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ACBL stratification, masterpoints WTF? Awarding gold points for bad bridge

#1 User is offline   Stephen Tu 

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Posted 2017-October-15, 03:37

So yesterday at the Reno regional, my partner and I played horrendously in a stratified open pairs game, and had a 44.x percent first session. Somehow, this was worth 1.9 something gold points??? Apparently, 16 years after I thought I had graduated from getting flight C awards, which used to be non-LM, less than 300, I am in flight C again? Even though I am closing in on 3000, averaged with my partner we were below the 2800(!) stratification cutoff for flight C in this game.

Then we had a thoroughly mediocre second session, raised our average for the day to about 49%, and this meant we got a ~3 gold point overall award.


Wtf is this madness? I feel insulted getting points for such a performance. I guess they truly are just attendance points now.
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#2 User is offline   The_Badger 

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Posted 2017-October-15, 04:01

I realised at the tender age of 18 (in the UK) that whilst gold/master points and experience count for something, it doesn't exactly clarify, for some players, how good an individual player is at any particular moment in their life in the same way as a chess ELO rating does.

As an individual you can 'buy' your team or partner to play with, so to speak, amass gold/master points by playing in every tournament going - something I couldn't due to the cost/time of being a student - and steadily raise in the gold/master point listings until you became a bridge Life Master or ultimately a Grand Master.

So yes, I am not a great fan of master points either...
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#3 User is offline   Vampyr 

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Posted 2017-October-15, 07:16

I thought that to get masterpoints in an ACBL stratified event you had to score at least 50%. Was that the case, once?
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#4 User is offline   PrecisionL 

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Posted 2017-October-15, 07:50

I have never seen a Flight C above 750 MP. Something seems wrong.
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#5 User is offline   Stephen Tu 

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Posted 2017-October-15, 09:28

View PostVampyr, on 2017-October-15, 07:16, said:

I thought that to get masterpoints in an ACBL stratified event you had to score at least 50%. Was that the case, once?


I don't think so. You just have to score ahead of a sufficient number of pairs in your strata. If everyone with low attendance points happens to do really poorly you can win your strata with less than 50%.

Apparently they are auto stratifying by about 1/3 of field into flight C? Very few true C players in the game, presumably siphoned off by the sheltered "gold rush" event, and the alternate start times daylight event. Which then leads to my ridiculous placement into flight C and this absurd award. If I can't score based on A/open I should get bupkis.
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#6 User is offline   Vampyr 

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Posted 2017-October-15, 10:31

View PostStephen Tu, on 2017-October-15, 09:28, said:

I don't think so. You just have to score ahead of a sufficient number of pairs in your strata. If everyone with low attendance points happens to do really poorly you can win your strata with less than 50%.

Apparently they are auto stratifying by about 1/3 of field into flight C? Very few true C players in the game, presumably siphoned off by the sheltered "gold rush" event, and the alternate start times daylight event. Which then leads to my ridiculous placement into flight C and this absurd award. If I can't score based on A/open I should get bupkis.


You could report a higher number of masterpoints, couldn't you, or better yet, avoid stratified events? Really they are such a bad idea, at least for players who prefer to play in a strong game.
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#7 User is offline   Stephen Tu 

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Posted 2017-October-15, 12:54

Masterpoints are determined by the computer, they have database of your points as of the start of each month.

There was no stronger game available, this was the open event, as I stated most weaker players played either the <750 event or the morning start time.

The explanation I got was that it was a small game, and apparently there is a minimum pair count to have a flight C. So to give the couple of true C players an opportunity to win a C award, I guess lower A now dropped into flight C. OK I guess, give the C's something to shoot for, but then I don't think A player should be eligible for flight C or B award.
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#8 User is offline   barmar 

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Posted 2017-October-15, 18:39

I think this was because there was a Gold Rush event going on concurrently. I think the way this works is that the two events are treated like a combined Strati-Flighted event. The strat limits for the open event are higher because they expect most players with few MP to play in the Gold Rush.

So it's really more like A/X/Y in the Open Pairs, and B/C in the Gold Rush. You were in the Y strat.

