I spent today helping at the SBU Junior Trials. Perhaps it is overstating a little to call it a trial, since the results would only be a guide to selection for the Home Internationals for the Junior Camrose and Peggy Bayer next month and the real aim was to get as many juniors playing as possible.
Scotland does have some excellent junior internationalists at the moment, but they do age and it is important to keep young people coming into the game and to balance teams with a blend of youth and experience. Two of the juniors from the recent past, Alex Wilkinson and Phil Stephens, were actually playing for the Open team in the Camrose Trophy today; even among those who are still juniors, Frazer Morgan, Jun Nakamaru-Pinder and Yvonne Wiseman have played for Scotland in the European Championships or Olympiad.
None of these stars were at the trials but I was amazed to see twenty-four young players there. Everyone played about thirty hands and were watched by myself, Mike Ash (SBU President) and Jenny Cooper. Experience varied widely - some play regularly at clubs and have been to a congress; others had probably never played so many boards in a day.
They all coped magnificently. Firstly their behaviour was exemplary and something their elders should take note of. They played to time and the more experienced players helped the younger ones to score. They called the director when things went wrong, as I exhorted them to do.
Overall it was just a real pleasure to be there today.
There will be a number of disappointed players when the two teams are announced for next month, but there are a number of other events later this year and almost all of the players will be part of the junior scene for many years. Our challenge is to keep them interested, help them develop and build a strong future not only for Scottish junior bridge but also for the Camrose and Lady Milne teams.
Results are on the SBU site.