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All comments by Max Schireson
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Mike,

I understand that my approach is unusual. For new players who don’t want to face that level of competition, there is a mini-Blue-Ribbon pairs. If you want something a (big) step up from that, the summer nationals the Wernher starts on Wednesday; with 32 teams still in the Spingold the competition is not nearly as strong as in the premier events. The mixed pairs (if you are eligible) and IMP pairs (as now scheduled) that conflict with day 1 of the Vanderbilt are therefore even easier.

I am not saying that there shouldn’t be national events with less than top-caliber fields. I am saying that a) having no pair event at fall nationals in which the strongest players can participate is a shame - not primarily for those strong players but for the bridge community at all levels who might want to test themselves against those players, and for a great and historic event that is much diminished b) if by one small and well defined change we can get half of those players back into the event, we should do it - again not for their sake.

I think it misses the point to say the Blue Ribbons is still strong enough for most people. We should make it as strong as we can, because that is in my opinion the point of premier events.
April 21
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Mike,

Speaking as a newer player who dipped my toe in the BRP, I did so with no expectations of winning the event, purely for the experience of getting to play against the best.

If we think the only way to get new players to dip their to win in the NABC+ water is to make the events easier then we have no hope of nurturing a new generation of serious players.

I can tell you for a fact that having Meckwell, Bob Hamman etc in that room for my first time playing behind screens for the 2016 BRP final enhanced my experience as a new player. I still remember Bart Bramley telling me that making day 3 was “good for a beginner”, and looking at the field and realizing that as far as I had come, I was still - relative to those player - a beginner. All those players were drop ins, and I was proud to lose to them.

The Blue Ribbons is a special event. It is special because of its long history, but also for newer players it is the major pairs event that is most realistic to qualify for quickly. To say that making it weaker is good because it encourages ambitious new players is both wrong on what motivates ambitious players and an obscene sacrifice of a historic event.
April 20
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“Were the BRPs a 3 day event…”

It sounds like we are in agreement Steve.

The BRPs is 3 day event.

Question: did you vote for the BoG resolution based on this misunderstanding? Would you support the BoG revisiting this issue, since it seems that the facts were not understood by the voters?

As for the suggestion of the Senior Mixed pairs as an alternative
1. The issue I intended to raise was not that there would be no event for those players to enter; rather it was the strength of field of one of the ACBLs premier pair events. They could easily play in the Wed-Thu KO, which some would likely choose even with the option to drop in available.
2. Have you looked at how many of the pairs playing in the late rounds of major KO events are eligible for senior mixed events?
3. Do you think that those players would actually want to play in the senior mixed pairs if they were eligible?
4. Do you think that those players would be willing to miss the Swiss or Reisinger for the sake of the Senior Mixed Pairs?

Of those who have commented here, I think Chris Willenken is most frequently playing that late in a KO; Chris feel free to correct me if you think I am wrong about the preferences of your cohort.
April 20
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Oren,

Oren - you make good arguments.

Frankly the arguments I hear on the other side don’t seem substantive.

Mostly what I have heard is “it’s a 3 day event they should have to play 3 days”

and “it’s not fair if they don’t earn it”

For the first, my simple question is:

Why?

Explain what it is that makes the event superior by requiring all players to play all 3 days. Since the one time it was tried, drop in pairs accounted for 60% of the top 5 finishers and qualified for day 3 at a rate of 100% without being helped by high carryover, I think I can assert that the data shows dropins strengthen the field significantly. What is the corresponding harm, other than changing what we are used to? Do you agree that a stronger field is a benefit, and how do you weigh the harm you are concerned about against that.

For the second, does anyone dispute Oren’s assertion that making it to the Soloway quarterfinal is a dramatically more difficult accomplishment then being average or above day 1 of the Blues? Why then would it be “unfair” for this to be an alternative way to qualify for day 2.

I am very interested to hear any substantive argument about why dropins would make the event worse, other than making it different from how it has been.

As far as “choosing” to enter, do people really think it is reasonable that players who want to play in the Blue Ribbons should forego 4 days of top flight competition to do so? What interest that would serve?

A number of people have said that the argument for drop ins is self interested. I would argue that the argument against is equally, or more, self serving. There is a proliferation of concurrent national events that seems designed to allow people to become Grand Life Masters without facing elite competition. That itself doesn’t bother me; all I ask is that we don’t debase the premier events in the process.
April 20
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I personally think the Soloway format is good for the reason Finn stated. That said, I have really enjoyed my (losing) R64 matches against top teams, so I am glad that both formats exist.
April 19
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As it turns out, this was the actual hand with with my LHO doubled. This and the same hand with the Q were the two hands where I thought X was least unlikely where the club finesse was losing; various hands like AQxx AQx xx QT9x seemed possible where the club finesse was on.
April 19
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I thought the same thing for a moment but what happens when they put you in with a spade? You can take 6 tricks but will have to give them a major suit trick and they have 5 top tricks in the minors.
April 19
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Steve,
I think the asymmetry between pairs and teams is because there are much longer team events, so it feels reasonable to say that players who survived 3 or 4 cuts can drop into day 2. If eg the LM pairs were 5 days long, I would feel fine about the pairs who were eliminated after day 4 being able to drop into day 2 of a Swiss, for example, but this situation doesn’t actually exist on the schedule. If we want to look at bias, we could question why the ACBL doesn’t offer long pair events, but given that they don’t it is natural that the drop in issue is only in one direction.

It seems that people don’t like things that “advantage” the most successful players by increasing the chance they get to play in as many top events as possible? To me that misses the point. Those players are earning their advantage, and in my view competing against them is the point of those events.

