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All comments by Oleg Rubinchik
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I have rule of thumbs for BBO ACBL speedballs. If somebody thinks a lot in situation he has nothing to think about – he has singleton. Works very nicely.
Oct. 9, 2012
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By the way, if we are talking about how ACBL masterpoints reflect ability of player we, probably, should not forget online ACBL masterpoints; they became a noticeable part of full masterpoint picture. And what is a really good thing about online game is availability of stats that allow making some assumptions about players’ skills.
I made small experiment. Took 5 random players from top 100 lifetime acbl masterpoints winner list on Bridgebase and 5 random players from Bridgebase ACBL speedballs and check their stats for the last month. Because all of them regularly play in the same ACBL speedballs tournaments, they stats are comparable. Here are my findings. (Players from 1 to 5 are from top 100; players from 6 to 10 are random. I did not take players I heard about, not sure how strong it affected on randomness of selection. Order of players is not random).
Player 1. Won on BBO a little more than 3000 acbl masterpoints.
Last month he/she played 721 IMPs hands, won in average 1.04 imps per board.
Last month he/she played 680 MPs hands, average 54.82%.
Very respectable. This person is definitely a better player than me.
Player 2. Won on BBO almost 2000 acbl masterpoints.
Last month he/she played 386 IMPs hands, won in average 0.23 imps per board.
Last month he/she played 559 MPs hands, average 51.92%.
Better than average, but not too impressing.
Player 3. Won on BBO more than 5000 acbl masterpoints. Wow!
Last month he/she played 634 IMPs hands, won in average 0.14 imps per board.
Last month he/she played 639 MPs hands, average 52.24%.
Player is in top 10 of BBO ACBL masterpoint winners but his results are mediocre. Maybe just unlucky month?
Player 4. Won on BBO more than 3500 acbl masterpoints.
Last month he/she played 247 IMPs hands, lost in average 0.05 imps per board.
Last month he/she played 2052 MPs hands, average 49.82%.
I found it hard to believe. One of the very top acbl online points holder actually losing in BBO games. But huge number of played boards let him/her to earn grandmasters number of masterpoints.
Player 5. Won on BBO more than 2200 acbl masterpoints.
Last month he/she played 638 IMPs hands, lost in average 0.32 imps per board.
Last month he/she played 2052 MPs hands, average 49.10%
My God! Losing 1/3 IMPs per board in average in the not too strong ACBL speedballs field is terrible. But he/she is in top 100 BBO ACBL list.
Player 6. Won on BBO a little less than 1300 acbl masterpoints.
Last month he/she played 139 IMPs hands, won in average 1.11 imps per board.
Last month he/she played 90 MPs hands, average 58.69%.
Wow!
Player 7. Won on BBO 680 acbl masterpoints.
Last month he/she played 330 IMPs hands, won in average 0.51 imps per board.
Last month he/she played 292 MPs hands, average 54.67%.
Looks like very good player.
Player 8. Won on BBO more than 585 acbl masterpoints.
Last month he/she played 87 IMPs hands, won in average 0.43 imps per board.
Last month he/she played 216 MPs hands, average 60.40%
Another very good one.
Player 9. Won on BBO 362 acbl masterpoints.
Last month he/she played 354 IMPs hands, lost in average 0.19 imps per board.
Last month he/she played 342 MPs hands, average 49.79%.
Not so good.
Player 10. Won on BBO 524 acbl masterpoints.
Last month he/she played 227 IMPs hands, lost in average 0.58 imps per board.
Last month he/she played 162 MPs hands, average 45.81%.
Looks like he can’t play at all. By the way he has more online masterpoints than I do.

