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We Hope You Stay Home

This is a harsh title for what I am going to write. But, I feel our current situation for regionals is an abomination. Literally, masterpoint configuration is such now that people who enjoy playing team games at regionals, with the exception of those that are able to command large turnouts, are being told "Don't come. We don't want you."

What do I mean by this?  Well, I do not understand the exact formulas for ACBL masterpoint policy. All I know is that masterpoint payouts have become beyond ridiculous for pairs vs teams.  Examples:

  • At the Des Moines regional, which I and my teammates attended last week, 2 session open Swiss Team events were paying 6 to 9 mp for a win, while 2 session pair events were paying 17 to 20+. Sometimes the pair events had fewer pairs than teams - but of course pair events get to count "gold rush" pairs.  One day, we could not play in the Swiss - as there would have been TWO TEAMS TOTAL in the event.
  • Yesterday, I played in a local sectional one-session pair event. Winning a 2 section sectional event paid almost 10 masterpoints. How can a ONE session sectional pair event pay MORE than a 2 session regional event?
  • More than a few regional tournaments are now seeing schedules where Swiss and KO events are scheduled - and they do not occur. Not enough people show up to play in them.

I understand that previous to the masterpoint reformulation, teams were paying more than pair events were. The situation needed to be rectified. Yet, instead of doing its best to try to make the two forms of bridge as equitable as possible, so that those who enjoy teams and those who enjoy pairs could play, feeling that their "reward" for success was close to even, now the disparity is far worse than before.

Some competitors prefer teams to pairs. Some have commitments where playing 5 or 6 handed allows them to play, where they could not afford the time to play in a pair event. Some players are also volunteers; again, team games allow them a bit more free time to do their volunteer work and still compete.  And (sigh) - some of us are getting older. Energy and fatigue are issues, so we appreciate the chance to play and yet get an hour or so off to rest.

Please note that I appreciate all the hard work that our ACBL Board members put into their jobs. I realize that much of what they do is complex and time consuming; I am glad that they are willing to volunteer.  Yet, I do not understand why this unacceptable situation cannot be fixed. People who might attend tournaments are voting with their feet and staying home. People who show up, only to find their event has been canceled, are angry (and rightly so). 

I hope that someone can let us know if work is being done to correct this situation. As one of my long time bridge friends has said, if change doesn't happen, in many parts of ACBL-land, team play will simply cease to exist.

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