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All comments by Richard Willey
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He's playing an interesting style.

From the looks of things, whenever he has a systemcic 1m opening, he opens the wrong minor.

Most of the time he has a 1M opening, he prefers to open a 4 card minor.

I'll give this a try in some of the ACBL MP games and see what happens…

Aug. 23, 2014
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Nick, I'd like to return to a comment that I made a few posts back…

Given the enormous number of players and hands on BBO, its not surprising that one can identify a “run”. Its unclear whether or not that this strategy is consistently successful or whether it would work as well in a different tournament format.

Do you have other examples where this style is consistently successful? FWIW, I'm going to watch USLA's scores over the next month or so. It will be interesting to see whether these results are an isolated blip or whether this continues.
Aug. 23, 2014
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I just took a look at USLA's result in some of those tournaments.

Few quick comments.

1. He's “operating” a lot more frequently than I would have expected

2. He seems to be primarily playing in small robot rebate games. These games don't award ACBL master points. The limited number of boards and small fields tend to encourage very high variance strategies.

3. Personally, I would prefer to see this sort of behavior dampened down by increasing tournament length rather than removing robots. (Short tournaments with small numbers of boards favor high variance tactics. Increase the number of boards and this doesn't work as well). Sadly, not many people seem to favor the longer events.
Aug. 23, 2014
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> there are successful online 3-robot matchpoint tourney
> players who psyche 20 times or more in a 12 board tourney)

I would be shocked if there are successful players who regularly psyche 20 times during a 12 board tournament.

I readily admit that I distort my bidding playing with the bots. (It's better to be in the relatively well defined NT structure than take your chances with less defined sequences). However, even if I wanted to psyche 20 times, I wouldn't have a chance to do so.

FWIW, I readily believe that there are bad players who misbid 20+ times during the course of a tournament.

Moreover, given the enormous number of bot tournaments each year, I wouldn't find it surprising to discover that someone pyched on almost every hand and happened to win.

I don't believe that there are successful players who are able to psyche with that frequency across a significant fraction of their tournaments.

Three or fours times a tournament, I believe. But 20, no way…


Aug. 23, 2014
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> Now consider a thought experiment. Someone learns bridge
> playing online and plays nothing but bots. They become
> extremely skilled in that environment. One day they decide
> to enter a regional knockout. Would they have any chance to
> beat a team of equivalently skilled face-to-face players?
> The answer is clearly no.

I seem to recall very similar statements use disparge online poker players. This continued right about until the point where the online pokwer players started winning the big F2F events. (It turns out that the ability to experience playing an order of magnitude more hands matters a lot more than purity of form)

With this said and done, lets consider the following extension of your experiment. Lets take two groups of beginning and give them identical budgets. (Say $500)

You get to spend your money taking your team to play at ACBL sectionals, regionals, and clubs games for the next month. I get to spend my money having my team play in bot tournaments on BBO. (I also get to explain basic rules specific to ACBL events like convention cards, bidding boxes, and the like)

At the end of the month, the two teams compete in an ACBL team event. I know which team I'd expect to place better…
Aug. 23, 2014
Richard Willey edited this comment Aug. 23, 2014
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> And some people are bitching about the bots. At least they > can follow suit and remember when it is their turn to play.

The bots are much much stronger than the players in a “humans only” ACBL indy. The folks who complain about the bots should spend some time looking at their human contemporaries… (Seriously, its horrific)

I'd argue that the reason that certain human players have a much better track record playing in tournaments with the bots isn't so much the their experience exploiting the bots, as it is the dramatic decrease in variance by limiting the number of humans. I think that there is a lot more skill involved in the bot only games.

Aug. 23, 2014
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> There is no question that the easy availability of online
> games at home, the frequency of available games, and the
> speedball aspect all make it much easier to accumulate
> online points. Online point winners will overwhelm F2F –
> just do the math.

So the heart of your complaint appears to be that people are playing too many boards of bridge.

For what its worth, I think that there are any number of ways in which the masterpoint system can be improved. (I'd love to see mechanisms in place by which the allocation of masterpoints was tied to the predictive accuracy of the format).

However, throughout this thread I haven't been able to see any common theme to your litany of complaints beyond “change is bad”. You keep trying to dress this up behind ever more ridiculous justifications. However, it all seems to boil down to “Get off my lawn you damn kids!”

In all seriousness, you're now complaining that it's unfair that people play too many boards…. Do you understand just how ridiculous this sounds?







Aug. 22, 2014
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> How do you suppose Group B should interact with Group A
> in the future?

Wait a few years until the members of group A die…
Aug. 21, 2014
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I'll point out once again that % game, matchpoints, and the like throw out enormous amounts of information. You end up averaging together a large number of board results into a single summary statistic.

