My district (14; both Dakotas, Iowa, Nebraska and Minnesota) faces challenges. We have a large geographic area with low population. We have something called "winter" for a good chunk of the year. And, due to that winter factor, a number of our bridge players head to warmer climes for some months. Thus, achieving high numbers for many of our tournaments and special events is not a easy task.
Perhaps this is most highlighted with Grand National Teams. Our recent GNT District final was held in Omaha, NE. If a team from northern MN wished to compete, they'd face almost 9 hours in a car, or a $500 flight. Consider that if you are fortunate enough to be a winner, many years you'd be lucky to be reimbursed half that amount for your trip to the nationals.
Yet, in my mind, something is even less appealing and frustrating than the time, the travel and the money. The masterpoint payouts.
Here are the final results from this year's competition. (Kudos, BTW, to all winning teams!) See the masterpoint payouts? The Superflight award for winning was 12 masterpoints. Flight A paid 30 points; tying for 3/4 in that flight paid 15. Flight B paid 26 - with 3/4 paying 14.3. Only Flight C winners were awarded fewer masterpoints than Superflight - but only by a small percentage. Flight C paid 10 points.
How can this possibly be the case? Well, due to the above mentioned factors, it is tough to attract many Superflight teams to our finals. Add in that we simply don't have many players who are in the Superflight category, another factor. Finally, it's one thing to travel a short distance to compete against "the big boys" if you don't think your chances are very good. Yet, to spend tons of time and cash with little possibility of success? People stay home.
ACBL GNT condition of contest are such that masterpoint payouts are a function of degree of difficulty, teams entered and sessions played. In some circumstances, all these factors make sense. Yet, for districts that face challenges other districts do not, does such a plan make sense? Is it fair?
In my mind, awarding the winning Superflight team fewer points than any other flight and any other finishers other than Flight C really is an insult to the Superflight winners. They made the effort, played the boards -and won - only to find that their reward is minuscule.
I do wish that the COC were more sympathetic to the varied conditions in each district. If a team in the top bracket competes against another top team - and is victorious - then that team should earn the same payout as teams in other districts.
If your response might be "Well, masterpoints are not that meaningful", then I would agree with you. Nevertheless, they are the way in which ACBL players are rewarded. So, in my mind, as long as masterpoints remain the "coin of the realm" - the payouts should be more in line with equity. Even if you are in a smaller, lower population District - you should receive a just reward!
Plus... it's free!