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All comments by Adam Wildavsky
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This is my favorite Regional event in the country. I'll be making a trip to NYC this year to play in it.

According to “The Official Encyclopedia of Bridge”:

(Board-A-Match's) popularity diminished over the years when it became apparent that the skill involved is so high that the same teams were winning almost all the time.

While I don't think it's a bad thing that the best teams tended to win, quite the contrary, I must point out that over the 20+ years it's been contested many teams have won the NYC event. In its first four years, no player repeated a win, never mind an entire team.

I'd like to encourage anyone in the New York area who thinks of himself or herself a top-flight player, or who aspires to become one, to consider playing in this event. And if you're not a local but you love visiting New York, as I do, this is a great excuse!
22 hours ago
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Thanks for the suggestions, Don!

I have contacted the ACBL. They say they don't have a budget for items like this but will check to see whether they can find someone interested in making a purchase on behalf of the ACBL library.

I only know Bill well enough to wave to at tournaments. If anyone wants to contact him or Warren I've no objection! My email address is adam@tameware.com.
Oct. 22
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I found more potential purchasers than I'd expected. My initial plan is to hold a Dutch auction. I'll announce a high initial price, then lower it in steps until I find a taker or reach a point at which I don't want to sell. I plan to do this by email, not on BridgeWinners. Please contact me privately if you'd like me to keep you in the loop.
Oct. 22
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6 is a decent spot single-dummy. It needs both minors 3-2 and no spade lead. I've seen a couple notorious 6 overcalls on worse hands than this one.
Oct. 20
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I was East at the other table. My club switch had the effect of breaking up the simple squeeze but that was not my intent. I certainly did not envision the end position. A diamond switch would have been safer since declarer might have needed to guess clubs.
Oct. 18
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It seems that Norway is a monarchy, and the King retains the power to pardon:

http://www.nysun.com/editorials/hats-off-to-harald/90095/
Oct. 13
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Copied from the other thread. I urge you to vote “No”.

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One of our chief responsibilities as administrators is to make sure that every competitor has an incentive to do as well as he can in every match. Providing an advantage to a team that loses a match abrogates our responsibility. Any such policy is an evil one and would be even if no player ever dumped intentionally. As The Bridge World magazine put it, it is wrong to place a player in a situation where he will suffer the disapprobation of roughly half of his peers no matter which action he takes.

We must retain the sequester. If for some reason we eliminate it then I will resume my quest to eliminate the RR in favor of a straight KO with first-round byes.
Oct. 12
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One of our chief responsibilities as administrators is to make sure that every competitor has an incentive to do as well as he can in every match. Providing an advantage to a team that loses a match abrogates our responsibility. Any such policy is an evil one, and would be even if no player ever dumped intentionally. As The Bridge World magazine put it, it is wrong to place a player in a situation where he will suffer the disapprobation of roughly half of his peers no matter which action he takes.

We must retain the sequester. If for some reason we eliminate it then I will resume my quest to eliminate the RR in favor of a straight KO with first-round byes.
Oct. 12
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I agree with Michael. A tie in the final should be decided by a playoff. This does not pose the logistical and fairness problems (the winner will be less rested than their next opponent) that it would in an earlier round.
Oct. 8
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Because total points would take precedence there would be no incentive to use BAM strategy. I predict that a BAM tiebreaker would happen less often than once per century. It's simply there as a last-ditch effort to avoid a coin toss.

I'd be happy for total-point tiebreaks to yield precedence to overall RR finish, but we do need something in the case of teams that tied in the RR or did not play in it. I don't mind that total-point strategy is different than IMP strategy, since total points are the foundation of all other scoring methods.
Oct. 7
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When two teams tie a KO match it would be reasonable for either to go forward. I view it as essentially arbitrary, so long as it is objective and known beforehand. Any of the proposed methods work for me. For teams that did not play the RR I'd be fine with total points, then BAM if still tied (unlikely), then a coin toss. For nitpickers, total points would be scored without honors.
Oct. 7
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Bob, the Colorado Springs system is a labor of love. Had it even a smidgeon of funding or support from the ACBL it could easily be extended to team games. The English have done this already. They produce a combined rating using a conversion factor they have determined empirically at 6.48 % to 1 IMP per board. Were I doing this I'd likely produce separate ratings for IMPs and MPs instead.

I suggest it would be more useful, more accurate, and less threatening to the status quo to use a rating system rather than trying to tinker with the masterpoint system. The two can live alongside one another, as they are measuring different things.
Oct. 7
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Thanks for posting, Barbara! I agree that these are important issues, but like you I don't know where the solution lies. I find it difficult to remember how I learned this stuff. I asked my friends Amy and Steve Nellissen about it, since they run a club that caters to newcomers. Steve replied:

=======================

We try to get them playing in a Newplicate for a year. (Faces, mumbling, and other social faux pas and all).

I occasionally talk about Jacoby Transfers and tell a joke about not making Monkey or Seal noises when partner doesn’t say “transfer”.

