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All comments by David Yates
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I might have posted this story, but it applies here.

George & Jack (last names omitted) had a horrible 1st final. So they had plenty of consolation juice at dinner and were pretty blasted for the second set. They bid to a small slam against Blanchard & Casen. Dummy hit, Jack played a card or two and then spent a long time either thinking about the hand or trying to stay upright in his seat.

Finally, Drew said: “look, just play something, this hand cannot be made.” Jack shrugged, played off a bunch of cards and arrived at a cool but unforeseen end position to force a win. Bob & Drew looked at the hand after the event. They determined that in fact, the defense could not stop the hand given the great declarer play and brought it to the Bulletin office. But they had no idea who their opponents were, so the declarer was uncredited.

Next morning George saw the hand in the paper. He gave it to Jack at lunch, who now proceeded to fail five successive times to find the winning line.

“Who can possibly make this hand?”, asked a frustrated Jack. George responded: “you, but apparently not when you are sober.”
2 hours ago
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One of the problems with math formulas is when one starts with the wrong values for variables, we very likely end up with silly results even after careful calculation.

A human looking at the seeding and results might note that Marion’s team lost by less than a NV game swing to a team that made R-16 and also beat #12 & #5 on the way - by larger margins. The human would suspect that even though it was one trial, that #44 was under-seeded.

However, a math formula is not going to adjust for this observation. In fact, it likely exacerbates the problem by (a) not recognizing a tight match and (b) letting SP (potentially) decay. So next time, #44 might be lower, face a tougher first round draw and we repeat the process.

Meanwhile, assigning ridiculously high initial values to players would make initial draws easier to win and the value that the human might observe as initially too high is perhaps now rewarded by the math calculations for a win.

IMO, formulas for the Vandy/Spingold have long since become pointless. When the event was closed, the math worked well enough. Once upon a time total MP also meant something. But the problem is not just wrong initial values that one day - based on two events per year - might revalue to something correctly. The formula - as presented - cannot possibly be right. Capping WBF at 20 of 50 has to be wrongheaded. What this presumes is that a player could win or place in every European championship and event in sight, come in second to USA in the BB - as Norway did in 2001 - and the most SP we would award Brogeland, Helgemo or Helness is 20 if they had not played over here.

When it is easy to demonstrate absurd outcomes from a formula, it is time to abandon it.
8 hours ago
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I do not think this is much of an issue in Vandy/Spingold anymore. This comes from someone who always hit a brick wall in R64 and sometimes on the previous day.

Look at the middle of this field. #30 won the Swiss. #40 is very strong and made it to R16. Every team in-between can play. I remember talking to Helgy after a big win on the first day and asking about his “laugher”. Geir pointed out the tournament is not a walk to late rounds anymore. He said: “there are twenty teams in the field who could win the whole event and anyone can win any given match going forward. So the tournament certainly starts tomorrow.” It was prophetic because that was Geir’s last day in the event.

I am undervalued compared to my SP, but valuing me a bit more is not going to make a difference these days.

The event that is really wrong with seeding is the Trials. They often start with a two-day RR for all but 2 or 3 teams that might a bye - which was earned that year BTW, so that is not the problem.

The problem is they go back to original seed# for the KO phase. When I played, we were the last seed of maybe 20 in the RR and Q’d 4th. Our 1st Rd KO op was now the best team without a bye, and included Pepsi, Rosenberg and Passell. Now it is great fun playing great teams. And we did not embarrass ourselves, but this is a stupid way to have to earn SP. And I would have preferred to play them later and enjoyed a deeper run.

The upshot is I have not been back, because it makes no sense to arrange time off, travel and expense to repeat this process. I simply do not have resources I can squander for a couple days and done. At least if I go to a NABC and go out right away (no offense guys, but I’d also rather get KO’d by Jeff & Eric than Adam & Zach) there are other events I can play. And I am not stuck in Schaumberg trying to get home.
9 hours ago
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(1) is a very good point. If a team takes out a top seed in R64 but goes out the next round to a much lower seed, it would suggest the first upset is not as indicative of O/A performance as that result suggests. If “Cinderella” advances again (like Lian in ‘16 and NRK in ’17) they presumably gain more (though I have no idea how much) in SP.

