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All comments by Lior Silberman
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I have no tournament bridge experience, but the chess answer to “what if we have several 10-minute hands” is that your level of play depends on the time allotted. It is completely understood that if you reach a complicated position with little time on the clock you might make a worse move that you'd have made with more time. In fact, chess tournament chess is played under a variety of time controls (from 3 minutes + 2 extra seconds per move for blitz games to (roughly speaking) an hour per 20 moves for top tournaments), and the games have different characters depending on how much time is available. Most importantly, if everyone playing the same hands gets the same amount of time to do so it shouldn't matter than some hands are difficult.

Of course managing the clock is a very important chess skill, even if doesn't involve moving the pieces. Adding clocks will simlarly change the game of bridge, and bridge players will have to develop the the relevant skill.
Feb. 21
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I assume these are android or iOS tablets rather than full-fledged PCs. In that case put an air-gapped PC under the table and connect it to the tablets with four USB cables. You can then “reverse tether”: use the PC as a network bridge between the tablets.

The advantage of this approach is that the apps on the tablets can then communicate over ethernet (so you have WiFi as backup).
Feb. 21
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The EBU hasn't published the research underlying its rating system, but in the official explanations it is claimed that the small number of players who play outside each club is sufficient to bring the rating system to global equilibrium.
Feb. 17
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Did Meckwell really play 287 boards? That's not a multiple of 16!
Sept. 22, 2019
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Total masterpoints is not a rating system: it measures lifetime achievement rather than current playing strength.
Sept. 22, 2019
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(outsider point of view) I think what you need is a rating system, so that you can open the events based on skills (ceilings or floors as the case may be) rather than calendar age.
Sept. 21, 2019
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There is a significant difference between visa denials on political reasons (e.g. Indonesia refusing to give visas to Israelis as such) and visa denials on individual grounds. After all many people are denied visas every day for normal, ordinary reasons.

I will not speculate on the reasons for the visa denial here, but the fact that all other US participants received visas strongly indicates that nothing untoward has happened, for all the fact the outcome must be very distressing to both Mr. Grue and his team.
Sept. 12, 2019
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On p4 it is East who might continue clubs, not North.
Aug. 24, 2019
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(Snark) The game of chess employs an ingenious device for encouraging players to plan their next move before it is their turn to make it …
May 21, 2019
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Another aspect of the problem is the lack of a good rating system for bridge. Because there is no independent measure of playing strength, proxies like masterpoints and titles are used instead, and so those who measure success by “number of titles” feel it's unfair that weaker players have “too many” titles relative to their strength.

If there was a rating system I expect most people would put less weight on number of wins as a measure of greatness, which would free them to be happy for weaker players to win on stronger teams (especially since it would be clear how much each player contributed).
May 1, 2019
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Maybe the people who resent the fact that weaker players on strong teams (often the sponsors) get the win even if they contributed less don't watch other team sports.

The typical professional basketball team has a roster of 15 players, of which up to 13 can be active for any particular game. Unsurprisingly, these 15 players have vastly varying levels of skill, and therefore do not equally share the playing time. Top players will play about 70% of the time, while some players may only play a few minutes over an entire season. Nevertheless, if the team wins, each player gets a championship ring – even the last benchwarmer who only played a few minutes in the middle of the regular season. Note that this benchwarmer, who would look silly on the court if forced to play major minutes against the strongest lineups of other teams, is actually better at basketball than all but a few hundred people in the world. It's just that, instead of playing against peple of the same skill level, he's being compared to the top handful of players.

Similarly, the typical soccer team has a roster of about 22 players, of which 11 can be on the field at any given time (and up to 3 more can enter as substitutes). Nevertheless, the entire team wins the game and gets the medals – including those players who never suited up!

From the perspective of a fan watching the game, I don't understand what the problem is. For all that Mr. Nickell is far better at bridge than practically the entire membership of the ACBL, the two other pairs on his team are even better, and it's great that they play more. I'm also happy crediting him with the win.
May 1, 2019
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Price discrimination should obviously be legal (in the usual case where all participants are free to accept or decline the transaction), but it doesn't make it wise in every situation. Charging tourists more is a great idea: the tourists, being better off, might be willing (and able) to pay more, but can't fill the hotel, while offering locals rooms at the price they can afford is still profitable too. That's called segmenting the market and is usually a good thing – if the tourists don't like the price they are being charged they can always go to a different hotel.

Steve argues that pros would be willing to pay more (because they gain more from playing), so the ACBL should charge them more. If the goal of the ACBL is to raise the maximum amount of revenue, this might be the right strategy. However (as others have pointed out) the ACBL's costs do not depend on whether the players are pros or amateurs, and the ACBL derives a significant benefit from the pros playing (they raise the level of competition). When facilities charge more for “business usage” they are trying to segment the market – but is the goal of the ACBL to promote bridge or to make money from running bridge events?

There is no a-priori way to decide whether the “correct price” is at ACBL's costs (the market price in a world where the customers are extremely price-conscious and there is heavy competition) or at the customers' value from playing (the market price in a world where the ACBL is ruthless in extracting as much value from each player). In practice many considerations affect what each side is willing to pay or accept.

