Ally Morris and Adam Edggton were an unfancied pair at the Australian youth selection tournament for 2009. Ally was competing for at the trials for the first time. Not only did they qualify but they followed up with winning the PABF Championships in China Macau in June, 2009. Here is an email interview with Ally about the whole experience and her general philosophy towards the game....
Q: What sort of a chance did you think you had of making the Australian youth team when you were going into the trials ?
I was positive of our chances. Previous years, the youth seemed to have fielded stronger pairs whilst this year there were a lot of new partnerships and less experienced players. So we put in some good initial work and we had some strong agreements which is always important in youth.
Q: You and Adam Edgtton qualified for the team comfortably in January. What went right ?
There was nothing comfortable about our qualifying, we looked good early on, but it was a tough, gruelling event which seemed to go on forever and the runners up were really biting at our heels (put mildly.) In many ways it was a war of attrition - and fortunately, by keeping positive, getting plently of rest and not discussing hands afterwards (so we could just focus on rejuvenation) really helped us stay consistent. I was lucky to be well instructed by Nye on the importance of just putting in your best performance.
Q: Moving on, Australia were an unfancied team at the PABF Youth Championships in Macau. Other than 2007, we had very rarely managed to win the tournament . How did you rate your chances going into that event?
I know you shouldn't enter pessimistic.. but in all honesty, I didn't think I was being pessimistic by thinking we weren't really competitive. I feel guilty now for underestimating myself and my team, but its a guilt I can happily live with.
Q: We all know now that Australia managed to win the tournament. What are your thoughts on why the team was succesful ?
I believe a thousand things have to go right in an event where all the competitors are so close. Some of which are sheer luck, like winning a good board, which trickles down to posting some good initial results that then boost team confidence for later on. (A bit of chaos theory; a butterfly flutters its wings in Macau and Australia wins the PABF.) Luck aside though, a pair like Howard/Hollands who post strong, consistent results really inspire a team. It was
also really important to put in some ground work. Adam and I could have practiced more, but the mentoring system the ABF set up insured that at least we did some practice and made us conscious of our commitment and kept us in the right mind frame for entering the event. A coach who wasn't afraid to tell us to get to it was ..invaluable. (Thank Sartaj!)
With the PABF Trophy
Q: I recall you played the last match when the two leading teams (Australia and Japan) were close to each other in the standings. Can you share with us your thoughts and attitude going into those 16 boards ?
I just knew if we played the same boring game we'd played up until now we'd win. We'd been reasonably consistent throughout, and that gave us confidence. But at the end of the day, it was just another match and we knew it was our regular game which had got us here so we were mindful just to stay on it. Team morale was really high and we'd played the team before and knew we were up against strong and probably equal opponents, so what we really needed was a better performance on the day, and we were keen to deliver it.
Q: The tension and the responsibility in that last set must have been nerve-racking. Do you recall vividly the experience of playing the last match or is it just a joyful haze ?
Vividly. I tried to be relaxed and non-chalent, but both teams wanted it _really_ bad.
Q: On to another topic. The Australian youth team has tasted some success over the last few years. Do you have any theories on why the Open and Womens teams have not delivered similar performances ?
This is one I'm probably not really qualified to answer. Australia has posted some great international results - and a few of the players who have played this event are people I look up to, so I'm honestly baffled as to why it keeps eluding us. Maybe in a few years when the Youth graduate to Open.. jokes!
Q: What are your bridge plans for the future ?
I just want to get better now. Practice, play and read. Youth events are a great way to gain some confidence and experience, and now I just want to justify the youth budget and perform to my best.
Q: What constitutes an ideal bridge partner ?
Good psychology is such an essential part of any good game. So a partner who can bring the best out of you - or really, just not bring out the worse. A player who you can trust; there is no deal breaker like a partner who leaves you guessing all the time in the bidding and play. And also someone who, no matter how serious it is, always is a reminder in themselves that bridge is meant to be enjoyable. Adam was as serious as nails, and very open with his feelings when things went *horribly* wrong. But thats OK. Bridge is a partnership, and with every partnership there is always a degree of conflict - some conflict can help you grow and thrive, and other times it can cause you to crumble.
Q: Hamman famously commented that bidding system is 3 percent of the game, if that. Would you agree or disagree ?
Honestly, I think the boards we won on the bidding were the ones where we had better bidding judgement then our opponents, completely independent of our system. I think people get too wound up in the system - when Hamman finally starts answering my emails for a game we'll just play straight 2/1 but to its full potential.
Seconds after score-up of the last match