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All comments by Marty Harris
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Ray,

Non-pro teams can qualify for the Super A KO stage. Anyone can qualify “up,” it's just that higher flighted teams cannot qualify for the KO of a lower flight. Therefore, the second day of the Super A flight would be a normal 4-team KO (semis + finals), not another Swiss or RR.

Beyond that, the pro designation could either be determined by a formula or simply by having the directors use their knowledge of the players. For this one, it's pretty easy to “know it when you see it.”

As for specifying MP limits of other flights (or strata, whatever they're technically called), I indicated in one of my posts that I would have presumptive cutoff points that are similar to the cutoffs currently used for Swisses. However, if there's an obvious different break point, let the directors use that. For example, assume 3,000 MPs is the presumptive cutoff, but at a particular regional, one team averages 2,990 MPs while the next highest averages 1,500. I'd put the 2,990 team into the higher flight (for teams with 3,000 to 9,999 MPs).
July 16
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Jeff, there are simple ways to avoid that type of dumping incentive. For example, in Swiss-KO formats I've played in, the team that finishes #1 in the Swiss gets to choose its semifinal opponent from the 3rd and 4th place finishers, while the #2 finisher is guaranteed to avoid the #1. That gives each team an incentive to finish as high as it can.
July 16
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Mike, the way this format works, regular flight A teams would play against the pros in the qualifying Swiss. Further, if there are only 3 pro teams, at least one regular flight A team will make the Super-A KO round, and more regular flight A teams could qualify if they outperform the pros in the Swiss.

The Super-A flight doesn't have any downside for regular flight A teams, there's only upside. They get to play against the pros and if they qualify for the Super A KO, they gain MPs. Otherwise, they can still qualify for the regular flight A KO, as if the pros were never in the field. That's the beauty of this format.
July 16
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Doug, if you look at flight A vs. B or C MP awards, 3rd place in A is often higher than 1st in B, and always higher than 1st in C. It's very unlikely that dumping would improve a team's MP expectation.

IMO, this is a theoretical concern that won't come up in real life.

At any rate, with the alternative being not having enough teams to play top flight KOs, this is VASTLY better than that, even if there is a small dumping potential. Don't get so hung up on a pet peeve that you miss the bigger picture.
July 15
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One benefit of this proposal is eliminating all the complaining we hear from many players about having to compete against pro teams. With this proposal, augmented by the Super-A flight, having pro teams in the field can only increase the MP awards other teams earn or be completely neutral; it can never cost them MPs.

If they qualify for the KO rounds of the Super-A flight, they earn a MP windfall. Otherwise, their chances of qualifying for the KO stage of a lower flight are unchanged by the pros' presence, and so is there MP award (since the pro teams are excluded in calculating MP awards for other flights).
July 15
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Flight size? I recommend a presumption that each flight will have exactly 9 teams, unless large MP breaks dictate a different number. Based on MP breaks, though, I'm willing to live with flights of anywhere from 6 to 12 teams.

One exception: the “Super A flight,” for pro teams, can be as small as 3 teams. That flight is dictated entirely by the MPs and pro / expert status of its players, with no presumption about how many teams belong in it.

Why? Mainly because I don't believe KOs should typically pay MP awards to more than 50% of the field. This way, 4 out of 9 teams in each flight earn MP awards.
July 15
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IMO, both players are equally at fault for failing to “protect” their hands, and what happened was an accident, so I would assign both pairs an average-minus.
July 15
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p.s.: In deciding where to set the dividing line for which teams play together in the same Swiss field, I wouldn't have a pre-determined number. Rather, all teams that average X MPs or more (perhaps 3,000 MPs) go into the top Swiss field, while all teams that average less go into the lower Swiss field (except those that request to play up).

Doing it this way, you might end up with just 2 flights in the top Swiss field, but at a big tournament you might have 3 or more flights in that Swiss.

Also, in terms of how to divide teams into flights, it may work better to base it on logical MP break points rather than # of teams. For example, all teams that average 3,000 to 9,999 MPs per player go into flight A, even if there are 12 or 15 such teams. I don't see the point of artifically decreeing there can't be more than 9 teams per “flight.” Obviously, you need to cap the number at 16, but you can have up to 16 in a flight.