I think what we're seeing here is that humans have a strong sense of group politics, including a strong resentment to “taking advantage” through the idea of “fairness”, but different people have a different sense about what's “fair” here. Some feel that discriminating against pros would be “unfair”, others that, since the pros are deriving income, it's “unfair” that they aren't contributing more. I'm not a member of the ACBL, so I don't get to pick a side here.
May 1, 2019
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Yes: the fact that the players are unionized prevents players from having ownership stakes in their team. Michael Jordan had to give up his share of the team to suit up for the Wizards, for example.
April 30, 2019
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Alan: you are remembering the pattern at the https://bridgewinners.com/article/view/2014-european-trials-open-discussion-thread/?cj=122095">European Teams Championships, not at WBF events.
April 17, 2019
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Michael: You are misattributing the source of the politics.

If WBF changes play schedules for political reasons, then it isn't possible to avoid politics when discussing WBF scheduling policies. In particular, the legitimacy and widson of the proposed scheduling criterion (“the WBF will accommodate requests to not play F–N”) must be judged against existing scheduling criteria, including “the WBF accommodates requests not to play Israel” if it is a criterion.
April 17, 2019
Lior Silberman edited this comment April 17, 2019
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The discussion is getting confrontational because some things need to be confronted, and abetting boycotts is one of them.

Sometimes it is not possible to avoid Israel – for example, Israel and Pakistan often both qualify for the Bermuda Bowl, which is a single-group round-robin – and it is true that (at least within the period I checked), in those cases Pakistan has played Israel (I don't think the other teams have qualified to the BB). But this is only half the story: that Pakistan plays Israel when scheduled is entirely irrelevant to (and cannot possibly explain why) the WBF tries to avoid scheduling them to play each other when possible.

Furthermore if Lebanon has never “refused to play Israel” then how does the WBF know to assign Lebanon and Israel to different groups?
April 17, 2019
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I was indeed trying to prove that, in order to avoid “arguments or war”, the WBF manipulates the group assignments so that countries that would prefer not to play against Israel are relieved of the obligation as much as possible. (aside: would this accommodation extend to knock-out stages?).

I took your first response to Don to deny that this was taking place, but it seems that you are instead confirming that it is WBF's policy to do so. Is this policy documented anywhere?

Now that you agree that the WBF does, in fact, accommodate boycott preferences when assigning groups, I can ask Don's question again:

Suppose a team A coming to a WBF event would prefer not to play against team B, which they suspect of cheating. Would team A be offered the same accommodations the WBF currently offers Bangladesh, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Pakistan, Palestine, Qatar, and the UAE who prefer (for reasons that have nothing to do with bridge) not to play Israel?
April 17, 2019
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Mr. Damiani: Here are a few examples:

1. In the 15th World Bridge Games (Wrocław 2016) the open round-robin was divided into three groups. Israel was in group A, whereas all the countries that don't recognize it were assigned to groups B,C: Lebanon, Bangladesh, Kuwait, Pakistan, Qatar, UAE, Tunisia.

2. In the 14th World Bridge Games (Lille 2012), again all countries that do not recognize Israel were assigned to different groups. In the Open Teams there were Bangladesh and Pakistan, in the women's Lebanon, Pakistan and Palestine, and in the seniors Pakistan.

3. In the 13th World Bridge Games (Beijing 2008), the same. Israel only participated in the Open Teams, where Lebanon, Bangaldesh, Pakistan, and Morocco were assigned to different groups.

4. In the 12th World Team Olympiad (Istanbul 2004), the same. In the Open Teams Israel was in group C, while the other countries (Bangladesh, Morocco, Lebanon, Tunisia, Pakistan) where in other groups. Unusually the Moroccan women did play Israel that time, though the Pakistani women were again in the opposite group.

When there are four groups, the odds of any two specific teams sharing a group are only 25%, so it is not surprising to learn, say, that at one time Lebanon and Israel were in different groups. What is surprising (more than 10,000:1 against the odds) is that those teams are never assigned to the same group as Israel.

(updating to add:)
5. In the 11th World Team Olympiad (Maastricht 2000), the same. In the Open Teams Tunisia, Pakistan, Lebanon, Bangladesh, Morocco, Palestine were groups away from Israel. In the Women's Teams, Morocco and Pakistan.

6. In the 10th World Team Olympiad (Rhodes 1996), the same. In the Open Teams Lebanon, Morocco, Pakistan, and Palestine were scheduled away from Israel. In the Women's Teams Morocco and Pakistan.

Again: across six tournaments, almost all held while you were WBF President, I only found one instance (the Moroccan women in 2004) where a team from one of those countries was grouped with Israel. This information is all publicly posted on the WBF website.
April 17, 2019
Lior Silberman edited this comment April 17, 2019
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But the Kansas report covers fourteen cases! (numbered N1-N10 and R1-R4).
April 3, 2019
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I guess bridge players struggle with counting off the table as well as on it.
April 3, 2019
Lior Silberman edited this comment April 3, 2019
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