Let's face it...... picking say the eight best players in your club to represent the "A" team surely can't be that difficult....or can it ? We are all too aware of football club managers, with oodles of money, buying in the world's most talented individual players, but then struggling like hell to gel them into a winning team. So surely the same problem applies to bridge selectors. The individuals chosen might not gel as a team, and more importantly not gelling into successful partnerships.
If this is the case, then the focus for selectors must change.......to looking for and picking out the best " well established " pairs, who consistently put in good performances in high profile competitive events. Certainly in the world of tennis, the best doubles players hardly ever make the top individual rankings. But what doubles players are good at is their ability to complement one another, by developing an understanding that is second to none......on which countless points are won, and very few conceded.
So what is it that turns two very good players into a top class partnership. Perhaps the concept of synergy comes to mind : where the total outcome of the whole ( ie the pairing ) far exceeds the sum of the two individual parts. However, any pair worthy of selection must possess the following attributes :
- a well-honed understanding of every aspect of their system
- a total knowledge of the system, its conventions, measures and counter-measures
- absolute obedience to the system, enabling one to have complete faith in the other
- a tremendous level of mutual respect and trust
- compatible temperaments, where no player puts unrealistic expectations upon the other
- a shared passion for the game, a shared desire to win, and a shared belief that positive encouragement works
- an ability to see eye-to-eye on all matters concerning strategy and tactics
- complementary personalities, and an instinct as what each of them needs to do in a particular situation
- complete focus on solid bridge rather than flashes of brilliance
Recognising the existence of these attributes, let alone prioritising and " weighting " them in some way, is no easy task. Moreover, does one look more favourably on recent performances, as opposed to all performances over a longer period of time ? In my view, being a selector means you are on a " hiding to nothing ". For all you know it may be possible for the best individual players to quickly adapt and form themselves new truly invincible partnerships ?