If you are going to bother with any such project, do it right and use board results as your input.
Aug. 20, 2014
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Alternatively, if the USBF captured the results on individual boards as well as matches, we'd be in a good place…
Aug. 20, 2014
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The USBF only exists to determine which teams represents the United States in internation competition.

The only events that it holds are various team trials.

The comparison that you are suggesting really isn't “apples to apples”
Aug. 20, 2014
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Hate to always be playing the cynic, however, who precisely is asking for these changes to be made? I hear a number of folks on this forum complaining about masterpoints, however, I don't hear any clamor from the ACBL or the USBF.

The ACBL is a geriatric organization with a dying user base. The folks in charge aren't interested in rocking the boat. They are simply trying to extract as much as possible before the membership roles collapse.

Its fine and dandy to discuss what folks would like to do in theory, just don't expect anything to change before the board gets swept clean…

If you do want to try to do something in the short term, focus on getting the USBF. Ask them whether they need a better seeding system. See whether they will start collecting board records for all USBF matches.


Aug. 20, 2014
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Maybe I have grown old and cynical. Maybe I have spent too much time working for large companies. However, I am highly skeptical that any third party “project” will get any traction.

I've learned the hard way not to engage on projects unless I see a clear ask from any proposed partner and strongly prefer to be able to require them to pony up something of value to demonstrate that they are serious.

I don't see the ACBL asking for a rating system.

I don't see the USBF asking for an algorithm to seed their events.

I don't see a partner willing to provide the raw data necessary to do a good job.

Doesn't sound like a recipe for success…
Aug. 19, 2014
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If I were appointing a committee to try to attract more young players to the game, I wouldn't let a single person over the age of 30 on it. (Anyone else remember “Bridge is Cool”)

I'm also highly skeptical that a free one year membership to the ACBL is the way to go.

1. I don't believe that this would be considered valuable to the players

2. I don't think that the Bulletin represents the game the way you'd want to motivate and retain young players.
Aug. 17, 2014
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> The crux of the problem is the image of bridge as “a boring
> game for old people.” No, I don't have the answers,
> but it's not true, and the image needs to be changed.

Take a look at the ACBL’s membership demographics. For better or worse, bridge in the US has become a game for old people. I’ll be 48 years old next week. I am younger than 97% of the ACBL membership. Half of the members are older than 72. I went to an ACBL regional three weeks back. I found the event extremely depressing to play in. Large numbers of the participants were infirm or ill or bewildered. You aren’t going to be able to attract young players to events like that.

If you want to try to salvage something, I don’t see many options other than segregating the game. Get serious about creating a game that will be attractive to young players

• Liberalizing the convention charts is an absolute necessity
• Recognize that 20 years aren’t going to want to socialize with retirees

Sponsoring events at gaming conventions and the like is a great idea, however, this won’t do a bit of good unless you have a critical mass of young players who already know the rules.
Aug. 17, 2014
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> What is “forcing sponsors to use specified
> convention charts” mean?

I am willing to speculate on this one: The C&C is trying to authorize different sets of conventions for different types of events. For example, they don't want you to play Multi ins 2 board rounds, but do allow it in 7 board team matches.

However, within the ACBL there has been a long standing tradition of event organizers ignoring the Convention Charts. (This has been most noticeable with defenses to 1NT openings)

I suspect that the C&C is trying to crack down on this stuff. I don't wish them luck…

Aug. 16, 2014
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Sorry, I might not have expressed myself well.

Let's assume that that you have two completely separate populations (no intermixing) with significantly different average strength.

While your ranking system might be very accurate within your population, its unclear whether it has any real predictive value between populations.

Aug. 16, 2014
Richard Willey edited this comment Aug. 16, 2014
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Lior made some good observations that I was hoping to gloss over. In an ideal world, it would be nice if we could treat all draws as independent events drawn from the same distribution.

However, think about common situations where folks start swinging (for example, when a team is behind in the late stages of a match). Arguably, those teams might change their behavior to adopt strategies with a lower expected value but a higher variance.

Aug. 16, 2014
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I wouldn't necessarily use results in the local club towards developing a rating system to predict performance in the Spingold.

Note the earlier comments regarding “network analysis”. A rating that is conditioned on your performance in one environment won't necessarily be accurate in another.



Aug. 16, 2014
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Non-parametric learning systems work best with large data sets. They can be downright dangerous if your data is sparse.

Conceptually, you can think of developing a rating as a sampling problem. You have two pairs, each with unknown strength. You have some population that represents the outcomes if these two pairs were to play an infinite number of hands against one another. Each board represents a sample, drawn from this distribution. Your goal is to use these samples to draw inference about this distribution and then develop a rating that lets you describe your expectation.

Yes, you could just record the results of the overall match, but in doing so you're throwing away a lot of information and making your life harder.

Aug. 16, 2014
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