IMO, the complaint about the seeding should be looked at differently from the other viewpoint - why is it fair to a top seed to face such a strong team in such an early round?

It simply is not good enough to say “well, Fleischer/Zimmerman (whomever) was supposed to win anyway.” The road to the trophy is filled with plenty of dangerous opponents these days. It is not fair that one team should need to negotiate one (or two) more landmines than another. And that is why they need to get the seeding right.
9 hours ago
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I am tempted to vote for something else:

Make Flannery illegal, legalize multi - it is easier to defend.
10 hours ago
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It seems to me that the pair events are better seeded than the big team events.
March 22
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The main reason you do not subtract points for a loss is because what the “upset” proves - if it proves anything at all, it might have been dumb luck - is that the lower seeded team might be undervalued. It certainly does not prove the higher ranked team is overrated.

Nearly every time Nickel is ousted, it is by a lower seeded team. On any given day, there are teams out there that can and have beaten Nickel in a KO match.

And at the end of the day, it is still the Nickel team. It is not like Eric & Jeff went out and got a lobotomy. Bobby & Steve can be wild and crazy guys, but I am pretty sure they didn't go get one either.
March 22
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No math formula is going to be accurate enough. Therefore our system should not be reliant entirely on arbitrary formulas.

One problem is ratings for players are not the same as ratings for partnerships. The ratings system will overvalue new partnerships. For example, “Nick” Nickel playing with me is currently rated slightly better than T. Bessis playing with F. Volcker. No one believes that, including Nick and me.

And Reese Milner playing with Bessis is slightly better than regular partnership Bessis/Volcker. Oh, and I picked Reese because his seeding is slightly higher than Frederic and Reese over-performed vs his team seed in the last Vandy (Some big wins for team Dad Lall).

The math formula will also not tell you which pairs are hitting stride and which pairs are close to hitting each other. The math formulas will also not adjust quickly or accurately enough because we are talking just two major IMP KOs per year.

What a math formula might do is give us a reasonable approximation of a team’s strength. But we can use that formula as a basis of our seeding. I once proposed a system that everyone hated, but what the heck, bridge players inevitably hate new ideas. So I will keep resubmitting the idea until it seems like and old idea and people will like it.

To start, one only needs a method of determining tiers
#1 seed
#2-4 (almost no order)
#5-8 (no order)
#9-16 (no order)
#17-32 (no order)
#33-64 (no order)

A team’s tier could be determined by math. Alternatively, it could be a combination of math and seeding committee input. The point is, we need only to get seeding mostly right and slip teams into a general category. The real purpose of seeding is to make teams happy with their draw. The best way to insure that, IMO, is to let them pick their draw.

#1 is defending champs or highest math. 2, 3 & 4 are next highest math grouping. #1 picks from this group their SF op. That is now #4. Highest math of remaining two is #2 seed. They now pick starting at always #1, from 5-8 their R-8 op (assuming everyone holds seed). Notice that the last remaining team is now #5 and just assigned to #4. Then 1-8 pick from 9-16 group the R-16 ops. We repeats, with 1-16 picking from the next group. Then 1-32 picking from 33-64. Notice the last match is always just assigned, but 4 is supposed to be close to 5, 8 close to 9 and 16 close to 17.

Because bridge players can always find something not to like, I got (pretty silly, IMO) feedback. One objection was a higher seeded team always picking team-you because they match up well. What is wrong with this objection is that seeding is not supposed to make the LOWER seeded team happy. Also, it ignores the reality of game theory. If another teams knows a competitor picking after them is going to choose their favorite “patsies”, they are likely to remove that choice for their more real ops by picking the “patsies” themselves.

