Brief History of Masterpoints


Masterpoints was created in 1936 by William McKenney to be a record of accomplishments. They are the Trophies Bridge players get for doing well. Masterpoints tell how well you did at tournaments and clubs, over your Bridge career.


In 1936, Bridge had no need for a rating system, just an awards system. The Masterpoint Awards system works for all ACBL members. There were no flighted, bracketed, or stratified events. Everybody played against everybody. Then in 1975, the first flighted event was held. The ACBL used Masterpoints to flight the event, and it worked pretty well. The Masterpoint Rating system works for 2/3rds of all ACBL members. In 1985 the first Stratified event was played, again using Masterpoints. Finally, in 1995 the first bracketed KO was created. There was no rating system, so Masterpoints became both a rating system and an awards system.


An unintended consequence of this was the creation of two new classes of players, Young Hot Shots, about 1/6th of all ACBL members, and Seasoned Veterans, also 1/6th. Young Hot Shots have a skill level significantly higher than their Masterpoint level. Seasoned Veterans are significantly lower. These players are bracketed/stratified incorrectly. Young Hot shots will win their share of Masterpoints and eventually reach the correct bracket/strat. Pity their opponents as they continue their climb, and new Young Hot Shots appear. Seasoned Veterans have few options. If they can find partners/teammates they will have to play against opponents they cannot compete with.


The creation of Masterpoints is the greatest marketing tool ever invented by the ACBL. Everyone wanted as many Masterpoints as they could get. When the first flighted event was played, a few players realized that if they had fewer Masterpoints, they could play in lower flight. Masterpoints became a little less desirable. This trend continued with Bracketed KOs and Stratified events.


Chris Champion