Join Bridge Winners
A Modest Proposal

Bard Moss is currently sitting “In the Well” and mentioned in passing that he and some other folks are looking into creating a new world championship for bridge separate and distinct from the WBF.

I, for one, applaud this effort. From my perspective, the WBF has taken a number of steps that lead me to question whether it is providing appropriate value for service. In no particularly order, I am particulary concerned that

 

  1. The WBF’s quixotic quest to participate in the Olympics has the distracted the organization from much more important issues.
  2. The WBF’s response to the recent cheating scandals do not inspire faith in the organization
  3. The WBF’s efforts to sell exclusive rights to broadcast Vugraph is ill-chosen, at best and unbecoming an organization that is chartered to promote bridge

With this said and done, I think that starting up a new competition will require solving a number of complex issues. In particular, questions about how to fund the championship and how to determine who gets to participate seem particularly thorny. I am going to throw a straw man out there that describes how I would skin these particular cats. I would be interested to understand what folks think of something like the following.

Guiding Principals / Assumptions

  1. There’s no such thing as a free lunch. The World Championships need to be self-sufficient and generate enough money from entry fees to survive in the absence of contributions from the WBF, Zonal Organizations, Corporate Sponsors, or Charities. In particular, we can’t pretend that we can appeal to well heeled individuals like Bill Gates or Warren Buffet to fund this event in perpetuity. Maintaining an explicit linkage between entry fees and costs is the best way to ensure that the event has appropriate cost controls.
  2. Sponsors / clients are nigh omni-present in top-level bridge. The same set of sponsors who can afford to spend six figures to hire top pros can also afford to pay some very high entry fees.
  3. Top pros and sponsors have already made a mockery of linking “teams” to “country”. Lets but this behind us as a relic of a bygone era.

Proposal

Let’s assume that we decide that the 2018 World Championship will be contests between a total of 64 teams. I propose a system in which there are two explicit and radically different ways to earn the right to have one of these slots.

Path One: Filthy lucre

Some portion of the slots will get sold to the highest bidder. If you are willing to pay enough money, you can avoid the hassle of competing in qualifying rounds and purchase one of those 64 slots. I understand that some folks will view this as a terribly cynical way to run a World Championship. I view this as a practical mechanism to ensure that the World Championship has sufficient $$$ to function.

Path Two: Satellite Rounds

I believe that it is critical that teams that aren’t sponsored by whales also have the ability to participate in the World Championship without needing to mortgage their houses. Therefore, I’d set aside a portion of the entries for individuals who win or place highly in Satellite competitions that are held well in advance of the main event.

I’m not sure where to draw the lines for this system. I view what percentage of the slots should be sold as an open question. With this said and done, I do very much believe that there are enormous benefits to be had from moving to this type of system. This system seems to align well with the realities of top-level bridge. It also closely models the system that poker has been using successfully for years.

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