#9 User is offline   Vampyr 

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Posted 2017-October-15, 21:46

View Postbarmar, on 2017-October-15, 18:39, said:

I think this was because there was a Gold Rush event going on concurrently. I think the way this works is that the two events are treated like a combined Strati-Flighted event. The strat limits for the open event are higher because they expect most players with few MP to play in the Gold Rush.

So it's really more like A/X/Y in the Open Pairs, and B/C in the Gold Rush. You were in the Y strat.


Very strange!

I don't understand how you can masterpoint across a field that's divided into two, i.e. no comparisons or common opponents across the boundary.
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#10 User is offline   Stephen Tu 

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Posted 2017-October-15, 23:18

You only compare pairs in the same field. The gold rush pairs get points based on the size of their field. The open field gets a bonus field size adjustment factor based on the concurrent gold rush to reflect that it's a tougher game.

But each strata has its own overall awards, you only have to be top third or so in your strata. Which led to my ridiculous situation in flight C or Y or whatever you call it. I shouldn't be given points for coming in below average when I'm perfectly capable of winning outright, like I did earlier in the week.
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#11 User is offline   Vampyr 

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Posted 2017-October-16, 04:27

View PostStephen Tu, on 2017-October-15, 23:18, said:

You only compare pairs in the same field. The gold rush pairs get points based on the size of their field. The open field gets a bonus field size adjustment factor based on the concurrent gold rush to reflect that it's a tougher game.


This doesn't seem to be particularly valid.
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#12 User is offline   barmar 

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Posted 2017-October-16, 08:44

View PostStephen Tu, on 2017-October-15, 23:18, said:

I shouldn't be given points for coming in below average when I'm perfectly capable of winning outright, like I did earlier in the week.

I remember finding it strange back when I really was in Flight C -- I once got a section top for a 38% game, because there was only one other C pair in my section and they did even worse.

But it does really make some sense in stratified games. Suppose you have a field where everyone plays true to form, so the strat C players get 35-45%. The idea of stratification is that you don't have to beat the players in higher strats to get points, only the ones in your own strat (although if you do beat players in higher strats you may earn more points). The pair with 45% did the best of all C players, so they get points. C players aren't expected to do well in a field containing lots of stronger players -- if the expectation for C players is 38% and you get 45%, you did well for your strat.

Had it been flighted instead of stratified, so C players only played against other C players, the pair with 45% probably would have gotten 60%. But if they played up in a higher flight, they would have gotten 40-45%, but then they wouldn't get any points because they chose to challenge themselves in a stronger field.

#13 User is offline   Stephen Tu 

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Posted 2017-October-16, 09:45

View PostVampyr, on 2017-October-16, 04:27, said:

This doesn't seem to be particularly valid.


I agree, it's pretty arbitrary. Given the lack of any official rating system anything is going to be arbitrary.
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#14 User is offline   Stephen Tu 

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Posted 2017-October-16, 10:08

View Postbarmar, on 2017-October-16, 08:44, said:

I remember finding it strange back when I really was in Flight C -- I once got a section top for a 38% game, because there was only one other C pair in my section and they did even worse.

But it does really make some sense in stratified games. Suppose you have a field where everyone plays true to form, so the strat C players get 35-45%. The idea of stratification is that you don't have to beat the players in higher strats to get points, only the ones in your own strat (although if you do beat players in higher strats you may earn more points). The pair with 45% did the best of all C players, so they get points. C players aren't expected to do well in a field containing lots of stronger players -- if the expectation for C players is 38% and you get 45%, you did well for your strat.


That's fine maybe for the first few years when actually a C player, or at least a C player as determined by attendance points.

But 15, 20 years down the line, after you've been continually competing in open, A events on equal footing, and doing OK? This one is like they are just giving me bonus points for being younger than field average and not a bridge pro and not as many years to have point accumulation.

Drop me down, to give the C pairs their minimum pair count, and points for beating me, but gold LM or any LM for that matter shouldn't be awarded for placement in C, or any below average game IMO.

I guess before the field was typically divided into 199er, B/C/D, A/x. I'd often get random X bonus points when finishing in the "lowveralls" of A, but this didn't bug me as much since these were above average games, and would be getting a few points for A anyway. X players voluntarily playing the top event tend to be decent players, so getting X award requires beating a lot of A players also, since your fellow X are also beating A's. But now with gold rush, and a regional pair game shrinking down to only one section, I didn't even have to break average.



