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Does getting different results in different event styles point to any particular weakness?

#1 User is offline   hirowla 

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Posted 2014-March-14, 01:19

I was thinking about how I do in particular styles of events (not online). I seem to do better in pairs style of events rather than swiss pairs/teams for some reason. I have no idea why and I like all styles of the game, I'm just going on results obtained rather than anything else. I do know the general difference in strategy (e.g for pairs it's about consistency and competing, for swiss/teams it's about making the games and slams) and I believe I adapt but obviously not that well!

Does this point to a particular area of the game which can be glossed over in pairs but is exposed in swiss/teams? Is it just luck? Is it just I play more pairs than the others (our regular club sessions are exclusively pairs)? Or is it just me being a bit overly critical? I know one difference in teams is that having good teammates certainly helps!

Any ideas which may point to something, apart from me generally not being a very good player (I already know that!), would be appreciated.



#2 User is offline   Zelandakh 

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Posted 2014-March-14, 05:42

MPs tends to reward players who are good at making an extra trick on the most common layouts and who compete for the part score aggressively. IMPs tends to reward players who are good at bidding their games and catering to less common layouts while safely making their contracts. Obviously this is a very broad and inaccurate generalisation and there may be more detailed factors involved if you look more closely.
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#3 User is offline   CamHenry 

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Posted 2014-March-14, 06:47

I notice that my results tend to be much better at MPs than at IMPs. From examining the swing deals, I find that:
- I make light penalty doubles of partscores
- I don't bid aggressive games very much
- My defensive play is quite passive, most of the time

I don't know how general this is! I do know that declarer play for overtricks is far more important at MPs; the reliable ability to find a chance for a defensive error makes me quite successful in a weak field.

#4 User is offline   helene_t 

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Posted 2014-March-14, 07:22

IMP rewards accurate slam bidding and hence good partnership understanding. Therefore, with a pick-up partner it is probably easier to do well at matchpoints. OTOH matchpoints bidding requires that your system allows you to compete aggresively without the risk of partner "hanging" you. But this is generally more a question of both partners understanding matchpints tactics than a question of specialized agreement.
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#5 User is offline   ggwhiz 

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Posted 2014-March-14, 11:36

I was in the opposite position when I started having come to duplicate from a rubber bridge background.

Friends that had preceded me by a few years told me to play MP's like it was imps and hope for the best which was good advice but it was a real process to make adjustments to my pairs game since it was before hand records. Even now if I play mostly pairs for a long stretch those results improve and when I switch to imps they need improving.

One really good player I knew re-read Watsons Play of the hand every year before our National team trials started as an aid to switching gears. I use the Mike Lawrence books Play a Swiss Teams and Play Matchpoints With when I go back and forth.

I consider 5 imp losses to be in the acceptable cost of doing business range as long as there are not too many of them, ie -800 against a red game as long as you had a reasonable expectation of bumping them up to the 5-level or escaping for less. Perhaps if you track your 5+ imp losses a trend may appear such as over-competing on partscores and underbidding games, especially red ones.

It's a big subject though as you don't want to be in a red 3nt that either makes or goes down 4.
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#6 User is offline   granguru 

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Posted 2014-March-15, 11:28

MPs and IMPs tourneys are 2 different games. Almost all experts and world class perform better in one game or another. It is very rare to find a player who do it similarily in both events.

As Zelandahk pointed out MP asks for agressiveness, while IMPs best strategy suggests to be wisely conservative.

Why do you do different?

1. Management of the double bid
In IMPs the double is used mainly as a bidding tool, not with a natural meaning, at least most of the time. It is unwise to have the double as penalty at low levels, and many conventions are devised to help in competitive bidding to describe hands to find the best possible contract. Aim is getting to the right contract before trying to penalize opponents.

