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All comments by Max Schireson
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Steve,

You are right the analogy is flawed.

A better analogy is that Olympians are allowed to enter NCAAs, as well as age group (old or young) events that are not concurrent.
June 3
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Melanie,

Do you think the same partnership, if eligible and the events were not concurrent should be able to play in both open and mixed or open and women’s? Is it only the seniors that should ban open competitors?

How about juniors? Last cycle I think a player who had played in the Bermuda Bowl played in U21, and previous Bermuda Bowl winners have played in U26.
June 3
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Melanie,

While I agree with David in principle, I agree with you that two at a time is a good practical step.

I prefer Oren’s sequence in part because of the greater conflict between open and seniors, but also because of the conflict you cite between women’s and mixed. To be precise I don’t see it as a fairness issue relative to female competitors but an issue of trying to allow both the women’s and the mixed to have the strongest field possible.

I do disagree with you about prohibiting open competitors from entering other non-concurrent events. I prefer the other events be designed to have the strongest eligible team won, not to give others a chance… that’s fine we can each have our own opinion.

Randy,

I absolutely don’t think that someone should be able to play 2 concurrent world championships I was just making an observation about what could be possible
June 3
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Melanie

I agree that the age is probably too low, and a higher age would have less overlap, which would probably be better. Maybe 65 is old enough, I would try that for a while, but maybe your 72 is right. Even today it does exclude many of the top pairs, but certainly includes quite a few.

If Bob Hamman can win at 70, more power to him. As far as “past his prime” goes, Bob Hamman at 50% of his prime might still be enough to win a Bermuda Bowl.

Regardless of where you set the age, I think you set it and there it is. Just because Donati and Klukowski are good enough to play in the Bermuda Bowl doesn’t mean they can’t play juniors or that the age limit should be 17 instead of 25.
June 3
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Michael:

Yes, based on the current schedule one can’t* play more than one WBF event.

My point is not about what is, but what should be. I think Meckwell should have as much chance to play open and seniors as Phelps had to swim in the 100 and 200, which are not concurrent.

* I guess given 1/3 play requirement someone could in principle be on multiple teams during concurrent events but even if not prohibited by CoC this is impractical. I think impossible may be a slight overbid but it is definitely impractical at best.
June 3
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Melanie: I think the point of seniors, women’s etc is to hold a world championship that determines, as accurately as possible, what team if eligible players is strongest. I think that the point is *not* to give others a chance and if the very same team that won the Bermuda Bowl was eligible for seniors or mixed they should absolutely be able to play in that category. They should no more stand aside to give someone else a chance than Michael Phelps should have to choose between swimming the 100 and the 200.
June 3
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Interesting question.

I think these issues have relevance beyond seniors (which is years away for me…)

It would be interesting to look at

1. Correlation between seeding points and KO results
2. Correlation between RR finish and KO results

I think this should inform the weighting.

It is not clear to me the extent to which the trials as an event unto itself has been prioritized vs sending the best team.

It is also not clear to me whether it is more or less attractive to what I will call the more casual teams to have a chance at a middle seed or to play a top seed. I suspect that it varies by team: Dave might want to play a middle seed thinking he might advance, whereas I would prefer to play a top seed thinking I am likely to lose either match. We will see if my view changes if/when I think I might beat a middle seed :)

Another thing to consider about seeding is the extent to which you are trying to be accurate about seeding:
1. Primarily the top of the field (to prevent top seeds from meeting early); this is probably most important for sending the best teams
2. Primarily the top and bottom of the field (to give top seeds easy matches, also giving less hard matches as teams move up from the bottom)
3. The whole field

My instinct is that seeding points is not perfect but quite accurate at the top of the field, which I think is most important. Perhaps a system that continues to work primarily off of seeing points, but allows top seeds to pick first round opponents and exempts the top RR finishing non-top-SP teams from being picked would do well at the top and bottom. I think the middle is hard and murky, but I think allowing RR finish to have more impact there (50/50?) would probably improve the event itself with minimal impact on the quality of teams selected.

I do think that thinking separately about the top, middle, and bottom of the field might let us have our cake and eat it to in terms of optimizing both the quality of team sent and the experience of the event itself.
June 3
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Mostly with you but on the second hand I don’t think I promise anything at all beyond the trump Q, since I have no other way to show the Q.
May 31
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Melanie,

What order do you think would be best overall?
May 31
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Not all teams are composed of pairs. For example the on the Rosenthal team, Debbie played half the boards with Michael and half the boards with Andrew. Requiring three pairs would disallow this structure.
May 31
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Sue,

My understanding is that the losing USA2 finalist is considered the team that lost last in the selection event; I believe the mixed USBC is considered the “selection event”, rather than USA1 and USA2 being considered separately for this purpose. Donner may still go to China…

This language could have been clearer.
May 31
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“Interested” is perhaps not the ideal word since partner will be the one deciding, “encouraging of partner’s potential interest” might be a better word.
May 31
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Yes, that is simple.

