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ACBL Big Ideas - Augmenting Rank/Point Structure

Hi all,

One area I've always hoped the ACBL would continue to improve on would be adding goals beyond the current attendance-based rank system. How many people have seen people get excited about the game but then drift away after attaining their goal of Life Master? What about others that feel like there is a giant chasm between "Life Master" (attainable fairly quickly for a serious tournament attendee) and "Grand Life Master" (which many will never hit)?

Humans in general tend to be motivated by striving toward a goal. I know I was motivated toward LM when I first started and saw others act in the same way. When my wife started, she had a little booklet where she excitedly tracked all her points as she ticked off all the various colors. However, to many people, all the ranks after LM feel like attendance awards that are less motivating. It is hard to add color requirements to ranks in a way that is relevant for tournament players without excluding people who mostly play at their local club. While I will personally have my color requirements for Platinum LM knocked out around the time I hit the 2500 for gold, it would be very different if I never traveled to regionals and nationals.

Rather than modifying the existing rank structure to decay or with other changes or replacing it with a rating, what if the ACBL worked to augment the current "lifetime total" masterpoint rankings with something more urgent. Currently it seems like people come up with alternative approaches like "M number" or tracking regional wins, but with it being entirely self-tracked with no publicity/way to easily compare with others, it is less relevant.

While others will probably have better ideas on what this might look like, here are some ideas of my own as an example:

1) M number be tracked and visible on your ACBL profile. For those unfamiliar with it, it is how many times you've hit that many masterpoints or more in a single event. So an M number of 17 would be 17 times you've won 17 masterpoints or more from a single event.

2) Tracked achievements, sort of like merit badges. Limited sectional pairs wins, limited sectional teams wins, open sectional pair wins, open sectional team wins, then the same for regional events. This can be very flexible: play in a tournament in 3, 5, 10, 15, 20, 25 etc different states. Win an event in 2, 3, 5, 10, 15, 20 etc. different districts. Complete all the requirements for LM in a single calendar year. Make it to round 2 of a national team event. Make it to day 3, 4, 5 of a national team event. Qualify to the 2nd day, 3rd day of a national pairs event.

3) Update seeding points from master points to be more focused on recent events. Almost every other competitive endeavor (whether it is sports, video games, or mental) focuses on results in the recent 3 to 24 month time span. What about adjusting seeding points from masterpoints to be mostly focused on masterpoints in the preceding 24 months? That can provide more motivation to get points. Don't want to be seeded at the bottom of the Spingold? Go to some more regionals. Getting masterpoints in the recent 24 months is a lot more reasonable than trying to build up 20,000 or whatever the cap that matters for lifetime points.

4) Stratifications based on masterpoints won in the previous two calendar years rather than total masterpoints won. Disclaimer: this might be a bad idea :P

Anyway, the main idea is just that the ACBL tries to focus on this as well. It feels like they have a great system at the start. First people get excited about points. Then they get excited about Life Master. Then they get excited about.... ? and this is where it falls off. With the current system being so focused on lifetime points earned, it definitely starts to feel to many like an attendance award. It'd be great to see the ACBL find ways to break out of it.

There are probably other approaches in other NBOs we can learn from as well, I'm just not terribly familiar with them :)

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