2. System orientation
IMP suggests "solid" preempts, no psyquics.
Clear high level competitive agreements is a must as a wrong decision could cost 17 IMPs, the price of 2 or 3 games-partial bad decisions. In MP each hand may give you something from 0 to a top, whatever it is. It doesnt matter if you get the good hand playing 1C or 7S.
So your system must have a Drurylike option playing pairs, no so evident playing teams.
Systems who are primarily designed to destroy enemy's weapons instead of building the best uncontested auction possible are good for MP but not for IMPs. A pretty good example is EHAA system (Each Hand An Adventure)

3. Management of the 2 and 3 level competitive bidding

According to what was said in point 1, we can also add that in competitive bidding at a low level the law of Total Tricks wisely suggests to compete with fitted hands as fast as possible and as high as the total number of trumps recommends. So when opps go beyond that level it is correct to pass in IMPs and to double in MP. The reason for this is that 3C made =110 while 3D -1 vul =100; therefore you must double as 3D -1 will give you a near to zero result anyway. The price/performance ratio is awesome in favor of a risky action in MPs while pathetic in IMPS (you win nothing and you might lose giving a game out of the blues)

4. Preemptive bidding

In MPs you might take much bigger risks, as you can get just a zero by getting to a bad contract than by giving away an overtrick. The total points at risk are constant and depend on the number of hands played. For sake of simplicity say each pair plays 25 hands. Then each hand is worth a 4% of the possible percentage a pair can make. Instead, in IMPS you need at least 2 or even 3 goodies to cover a failed bad slam.

5. Top and bottom strategy. Trying to win or to come well?
We have to be aware that the main difference to consider if you like to win in IMPs and MPs tourneys is that in the first case you are playing against one opponent while in MPs you are trying to overcome a bunch of pairs of different skill levels.

So the best strategy to win a team match is not to play perfect bridge, as one could suggest, but to make less errors than the (unique) have to beat one and only one opponent.
On the other hand in MPs, you have to defeat all the pairs in your line (usually, if std Mitchell fixture is being used). So, in MPs you try to make the maximum number of tricks, and according to the risk/chances of succeding ratio you risk the contract in order to achieve this goal, even you might go down. Safety plays, therefore are much less avoided in MPs than IMP. For instance, you are playing 3NT and you can duck one trick in order to ensure the contract against a Jxxx-0 distribution. A nice play at IMPs, but considered silly at MPs, as the chance of a 4-0 split is less than 9%. So, playing for a better split wins 91% of the time 70% or more of the top amount while 9% of the time you earn a full top. You win 630 points (top 10) or a 6,3 average per h and playing from top, and 9x10=90 or 0.9 average points per hand playing the safety play.

As we see MPs is more getting the maximum reasonable score in each hand. IMPs is going with the long run statistics.

6. Style
So, complementary to number 5, the style should be winning the most tops possible, as, for example if you make 10 tops, 3 zeroes and the rest are 60% average hands you will make (in 27 hands game) 184, that is 68.(1481) enough to win most of the time. Instead playing solid you might make 60% average not enough to win. Maybe a good strategy if there is a classification round, but not for a 1 session round.

7. Room considerations.

The room is something to consider, even it is in both cases. Mainly if you are in a very good contract you play differently as is is a rather popular one. You can make a safety play if you got to a extraordinary good slam or game, as you might lose very little points against ensuring to earn the top or near it.

In Imps you will always ensure a slam if you can make the safety play, no matter how good it is, as you are risking 980, 1430, or alike scores, against losing a meaningless 30 points, which can represent 1 or even 0 IMPs at the comparison.

Here the though is what will be the average contract and how can I do better. In teams you might just think how will my seat play the hand in the other room. You need to guess how will 1 opponent player act, and not a statiscal result coming out from the general knowledge about the average level of the room.

8. Skills
Deceptive plays, endplays, squeezes, complex position solving capability are more usefull in MPs matches as many times it just gives an overtrick or 2. But this is usually a huge gain in MP score.

On the other hand a player who has bright memory for complex bidding systems and conventions can do better in IMPs, where the precise slam or game is more meaningful.

