Andre Asbury

Wins By Stratiflication

When I started playing bridge, I was almost always in flight A because I played mostly with my dad, so we would frequently place in the low overalls in the pair games. Being in that position (6th or 7th or so) might pay 2 or 3 masterpoints, and in a 2 session regional pairs, would usually be a score around 54-55%. That was right about where we belonged. I used to scoff at the fact that pairs in B and C could win more points than that for a lower score, and how some even won a masterpoint for a 45% game because they are flight C. There really should be some cutoff for the lowest score you can have and still win masterpoints. I kind of think anything below 50% should not win, regardless of your strat. Why do we want to reward people for playing below average bridge? And don’t people feel ashamed to win points for having a bad game?

I guess it was after I had been playing 3 or 4 years that stratiflighted games became more popular, and my dad and I were eligible for X. The 54% game that got us 2.5 masterpoints in the open pairs frequently placed 2nd in X for 10 points. I’m not totally sure I like this format of having A/X play separately from B/C because it takes stratification to an extra level that allows even more people with below average scores to win masterpoints, but it has gotten me a good bit of extra points and sort of gives us a handicap for our normally below average teammates. Stratiflighted events do one very good thing – people can play in the main event (whether it be the 2 session pairs or the swiss teams) and still play with peers, and it allows people with fewer masterpoints to play up and play with the top players, and also the the top players don’t have to deal with any novices. Plus it allows the flight A game to be mid-chart. Bracketed knockouts don’t generally allow people to play up, which kind of bothers me and has often been the reason I choose to play in A/X pairs instead of a knockout where my partner and I might be in the 3rd or 4th bracket.

This weekend with Sean in Columbia was no exception. We won a side game and then played the A/X pairs, had 53.4%, and placed in the low overalls (tied for 8th) but since we were in X, that was 3rd in X and worth over 4 points. It still amazes me how much easier it is to get a good score in side games than in open pairs. Then Sunday, we played in the A/X Swiss and had 56 VPs on a 60 average. (It was quite a feat to get back to almost average after 1 and 0 VPs the first 2 rounds) What did that get us? 10.86MP for 2/3 in X!!


Judy Kay-WolffOctober 26th, 2010 at 4:15 pm


Master points are a mirage. What do they prove??? They used to say “That and a dime will get you a cup of coffee.” They are a moneymaker — and there is nothing wrong with that! However, to be awarded those pieces of paper for underaverage scores I feel are so wrong. Set a higher standard and the newer and weaker players may try harder. You should not recognize and pay off for mediocrity or inferiority of scores way under average. Just one woman’s thoughts!

You should be proud of your performance in Columbia. I do know where you are coming from. I remember my early days, but of course the rewards were a pittance of the proliferance of winning or placing somewhere in today’s market. Go get ’em!



ChrisOctober 26th, 2010 at 4:38 pm

I find it interesting that you feel that winning 10 ‘X’ masterpoints, possibly more than ‘A’ players who finished above you, are okay, but 10 ‘B’ points in the same situation are below you. But I guess if your partner had enough that you were forced to play in ‘A’ you would also scoff at those winning in ‘X’?

Andre AsburyOctober 27th, 2010 at 3:07 am

No, those 10 points for 2nd in X are undeserved for the team I was on. I think it is a major flaw in the masterpoint system for that score to win anything more than the match award for the 3 wins. While my masterpoint holding still qualifies me for the A/X strat, I can compete well with the top players and I personally will be unsatisfied with anything less then beating the best. And there’s no scoffing at players, it’s at the system that rewards people for below average scores.

ChrisOctober 27th, 2010 at 1:34 pm

Gotcha. I agree. Points earned in strats should be called something specific to the strat. So points earned in B start would be called B points, etc. Then we would have B masters, A masters, etc. All ACBL points are severely tainted by both inflation and availability in limited fields. Today one can become a life master having never played against anyone with more than 750 points.

The only points in the ACBL today with any value are Platinum.

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