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#15 User is offline   sacto123 

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Posted 2017-October-16, 22:20

When you look at the entry list for that open pairs and see over a dozen northern California heavyweights with over 12,000 masterpoints each, maybe 48.92% overall is not as dismal as you suggest. Most of us want to test our skills against the best, and that tournament had lots of them.
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#16 User is offline   Vampyr 

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Posted 2017-October-16, 22:43

View PostStephen Tu, on 2017-October-16, 10:08, said:

That's fine maybe for the first few years when actually a C player, or at least a C player as determined by attendance points.

But 15, 20 years down the line, after you've been continually competing in open, A events on equal footing, and doing OK? This one is like they are just giving me bonus points for being younger than field average and not a bridge pro and not as many years to have point accumulation.

Drop me down, to give the C pairs their minimum pair count, and points for beating me, but gold LM or any LM for that matter shouldn't be awarded for placement in C, or any below average game IMO.

I guess before the field was typically divided into 199er, B/C/D, A/x. I'd often get random X bonus points when finishing in the "lowveralls" of A, but this didn't bug me as much since these were above average games, and would be getting a few points for A anyway. X players voluntarily playing the top event tend to be decent players, so getting X award requires beating a lot of A players also, since your fellow X are also beating A's. But now with gold rush, and a regional pair game shrinking down to only one section, I didn't even have to break average.


I think that the levels are so high because some people want to stay in a lower flight. As they accumulate points, it becomes necessary to accommodate them by raising the limits.
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#17 User is offline   Stephen Tu 

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Posted 2017-October-17, 00:43

View Postsacto123, on 2017-October-16, 22:20, said:

When you look at the entry list for that open pairs and see over a dozen northern California heavyweights with over 12,000 masterpoints each, maybe 48.92% overall is not as dismal as you suggest. Most of us want to test our skills against the best, and that tournament had lots of them.



A dozen? Are you talking 12k each player (24k+ per pair) or each pair? I saw only half a dozen heavyweights, who I'm a clear dog to, but will beat occasionally. And they were playing with each other so condensed into 3 out of the 22 pairs.

Besides if they are the regional heavyweights, I should be light heavyweight, or at least middleweight, not flyweight, no? After all I (with a different partner) beat all those heavyweights in the 4 session open in Santa Clara last month, so I don't think I'm supposed to be given any handicaps or kudos or points of any color, let alone gold, for not breaking average with 19 non-heavy pairs in the field.
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#18 User is offline   barmar 

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Posted 2017-October-17, 08:23

It's well known that masterpoints are a lousy proxy for expertise, but it's still the only system we have. Someone who has 3,000 points after playing for 10 years is treated like someone who has the same after 50 years. We've been asking for a better rating system, and ACBL keeps putting it on their agenda, but nothing happens.

As long as we continue to use this inaccurate method, you'll occasionally have anomalies like this.

#19 User is offline   Stephen Tu 

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Posted 2017-October-17, 10:37

Does handing out a few points for middling/bad results to these flight A through longevity players really encourage attendance at all though? I doubt it. If you are forced into A through longevity vs skill, I think this crowd mostly just stops playing tournaments, sticking to club games or maybe quitting altogether. A true rating system would definitely help these folks, letting them into a level where they can win occasionally and not constantly feel overmatched.

But continually increasing the threshold for C, and giving some crumb points to them, or to people like me having a bad day, seems pointless. And unfair to the real C players.
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#20 User is offline   johnu 

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Posted 2017-October-17, 12:48

View PostStephen Tu, on 2017-October-17, 10:37, said:

But continually increasing the threshold for C, and giving some crumb points to them, or to people like me having a bad day, seems pointless. And unfair to the real C players.


1.9 gold points are hardly crumbs for non-life masters. Most would kill to get a big chunk of their required gold points. A lot of C players have a hard time winning gold points in the Gold Rush events.

Of course, IMO it is unfair for real C players to be in the same flight as expert level players in a flighted event.
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