9. Concentration
Teams matches requires a deep concentration during all the match (mainly). In MPs there are 7, 8 or 9 interruptions of the play to change opponents and table. You might get distracted during these tourneys because of that, not the case in teams, where you play 8, 10 or 16 continuous boards. For this reason many pairs like to win North South line assuming they will do better if they dont move during the session.
Other fact that influences results is when a bad board has been played. Some players do review the bad hand for the next 3 boards when they are at a IMP tourney, as the damage could result easily in the lost of the match. On the other hand, experienced players are well accustomed to have zeroes in duplicate games and dont care much about them. They know that if they got 3 zeroes they can still win if they have the adecuate number of top boards. So, the ability to concentrate on the next hand, forgetting the past ones is another factor to be considered on the potential bad performances.

Some pairs do comment during pair intermezzos but not during team matches. Performance will be affected as it generates alfa-waves, disturbing the peace of mind. All comments should be kept for the end of the session, whatever it is.

10. Table presence
Some players do detect and are pretty aware of players atttitudes at the table. This is of greater value in pairs tourneys for the said reason that an overtrick might be so valuable. For instance, if a pleyer takes a long time to lead against 3NT declarer knows he does not have a naturtal 5 card suit to lead, nor a clear sequence of honors, and the hesitation will be translated in valuable information to construct opponents hands and the best line of play. If a player hesitates in the middle game it will mean something, etc. etc. If a player led a different than the normal suit some information will be given. Timing of play plays a huge role in pairs. This is also valuable in IMPs but the impact of these extra-bridgistal issues are more relevant in MPs, and the players who are very much for the details will get more profit in pairs than teams. In pairs there is usually no screens so some body and visual information is transmitted to the table by all players as an automatic communication of feelings human beings are giving all the time (anger, joy, faces, tics, noises, eyelashing, body and hand mouvements, and so on).

#7 User is offline   mike777 

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Posted 2014-March-15, 19:42

Great question that challenges commonly accepted wisdom.

Clearly people are letting you know what the commonly accepted wisdom is.

To be fair there are true wc players who have played "imp style" at matchpoints and won at the top level. Weinstein and Levin come to mind.

Hopefully quantitative analysis can ask these sort of big questions and shed some light.

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#8 User is offline   gszes 

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Posted 2014-March-15, 19:52

There is no magic potion--IMPS is a bit more game oriented in the sense
that you need to be much more aggressive at imps in bidding games than you
should be at MP. A 5050 MP game contract will, in the long run, yield a
50% MP score. Bidding a 5050 IMP game contract will result in the following:
assume the contract is 4s making 4 or 4s going down 1 (5050) vs 3s making 4
and 3s making 3 (5050) 620 - 170 = + 450 NS -100 -140 = - 240 This is such
a huge difference that many players that use 26 points to bid game at MP will
use 24 or even less to bid game at IMPS. Making that one adjustment to your
thinking at IMPS will probably have a dramatic impact on your overall scoring.

#9 User is offline   ggwhiz 

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Posted 2014-March-15, 20:59

View Postmike777, on 2014-March-15, 19:42, said:

"...the real significance of analytics in general, is not in the details, but in the way that we have altered the Big Picture..."

We have an opening in our NL only Dynasty fantasy league :D
When a deaf person goes to court is it still called a hearing?
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#10 User is offline   mike777 

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Posted 2014-March-16, 00:27

View Postggwhiz, on 2014-March-15, 20:59, said:

We have an opening in our NL only Dynasty fantasy league :D ME fast......
only a couple of weeks left before start ..count me in

I fly to Chicago for my old fashion NL auction league 3 weeks I am old


#11 User is online   mycroft 

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Posted 2014-March-17, 10:31

I would point out that most commonly "swiss pairs", at least in Britain (where it's most commonly played) is scored as matchpoints, not IMPs. But the rounds are swissed for assignment.

Certainly there is a lot of things going on above about different results in IMPs, and I won't add to it.

But it could simply be that at swiss *, you're finding that you play well enough to get over your head, and get pushed back to average, whereas in a regular MP movement you get to play the whole field, good and bad. My guess is that you're very good at bunny-bashing, and that your style tends to play less well against the better of the field.

This is not a criticism - extracting your 70% on the rounds against the 35%ers is a critical skill at non-swissed MP pairs! But so is keeping your losses against the 65%ers to 45% or so - especially in games with a cut, or games where your current ranking determines your opponents.
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