1. Our main purpose in both mentoring streams will be to encourage improvement. This means paying as much attention to identifying the instances of good bidding and play as pointing out errors and misjudgements. The latter will be focused and, if necessary for a balanced approach, selective to avoid discouragement. In the primary stream we will be concentrating on getting the fundamentals of bidding and play right on a consistent basis. In the secondary stream we aim to help those who are comfortable with the basics and want to take their performance to a higher level.
2. Where possible we will assign one mentor to each table of four and as far as possible maintain that mentee/mentor relationship for those four players at subsequent sessions. Normally mentors would not be part of the play unless required to ‘make up the numbers’. In addition, we believe that mentees who have regular partners at broadly the same level will gain the most from these sessions if they attend with those partners and play with them at every session. We will therefore encourage this. In the long term we hope that primary mentees might progress to secondary sessions.
3. The mentoring process at each session will be managed in stages for each board:
The mentees will bid and play the board, if possible without assistance, with the mentor making mental (or written) notes of points to bring out in the subsequent analysis referring to a copy of the hands as required..
The points noted will be consistent with the skill level of the mentees – not too oblique for primaries and not stating the obvious for secondaries (unless it is necessary despite their greater experience).
After completion of the board, the mentees will put all four hands in view and the mentor will run through the points noted, fielding questions and advising further as required.
The mentor will identify any key lessons arising from that board, giving mentees the opportunity to record them on their copy of the proformas supplied.
At the end of the session, the mentor will rehearse the key lessons learned and provide copies of the hands for the mentees.
Normally this process results in around eight to ten boards being studied in each two hour session.
4. There will be three broad themes for each session, primary and secondary:
Did players evaluate their hands accurately, understand the value of their partner’s hand and thereby judge the level to which they should bid correctly?
Did the opening leader analyse the options in light of all of the evidence available and make the optimal choice?
Did declarer form a reasonable plan to make his contract and did his card play deliver that plan?
5. For the primary sessions, the mentor will concentrate on the simple and straightforward, for example:
Did each partnership judge accurately the level to which they should bid (part score, game, slam)?
Did the leader make the ‘obvious’ choice, eg lead his partner’s suit, top of a sequence of honours, 4th best from a long suit against NT? If not was there a good reason why?
Did declarer understand his total of top tricks; was his plan to make up the difference reasonable and did his card play match his aspiration?
6. For the secondary sessions, a little more depth will be explored, for example:
In a competitive auction, did the partnership judge accurately whether to pass, double or bid on? In an uncontested auction, did both players describe their hands to best effect and were slam opportunities accurately explored? Did players use pre-emptive bidding opportunities to best effect?
Did the leader consider other than the obvious choice, where there is evidence that it might not be best?
Did declarer’s plan allow for possible bad breaks and did he analyse accurately available evidence regarding the shape of the defensive hands and the likely placement of key missing cards?
In due course, we may introduce particular themed sessions for the secondary stream using pre-selected boards covering areas such as slam bidding, discovery play, tactics in pairs and teams and table presence.