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"Playing Up" - An open letter to Jay Whipple

An open letter to Jay Whipple, President of the ACBL, regarding “playing up”.

May 29, 2018

Dear Jay,

I am writing to express my dissatisfaction with respect to the ACBL policy of not allowing additional teams to play in the top bracket of a bracketed swiss at regional events. As it was described to me by the director in charge, the ACBL "national policy" is not to permit a team to "play up" for any reason. This means that the top bracket will have nine teams (eight matches) and the bottom bracket will likely be some number of teams less than nine. The alternative would be to allow more than a nine team top bracket, with the "usual winners play winners and losers play losers."

We were playing in the Memorial Week Denver Regional. As nonplaying captain for a USA junior team (U26-2) traveling to China in August, I had brought members of my junior team, at significant personal expense, to Denver for the week so that they could practice playing against the strongest opponents we could find. My wife and I had planned to play 6 handed (only 4 members of my team were able to come to Denver) in the top bracket of the Sunday bracketed swiss. Annie and I between us had 27,000 masterpoints but the rest of team did not have many masterpoints and, when the total was divided by 6, we were put in the second bracket.

My juniors are strong enough players that we would certainly have been competitive in the top bracket. One pair (Arjun Dhir and Will Zhu) was second in the Saturday open pairs while the other (Burke Snowden and Greg Herman) was busy winning the District 17 flight A GNT. Our team finished third in the Monday swiss team. They were disappointed by this policy, as was I. This is yet another classic example of the ACBL not thinking about juniors and not being proactive with junior bridge.

My opinion is that for a bracketed swiss (and for KO's that do not have 16 teams in the top bracket), anyone should be able to request to play in the top bracket provided that, in the opinion of the director, it would not be detrimental to the quality of the competition. Alternatively, juniors who are a part of the USBF junior program, particularly those who have qualified for international competition in the junior trials and are gearing up their training three months before the world junior championships, should be given some sort of exemption. (For example, they could be deemed to have sufficient masterpoints to qualify for the top bracket. If foreign juniors were to come and play, my understanding is that they may be “given masterpoints” for this purpose.)

Sincerely,

Dave Caprera

P.S. We won the second flight handily. In addition, two of our opponents were unhappy and complained to the directors that it was "unfair" to have to play against us.

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