By the time they are comfortable, they start playing in our Non-LM game, and if they are pretty well hooked, we can gently address some of these behaviors.

There is too much to learn and remember, without etiquette lessons for social players.

If a club can’t deal with the skew or the players can’t make exceptions for new folks, the club is in trouble.

An ACBL protocol would be ridiculous.
Oct. 3
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Board by board results would allow us to dive deeper into analysis, but it's not clear to me which of the ACBL's goals would that serve. If something simpler lets us bootstrap a Strength-Based Rating system them I'm all for starting simple.

If you'd like a rich body of data I suggest you request access to the BBO or OKBridge archives. They have not only deal by deal results but trick by trick. Richard Pavlicek has analyzed data from Vugraphs of top team events and posted some interesting findings:

http://www.rpbridge.net/9ya1.htm

Unfortunately, he stopped in 2014.
Oct. 1
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Richard, I like your suggestion of basing ratings on board by board performance but it might prove unnecessary. Many algorithms would transform linearly so that the sum of a pair's board-by-board ratings for a session, taking into account each opponent's rating, would be equal to the rating based on the sum of the pair's scores and the average of their opponent's ratings.
Oct. 1
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I dropped in to comment on the Strength-Based Rating proposal, and I am happy to see that Richard has made most of the points I had in mind. I'll emphasize a few of his points and then add a couple more:

As Richard notes, the proposed implementation is much too complex, and unnecessarily so. Bridge is such a wonderful game precisely because it has so many interlocking aspects. No means of separation of component skills can hope to measure all of them individually. Further, setting up special deals would feed paranoia and appears contrary to to the laws of bridge.

Fortunately the foregoing proves unnecessary since we already have a method that measures all aspects at once in the most accurate way possible – club and tournament play. Let us use these results as input to our system.

Using matchpoint results is precisely the method used by the Power Ratings system from Colorado Springs, the National Grading Scheme from the English Bridge Union, and perhaps others worldwide. Similar systems have been constructed for IMP results. We can use these existing systems to great advantage. From the English experience, we can learn the effect of the system on attendance, if any, on the nature of bridge competition, and on bridge professionalism. We can use the Colorado system to bootstrap an ACBL system. It already seems to include results from NABC pair games. All it needs is a data feed from the ACBL to include results from all ACBL matchpoint play, ideally including a decade's or so worth of past results.

All of the obviates any requirement to separate fields of so-called experts from non-experts because of masterpoint or rating considerations. There would never be any need for a stratified pairs, and flighting could be affected by rating, with lower-flighted players allowed to choose to play up a level.

You may note that if a pair play exclusively with one another then it is not possible to assign a rating to the members of the pair since we have no way of knowing the relative strength of the two members, but the pair itself can be rated. The Colorado and NGS systems take this into account.

The ACBL proposal does not elucidate some of the advantages I see in a rating system. More accurate seeding is indeed one, but it seems relatively unimportant to me. Much more important is to take into account different strengths of partnerships and fields, for instance, professional partnerships, open versus invitational games, or open versus women's or mixed fields. Each player's rating would be the percentage score he'd be expected to attain playing with a partner of similar rating in a field of exactly average strength for the ACBL as a whole. Scoring better than expected would improve a player's rating, the extent of improvement proportional to the amount he exceeded the expected score. The converse would be true for falling below the expected score. The expected score would be the average of the two players ratings. This would lessen or eliminate the rating advantage of those who hire pros and would encourage more demand for partners with lower ratings, most especially those who appear underrated. Using a rating system also has the potential to put to bed the endless discussion of who should get what part of the masterpoint award for a six-person team. Each match would be rated individually, so only the ratings of the players in that match would be affected.

For reference the Strength-Based Rating proposal can be found here:

https://web3.acbl.org/myacbl/user/content/big-ideas

The Power Rating system is here:

http://www.coloradospringsbridge.com/PR_FILES/PR.HTM

The National Grading System is here:

https://www.ebu.co.uk/ngs
Oct. 1
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Not everyone, Phil. Yes, everyone understands that governments treat tax evasion seriously, since taxes are their source of revenue, and that one should pay what one owes, to the extent it is possible to determine it, out of a sense of self-preservation. But not everyone considers tax evasion immoral. There is a school of thought that considers compulsory taxation worse than theft, since a thief does not claim that he is taking your funds for your own good. This school would suggest that allowing governments more funds simply permits them to do more harm. You might not agree, but it would be difficult to argue that everything any current government does is beneficial.

Bridge cheats, on the other hand, are a scourge. If I could think of a punishment worse than a lifetime ban but still legal then I would propose it.
Sept. 28
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Apologies for the original poor formatting. I've now corrected it as best I could, and I've filed a bug report noting that previews get formatted differently from what they're previewing! Also, the “code” tag works (mostly) but the “pre” tag does not.
Sept. 26
Adam Wildavsky edited this comment Sept. 26
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Yes, a hand diagram would be nice, but failing that I'd love to see opener's hand below responder's hand.
Sept. 26
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