Taking a breather from San Remo, there was some good news last week as we learnt that we will be represented in the World Championships in August after all. Our Senior team, heartbreakingly, lost the split tie for 6th place in Pau last year. This meant that they failed to qualify by right, but did become the reserve for Sao Paulo. As a result of the surprise withdrawal of the Netherlands we shall now be sending a team. As a result of partnership and other changes it will not be exactly that from the Europeans. Subject to availability at this late notice the designated team is:
Meanwhile, I've had a few enquires about the new coaching groups, so here is a brief explanation (thanks to Heather and Simon for their input to this):
For quite a while now, we have been considering whether there are better ways to choose and prepare our teams for the major championships. We concluded that the way forward is to introduce a squad system, similar to that used by many of the most successful nations. This will have the advantage of utilising the 2 year cycle, creating more consistency in selection and focussing our resources more efficiently, whilst creating a clear entry path for new pairs.
Because this will be quite a radical departure, we are using an evolutionary approach to meet this end and have started by identifying pairs for "coaching groups" prior to the 2010 European Championships. These partnerships, who have demonstrated the necessary capability and commitment to play at championship level, will receive assistance with their coaching arrangements and their progress and development will be monitored. This is, nevertheless, a half-way house, so other pairs, not supported, are still in contention for places in the team.
Meanwhile, the Premier League or trials will still be the main criteria for the teams representing England in the Home International series.
By the way, we are really happy that the Premier League has grown this year. It is an exciting (and good value) opportunity for any players seeking to extend their game to an event played to the format and standards of Championship bridge.