Now try to arrange them by skills (masterpoints in brackets):
Masters: Player 6 (1300); Player 1 (3000),
Strong players: Player 7 (680), Player 8 (585);
Average plus players: Player 2 (2000), Player 3 (5000);
Average minus players: Player 4 (3500), Player 9 (362);
Bad player: Player 5 (2200)
Terrible player: Player 10 (525)

We cannot say there is no dependence between masterpoints and abilities, but if I’ll tell you how many masterpoints player has, what could you say about his skills? Almost nothing.
That small experiment, I believe related to our topic in two ways:
Online ACBL masterpoints are ACBL masterpoints and numbers of masterpoints earned by BBO top 100 are already big enough to affect the full picture;
Online masterpoints have the same nature and counted by the same way as face-to-face points. They are just easier in investigation due to accessibility of stats
Oct. 8, 2012
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>>We know, from looking at results in stratified events that
>> generally the players in Flight A do better than those in
>> Flight B who do better than those in Flight C. We know that
>> Flight B players finishing in the top echelon of an open
>> stratified event are unusual; Flight C's are very very rare.

Logically speaking your findings prove following:
1. Some of A players are generally better than majority of B players;
2. Average level of A players is higher then average level of B players.
This is true. Masterpoint system correctly measures abilities of players who play approximately the same amount of bridge.

It would be extremely stupid to say there is no correlation at all between MP and ability. Player who accumulated tons (7500+) masterpoints definitely can play very good bridge. If you will take random player with 5000 masterpoints and with 1000 masterpoints statistically you have a better chances that 5000 one will be better player. But it is just statistics. On an individual level (with exception of top level professional players) number of earned masterpoints cannot be used as a prove of somebodies ability. This kind of correlation is OK for purpose of organization, but not even close to satisfies needs of individual players, especially once who cannot play professionally. And, I believe, it is what was meant by “awful at judging level-of-ability”.
By the way, I looked at all pairs sessions (except 299 and below) played in Philadelphia National on July, 12 (http://www.acbl.org/nabc/recaps/2012/02/12/).
22 sessions, from 13 to 15 tables each.
98 A pairs, 133 B pairs, 65 C pairs
15 tournaments won by A pair, 7 by B pair, 0 by C pairs.
Not so bad for B players, I would say.
Oct. 5, 2012
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One time “no restriction” experiment doomed to fail.
Nobody will seriously consider redesigning his bidding system in order to be able to play 1 tournament per year in the best case. Majority of people would enter to “no restriction one time game” for fun experience, but not consider it as a serious business.
No restriction game is not going to immediately benefit majority of players. It will immediately benefit minorities – people who like to develop bidding theory and people who came from countries with different “standard” bidding and it will give majority opportunity to play against “funny stuff” and incorporate good new ideas in their bidding systems, which will benefit majority on the long run only.
***
Downsides of “no restriction” games are obvious. If you meet some opponents convention unprepared, you are not only kicked out of you comfort zone, but simply don’t know if partner and you will understand bidding the same way. There is often no time to discuss how to play against the new convention and no matter how good and helpful are opponents in explaining their convention they will have an advantage.
As a possible solution I would advise:
As far as I know every national, regional and majority of sectional tournaments and clubs have their web sites. Every pair who would like to play in a certain tournament or club non-standard convention, have to register convention and upload description of convention (by themself) on the special page on the web site at least couple of days before tournament started. They also have to have suggested defense (not necessary printed from the ACBL site) with them during the tournament. Serious players will be able to look at the tournament web site and discuss defenses against convention they likely to meet before tournament started; other will have to depend on suggested defenses.
Of cause it will open another can of worms: what is “non-standard convention”, deadlines for submission, quality of suggested defense, inadequate uploaded description of conventions and so on. But, I believe, problems a fixable and it would be step in right direction.
***
By the way, talking about “no restriction” games I don't mean that literally everything should be allowed. For me WBF “brown sticker” approach is an acceptable one and I just don't want ACBL be more restrictive than WBF.
Oct. 3, 2012
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Oh, my another pet peeve.
Every time when I read someone explaining why it should be prohibited recall old famous fables of Krilof. (Sorry, I don’t know if any good translation to English exists.)

