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Bridge Player Archetypes
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One thing that MTG did that was really smart (in my opinion), was they analyzed their playerbase to understand their players and then categorize them into "psychographic profiles". By breaking them into these groups, it made it easier to plan to have each of their needs met. It helps avoiding situations where a player feels left out and more people are excited to play. There's an article describing these archetypes here: https://magic.wizards.com/en/articles/archive/making-magic/timmy-johnny-and-spike-2013-12-03

I think it would be interesting to see that sort of categorization done in the bridge universe as well. It seems like people talk about "club players" and "tournament players" and "professional players", but that seems to focus on their skill level rather than their interests and motivations. Some club players want to get better, some don't. Tournament player is very broad, and it seems like many people like to project their own preferences onto all tournament players instead of breaking them into groups and understanding the needs of each.

I think these sorts of profiles or archetypes would help in a few areas. For example, I remember a variety of people (primarily pros) arguing against moving the Imp Pairs to Sunday/Monday to fix the giant hole in the schedule there for those under 60. Various comments were made about how overlapping the Vanderbilt is terrible because everyone wants to play the Vanderbilt. However, these sorts of comments seemed to ignore the large % of players who would be interested in a pairs event in that time slot and didn't care about the Vanderbilt. The move was made and the attendance at the Imp Pairs (180 tables) was the largest in recent memory (while the attendance at the Vanderbilt, 68 tables, continued to be one of the least popular ACBL NABC+ events).

There's also a conversation in another thread about drop ins to the blue ribbon that also has a bunch of side conversations. One thing I noticed in a lot of the conversations is that people are only having one conversation: "What's best", wherein they then argue for what they think is best. I think that and many other debates about schedule, dropins, new events, etc would benefit from changing the dialogue from "what's best" to "what's best for X type of player".

I'll take a stab at some possible profiles for NABC event participants in the next page...

So, here are my own personal ideas for how things might break down, just amongst NABC attendees. I don't feel like I have enough exposure to club players to pretend to know anything about them. Caveat: I have not conducted a single survey and am going off of personal impressions only.

Profile 1) The "Toughest Competition" person. This individual wants to play against the best, whether or not they can hang. They want to play the plats, the reisinger, the Vanderbilt. They might not ever reach "world class" level, but it won't be for lack of playing top level events. A possible example (guessing, entirely from the Blue Ribbon qual thread) might be Sathya or Max. This person might be budget conscious and possibly vacation conscious. 

Profile 2) The money maker. This person gets hired to play bridge, typically into team events. They want events that will get them hired and make them money. Their favorite events are long 7 day KOs. They are also likely seen at regionals around the country, playing KOs on sponsored teams. They are generally going to be proponents of seeding points in KOs because their profession and constant exposure to KOs means that the more seeded an event is, the better it is for them. This person is likely not budget conscious (picked up by their sponsor) or vacation conscious (it is their career). An example of someone in this category might be Chris Compton.

Profile 3) The hobbyist. This person plays bridge as a hobby, probably as their main hobby. They like seeing good people, but also like to feel like they have a chance to do something in the event they participate in. They might play a premier event, but if there is overlap they might also sometimes duck into the easier event to have a better chance of placing or think that they could possibly win. Conversely, they might be less interested in an event like the Vanderbilt or Spingold where it feels like they have no chance. This is essentially your rank and file NABC+ event participant, probably making up a significant % of NABC event participants. Many in this group are likely budget conscious or vacation conscious or both.

Profile 4) The toe dipper. This person is likely to mostly avoid NABC+ events, preferring to mostly play regional events at NABCs. They might, however, give an NABC event a try occasionally. They might aim for an event where the field is particularly weak (like the Mixed), or they have a better chance of plat (like the Swiss), but in general this person mostly looks at NABCs for the regional schedule while trying to sneak in one (or maybe two) NABC events. I suspect that many people go through this stage and some might stay longer (or permanently) while others might move on to one of the other mindsets. 

It seems like if we get the groups figured out, along with corresponding motivations, then we can have a lot more intelligent discussions about scheduling. If scheduling changes can be made which make NABCs more appealing the the largest groups, then it might also improve (or prevent a decline) in NABC attendance. Assuming the groups above are accurate to some degree, my suspicion is that the hobbyists are by far the largest group and also the most influenced by how appealing a schedule is while the money makers have the biggest voice with people like Compton and Meckstroth advocating on their behalf.

For those who made it this far:

1) What are your thoughts?

2) How would you break things down for NABC attendees?

3) What % do you think the makeup is in each group?

4) What changes (if any) could be made to make the schedule more fun/appealing for each psychographic profile?

5) What would profiles for other groups (club players, local tournament only players) look like?

 

Thanks for (hopefully) reading this whole thing, look forward to hearing thoughts/feedback/ideas/etc below! :-)

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