduce is to have the Mentees play more hands. The games are for the advancement of the Mentees and the more they can play, the more they will learn. The game is a normal pairs game, each Mentee is paired with a Mentor, the boards are machine dealt, random. When the Mentor is to be declarer we wanted to give the Mentee the option of saying “I”ll play this hand” when they felt comfortable doing so. The Mentor and Mentee would simply swap seats for that hand.

We asked the directors, they said NO. We asked the ACBL, they said NO, that would not be duplicate bridge.

I struggle to understand the response from the ACBL. The game we are playing is exactly the same with a different declarer. The pair putting the Mentee in to play the hand would if anything, be at a disadvantage, so what is the problem?

Have other Mentor Mentee programs faced this problem? I would love to find a way around these restrictions but perhaps we will have to run the games as non sanctioned. I doubt many come for the master points anyway.

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