July 30, 2019
Rating system, supported
In response to Jason Furman’s letter to the editor (August 2019), the fundamental flaws with a rating system in bridge can be avoided.
The ACBL should stop using a rating system that raises both partners ratings by the same amount. Rather the average skill level of a player can be found by looking at all games for a player over a period of time, taking into account strength of partners and strength of opponents. Factors such as club championship and unit game are irrelevant.
The ACBL should stop using a rating system that raises a player rating more when playing with an experienced partner instead of a newer player. Taking into account strength of partner, a player’s rating should require a lower score to raise both partner’s ratings when playing with a newer player.
The ACBL should not give higher ratings to players who play in weak club games. All 13 table open pair club games pay the same number of points, but no two clubs have the same strength of opponents. Using a degree of difficulty factor would level the playing field for all clubs.
Since the form of scoring impacts results, using a single rating system to rate all forms of scoring is like comparing apples to oranges. A rating system should only rate one form of scoring. Matchpoints offers the best results for a rating system because it is the most common type of game and you have a game percentage to split between two partners. Try splitting a win or loss between 4, 5, or 6 teammates. The results are much less accurate.
In short, the ACBL should stop using Masterpoints as a rating system. It is an awards system!
Luck, conventions, penalties, do not affect a player’s expertise. But it does affect a pair’s score, and at the end of the day, it’s the pair that scores the best that wins.
Players in the Gold Rush pairs all have less than 750 Masterpoints, but their skill levels cover a range from beginner to open pairs.
Any player with a skill level higher than the skill level of the average player with 750 Masterpoints should not be allowed to play in the Gold Rush pairs.
Stop criticizing Masterpoints
Masterpoints is an awards system. Masterpoints is used for Life Master achievements, the Barry Crain 500, Ace of Clubs, and other Masterpoint races. I do not want to get rid of Masterpoints, but ACBL members criticize Masterpoints when it is used to bracket, stratify, or flight ACBL events. I advocate we have both an awards system, and a ratings system. One system cannot do both jobs well.
If Masterpoints were not used to bracket, stratify, and flight, it would be restored to its formal glory before the creation of these events.
In regards to Billy Miller’s tragic story of Mary Oshlag, he offered a solution for the many thousands of others that shared her situation. “Perhaps a think tank can be formed to overcome the red tape involved in making medical exceptions regarding club games.” Does the ACBL know who these players are? Will players need to make their medical records available?
Our philosophy has always been “players with similar Masterpoints should play against each other”. I do not think we should make exceptions for certain players. Let’s do it for all players, based on skill. We need a strength-based rating system. The main problem, some players with high Masterpoint totals may not appreciate a low rating.
It is a technological challenge, but all players could enter events without stating their rating, or having their rating revealed. They simply say “two session pairs” or “bracketed KO’s” or “one session swiss”. The open pairs, gold rush pairs and I/N pairs could all be two session pairs. The bridgemate will tell you which flights you can play in and it will ask you to select one. The advantage to this is that players would not have to ask for special treatment.
Awards, and Rating Systems
Awards System: A measurement of how many successes a player has had over time.
Rating System: A measurement of how well a player plays the game today.
Purpose of Awards System: Barry Crane 500, Life Master ranks, Player of Year, Ace of Clubs, ect.
Purpose of Rating System: Bracket KO’s and some Swiss. Flighted events like A/X, Gold Rush, Intermediate/Novice. Stratify events. We can also seed, every player, in National events.
By the way, since no one will remember their exact rating, we will need to enter our ACBL player number as well as our partner’s and team mate’s numbers into the bridge mates. No rating will ever be revealed. If you want, you will know where to go to find them.
I have never heard a complaint about the Masterpoint Awards System. Our editor, Paul Linxwiler, in the October, 2017 Bridge Bulletin, wrote a column, “How good are you at bridge”. In it he urges the creation of a rating system as well as keeping Masterpoints. Our CEO, Bahar Gidwani, is promoting “strength based ratings”. Many members have written to the editor detailing the unfair short comings of the Masterpoint Rating System.
Conventional wisdom is that we can not have a Chess like individual rating system. Chess is a game of individuals, and Bridge is a game of partnerships. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. I believe that we can have a Chess like individual rating system, but only if we want it.
The biggest supporters of our game are often the biggest victims of our rating system. The players who love the game the most, play as often as they can. Over 20 or 30 years they accumulate thousands of Masterpoints while spending tens of thousands of dollars. Are they among the best players? Maybe. Are their partners and teammates excited about going to tournaments with them? Sometimes.