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All comments by Max Schireson
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Sounds like Michael’s “more like 5 to 3” is a slight underbid and it is exactly 5:3.
April 25
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Ahh makes sense. I should have read the post more carefully, and apropos this topic been aware of the person who posted to know it wasn’t really possible you would think a trump coup here was nearly 100% :)
April 24
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Michael - am I missing something here, it seems like I am short two dummy entries here? Put the AK of clubs in the other hand and I just need RHO to have 3+ diamonds and no singleton when he has Jxxx of hearts?
April 24
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I played against one declarer on day two of the Jacoby Swiss that I would be pretty confident had no idea that it would matter to play an honor from JTx here.

What may be more interesting than declarers who have no idea is whether a declarer who knows they should actually does often enough. I certainly know I should make false cards like this, but I don’t think I do it 100% of the time at the table. Sometimes when my signaling might matter I shouldn’t, which is fine as long as I do it often enough that opponents shouldn’t finesse. But do I sometimes just play small out of laziness to avoid figuring out if a big one might give damaging trump suit preference to partner?

Am I 100% confident that I play an honor often enough here, even feeling like I understand the situation? No. I think I do, but can’t be certain. I will be more careful about this going forward.

I suspect than many players good enough to understand why they should don’t bother to actually play an honor often enough against a good player, thinking “they will never finesse”.
April 24
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I should have specified this was not possible on the hand in the interest of purity - but it is point against going down immediately on general principle. Of course in real life sometimes the dummy entry isn’t 100% safe either.
April 24
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Since I specified that you have shown all the KCs and the Q, opps should know that partner won’t have the Q or K.

This makes it safe to play an honor from JTxx, but also irrelevant (assuming the rest of the hand is solid.
April 24
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Great article.

I look forward to seeing more writing from you and watching you progress at bridge.
April 24
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I agree with you that this is relatively straightforward in principle. In practice it is messy with a lot of variables.

It seems from Jan’s comments that the prior seeding is empirically more predictive.

I suspect that modeling would show that the preferred approach from the standpoint of the winner being the strongest team would depend on:
1. The accuracy of the prior seeding vs
2. The accuracy of the Swiss which comes down to two components
- the randomness of short events
- systemic differences, such as Swisses being a more favorable format to teams whose strength varies a lot based on their lineup

I think performance over an extended period should be more indicative than the Swiss, but the current system tracks performance that is heavily impacted by the seeding itself for midrange and lower teams. To gain seeding points, a 64 seed has to beat the champs but a 33 seed has to beat a very nearly equally accomplished team.

I think large quantities of seeding points should come from significant success in those events and the small handful of comparable events. Small amounts could come from masterpoints, but also other accomplishments. For example, how about close matches with top seeds? A team of players with 2000 masterpoints who have historically come close in matches with top teams should be seeded higher than a team of players with 5000 masterpoints that doesn’t. Similarly players who are doing very well in major pair events should be seeded higher than players who simply have more masterpoints.

An example: Kevin Rosenberg had just under 4 seeding points. He is viewed as equal to most players with a few thousand masterpoints, yet he nearly won the platinum pairs and beat Zimmerman in the R64. That’s crazy. You can say that a top seed should be earned by sustained performance, but I would easily pick a team of 6 Kevin Rosenbergs to make it to the R16. But in Memphis, a team of 6 Kevin Rosenbergs would have fallen in the 65-68 group (of 68 entrants). Surely the system can recognize those accomplishments in a way that he is seeded somewhere at least in the lower middle of the field. Self-seeding by the captains would surely do a better job - I guarantee if you held a draft where the top seeds picked their first round opponents, that team of 6 Kevins would *not* be in the first four opponents picked!!!

Another example, though not as far off as Kevin. Last year I played with Debbie for four days at the USBC in Houston, four handed with a similar pair. We went 9 and 8 in the RR, and were tied with Rosenthal (3 seed) after 105 boards before I blew the match on a few boards in the final segment (sorry team). You might ask how that effects our seeding in future events? Well, I earned 4.05 red masterpoints for the match awards in the RR. Winning flight X in a loser Swiss (single session!) was worth 7.54 red masterpoints, so therefore had almost twice the impact on how we would be seeded.

It really seems like there must be something in between masterpoints and V/S/R results to seed the bottom half of the field. I think the real problem isn’t the use of seeding per se, but a seeding approach that is reasonably accurate at the top but traps players who deserve to be in the middle, or at least near the middle, at the bottom.

