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Stratification, bracketing, and general whining

Back in the good old days, before I dropped the game because I had become a father, games were either flighted or open.  If you wanted to earn Gold points, you had to play against relatively significant opponents in either an open game or an upper flight.

Fast forward about 20 years.  I started playing again, and everything and its brother except for some very high level national events was stratified, bracketed, or "stratiflghted."

Stratification makes a fair amount of sense.  You play against everybody, you get ranked only against those who are identified as your peers.  (I realize that you all know this; I just need to find a starting place).  Knockouts, of course, can't be stratified, so they get bracketed.  Reasonable people can disagree about whether KOs should be bracketed, but it does have some obvious value.

A little more recently, Swiss events have started being replaced, at least in lower flights, with the "Bracketed Round Robin."  

And honestly, I don't get this at all.  It essentially breaks the field into a large number of very small flights.  I guess the idea is to give more people a shot at winning points beyond the match awards, but the cost seems to me to be significant.  Basically, the ACBL is selling a small number of points to a larger audience, where a large field Swiss would presumably allow them to sell a larger number of points to a smaller audience.  And I guess that's a legitimate marketing strategy.  Except it has some drawbacks.

1.  For many people, it means that every time they go to a local Regional, they seem to play the same people.

2.  If you have delusions of grandeur and think you might have a shot at a higher placement, you're out of luck.  You can ask to play up, but that effectively means you get to play a tougher field (worthwhile in its own right) for a relatively small increase in payoff.

3.  It means too many people don't play against significant competition until they are forced to do so.


So I ask--what's the value here?  How do people like this format?  Or are too many folks here on BW already in the A/X category so they aren't affected?  And what alternatives are there?  I've been wondering--generally, "flight" levels are fixed ahead of time, where "brackets" are defined based on who actually is playing.  Would it be possible to hold a "super-stratified Swiss" (alliteration notwithstanding) in which if 64 teams enter, instead of 3 or 4 strats, there are 8, with MP ranges defined according to who's playing?  Then everybody has a shot at "placing" within their strat, but also has a shot at doing better than that.


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