Otherwise, if there are 12 teams with 3,000 to 9,999 MPs, 3 of them would end up in bracket B under your summary. The other teams in bracket B, which perhaps averaged 1,500 to 2,000 MPs each, would likely object pretty strongly to being grouped in with the much higher #s. Basically, allow the directors to set logical break points based on the actual entrants, just like they currently do, subject to a requirement that there can't be more than 16 in any flight.
July 15
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Steve,

Your “Stratified Swiss KO” mirrors what I've been advocating for a long time, both when I presented it to ACBL two years ago and when I explained it in responding to several other people's posts on BW over the past year.

The one thing I dislike in your summary of this proposal is having the Swiss be for all flights combined. There's no reason to do that, nor is there any real chance a true flight C or flight D team will qualify for the flight A KO. Flights A and B should be combined for purposes of the qualifying Swiss, while flights C and lower should be separate. FWIW, I would allow any team that wants to “play up” to enter the top Swiss field (A + B).

Next, for the MP awards formula, there are two relevant (variable) factors: (a) number of teams entered; and (b) average MPs per player. If flight A only has 5 or 6 teams, while flight B has 10 teams, I believe the flight A award would be larger if we count all the flight A and flight B teams, rather than only considering the flight A teams as you proposed. Obviously the average per player is higher if you only count flight A, but the number of teams is obviously higher if you count both flight A and flight B.

Conceptually, a full 2-day KO “should” have 16 teams, so you should count the top 16 ELIGIBLE teams in calculating each flight's MP awards (assuming there are 16 or more eligible teams). That way, the MP awards will be roughly the same size as if we just took the top 16 teams and stuck then in bracket 1, just like we used to do in the good old days.

Finally, and this is the most important point, at a big regional that attracts 3 or more pro teams, there needs to be a “Super-A” flight!! This is essentially a flight for just the pro teams, even if there are only 3 of them (this is the one case where mandating that each bracket have 5 to 9 teams is wrong). That way, normal flight A players aren't “penalized” for getting thrown into a flight with several pro teams; they still have a chance to win the “top amateur” flight, even if they fail to qualify for the Super-A flight KO. Only the pro teams would be ineligible for the regular flight A KO.
July 15
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I agree with 100% of this comment.
July 14
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I would adjust the score to 4S down 2, undoubled, for -200.

East's 2S bid was highly questionable in terms of hand evaluation judgment, but you can't adjust the score for that. East correctly explained their agreement. He is permitted to misevaluate his hand. He is also permitted to bid conservatively to allow for the possibility that his partner forgot their agreement, AS LONG AS West's body language when East explained 2C as Michaels didn't give away that West had forgotten. Therefore, East's conservative 2S bid is completely irrelevant to whether the score should be adjusted.

HOWEVER, West blatantly used UI. He is required to act as if he didn't hear his partner's explanation, so he bid 2C natural and East voluntarily advanced by introducing HIS OWN spade suit (at least 5 spades and decent values). West can't possibly pass 2S in that context. He has a very good hand in support of spades, if partner has 5+ spades. He must raise to at least 3S.

Had that occurred, East surely would have raised to 4S. From his perspective, West is showing a STRONG Michaels hand. All he needs from West for game to be cold is Kxxxx, AKxxx, xx, x. That's not nearly enough for a Michaels bidder to raise 2S to 3S, so from East's perspective, game must be cold and slam is possible.

FINALLY, I would not adjust to -420 by allowing N-S to bid 4H. That score adjustment was blatantly against the rules. N-S were given the correct explanation of E-W's agreement, so they're not entitled to any adjustment in terms of THEIR bidding (as opposed to E-W's subsequent bidding). Further, even had N-S known that West had real clubs, I doubt they would reach 4H. North would make a Negative X, South would bid 2H, and that would be the end of it. There's no reason to expect N-S to voluntarily bid 4H on 14 opposite 7 HCP, nor with 7 losers opposite 8 losers. It's a very LUCKY game that needs 3 finesses (out of 3) to make 10 tricks.
July 14
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“East has a 9 loser hand, why should he get excited?” Ian, are you serious? In what world is this a 9-loser hand IN THE CONTEXT of the auction?

Partner promised 5-5 majors. That leaves a maximum of 3 losers in the minors, not the 6 you're counting. East has 5 trumps in a 10 card fit. With his doubleton heart, that means he can ruff THREE (3) rounds of hearts.

From East's perspective, all West needs to hold for game to be COLD is a 10-count: Kxxxx, AKxxx, x, xx. Make it even weaker, a 9-count with AQxxx of hearts, and game is still a big favorite, depending on a finesse through the opening bidder.