THE MONKEY AND THE SPECTACLES
A MONKEY, shrewd and old, growing in eyesight weaker
Had understood from many speakers
That, though her malady was not of serious kind,
She needs the only spectacles to find.
And, therefore, she got herself a dozen.
She turned the things in this way that,
First placed them on her tail, next from her head must pick them;
Or took a sniff, at times would gently lick them;
Then almost at the glasses spat.
“Oh, let them perish,” says she, “and, everybody fool who use that paltry tool.
They recommended me to take them, but there is no use of such poor toys.
And down they go with fearful noise; she's determined now to break them.
***
Unfortunately men behave the same way
However useful the things may be, an ignorant man, who knows nothing how to use it is sure to speak ill of it and if he possesses of power, he persecutes it too.
<1815>
Oct. 2, 2012
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When I started to play bridge in Russia about 20 years ago, one of the first conventions I learn was Wilkoz 2 diamonds. I believe I learn it in the same day with Stayman and transfers and before Blackwood. All novices in Moscow that time played Wilkoz and played against Wilkoz and … surprise… surprise… nobody gave up with bridge because of that scary convention. Couple of tournaments, advice from more experienced player, small discussion with partner and novice can coop with Wilkoz. Of cause sometimes it cause unusually difficult problem, but isn’t it what preemtive bidding is all about? As a matter of fact, Wilkoz is a not-easy-to-defence-against convention. Now it is barred almost everywhere.
When I move to NY I learn I cannot play Wilkoz anymore. Multy? No.
I come up with simplified version of Wilkoz, 5 cards spade (anchor suit) and another 5 cards suit and for almost 6 years was trying to get suggested defense approved. Finally I gave up.
I was toying with idea to modify explanation (not convention) and explain it as a transfer pre-emptive to spades with exactly 5 cards suit and unbalanced hand. It would make the convention mid chart legal but not satisfy my feeling of fair play.
Finally I gave up. We decided to play 2 diamonds Flannery 10-13 points. But even here I have a problem. Couple of times I was dealt with hand like:
s. A1087
h. KQ10985
d. 1054
c. –
Convention chart specified the minimum of 10 HCP.
It means I permitted to open Flannery with:
s. Q532
h. Q6543
d. K4
c. QJ
but cannot open with the first hand?
What the fudge?
Oct. 2, 2012
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What is our opening bids style? Are we routinely opening all 11-points hand and some good 10-points; or basically we need 12 points to open, but it is permitted to open with relatively good 11-points hand?
Sept. 25, 2012
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Thanks everybody.
In a real game 6h* 13 tricks after club lead and 6sp would be down 2.
Distribution has been nailed almost correctly except … Ace of spades was on the dummy who had:
s. A
h. Axx
d. AKQxxxx
c. xx
(Sorry, some of mine pre-empts are not for family-friendly sites.)
Sept. 15, 2012
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>> I'll point out that while “everyone” plays ONE convention named after Stayman
Wrong: Stayman and Namyats :)
Sept. 13, 2012
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Looks like board belong to opponents who have majority of points and the master suit. I doubt we can achieve anything useful for us by slow showing my distribution – chances are they will overbid us anyway. For now I am just going to take away of them couple of levels by bidding 4h.
Aug. 14, 2012
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Thanks everybody. This hand come up from discussion caused by wrong explanation and I believe the poll confirmed that directors decision do not adjust the score was 100% correct.
June 22, 2012
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1NT in matchpoints.(pass in IMPs)
April 30, 2012
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5cl. Hopefully they will not lead clubs against 6h I am going to bid the next round. And partner can pass 5cl is he forgot about Ghestem ;)
March 6, 2012
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The same as Bob. Natural 4d would be the best description, but I don't have this bid available. 5d before partner bid does not feel right.
Feb. 23, 2012
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I am very sorry if my comment does not sound appropriate. I heard suggestion to keep the package of condoms in each bidding box. Player supposed to place it on the table together with bids like pass on 3 diamonds in sequences like that. Meaning: “F.. you partner, pass.”
Feb. 15, 2012
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