Paul Cronin

In Conclusion!

For the great majority of duplicate bridge players the amassing of masterpoints is simply a matter of time – you play for thirty, forty, or fifty years, and you have 1600 MPs, or 2400 MPs, or 3800 MPs. In short, the number of masterpoints you have is mainly proportional to your age, not to your level of skill (although in most cases skill level does increase with age). But there is a world of difference between these MPs, and the 1821 MPs earned last year by USA Junior (25 years or under) Justin Lall. His points, along with those of others like Joel Wooldridge, Joe Grue, John Hurd, etc., are not a function of age but rather of skill. And this goes as well for some of the “older” experts, whose masterpoint totals exceed 30,000. These people don’t play the same game that the rest of us do – they are truly in a different world. Is it not time then, at least at Sectionals and Regionals, that they were required to play in events with a bottom masterpoint limit of at least 5000? Why are so many now lumped together in a 3000 and up MP event? Or worse yet, in a 2000 and up MP event? For those of you who want the thrill of getting thumped by the experts, and supposedly learning thereby, you could still play up and receive your thumping. I have to wonder though if you really believe that you’re going to “learn something” by playing against Meckstroth, when there is no possibility that you could even conceive of what goes on in his mind when he plays. In short then, how about two streams at tournaments – expert, and the rest of us? 


Bill CubleyMarch 26th, 2013 at 4:15 pm

I would miss the truly Open Pairs, but it is hard to find one anyway.

I still fondly remember Kyle Larsen saying , “Nice play” as a partner in a pro am at trick 3. Better was opponent Grant Baze saying, “He’s playing the Hell out of this hand!” I got 7 1/2 matchpoints on a 12 top. The hand was later published by Matt Grannovetter. That was the good news. The bad news was he put in his column in the Jerusalem Post. Still having the only hand in the event that was published is a thrill.

Judy Kay-WolffMarch 27th, 2013 at 2:05 am


It is not so much what goes on in the mind of Meckstroth — not that he isn’t a great player. It is the Meckwell system that does people in. They open light (extremely light sometimes) and intimidate the competition into selling out when it may be the opponents’ hand. The more sophisticated competitors fare better, far better, than the rank and file, as they know their style and don’t get shut out of the bidding nearly as much.

Also, from watching the Auken match on BBO, one can see that they have the same style of opening and overcalling very light and because of their system, few of the calls they make are indicative of the suit they bid. It is perfectly legal but inexperienced players would have to concoct many bids and defenses to combat their style! However, if you want to compete in high level events, you must come prepared to cope with these systems that are foreign to most of us.

John Howard GibsonMarch 27th, 2013 at 12:16 pm

HBJ : Well said Judy…..and yes there is a case for running two-field tournaments under the same roof.
One for the experts and complex system freaks who love to play alongside the experts.
Two for all those happy to play to and keep to a standard bidding system.
It’s a nonsense to put rabbits in the pen with the wolves.

Judy Kay-WolffMarch 27th, 2013 at 2:44 pm


Very clever play on words!


Steven GaynorMarch 27th, 2013 at 3:59 pm

On one hand, the complex systems and aggressive bidding have attracted a lot of younger players who want to compete at high levels.

On the other hand (I sound like Tevye), teachers should stick to standard bidding for the I/N crowd and club players. Give them the basics and let them advance to other systems as they gain experience and decide how far to take their bridge ‘career’.

If teachers want to present off center lessons, we will have a Tower of Babel situation in bridge. No one will be able to play with anyone outside of their little group.

At the Fall NABC a fine player was giving a lesson to the 299’er crowd on pre-empts. The first thing he says is that EVERYONE should learn Namyats. Heck, this crowd barely knew what a pre-empt is and he is trying to instill one of the more complicated concepts! Many walked out of his lecture as they had come for the basics not this super-advanced stuff.

It may not be exciting to teach Standard, but it is the right thing. Leave the ‘enhancements’ for your advanced classes.

Judy Kay-WolffMarch 28th, 2013 at 2:48 pm


You are soooooo right. One must learn to walk before he runs.

And as far as the complaints I have been reading about kibitzers and BBO viewers not being able to understand the systems they are watching — THAT is not the prime concern of the participants. They are competing to win and if their methods are superior to those simple ones which are easily understood by the audience, that is far from their main concern. As long as they are ethical and alert, the non-standard nuances of their system cannot be the basis of complaints. Bridge is really not a spectator sport. Better that the ACBL should make concerted efforts to get it into the schools as it is in many countries in Europe and Asia. It is obvious the foreign players have been ‘catching up’ and forging ahead of our leading experts. Perhaps it is because of their system advancement.

Amir FarsoudMarch 31st, 2013 at 3:08 am

Maybe if, in their infinite lack of wisdom, the ACBL didn’t bar everything except for SAYC (puke!), 2/1 and precision from their clubs and actually encouraged people to experiment, those same kibbitzers on BBO wouldn’t be so lost.

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