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April 2016 English Bridge

SIMON Cope began his involvement with the

English Open Team back in 2008, and is perfectly

placed to give us an insight into life behind the

scenes at the major international bridge

tournaments. He says:

The question I have been asked more than any

other is simply 'What does an NPC (non-playing

captain) have to do?' And the same could be asked

about the role of a Coach. The two jobs combine to

form the management team. European or World

Championships embody high tension. By dealing

with various tasks, we can minimise the stress allowing

players to focus purely on what goes on at

the table.


The NPC selects which two of the three pairs should

be playing any given match or stanza. There are

various things to consider - the form of the players,

any physical issues such as illness or tiredness, and

then there is the tactical angle - knowing which

pairs are best suited to playing at any given time.

Some players always perform well against certain

countries - their systems are tailored to deftly

defend against certain conventions. Occasionally

(unfortunately) the opposite is true.

Additionally, one has to fulfil the role of

figurehead. You are the one to make the final

decision whether to appeal against a director's

ruling. You are required to attend captains' meetings

before the event begins, where the format and rules

of the event are outlined. During the event, the

NPC will watch most of the matches, either at the

table or online if it is being broadcast on BBO

( This enables him to get a

feel for how things are going for each pair.

Once the stress of watching - sweating over every

decision your team makes - is over, it simply

remains to stand on the podium (hopefully) to

collect the medal, and then write an NPC report for

the selectors to read.


The coach's main duty is to go through the

opposing team's system cards, pointing out any

methods which may need special defences and

discussion. This is mostly done before the start of

the event, but sometimes in the knock-out stage you

need to prepare more systems for different

opposition. The coach is also there to offer

emotional support to the players and acts as a

second brain for the NPC to bounce ideas about

line-ups. Together, the NPC and coach bring muchneeded

coffees to players, make restaurant

reservations for dinner, and generally do whatever it

takes to help the team relax when not playing.

Both roles can be stressful, but are extremely

rewarding. I've always been lucky enough to work

with a wonderfully talented Open Team, and our

trips have been unfailingly enjoyable and very

fulfilling as a result. r

What's it all about? by Simon Cope

The NPC and the coach

The NPC and the coach


CONGRATULATIONS to the members of the

EBU's panel of Tournament Directors who have

received promotions at a recent European

Bridge League's Tournament Directors' Course.

Gordon Rainsford was one of only three

participants promoted to the rank of EBL

Tournament Director, the highest level which

could be attained at the event. Phil Godfrey was

made an NBO International Director.

Ian Mitchell, a former member of the EBU's

TD panel, and current member of the EBU staff,

was also made an NBO International Director. r


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