In any event, employing such a method as I propose, there is no way #3 Fleisher draws (supposedly #62) NRK in R64 or Zimmerman picks Lian. And if they do, they have only themselves to blame because they had early choices.

The purpose of seeding is to prevent teams expected to make it to later rounds from meeting in earlier rounds. In doing so, it helps insure that all competitors have an approximately equal strength of schedule on the path to the title, while giving a slight nod to higher seeds. Notice that a team like #59 Lian (Vandy ‘16) or #62 NRK (this year) floating in the 33-64 range will automatically reseed much higher. Probably into the 30s. And if not in the Vandy, they will by the Spingold. No silly math formulas needed.

As far as getting the tier completely wrong, like Schwartz being #20, either rethink the math formulas or allow a committee (including team captains) to reassign tiers upward. What I would do is not allow a direct “downgrade” of the math formula ranking, but specific teams might be moved forward one tier by a seeding committee. IMO, this is not really that important in the long run. Right now the adjustments are just goofy. If a team is underseeded by an entire tier, presumably they will over-perform relative to their seed and the rankings should adjust quickly enough to move them up a tier.

BTW, the 65+ teams just get ranked by math for the D-1 matches after 1-64 are set.

Obviously, putting the draw together is going to take more time and work. Since we have to shuffle and deal in early rounds ourselves, it is not likely our ACBL is going to put forth any more effort than they have to collect out money. Someone who actually knew something about marketing would see this as a great promotional event. Through a party Sunday, have all the captains and interested players attend. Make it like draft day. (Draft beer anyway). Everyone could see the bracket develop on Bridgewinners - because its not likely the ACBL would ever set up a big board, is it?

It would be fun, interesting, workable and remove most of the problems for seeding because the players are basically setting the seeding withing the framework of tiers.

But we never did it that way and it sounds like work. . . .
March 22
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Hmm, which is worse? Drawing Diamond in R-64 in Vandy ‘16 or being #4 Diamond in Vandy ‘17 and getting a way under-seeded Schwartz in R-16? Probably the later. Certainly these days.

Years ago, before the big influx of foreign players, the seeding problem for these events was for lower seeded players. The seeding became a Catch-22. If one had no seeding points, one drew a low single-digit seed in R-64 and that was the end of your event. You still had no seeding points, so the process would be repeated next time. Out in R64. Meanwhile, the middle of the bracket had all sorts of teams you knew you could take down (often because you had done so in regional KOs) or had a decent chance to. But 3 and 4 day runs where never going to happen if you played Nickel in R-64.

Nowadays, there is no soft middle or even soft lower middle. Consider this year, Boyd, Stewart & Woolsey were on the #26 seed. (And hardly my idea of soft players). Twenty years ago, in ‘97, Boyd was on the #3 seed (ironically playing on the Schwartz team). Kit & Fred (perhaps not playing together because some kid named Steve Weinstein was dragging down the seed# on that team) were seeded #6. Everyone held serve and in R-8 after some serious recounts, Schwartz emerged with a 1-IMP win and went on to win the event.

While there was plenty of soft middle back then, not every team. In ‘97 Vandy, a team with two 3-time world champions and a pair from the most recent Bermuda Bowl silver medalists was #19. The pair dragging this team’s seed down was two “kids” (one was still a junior) named Greco & Hampson. Oh, and G-H started that Dallas NABC by winning the Open Pairs.

So the seeding problems that Brian cites have apparently been around for a while. Starting in the late ‘90s if you drew a team with four Polish guys you never heard of over here, you were in big trouble. Now, it seems China is the new Poland.

In Reno, 3 guys from China and 2 from Singapore were seeded #59, directly behind us, which is why I noticed it. I thought it absurd. This team (Lian) won easily on day 1. In R-64 they knocked out #5 Zimmerman. Then they took out #38 Goldberg. Then #11 Bramley. Their run was stopped in R-8 by Cayne. Ironically, JEC must have played the pair from Singapore hundreds of times in BBO matches. Team Goldberg actually later added the Singaporean pair. Hua Poon and Choon Chou Loo, would make R-16 in the Spingold, place 3rd in the Reisinger. 7th in the Jacoby Swiss and 3rd in the Roth. So they went from ~ 4.1 SP to 13.7 SP by the next Vandy. The SP at least are being adjusted, but that does not change the #5 seed from having a ridiculous draw the year before.