Simplicity is a virtue, which argues for that policy.

But sometimes other things win out over simplicity- most of us play RKC in many situations when old fashioned Blackwood is simpler.

Reasonable people can differ on what policy is best, but I thought it was important to share some reasons other than pandering to paychecks why one might want to allow entering multiple events.
May 31
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Just based on logic:
1. Both should show the Q, else sign off.
2. In the first case:
- you have space to show any outside K, but elected not to
- therefore you should not have one
- however with no outside K you also could just bid 6S, so you have some reason to be interested in a grand
3. In the second case
- you could have shown any K outside spades, but did not, therefore you don’t have any of those Ks
- you might or might not have the SK or be interested in a grand; with the Q and no lower K you have no other way to show the Q, which you must do

One might have special agreements about responder continuing and showing Qs with 3 in the second auction which could effect the meaning of 5S and therefore also 5N but the above is what I would expect based on logic alone/no special agreements.
May 31
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I have nothing - other than the attacks he made in his post - against George. I tried to go out of my way to express respect for the person while also expressing great distaste for the attacks he made.

I don’t know his history but I respect his bridge accomplishments, his service, his writing, and also now his resilience to overcome whatever adversity he faced. But none of that will make me look past what I think were offensive and unfair attacks.
May 31
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Don,

On the substance of the rule change:

If a player who wins a trials is not allowed to enter another trials, not only might the second trials field be weakened but the first might as well - that player may choose not to enter the first event, because they don’t want to risk being unable to compete in the second event.

If this happens and the player then doesn’t win the second trials, and both events are won by 6 handed teams, that player won’t be able to play in the world championships.

Yes, the player knew, and made their choices. I don’t think anything should be done *for the benefit of that player*.

If, however, that player was one of our best, then our teams might be weakened by their non-participation. I personally would like to see the strongest possible team represent the US. Structuring our trials so that some of our strongest players have to make hard choices about which event to enter could diminish the competitiveness of our teams. I think that matters.

I don’t believe any player should get “special treatment”. But at the same time, I think we should set up the trials process in a way which is:
- transparent: everyone knows the rules
- equal: each player has the same rights under the rules as any other (some, like seeding, are earned by performance, but everyone has a chance to earn them)
- effective: as likely as we can make it to choose the strongest team

Allowing players to enter multiple events might increase the likelihood of choosing the strongest team.

Yes, it is also possible that players will drop off a winning team, and be replaced by other weaker players, and the result may be a weaker team going to the world championships.

Practically speaking, I think that risk is small. I think that for most of the winning teams, sponsors have paid a *lot* of money and will not compromise their chance to win by replacing the lost player with less than the best player they can. I expect that when that happens, on average (but not always) they will be able to replace the lost player with a *stronger* player. Why? Because every player from all the losing teams is available. Yeah, it sucks that you might lose Steve Garner, he’s a very strong player. But Pepsi, who wasn’t available when you were forming your team is available now. So are a bunch of other players. My point isn’t personal about Steve vs Pepsi, everyone will have their own opinion about who is stronger between any pair of players, but the principle is that there are more choices after the trials than before.

What about the other approach? You very realistically might wind up with a worse team. How?

Let’s say that Michael Rosenberg was unable to play in the mixed because it would foreclose the possibility of playing in the seniors if he won the mixed.

So what happens? Say Andrew asks Debbie who she wants to play with. Hypothetically let’s say that Michael was very impressed with Adam Grossack when they played together in the Silodor. Sorry Adam is booked. Ok how about Zach? No he isn’t available. Hey I just saw Pepsi make a great play how about him? No he is booked. Well, Chris says Eldad is strong, can we get him? No. Well I always thought it would be awesome to play with Bob Hamman. No, he is playing Seniors. Eventually poor Debbie is stuck with me (kidding, she would do better than that!) We win anyway, and go on to the Bronze in China.

Or she could play with Michael in the trials, and when he wins in the seniors have her choice of Pepsi, the Grossacks, and a bunch of others that weren’t available for the trials. Maybe that team goes on to Gold in China.

Obviously these situations are hypotheticals, and we can never know exactly who would be available when, and which team would do better than the alternative, but structurally the “market” for add-ons is very good - there is almost always a superb player on one of the losing teams that would be thrilled to play in a world championship. On the other hand forcing players to bow out of events because they prefer a future event only makes the market tighter, and on average fewer choices will lead to weaker teams.

