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ACBL's Flawed Masterpoint Formulas

Below is an edited version of a letter I sent to the ACBL Board of Directors.  No official responses, but unofficially I have been told that 90% of ACBL members have no complaints regarding masterpoint awards.  It is not a priority issue!  Further ACBL Score is still at least one year away from being able to process changes (I was given the same line one year ago).  

Meanwhile, tournament attendance continues to decline.  Some tournaments do not have enough teams to run KO events.  Last week at the Augusta, Georgia Regional, there were never more than 13 tables (most were 8 or 9 tables) in the A/X Open Pairs.  Some events were cancelled.  The tournament may have to pay penalties for not meeting its room block.  

Players may not be openly complaining but they do appear to be voting with their feet and wallets.  What do you think?


Ladies & Gentlemen,

I have been complaining about the inequitable and illogical masterpoint formulas for several years. Sadly, to no avail.  Any small modifications seems to have made the situation worse.  On top of that the formulas are confusing to most people including me. 

At the Augusta, Georgia, Regional last week, the 9 team top bracket in a Bracketed Swiss ran opposite an 8 table A/X Open Pairs (opposite Mid-Flight, Gold Rush, perhaps a Loony Tunes & Mickey Mouse flight...).  Winning the EIGHT table A/X Pairs paid 25% more masterpoints than winning the bracket 1 Swiss! 

Very simply,

1) ACBL Pair games pay too many masterpoints

2) ACBL Swiss team events pay too few masterpoints

3) ACBL traditional KO's based on Strength of Field appear to pay reasonable awards.

At last week's Augusts Regional I placed second in the Saturday 9 table A/X Pairs and won 20.27 masterpoints!  First paid 27.56.  Compare to the Monday 12 team A/X/Y Swiss which only paid 15.05 points to win.  Pair games pay too much.  Swiss events pay too little.  There are multiple examples every day of the week.

4) ACBL's new experimental two day RR Swiss qualifier KO events are highly controversial.  Some vociferous critics call it a "a cash grab".  You are forced to pay a full day's entry.  Say your team plays poorly in the afternoon and have no hope to Q.  You must continue.  No option to withdraw, take the evening off, play in the "Losers Swiss".  Still, in the Augusta Sat/Sun "KO", there were 7 teams in the top bracket.  One team walked out at the half with no chance to Q, leaving 6 teams fighting for 4 positions.  A team that just missed Q by a fraction complained that they didn't have a chance to get a full blitz against the weak team that withdrew!  No comment.

There have been FIVE team full day RR to qualify 4 teams.  Then all 4 teams must play two rounds the following day with the awards for 4th being very small. ACBL cash grab.  Forget what the awards are for a moment... playing below average but qualifying 4th out 5 teams and then losing both matches on day 2 and being rewarded?  Almost Kafkaesque!

In my opinion, the RR qualifying formula should ONLY be used in the top bracket if the there are not enough teams to create a 9 team bracket (without forcing teams with too few points to play in it).  There is also the possibility of a 3 session 8 team top bracket if the numbers so indicate but that would cost the ACBL money (heaven forbid - no 4th session!).

5) ACBL's "X" flight.  When it was first introduced it was for players with LESS than 3,000 masterpoints who could play in the Open but be rewarded in the "X" by beating their peers, all with less than 3,000 points.  Basically an ACBL patented masterpoint giveaway.  Place 4th, 5th, 6th overall but win a bundle of points for winning the "X" flight.  Still, there was some logic and reasonableness to it.

No longer.

Today the limit for the "X" flight has been raised to a ridiculous 6,000 masterpoints (what tiny percentage of players have more than 6,000 masterpoints?). Worse, it is now the average of the pair or team.  If I understand that correctly, it means that you qualify for the "X" flight if your partnership has less than a combined 12,000 points or your team has less than 24,000!  This leads to the following absurdities:

1) At the Myrtle Beach New Years Regional (Dec,2017-Jan,2018) Blue Ribbon Pairs Winner Josh Donn playing with Tom Carmichael (NABC Winner, Chair of ACBL's Competitions & Conventions Committee) qualified for the "X" flight of an A/X/Y Swiss!

2) At the Augusta Regional last week, District 7 President Larry Harding (NABC winner, almost 8,000 masterpoints) was eligible to play in the "X" flight of the 9 table Saturday A/X Pairs!

3) At the Augusta Regional last week, Marty Nathan & Bob Simkins (they won the Wed. Bracketed KO (1); Friday Open Swiss; Saturday A/X Pairs; 2nd Sunday Bracketed Swiss (1)) but were eligible to play in the "X" flight of the Monday A/X/Y Swiss!  They won the "X" flight and just under 100 points for the week.  Great for them but winning the "X" flight!?!

It is incomprehensible that the ACBL Board intended the "X" flight of events to be for NABC Champions & the ACBL elite top 1% of players who now qualify under the current criteria.

In a similar vein, at least twice in the past year or so ACBL's Platinum Player of the Year Cedric Lorenzini (on a stellar team)  was placed in Bracket 2 of a bracketed KO!

Perhaps the ACBL Board of Directors should take a long hard look into the future.  Unless major and dramatic changes are implemented at all levels (and that includes a complete overhaul of the current ACBL masterpoint inanities)  there will be no future.

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