Join Bridge Winners
Sea Change for Ranking Systems?

The ACBL's survey about introducing new rankings has garnered a variety of opinions at this post. Yet, I can't help but wonder if we ever really can find a ranking system that is essentially "one size fits all." What I mean by that is this. Our membership is a diverse group of people, from those who are just learning and making their way through the fundamentals - to those who have competed at the highest levels for decades on the world stage.What overall methodology could really sensibly cover this vast range of ability and experience?

I propose that we acknowledge nothing can. Instead, why not aim at varied ranking systems, depending on the type of player someone is.

What do I mean by this?  For example, we might break down our membership into three groups. The first might be called "Social." This group would be those people who play largely in club games and local tournaments, ranging from newbies to more of a veteran nature. Yet, people in this group would be our players who play more for entertainment, enjoyment and social relationships rather than battling for blood. While like any players, they wish to improve - they are not going to spend nights pouring through Ottlik's "Adventures in Card Play" to achieve it.  

At the other range, we have the "Professionals." While everyone in this group might not play bridge as a source of income, this could be the group that competes at the highest levels, studies at a deep and serious level and so forth.

Then, inbetween, we could have "Competitors" - those who aspire to improving their games as much as possible, yet for whatever reasons, are not taking their games to quite the level as the "Professionals."I would recommend self-categorization - that is, all ACBL members could choose for themselves into which category they wish to be.

Once this is done, then we could have ranking systems that are more rational, depending upon how and why people play.

I do think that masterpoints work reasonably well for our social players. Yet, for players more in the upper percentage of our membership, as most of us recognize, mere masterpoint achievement cannot delineate variances in achievement as a more in depth system could. And - finding any system that works well for the entire membership seems futile.

At a deeper level, I think we need to return to a time where ratings stood for something meaningful. The more "titles" we create, the less value they have. The more points that are awarded for almost no reason, the less people will care about earning them.

Perhaps it is time to take a deep breath, determine systems that would better recognize the diversity among us, better meet the needs of players in these varied groups - and configure ranking systems that are up to the challenge. 


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