The current fields are very deep, but it is still not fair to higher seeded teams to face randomly under-seeded teams too early in the event.
March 22
David Yates edited this comment March 22
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Harold left the ACBL “only” a hundred grand trust and a really nice trophy. Yet the ACBL runs the opening rounds of the Vandy (& Spingold too) like a side game. Bridgewinners is the only reason we get timely scoring updates. Jan M. is the reason why their is any VG at all.

Even the NLMs playing at our local clubs get pre-dealt hands with hand records and the entry fee is less than $25 a session - with lunch & drinks included.

Shuffle/Deal/Play is appropriate if one does not take one's duties as a tournament sponsor seriously.
March 21
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Missed Kevin's post, or would have posted here and not below.

West falls into the position for 12 because after he takes ruffing finesse at trick 2, he leads low towards AJ tight and even I get this one right when N discards. You cannot argue N would not cover J at trick two because it is likely he would and non-offenders get benefit.
March 21
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Pretty certain the proper adjustment (if one is made, and I sure would) is to 4Hx +2 for +1190. The non-offenders gets best result probable and I see no reason why N is not leading K.

Child's play for 12 tricks now. A ruffing finesse & ruff, pitch a spade and when you play a low heart towards AJ it now is impossible to get this one wrong.
March 21
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Vugraphing is difficult. VG-ing Meckwell can be very hard. I would assume many unavoidable errors by any VG operator not named Jan Martel - who somehow gets all the cards right and still has time for all sorts of details of what is happening.
March 21
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It appears that the proper explanation would be “North makes completely random calls and I try to guess”.
March 21
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Girl power. Congrats to the ‘other’ Cayne team - and Captain V along with the merry crew. (Dano is always merry)
March 19
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The Martian girl from Total Recall would get a lot of the male judges' votes - but the bad guys shot her :(
March 19
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I do not believe they got this one right. And I do not think this is even close in to how wrong the decision was, which was in favor of the offending side. This particular case highlights some problems with our laws, procedures and interpretations.

That 6 of 6 players queried by a TD asked what 2 was PROVES NOTHING. And no, I am not sorry for shouting. Anytime a TD asks a player for an opinion, that player already has more information than a player at the table. The player being polled knows there is a problem and is on alert. I doubt that ANY good player would ask what a non-alerted 2 meant at the table. That is what we need to consider and what was produced by polling bias is meaningless.

First, why would you ask? The bid was not alerted. Cue bids are not alerted unless they have an unusual meaning; as here. The standard meaning of a cue bid here would simply be a GF hand lacking direction. If it was unusual, why wake up responder?

If a player is supposed to now “protect himself” by asking about a non-alerted bid that has a perfectly standard and normal meaning, then we have now reached loony-land with laws and procedures. Really, this is just total loony-land. Asking about a normal bid always creates UI. And why would you ever suspect West was transferring to hearts given the North hand?

If I have to ask about every perfectly normal non-alerted bid in every auction to be protected, the game becomes unplayable. Meanwhile, the non-alerters get off free.

This was a horrible decision. The purpose of “protect yourself” is to deny a player from trying to take advantage of a known or suspected non-alert from creating a legal double shot to win a board. That clearly was not happening here. If this is how the laws are being applied, then it is not - as Mr Bumble once proposed - that it is the law that is an ass.
March 19
David Yates edited this comment March 19
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And I thought that was the trophy.

Congrats to Pam & Sylvia
March 19
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They never left, the mountain peak just got a little crowded, so the Nickel team built a platform on top.
March 19
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Yep. And J-Lall record in this event is insane as well :)
March 16
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