In chess there are norms to achieve certain ranks. Perhaps bridge could have a similar concept. Those norms could be tied to average+ performance at a given level of competition:
level 1: non-open NABC event day 1 or AX regionals above a certain size
level 2: open but schedule conflicted NABC event day 1 or non-open day 2 or win AX regional above a certain size
level 3: premier NABC event day 1 or VS R128 survival (depends on format)
level 4: premier NABC event day 2 or VS R64 reasonable result (opponent adjusted, close loss to top team counts), or platinum pairs/Reisinger day 1
level 5: premier NABC day 3, open USBC RR (*might depend on format/number of byes) R64 win, plats / Reisinger day 2, win non-open NABC event
level 6: pp day 3, Reisinger day 3, win schedule conflicted open NABC, R32 win

Seeding points could be awarded in moderate amounts based on frequency and recency of these norms, or in larger quantities for high KO results or winning premier pair events and assigned equivalent amounts for foreign players. Perhaps playing under 60% of the boards could downgrade accomplishments in team events for seeding purposes. Whether you have 500 masterpoints or 5000, you get no seeding until you can demonstrate that you can compete in strong fields.

Surely something like this would be more accurate than masterpoints.
April 23
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If partner has that, how much do so expect to collect doubling?

But if partner has the clubs only (surely enough at first favorable even for a sound style) I expect to go down if I bid, but stay plus - with a decent chance of of +200 - if I just keep my mouth shut. At this vul imp odds are about even, so I see no reason to bet that partner has the heart honor I need.

I am tempted to X but I prefer them in 3D to 3H or 3HX. Call me chicken.
April 23
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This was eerie because in the pairs I opted to pass my partners reopening double of 2C with AT96 of trumps. And on of your other questions I rebid a 6 card minor rather than raising on 3, which in retrospect I think was wrong. I was having flashbacks looking at your poll questions and remembering those decisions.
April 23
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Partners double of 3 is lead directing, I should lead the 3.

Unfortunately as cute as that would be I lead low from 3 here, since partner won’t cater to my sense of humor when trying to work out the layout.
April 23
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Imagine that a malicious E, intent on keeping the 3 in his place, had instead pitched the K on the diamond.

Only a very wise 3 would truly appreciate what the 3 had done for him.
April 22
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Yeah I had to play NRK on Monday in Memphis. They were good.

I hoped the second match in our four way would have been easier. Then I sat down at the table against Morton Bilde.

Unfortunately, that draw in my 4 way, combined with poor play by me in both matches, deprived me of the R64 match against Fleisher I was hoping to play.

Yes, some of the low seeds are tough!
April 22
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Sorry my mental math was not accurate but still there is a signifant difference less than what I said though.

Lets say each team has a 50% chance of winning 6 matches to reach the finals if they don’t meet (round numbers, actual number should be 53%, assuming the event is 7 days of play and 90% to win each match).

If they are on opposite sides of the brackets:
25% of the time both will make it to the finals
25% of the time neither will make it to the finals
50% of the time one will make it to the finals

Thus the chance that one of them will win the event is 25% plus 90% of 50 is another 45%, Total is 70%.
Now say they meet in the first round.

One wins.
There is again a 50% (rounded) chance they win all 6 remaining matches

*If* the goal is to maximize the odds of the best team winning, early matches between strong teams detract from that. I think this should be the goal of the trials. It need not be the goal of every KO, so I am happy that there is the Soloway with a different format.

I also understand that you are in a position where the seeding hurts your chances to advance, and hence hurts your position to get more seeding points. As I said KOs are good at identifying the best teams, which can suck for teams in the middle that continually get bad draws. Since I often play on teams with so little chance to advance the tough draws don’t hurt me as much.
April 22
Max Schireson edited this comment April 23
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It depends how you define the goals.

In the end to win the event you have to win 6 or 7 matches, and towards the end that will include some of the best teams that have also won matches. I think the KO format is well suited to finding which team is the strongest team in an event, but not at all well suited to rank ordering the rest.

If you want an event that maximizes the chance of the best team winning* (*more on this later), then you want the seeding to be as accurate as possible to reduce the chance of strong teams meeting early. For the sake of argument if two teams were much stronger than all the others (say 90% to win each match except against each other), if they are scheduled to meet only in the final there is something like a 70% chance one of them wins the event. If they meet in the first round, the chance that one of them wins drops to something like 30%.

In some sense it therefore seems the the event is more fair - truer to the goal of having the strongest team win - if they meet in the final. If instead you define fair as the event includes nothing that happened before the start - no seeding, no byes, everyone starts on completely equal footing - then seeding isn’t fair.

Now, back to goals. For the USBC, I think designing an event that maximizes the chance of the strongest team winning is important, so I strongly favor seeding the event to facilitate that. But that is because the event has an external consequence: its main purpose is to select the teams to represent the US in the world championships, and I want us to be represented by the strongest team possible.

For the Vanderbilt and Spingold, there is no external consequence, winning the event is the end unto itself. That argues for making the event should be more self contained, even if it might be less likely to have the strongest team win.

