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All comments by Shawn Drenning
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I kind of like this idea. I like playing against the very strong pro teams, but it's also fun to play against players closer to my actual skill level which can be harder to do in the current system.
Feb. 12
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“The bracketed RRs are much, much, much more popular than the A/X Swiss, especially among the ”low-X“ players.”

In my proposed format it would be like Sunday was in Houston except that there would be no upper limit (or a really high upper limit) on who could participate in the bracketed swiss (so all the X teams unhappy to be forced into the A/X could play each other in the top bracket of the bracketed swiss)
Feb. 11
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Buddy: I do not know all of the details of how you ended up in bracket 2, but I definitely would normally have sympathy if according to the rules you should have been in bracket 1 and were not. Hopefully the changes proposed by Daniel Jackson below will mean this particular problem will not occur next year (and hopefully the ACBL will eventually address bracketing in general).

That said, while I did not personally witness it, David made a big enough scene at the tournament that I heard people talking about it at the tournament (before he posted) and I even heard it being discussed in the club game I played tonight in Austin (by people not at all involved). He then came on bridge winners (despite I suspect being asked not to post about this) and gratuitously demeaned multiple people in the bracket you played in. So a lot of the sympathy I might otherwise have had for you guys isn't there anymore.
Feb. 10
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I’m curious what your suggestion was? The Soloway seemed like a good improvement to the tournament. Do you know why the tournament cannot just run the top flight as an A/X Swiss? I thought doing it this way with no upper limit on how many masterpoints you can have and NOT be forced into A/X Swiss would solve a lot of these type of problems. I’m forgetting why, but have been told this is not a possibility.
Feb. 10
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There is some reason (possibly related to master point awards) that District 16 won't run the top bracket as an A/X Swiss (except on Sunday).
Feb. 9
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Some of us have advocated for a better approach to bracketing (see e.g. https://bridgewinners.com/article/view/bridge-rating-study-follow-up/), hopefully after your experience today you will be a more vocal supporter.

All of the teams in bracket one (http://live.acbl.org/event/2002102/081A/2/recap) have multiple grand life masters on them, so it's not entirely clear why you think *they* should be forced to play down and not you (I get that you have more master points); assuming the two young pros playing with clients are the Grossacks, they did better in bracket 1 than you did in bracket 2.

Also, the team that won bracket 2 (beating you) are B players who were playing up. Maybe it would be more gracious to congratulate them for taking a chance in a higher bracket and doing very well rather than publicly insulting them and detailing a hand where you thought they played poorly?
Feb. 9
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“Shawn, I'd bet a whole lot of money that at least 90% of ACBL's current membership doesn't give a fig about a rating system.”

I agree with this (based on my experience playing a lot of club bridge) and I do think it's important that anything that is done to improve the experience for the 10% of the players who do care doesn't drive away (say) 20% of the players who do not care. I (obviously) do not have all the answers, but one approach I think might make sense for other reasons too is to exclude club games from any rating system (so the rating system would largely not affect the players you describe nor discourage more serious players from playing club bridge because of concern about what it might do to their rating).

That said, I do think there are ways a rating system could benefit even the players you describe who don't think they care about it. The 0-20 player who just wants to play with friends may still be able to play in the lower game. The older player who enjoys bridge, but game has declined can still compete against players of the the appropriate level (even if it means a player with the 3,500 points plays in the equivalent of the NLM game). Even the seeding of club games (which admittedly probably few other than me are bothered by) could be vastly improved.
Feb. 8
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I agree it is a problem if a rating system discourages players from playing. Certainly I (and many others) play a lot of (say) club bridge where I'm not in top form and if a rating system discouraged this kind of more social bridge it would be a fatal flaw. Similarly, if players stopped playing because a rating system told them they weren't actually that good at bridge that would be a problem. That said, I'm not convinced it would actually be a problem.

I also think there are lots of good reasons for a rating system beyond bracketing (for the same reasons I was fascinated with baseball statistics as a kid I find it inherently interesting, it can be motivating if you're working hard on improving your game to get feedback that you're improving etc.). We have all of this interesting data, I think it would be unfortunate if we cannot look at it because we're worried what we find might cause people to stop playing bridge.
Feb. 2
Shawn Drenning edited this comment Feb. 2
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Jeff: I think it ought to also be viewed through the prism of serving the current membership and there is clearly a demand for it (at least in ACBL world). That said, while I do not think having a rating system would automatically increase membership, I think not having one could be in some circumstances be detrimental. In the past, I have been effectively told that I need to know my place and that I have not yet earned the privilege of playing against better players, but if I put in another 10-15 years and get enough masterpoints maybe then I can play in a higher bracket. I can imagine some people's response to this attitude might be f*$% off, I'll find another hobby.
Feb. 2
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I don't doubt they may be refusing to play these for the wrong reasons, but I often refuse to play conventions I know. Now granted if we sat down to play a session and you really wanted to play something and could explain it, I would probably agree to if even if it wasn't something I knew, so I understand your point.
Feb. 1
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“Chris Champion has a ”power rating“ but with Eric Rodwell at 50th, and Brad Moss, Steve Weinstein, Mike Passell, David Berkowitz and Bart Bramley all behind him, and Bob Hamman's name not in the top 250, I have trouble putting any credibility in it.”

