Paul Cronin

Where’s the beef ?

Thursday night’s “special” game at the local club had 2 1/2 tables – and paid 2.17 master-points for coming first. Sometimes I forget how important it is to safeguard the sanctity of “master?-points”, but then something like this comes along to help me remember. By way of comparison, I played in a 12 table open game at a different club on Wednesday evening, came first overall, and got 1.2 master-points. Anybody remember when the master-point rewards were like .06 or .28 ? Progress is indeed something (else) !   


Judy Kay-WolffDecember 6th, 2013 at 5:15 pm


This blog is reminiscent of the old song .. which begins — “Dearie, do you remember when we danced to the Sousa Band, My wasn’t the music grand…..”

Your comparison to my early days of the masterpoint awards (as as you refer to them “master?-points”) really strikes a cord — or perhaps more descriptively — a nerve!

When they were rationed and kept in their perspective, they were meaningful. My most vivid memory is when they had “Master Point Night” at the end of each month. At the conclusion of the game, we would make commitments for the following month — not to be left in the lurch without a good partner. It was a ritual back then when masterpoints were really something for which to strive. Now you can buy them for an entry fee anywhere — even on line with side by side computers (which has been proven in spades).

In the days of yore, their worth was not diluted (and people were not deluded by the current giveaway program which tends to flood the market with masterpoints). Isn’t that all it is? It seems that every time you sneeze, some points are issued.

What really bugs me is that points are issued at the club level (and other venues) for “under average performances” It seems commonplace to recognize poor games just because you did better than your compatriots in the designated strata. I believe in “hitch your wagon to a star” rather than “do whatever it takes.”

In closing — lest we forget! How about a few of those mediocre (and even poor or virtuously hopeless) players who have amassed thousands of those tainted points by paying for them through the “sponsorship” route. By the way, this does not include all sponsors as some are quite good and have enough money to heighten their achievements.

To me (for the earlier group) it would be embarrassing — but the mighty buck overrules the elegance of true bridge standards. So be it! Whatever floats your boat!!!!!!!!

bobby wolffDecember 6th, 2013 at 5:44 pm

Hi Paul,

The ACBL seems to have completely lost its way.

Ridiculous inflation whether it is tied to the financial world (and hopefully, but certainly not impossible nor, for that matter, perhaps even likely, to infest our region of the world in the next few years) in any endeavor is a sure sign that the ones in charge have no sense of what is necessary to preserve our great game with both integrity and keeping it from becoming a laughing stock.

What difference is it, except to the ones drawing salaries or being happily politically ensconced with power, if our bridge rating system (and formally our calling card) is to sit idly by and legislate such a phony way to symbolize our game and its results from playing it.

When I had a bridge club about 50 years ago we started a junior duplicate game and, in order to keep it going, we added 50% matchpoints to everyone’s game so that even the bottom dwellers appeared to be well over average.

However, our actions, though being in some ways similar to what I am wailing out against, did not effect the very essence of anything, only a come on, (like money saving sales in the retail business), and did very little to lose the vital integrity necessary to keep our game on the up and up.

Somehow our current administrators are confused about what they are doing and need to mend their ways if for no other reason than to protect the necessary table ethics, which are required to keep our game afloat.

Will not players reason, that if master point inflation has arrived and in no trump, shouldn’t table ethics also be done away with, so that anything goes and lesser players will be able to communicate with their partners quite effectively, in spite of not having to know much about how to bid or defend?

Thanks Paul, for bringing up this important subject.

Howard Bigot-JohnsonDecember 6th, 2013 at 11:53 pm

Hi Paul, I would like to add my observations on this issue.
The masterpoint system should never be used to rank players on the basis of accumulated totals. It is far better to construct ranking tables on weighted averages, which hopefully take into account , the quality of your partner and the size and quality of the field.
Moreover if I ( a humble and modest player ) played in a 2 1/2 table twenty-five board movement up against 4 world class pairs to crack 54% scorecard, hells bells I should be handed a bucket load of match points !
I have always maintained the only true way to judge ability is for players to sit exams on bidding, play and defence, just like any other profession such as accountancy , law and architecture to name but a few.
Handing out rankings just for the sheer volume of attendance ( and for possible cheating ) is like getting a degree just for turning up to lectures and handing in plagiarised assignments.

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