Is it “fair” that Donner loses to a Rosenthal team where Debbie is playing with Michael, but in the actual event she winds up playing with Pepsi, or some other awesome player? It may feel funny, but once we get our head around a different way of thinking about things and realize that the replacement player is likely to be damn good, and everyone knows them’s the rules in advance, we might realize it’s not necessarily unfair, just different. And it may well lead to stronger teams.

This note is long, because the issue is complex. There are a variety of scenarios to consider; The right answer isn’t obvious. What I know is that dozens of very smart people spent hundreds of hours thinking through a lot of scenarios and balancing various factors.

The end decision may or may not have been correct, but the idea that it was made to favor specific individuals does not comport at all with what I saw in some of the discussions that extended beyond the board and committee (I was not privy to the narrower discussions). I saw a lot of people working hard to come up with a process that would work well systemically.

I think many of the comments here are focused around the a fairness ideal based on “winning team goes”. That has the advantage of simplicity, and works well for open, and for other events that have either non-overlapping fields or a clear and universal order of preference for all candidates. When the restricted events have overlapping fields and non-uniform preference, in practice things become very messy no matter what you do. The addition of the mixed event which conflicts heavily with the women’s event for half the field and with the seniors for another very significant slice of the field makes the problem much much worse than in previous years.

It is tempting to just keep the rules as is because the conflicts are really not exposed - players make their choices, somebody wins, others stay home, nobody can really complain, and we are all spared this thread, but I personally believe that is not the way to send the strongest teams.

Finally just to be explicit all my examples were intended as purely hypothetical, not intended to be a serious effort to rank available players, I just think it’s easier to understand the nature of the conflicts with real names attached.
May 31
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Randy see Michael’s post below itemizing some of the personal attacks George made.

I find those abhorrent, and I am particularly disappointed to hear them from a player with such a distinguished record.

I called out a series of attacks made personally against Marty and other USBF board members. I will persist in saying that those attacks are inappropriate, uninformed, irresponsible, inflammatory, and beneath the dignity of a distinguished champion like George.

I am now accused of “personal attacks” and “outlandish hyperbole”… Please quote one personal attack I made, or one piece of outlandish hyperbole, other than my (perhaps unsuccessful) attempt at humor in this one sub thread.

I have absolutely not intended to disrespect any individual in this thread. If I did so please show me where and I will apologize. I will not apologize, however, for vehemently disagreeing with George’s attacks on Marty and the USBF board.

“You say to me that these issues do not effect you as a player but…”

Typical of this whole discussion, another baseless insinuation of self interest.

“No one has been more disrespectful than you”

You don’t find the original post profoundly disrespectful of Marty, the USBF board, and various other parties? If anything I have said even approaches that, please do point it out as I owe someone a serious apology.
May 30
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Then it fits in perfectly with this thread.
May 30
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Perhaps we can creat a poll to determine your nefarious intent in opposing an exception for the open. Was it:

1. You had hatched a plan where your team members would use the “Fleisher rule” to enter other trials (intending to dump, so they could actually play in the Bermuda Bowl) and kick back a share of their earnings to you
2. You were actually in favor of the exception because nobody wanted to play on your team anymore - it was too expensive to win the open trials and forgo income from other trials
3. You had gotten wind of a plot by two of your team members to dump in the open trials so they could play in other trials
4. You made a pact with certain members of the Wolfson team, where they agreed to let you win the open trials so that they could the enter multiple other trials
5. Despite all the obvious reasons above why the exception for open events is costly to you financially, you wanted it anyway, so you paid off the other board members to institute it, while voting against it yourself to avoid being accused of self-dealing

Obviously this would need to be a multiple response poll.
May 30
Max Schireson edited this comment May 31
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Randy,

Last night I spoke to Andrew about joining the team in case Michael won the seniors. Then I woke up from my dream…

Actually I didn’t even dream about replacing Michael on that team.

The USBF has a rigorous process for reviewing possible augmentations to teams. I hope that some day I will improve to the level where they have to think for a few seconds before rejecting me, but that’s a long way away.

I guess I could measure my bridge progress as follows:

1. Current state - definitely not good enough
2. Good enough to dream that I could be augmented onto a team like that
3. Good enough to even briefly have the delusion (while awake, but see below) that I could be augmented onto a team like that
4. Good enough to even briefly have the delusion (while awake *and sober*) that I could be augmented onto a team like that
5. Good enough that they have to think very briefly before rejecting me
6. Good enough that they have to think hard before rejecting me
7. Actually good enough

I think I have it in me to get to level 2 or 3, we will see if I can progress beyond that.
May 30
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