Why, What, Who, How
By Eric Shelton 
ABA Mentor/Mentee Committee Chairman 

Greetings ABA Members 

I would like to introduce myself, my committee, and expound on what the new “Mentor/Mentee Committee does and how it ties back to the vision George Hudson has for the organization. I am Eric Shelton (#19402) from Atlanta, GA. joining the ABA on Feb. 3, 2010. Yes, I am a fairly new player who has already become an addict of the game and shares George’s enthusiasm and commitment to make a difference. Let me expound on the “Why”, “What”, “Who”, and “How” of the new Mentor/Mentee Committee. 


George Hudson has a list of areas he wants to address as President of the ABA which includes increasing the skill level of new players, increasing the ABA membership and increasing the number of newer players attending tournaments. These are the main objectives of this new committee. 

Everyone playing bridge was introduced to the game by someone and most people had a “Mentor” who showed them the ropes and how to play. When 4 novices play together, incorrect bids, contracts, leads, defense, and play of the hand takes place and most of it is never acknowledged, discussed or corrected. Someone wins the hand and game and amasses a good amount of master points. Novices keep doing this in the lower flights until they have collected a lot of points and then have to play against the “Big Dogs”. There they realize why a 1st place in flight B is only 12th score place in flight A. 
When an AM plays with a PRO, the AM learns something from each hand that is played. The PRO can provide polite tips and comments that “teach” as you play and these “tips” are remembered by the AM player for life. The mistake is not usually made twice. A Mentor/Mentee relationship augments the new players study and practice with experience during play from someone who can recognize the areas for improvement the new player can best benefit from. 


The main deliverables of the Mentor/Mentee committee in 2012 will be the education, scheduling, and promotion of the new “PRO/AM/HAM” game at all levels of ABA Club, Unit and tournament play. Many of you are already familiar with the PRO/AM/HAM game as it started in Chicago and also played in Houston. The game is similar to the Mentor/Mentee and Pro/AM games of the past. The HAM (600 – 1999 master points = HAM) component of the game allows players between a PRO and AM to play in the same game on an equal basis with 2 HAMS playing together. The PRO/AM/HAM game will be played at both the Spring and Summer Nationals this year and you will start to see them scheduled on the local, Grade B, Grade A and Sectional Tournament levels in the future. 


The Committee is still under construction and I am working with the Sectional VPs to complete the team. So far I have the pleasure to work with Nelda Gray and Bill Turner from the Southwestern Section, Daisy Smith and Clarice Reid from the Mid-Atlantic Section, Errol Grant from the Eastern Region, and Evelyn Lewis from the Southern Section. I have made sure the Committee represents the entire ABA spectrum with Evelyn Lewis (and her 40 master points) to grand Masters Bill Turner and Clarice Reid. I want to make sure that recommendations from this committee represent all the levels of players in the organization from the bottom to the top. 


The committee members will work with Club Presidents and Tournament Chairpersons to schedule and promote the “PRO/AM/HAM” games locally and in their sections at the Club, Unit and Tournament levels. The Committee members will also assist new players, who really want to learn, find Mentors to work with them. Additionally, the Committee is working on and will publish “Guidelines for the Mentor” and “Guidelines for the Mentee” documents to assist the Mentor/Mentee relationship and direction. 

I have run out of time and space with this first article so I better close with a thank-you for reading all of this. I do look