We (speaking broadly) get to design the events, and I think attracting the strongest field should be a primary consideration for premier national events.
April 18
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My guess would be that the limit of the hand is 6S, but that might not be worth having a “guess the par score.”

Given that you asked, -500 for you.
April 18
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Btw in terms of how big an impact a small set of strong pairs can make, I was recently reminded that in 2016, it wasn’t just Meckwell who dropped in and did well. 4 pairs dropped in, and snagged 3 of the top 5 spots. I suspect that this will only strengthen the views of some opposed to drop ins, but I think it shows that the pairs dropping in are very strong and likely would have q’d day 1 and their exclusion (yes, or inclusion) likely does materially impact the event.
April 18
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I think teaching (and learning) play is very hard - which I think is part of the reason that so often teachers teach and players take classes on bidding conventions.

They may or may not be useful, but at least they are concrete, teachable, and learnable.

Learning (and teaching) play is really really hard… take the question Lynn was asked. Even if you are given the two lines, sometimes it is not obvious to less skilled players how the play might go on each on and how many tricks would be taken.

Also remembering is hard. At the club the other day my mentee blew a trick in the ending and I explained that our only chance to get another at that point trick was me having the SK so she should play for that. But in her mind there was another “chance” - maybe her heart 9 was high. If it was, she had to cash it if I didn’t have the SK. At least in her view of the world her play could have been winning.

I don’t know how to teach someone to remember if the have seen the HJ or not.

In my experience the more I have understood the significance of the location of a certain honor or how a suit is breaking to the play the more likely I am to remember it, and I think remembering cards is more an effect of being a good player than the cause (as many assume), but that view didn’t translate into any great insight to share about how to remember the HJ.
April 18
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Doug,
I think the biggest impact of a 3rd day is that the day one results against a variable field have less impact. This is still the case when there are a handful of pairs that skip day 1.
My view (obviously not shared by quite a few) is that a strong field matters *much* more to making something a premier event than length.
Thought experiment: which would be more consists with a premier event:
- the Silodor with a 3rd day added at the end
- the platinum pairs truncated after two days?
I would be much prouder to win the second (though I grant that I would be happy and surprised in the unlike event I won either).
I have not heard complaints about drop ins to WBF pair events.
April 18
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Doh! Well yeah that was the idea :)
April 18
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If he were shopping absolutely not.

If somehow the Davis Cup was scheduled to overlap the Masters, that might be different.

I agree with you it’s a problem to try to have 3 premier events at one tournament. No solution will be ideal. One thing I liked about fall nationals was that there were actually 4 events that didn’t overlap a major event; in my view the Nail LM pairs was a better event than the other 2 day pairs events for that reason. Now has swung in the opposite direction. That said I suspect that lots of players will really like the Soloway format, and I would be excited to play it if it were not scheduled to conflict with important family time.

In my view the integrity of the event - and its appeal to me as a participant - is best served by allowing those players to drop in, because:
- day one performance is hugely attenuated by two cycles of carryover calculation
- zero carryover forces those players to have a massive day 2 and 3
- I think in practice the players are good enough that not having them detracts from the event
- they very likely would have qualified, and they did have not just one but 4 good days to get to where they are

Even with drop ins you are still missing the semifinalists. Since Joe Grue seems to win most of the time and I think he is a favorite to reach the Soloway semis (assuming his same team enters), nothing will make it the same event! Partly I am kidding about Joe personally but I really think having the very best players vs just some very good ones matters a lot, and Joe illustrates that.
April 17
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“Admirable” was Michael, not you.

I think the situation is very difficult.

That said, I think your notion of “turning away” teams is a not an accurate characterization of the other option. I think it would be fairer to say that the other option would be to not make special accommodation for their government’s prohibition of playing against Israel. If the outcome is that their government doesn’t let them attend, I don’t think it would be the WBF that turned them away.

Similarly, if a delegation to an international event can’t go if there will be women in attendance, I don’t think that refusal to provide an all male environment would be turning them away, and I would not support splitting the event up so that they can attend in a female-free environment.
April 17
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I wholeheartedly agree the situations are very different.

My point is that not everyone agrees which situation is more deserving of support.

I think that too much discussion of how situations where countries dictate who their citizens may or may not play against should be handled probably crosses the line from bridge to politics, but at least to me it is not obvious that accommodation of these requests is “admirable”.
April 17
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I should add that 10k events exclude “only” about 800 players, out of about 170k. Is it really important if half a percent of ACBL members can’t play? Yes, if they include many or most of the best. Similarly I think the players in the round of 8 include many of the best players who might have won a pairs event, and I want to at least get half of them back.
April 17
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The reason I don’t favor day 3 drop ins is that I think a national event should be decided based on sustained performance. Since many national events are two days, I think we have decided that is long enough. None are one day.
April 17
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Adding 6-8 super strong pairs makes a big difference to the event - I think it would get roughly halfway back to what it was. Otherwise right now it is basically a 3 day Silodor (on years when the R64 is Monday; halfway in other years), which is not what I would prefer, absurd as you find my preferences.
April 17
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David Burn,

I think there some of us (one at least!) who think the opposite: that we should not accommodate refusal to play against teams for political reasons (which, though deeply held, are in some sense arbitrary and certainly such views do nothing to help bridge)… but that on the other hand those who have problems with playing against those convicted of the worst offense in bridge might deserve accommodation.

Certainly the accommodation of politically based refusal to play undermines to some the argument that it is too chaotic for the event to accommodate the cheating-conviction based request.
April 17
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