Another issue with using a Swiss to seed is that teams whose performance is more variable based on lineup will do better in a Swiss than a KO. If the weak lineup plays the early matches, those negative results are attenuated by stronger results against the weaker opponents earned by a low early score. In a KO, you have to make up all the imps you lost in the other segments.

One possible compromise would be having the field seed the event. In principle, team captains would rank order the strength of other teams and that would produce the bracket. There could be a play in Swiss for the bottom spots in the round of 64. This would allow teams of players who had not yet succeeded at the highest level to compete on relatively equal footing, but would seed the top of the field more accurately than a Swiss and thus maximize the chance of the strongest team winning.

That said there are flaws
1. Preventing gaming the seeding
2. Subjectivity of reputations
3. Logistics to actually do this

Anyway I think it is not realistic, but there is a subjective seeding committee that can adjust the seeding when it seems unfair, and I do think a low seed was moved up in the Vanderbilt this year.

I am personally happy to play Lavazza or Pepsi early, even if it makes the event a short one for me, but having events that work both ways is good. I like that aspect of the Soloway, plus multiple days of guaranteed play.
April 22
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Personally I would be happy to have big regional events, some of them two days, that people cared about.

That said I understand that people like having a proliferation of events that are more “special”, are called national championships, and pay platinum points; whatever they are called I would personally be happy to win one, but it would be very different from winning one of the more serious events.

I mostly don’t think that hurts anything, as long as we are clear that those events are different from why I think the two of us would regard as “real” national championships, and that are more politely called premier national championships.
April 22
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I would *love* a 4 day BRP with a 14 table day 4.

I also think a BAM KO would be great.

FWIW one casualty of the Soloway is the Nail LM pairs as a strong event. Even though it was only two days, it had a relatively unadulterated field, and the two day BAM. Brads proposal would strengthen two already strong matchpoint events and one IMP event, while weakening two matchpoint events. This would give something to those teams that like top level competition, and to those that don’t.

The thing that would be lost is the long KO that might encourage people to hire teams. I think the main motivation behind the Soloway (not sure if explicitly stated) was to get more people hiring teams. One solution to this would be to add a Wed-Thu Swiss for teams eliminated from the Reisinger day 1, so that those who either didn’t like or weren’t good at BAM might still want to hire a team for Tue-Sun or Wed-Sun, and to offer an open but schedule-conflict-adulterated Swiss that a lot of players not looking for elite events would like.

I actually think this might be a net improvement, but I haven’t really thought through the Reisinger format change and might be missing something that would be lost.

If the Blues was 4 days I would find the conflict with thanksgiving weekend impossible - my family would disown me if I missed thanksgiving weekend, and I might disown myself if I missed the 4 day Blue Ribbons… I guess that means your proposal is compelling to me.

I do think the schedule change solutions are better than drop ins, and I sincerely hope the board will consider them. I had thought that drop ins were a simple and easy way to mitigate to some extent the schedule based problems, but they seem far more controversial (at least to a few vocal folks, not sure how broadly) than I expected.

FWIW for those concerned about elitism, note that I do think that having some adulterated events is good. I just don’t want there to a a nationals without any elite level pair event.
April 22
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I think having another team event running through the entire Reisinger was deemed (correctly in my view) unacceptable.

IIRC, there was some analysis done about the how predictive Swisses were of which teams would do well in long KO matches and it found them not very predictive. I don’t recall exactly what was analyzed or the specific methodology but I think it contributed to the design of the USBC formats, and Jan Martel might know more.

To your point about the KOs, I think seeding points works well (meaning is reflective of team strength) at the top of the field, but poorly at the bottom; there are quite a few teams seeded towards the bottom who might be average or above average. From the perspective of ensuring the strongest teams don’t meet too early the system works well, but as a low seed it means a very tough R64 and no luck so far making it past that point. The Soloway would likely be “fairer” to the low seeded teams.
April 22
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Personally I would be disappointed because I would no longer be able to enter he Blue Ribbons over thanksgiving weekend but there might be others for whom that timing is a plus.

Despite the negative impact on me, I think that original idea is *far* superior to the current schedule and I hope that the board will consider changing to that format.
April 21
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I am glad that you know how long the event is.

I question a decision making process not because one of your colleagues didn’t happen to know before the process, but because he seemed to be passionate about the issue - yet even *after* having made it didn’t know what he had decided. Since I assume Steve is a reasonably intelligent person, this makes me worry that things were not presented in a way that made it clear exactly what was being decided.

That seems dysfunctional to me.

I am not suggesting “wholesale” adopting anything or suggesting that we use anyone else’s standards. I am suggesting *one* change that is used elsewhere in the ACBL (for team events) and pointing out that it has also been used in other major pair events.

Yes, the ACBL does some things much better than the WBF. There are other areas we are clearly behind: screens, preduplicated boards, running scores. My point is not to argue about which organization is better, just to say that an idea described as “on the fly” has been used extensively in major events.
April 21

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