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All comments by Ping Hu
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The other question is how much it is going to cost to “enhance” current system. I suppose it is not going to be free even they bring it “in house”? By the way how many software developers are there on ABCL payroll now and what are they doing?
Sept. 17, 2014
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Yes, I meant Mr. Hammond's story.
Sept. 16, 2014
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I found the following link from Bridgescore+ that has Mr. Hartman's story about the contract dispute with ACBL that led to the breakdown of negotiation.
http://bsp.bridgescoreplus.com/?page_id=51
Sept. 16, 2014
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I checked out the Bridgescore+ website and I suggest any interested people to take a look, click on show me and watch some video. I think it works quite good given this is the first version. Its documentation is built in and could give you some detailed code and schema design. The fault I found is its Swiss team set up might not work as well as current ACBLScore, but other game set up are easier to use.
Sept. 15, 2014
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The suggestion that someone could hack open source does not understand how open source work. By definition open source would allow all other developer to see the code and there is no way someone could hard coded something that gives certain players a preference over others.
Closed source does not mean it is safe. Even though ACBLScore is not open source, a determined hacker could still decode the financial report file or game file and alter its data before sending it to ACBL.
Sept. 15, 2014
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It makes more sense to move Fast Pair to Tuesday/Wednesday instead of final weekend in Spring.
Aug. 31, 2014
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The change of B/C NAP to Sun/Mon makes it very unattractive to play. When it ends, Vanderbilt and 10K KO has already started. With Red Ribbon moving to summer, there is no NABC event to play for young players until Thursday's Open Pair.
Aug. 31, 2014
Ping Hu edited this comment Aug. 31, 2014
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A good rating system should solve the second problem as well. In USCF chess rating system, master players are above 2200. Club players often range from 1200 to 2000. So there is a large range player could see their improvement in rating if they continue to play.
I did some test with local bridge club results try to rate player using an algorithm similar to chess. I got similar result with best player rating close to 2000, but most players were in 1200 - 1600 range. I know most of them are life masters. With masterpoint inflation a player rated 1300-1400 could be a LM.
Aug. 22, 2014
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USCF has both rated games and unrated games in a tournament. It is just you won't see any unrated game results because they were not kept.
If I were to use BBO data to study, I'll only chose from those tournament games where played paid an entry fee, presumably these are more serious games.
A rating system could also change players behavior. With masterpoint, some players who do not have good session early on tend to made some wild bid on last few boards since they have nothing to lose. This could skew the result, giving gifts to players who happened to be in the right place. If players know all the boards they played will be rated, they may not do it since it could result in big rating drop.
Aug. 21, 2014
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It looks like they have the same masterpoint system. It is not a competition, just a duplication. I'm looking for some organizations that would open to a new way to organize tournament and providing incentive for players to play.
Aug. 20, 2014
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I recall I saw some USBF regional tournament ad. I think it was in Eau Claire, WI this summer. High fee is probably due to limited membership now. However its bylaw would be the real problem if it only set up to run US Championship or team trial.
Aug. 20, 2014
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I think this is an interesting idea but I suggest you to push it further. Maybe USBF could develop a new rating system and use it to organize their tournaments. Over time we could check how USBF membership grows vs ACBL and see if the rating system could help to promote the game.
Aug. 20, 2014
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Mark, I had the same experience as you with my first KO event but in a sectional. We were good players but did not have a lot of points so we got into the lowest bracket. It was a 3 session KO in one day and we won all rounds easily. However it was so boring that we were just counting time to see when it would finish at the end. We only got 2.64 masterpoints for it. Just like you I did not play KO for many years after that.

I also agree with you that we should not abandon masterpoint completely, but we should recognize it as a lifetime achievement.

The problem is ACBL's KO structure is using masterpoint to determine brackets and awards. I think a better solution is tournament should pre-designate a certain number of brackets and publish the expected master point award for each of them (it could be adjusted by actual attendance). This is just like chess tournament that publish prize money for each sections. Players could chose to play in the bracket they think their team is competitive. A new rating system could give player guidance where they should play. Of course you also want to limit players to “play down” and get easy wins with a real good rating system.

Finally the masterpoint is OK for current active ACBL members because they are kept coming to ACBL games. However how many players tried ACBL then quit because they don't like masterpoint system? If we want to know if a new rating system could help to promote game, it is really if it could attract these players. My intuition is YES.
Aug. 20, 2014
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What you looked for is exactly Elo rating does. It rates club game and national game the same way. The only factors affected rating results are your rating, your opponent's rating and the game results. Let's say you play in a team match against Mike Passell. You are expected to lose 4 IMPs per board, but you managed to lose only 3 IMPs per board. Even you have a loss, but this result is better than the expected loss, you still gain on your rating from this result.
Of course this also works another way around. If you are playing against lower rating players you need to win more just to keep up with your rating. This would discourage players to want to play down and just win some easy games to get masterpoints.
Aug. 19, 2014
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I think the whole discussion is about the need for a rating system that reflects player's ability and the current masterpoint system does not measure it up.

ACBL does a good job in using masterpoint to get players playing in its tournaments. I say this in comparison with USCF(chess) where it had more inactive members.

In term of player rating it is another around. There is a very good Elo rating system in chess. You could easily convert FIDE rating or any other foreign rating into USCF rating and they are usually very good. No one has complained about the Elo rating system.