I think if your objective in having a rating system is to precisely rank players based on skill then Champion's system fails. If your goal is to get a rough idea of how strong a player is, I think it does a reasonably good job (it correctly identifies all the players you listed as being some of the strongest in the ACBL).

A very frustrating aspect of being a player who doesn't have hordes of masterpoints is that this is how team events are bracketed. You may say I should just “play up”, but realistically at a big regional (like Houston next week) my team doesn't belong in the top bracket, but it also doesn't belong in bracket 6 (or whatever we would get placed in based on masterpoints). Using a rating system that was even remotely accurate to bracket events would be a HUGE improvement in my opinion.
Feb. 1
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What are Pavlicek's carding agreements? If you play count as default, what situations (if any) do you revert to attitude? I could see playing this way against suits, but I feel there are a lot more situations against NT where attitude about the suit led is very helpful (but maybe that's just because that's how I am used to playing).
Feb. 1
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Sure, I'm pretty anti-convention in general, but probably if you've been playing regularly for five years you should consider adding things like RKC to your arsenal. I think the instinct to be resistant to adding new conventions (even if they are theoretically better) is a really good one that many even experienced players (at least in my area) would be well-served to adopt, so I would never want to discourage it newer players. If my partner can declare reasonably well and consistently count to 13 on defense, I'll happily play straight Blackwood though!
Feb. 1
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I believe on one of the bridgewinners thread on “worst conventions” there were some prominent defenders of the Montreal Relay. I think an international pair from England played a similar system at one point. I vaguely remember the claim being that it much better played with a weak NT. I agree that the way it is played by average club players is not great.
Feb. 1
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Honestly, I would be thrilled to play with a newer player who wanted to play like this (except maybe for SAYC since I don't think newer players know which 2/1 sequences are forcing). I don't think this is the optimal way to play, but I think for newer players simple is better and there are far more important things to worry about than the bidding (I remember playing with a very new player and our card was basically “natural” and all doubles lower than the three level are takeout no matter what the auction and this was more than adequate).

I also shun most conventional defense to NT even with experienced partners (I usually will play agree to play 2C = majors all else natural), so I guess I'm a noob :)
Feb. 1
Shawn Drenning edited this comment Feb. 1
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I find it very common even among the ‘A’ players at the club I play at to describe their leads against suit contracts as “standard,” but lead top of three small regardless of what has happened in the auction. Some of them now think it's funny to make unorthodox leads (or at least claim to) on purpose against me to “throw me off my game” because they misunderstand my grumblings (I don't care what they play, but if they routinely lead “top of nothing” against a suit contract they should disclose this).

I used to think leading top of nothing was just a weird club thing, but I recently read in Kit Woolsey's “Partnership Defense in Bridge” (page 127): “The old problem of what to lead from three small against a suit contract has never been satisfactorily resolved. Is it better to lead top, showing attitude but running the risk of partner playing you for a doubleton, or to lead low, showing count but chancing partner's playing you for a non-existent honor in the suit?” Granted this is an old book, but it made me rethink my view on how bizarro this is.
Jan. 31
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I am amused when opponents have some long sequence with no one bidding NT and before leading I ask if everything is natural and I'm immediately corrected by both opponents “No! 4C was Gerber”. I guess it is self-evident enough not to require an alert.
Jan. 31
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Super Gerber!
Jan. 31
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“Will the outcome of this project expose how serious they are about their complaints?”

No
Jan. 29
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There are lots of people I think are well-meaning and diligent, but I think spearheading a campaign to start a new (better) bridge organization is going to take a little more than that. If you and others disagree by all means contribute to the campaign. I certainly would be interested to the result if this gets off the ground and given the amount of complaining about the ACBL and other bridge organizations on Bridgewinners, there does seem to be some demand (will be curious to see how many of the perpetual complainers contribute/volunteer their time to help David).
Jan. 28
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