Paul Cronin

The selling of master-points ?

In a recent club game, stratified Open/1500/300 there were 5 tables, comprised of 1 “A” pair, 7 “B” pairs, and 2 “C” pairs.

The winner was …….the “A” pair, who received 2.19 master-points.

Half of the 5 table “field” received master-point awards, the smallest being 0.55

What we have come to !


Judy-Kay WolffSeptember 25th, 2016 at 9:51 pm

Hi Paul,

It is time those who view the concept of masterpoints through magnified rose colored glasses come to their senses. When I began playing over six decades ago, winning a masterpoint (or even a smidgeon of one) was an achievement. It was an unchallenged symbol of accomplishment. Facing the true realism of masterpoints in 2016 is merely a mockery of the the original beauty and majesty of the game. Now, in my eyes (and those of many), the mention of masterpoints brings a smile to one’s lips.

I share your views of today’s overflow of masterpoints and their ridiculous availability .. all for the price of a card fee!

Howard bigot JohnsonSeptember 26th, 2016 at 9:35 pm

Too true

Judy Kay-WolffSeptember 28th, 2016 at 11:52 pm

Hi again, Paul:

I was trying to remember a story from about five decades ago regarding masterpoint acquisition by a unique participant. I needed Bobby to refresh my memory and he started to laugh before he uttered a word!

The scene was Throckmorten, Texas, and a dog (although not a great player) was very ethical .. always waiting ten seconds before he barked.

Bob Stucker from Houston, formed a very high
level partnership with Bobby Nail .. called The Big Diamond. Being a fun-loving guy, Bob came up with the idea of making a dog a Life Master! After applying to the ACBL for membership, a German Shepherd (with the assistance of some buddies of Stucker using the dog’s number) earned the much sought-after (at that time) rank of Life Master.

Not shockingly, it only took a little over a year and a half. To this day, Bobby thinks that what was accomplished with this creative episode was more beneficial to bridge than is ACBL’s current policy of awarding masterpoints to a 32.5% game. This occurs more often than anyone can imagine.

Paul CroninSeptember 29th, 2016 at 5:09 pm

Hi Judy,

A great story! Can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked in the Bulletin and seen the names of players reaching new “milestones” of 10,000 or 15,000 master-points and thought “I’m sure these are good players but I don’t ever remember seeing their names as winners in big Regional events or NABCs”. Big difference between ‘ability” and “attendance”.

Jeff LehmanOctober 3rd, 2016 at 11:26 am

I have long contended that the masterpoint award schedule for an event should generally consider only three factors: (1) number of competing pairs, teams, or individuals; (2) duration of the event; and (3) strength of the field. Although my contention has been based upon tournament, and not club, events, it seems that in a computer-available age, perhaps these three factors can be considered for club games, too.

Needless to say, the devil is in the details. How those three factors should be weighted and how one determines “strength of field” would require some careful analysis. That being said, a change in ACBL approach to consider just those three factors might well benefit bridge in many ways. Among the ways are driving players to improve (to play in the events with higher strengths of field and thus more of the highly-sought master points) and providing more value to the attainment of new ranks.

slarOctober 17th, 2016 at 3:49 am

I think you guys are missing the point. A lot of club games are struggling and they are the lifeblood of the ACBL. Masterpoints are one of the few incentives available. To me the real issue is with pigmentation. Black, silver, and red points are meaningless these days. Between I/N, STAC, and GNT/NAP qualifiers it is hard not to get more of these points than you need.

So there has been masterpoint inflation. Big deal! It is a natural evolution of things. The way to identify players who can actually play is through a complete overhaul of the pigmentation system. Something like this might work:
* first point: black
* points 1-3: silver
* points 3-6: red
* points 6-25: gold
* points 25+: platinum

The point is that if you are getting more valuable points, you are doing well against good competition. Someone who feasts on middling players in small club games can rack up points in a hurry and that’s okay. However, if the pigmentation system worked, they would not be able to attain the higher ranks without at least occasionally putting themselves up against better competition. That’s what we want – someone who supports the club games (and therefore racks up total points) but also gets it done against good competition (which generally is only available in select events).

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