What is the use of rating? In chess, all tournament pairing are completely dependent on player's rating. ACBL certainly recognized masterpoints could be used as good measure for player's strength so it came up with different seeding rule for Spingold and Vanderbilt. Masterpoint is only used for seeding in mini-Spingold. However if you look at results from mini-Spingold, it is almost as good as randomly drawing. Another use of masterpoint is in creating KO brackets in regional events. This is where the problem came. First is if a team is placed in the right bracket, second is if early round of pairing avoided strongest teams in same bracket to play each other. These problem could not be solved with a good rating system.

There are a couple different rating systems like OKB and PR (by Chris Champion). However both of them has issues with limited data and what I think it is more fundamental flaw - it tried to rate individual player rather than pair. Most of the bridge game (except individual event) are played by pair (team also consisted two pairs). So the basic rating should be based on pair (I should point out PR also has pair rating in addition to individual rating).

I think it is feasible to develop an Elo based rating system for bridge, similar to chess. In chess, a player rated 400 points higher is expect to win 90% game and his rating will be adjusted based his performance. In bridge we should rating based on pair, let's say a pair rated 400 points higher should expect to win 1 IMP per board or 65% in matchpoint.

By the way USCF chess rating also has a floor. Once a player rating peaks at certain level, his/her rating would not drop below the floor level (usually about 200 points below the peak). So players don't need to be afraid their rating to drop indefinitely if they play more. The rating change is not a zero sum game. If a player played exceptionally well he/she could get some “bonus” point in rating changes. This introduced a small inflation in overall points. USCF also has some control on how fast player's rating could change. Recently they just made a change in “K factor” that made rating change for master player slower but increased the pace to lower rated players.

I think the problem is not limited to ACBL but the whole bridge community needs a better rating system so players from different country comes together, you have something to compare with.
Aug. 18, 2014
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This depends on what you think Masterpoint is. As I see it masterpoint is just a tool that ACBL uses it to get players to play in their sanctioned games. So whatever they decide to give out is fine if it serves the purpose.
If your question is about how players should be rewarded by their efforts in a team game, it is a different question. If we want to get an objective measure of playing ability, we have to go beyond masterpoints. My own opinion is something like Elo rating system would be the best solution. There has been some discussions on this topic in the past (at this site).
Aug. 6, 2014
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It's a perfect hand to open 2NT for a weak hands in both minors if you have this opening.
July 1, 2014
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Ken, I think your argument has some merit but not 100% convincing that they could compete at 3 level. Again it is based on total tricks that if you want compete 3 over 3 there needs to have 17 total tricks. It is not clear that opponent could find that many total tricks. If opening side has only 8 card fit, opponent has to find their 9 card fit. Unless the player at balanced position has same distributional hand, they may not have a 9 card fit (his/her partner already passed). So the player at balanced position may have to pass unless he want to risk getting to high and being doubled. If he/she has a distributional hand, he could still compete, but in that case he/she probably will not pass 1NT either.
This is a case where open 1NT allows your side to find a fit before opponent could find their fit. When you bid 2 transfer, it takes away the bidding space from them and they have to guess.
June 27, 2014
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My choice is transfer but for a different reason - total tricks. This is certainly a competitive board and how high it goes depends on total tricks. With partner open 1NT, you have at least a 8 card fit in C. Now look at what opponent best fit is. There is only one distribution that could result opponent best fit is only 7 card - opener has 4, 3, 4 and 2. In all other distributions opponents will also have 8 card fit. If opener has 3 and you have a 9 card fit, opponent will definitely has a 8 card fit. So the total tricks for this hand is most likely 16 or 17. With 16 total tricks you should bid 3 over 2 of major. You could work out the scores for either 3 makes or down 1. If 3 ends up down 1, opponent is likely to make 2M for 110.
June 23, 2014
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It is clear ACBL Master Points could not be used to measure bridge strength. Two players with same MP could be quite different in playing strength. If we want to have a true measure of playing ability, we need something like the ELO rating in chess.

Bridge is more complicated in chess, but it is still possible to develop a good rating system with all the data around and modern computing technology. For example, declarer play could be singled out and rated separately. If a player consistently scores better when he is declarer than average, he is certainly a better player. Bidding is more complicated and needs to be rated separately and probably at partnership level rather than individually.

There is a rating program by Chris Champion that is certainly better then Master Points. However it has some shortcomings. It could not use KO results in rating. It could not use the game a player with his/her most frequent partner for rating. This is like in chess you could not use your favorite opening and your best games do not count. Simply counting percentage from a session of pair game of 24-27 boards does not give the granularity that needs to rate a player precisely. In chess, the rating is done per game played not per tournament, so each game and the strength of opponent counts. In bridge, we need to use the data at per board level. BBO is probably the best place to develop some rating system.

I also have an interesting observation about the Master Points. When I first joined ACBL about 20 years ago there were not a lot of master points but there were a lot of players in a tournament. Now players have much more masterpoints but even regional could not draw a lot of players. If you look at the masterpoint distribution from ACBL website, you find the highest concentration is from 300-400. This is the range players used to get their LM. So more masterpoint certainly has not help to draw players to the game or keep them from playing more.

This leads to another topic about how to promote bridge to young players. In chess, there are 10 years old masters and 15 years old Grand Masters. How long does it take for a bridge player to be Grand LM? In chess when you play against a high rated opponent and win, your rating could quickly go up. I ran a local chess club for kids a couple years ago. When I had a tournament, young players were all very excited. They were eager to see how their rating change after the tournament. In Supernational tournament there were over 5000 kids playing. The ACBL masterpoint system does not have the same effects. Although the proliferation of master point makes it much easier to become a LM now, but is it a more rewarding experience? When everyone could be a LM, what is the gold content in it?
June 19, 2014
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