To blindly count “losers” without taking partner's known shape into account is ridiculous. You're evaluating as if West is expected to have something like 5-3-3-2 shape, where far more minor suit losers are possible.
July 14
$20
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Mike, regardless of what Karen Walker may or may not have said in the Bulletin, I don't believe that's most people's rationale. For most, the benefit of bypassing 1S with 4333 is in having a 1S rebid guarantee 4+ cards in the minor suit that was opened.

That way, if playing XYZ (2-way NMF), partner can choose to play 2D or 3C with a 4-4 fit. If playing NMF, the advantage is even bigger, since partner can play 2m with the same fit.
July 13
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Paul, what is the point of having the rules be the same but “not enforcing” them in social games? Why not just be explicit and change to having two different sets of rules?

As long as the rules say use of UI should be punished, certain players will call the director and demand rectification, because that's their personality. They are very rule oriented, and they expect everyone else to be too. The only practical way to solve the problem is to have a different set of rules for social games.
July 12
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Bridge was more “fun” when we were all terrible bidders! A lot of the fun playing with friends when I was a novice came from frequent penalty doubles of ridiculous contracts, often followed by trash talking. No one was sure what anyone else had. Bluffing by psyching also adds an element of fun, even though it wildly randomizes the results.

Neither of those things is good if your goal is to be competitive and promote scenarios where the more deserving / better pair or team wins, but they add elements of fun that are missing from the current tournament version of the game.
July 12
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I agree we need to create two different games, each with a different set of rules. I've been advocating that for a while on BW, and ACBL's former CEO seemed to be heading in that direction (however, IMO, he drew the line at the wrong place: pros vs. everyone else, instead of social vs. competitive).

I would add one thing. The difference between social vs. competitive needs to extend beyond just the rules. Social bridge should encourage chatting with opponents, not worry about rushing people to finish hands on time, focus more on making other aspects of the club visit enjoyable (food, music, atmosphere), etc.
July 12
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Passing 1S is bad. But passing 3SX, as 26% of the voters did, is an ABOMINATION. If you passed 3SX, it means you don't understand the inferences from this auction – which I suppose is understandable since many have never played this type of 1C opening.

The opponents' bidding has announced a likely 9 card spade fit (possibly only 8).

Further – and here's the point many apparently missed – our heart void COUPLED with partner's singleton / void in spades guarantees that they also have at least a NINE (9) card heart fit. Partner can't be 5332 with 5 hearts when he has a singleton spade, and with 1-5-(43) shape he would always open 1H, not 1C.

Finally, because partner is unbalanced, clubs must be his longest suit. He could be 1-4-4-4, otherwise he must have 5+ clubs. His most likely shape is 0-4-4-5.

In sum, the opponents have a big double fit in the majors, while we have a big double fit in the minors and we have more than half the deck. 5C is almost certainly cold. 6C may be cold, depending on how many of partner's HCP are wasted in hearts. And the opponents will almost certainly make 3SX.

The ONLY rational choices here are either 5C, try for slam with 4S, or just guess to bid slam with 6C. IMO, 4S is pointless. Partner has no way to know that AKxx of hearts is a terrible holding, so he can't evaluate his hand properly. I'm guessing to bid 5C to make sure I go plus, especially since I suspect the opponents can make at least 4S.
July 11
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It's a combination of video games / computer games along with TV competing for people's time, coupled with reduced attention spans (largely caused by the internet). It used to be that people had far fewer choices for their recreation and were accustomed to spending a full afternoon or evening (several hours) at one activity.

Today, people are busier with shorter attention spans, so they generally prefer activities that only take an hour or less. Further, today people prefer activities that can be done over their cell phones or over the internet, as opposed to playing face-to-face.

Given that, I predict that in 2040, bridge will still be alive online. I expect it will still be alive, but smaller, in face-to-face tournament and club games.
July 10
ATB
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My initial reaction was the same as Richard's, but Robert made a good point, so I changed my vote to “equal” blame. South's auction clearly created a GF, so North can't pass 3D. The only hand South can have for his bidding is a trap pass of 1H, and Q-bidding 2S later created a GF.

On the other hand, why was South screwing around? What hand can north possible have for this auction where slam is good? South has great stoppers in hearts, and North's 2NT suggests a spade stopper, so just bid 3NT.
July 10
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David, see my suggestion above for changing the convention card to solve that problem. I suspect such a requirement will be added to the USBF System Summary disclosure form for next year, and adding it to the ACBL convention card is currently being considered. Therefore, if anyone has an opinion (pro or con) about adding such an advance, written disclosure requirement, it would be helpful if you post your views here.
July 10
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