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Masterpoints Ratings and Chess Arpad Elo

#1 User is offline   pilowsky 

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Posted 2020-May-02, 20:41

I'm not sure if anyone cares much about this stuff, but I know that many of us come to bridge from a chess background and are more familiar with the Elo system of rating than the masterpoint system used in bridge. I am aware that discussions on this topic often generate a lot of heat and not much light, but I just came across a little spreadsheet that works in google sheets that easily allows one to convert your results in a daylong tournament into an Elo rating - for what it's worth.
Here is an early result - chosen to be as embarrassing as possible to me!
from a tournament with 1200 competitors
player / percentage / Elo rating / Masterpoints
Pilowsky 38 875 0
My friend 48 1375 0
The winner 81 3025 13.87
middle+1 53 1602 0.01
wooden spoon 9 0 0
~fakebot National Master 55.5 1750 0.07
~fakebot International Master 64.5 2200 3.07
~fakebot international Grand Master 70.5 2500 9.51
Clearly, these are cross-sectional or instantaneous results. You don't get to take a 'title' with them. The 'winner', if they achieved the same result many times would no doubt be world champion. Is it useful? Not sure, In a way it may help to calibrate skill levels better than masterpoints which are simply cumulative. This approach tells me that there are certain aspects of my game that I should focus on to improve. It helps to increase awareness of incompetence as Professor Dunning would say.
non est deus ex machina; även maskiner behöver lite kärlek, J'ai toujours misé sur l'étrange gentillesse des robots.
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#2 User is offline   Cyberyeti 

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Posted 2020-May-03, 03:43

We used to run an Elo system in our small club 25 years ago. Why ? We didn't charge a fee to play whoever lost paid modestly (with a cap), we realised the same people were paying all the time, so we handicapped it based on the Elo with an allowance for new partnerships.
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#3 User is offline   pilowsky 

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Posted 2020-May-03, 06:23

I suppose another advantage would be that it might assist Directors in seeding Swiss tournaments or in matching partners in walk-in tournaments - either Online or at Clubs. Masterpoints are generally not terribly helpful in this respect.
non est deus ex machina; även maskiner behöver lite kärlek, J'ai toujours misé sur l'étrange gentillesse des robots.
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#4 User is offline   llorton 

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Posted 2020-May-03, 11:11

The wooden spoon and I played together a few times but he quit because he found a better partner.
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#5 User is offline   pescetom 

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Posted 2020-May-03, 11:23

View Postpilowsky, on 2020-May-03, 06:23, said:

I suppose another advantage would be that it might assist Directors in seeding Swiss tournaments or in matching partners in walk-in tournaments - either Online or at Clubs. Masterpoints are generally not terribly helpful in this respect.


The EBU have their NGS ranking system which is specific to bridge, has been around for many years now and could easily be adapted to BBO. Such schemes are not popular with all players for obvious reasons and the EBU positions NGS as a complement to masterpoints rather than a replacement.
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#6 User is offline   pilowsky 

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Posted 2020-May-03, 15:40

I agree with nearly everything that you say, Brian. Except that I am still looking for something that is truly 'obvious'. The value of a rating is personal. It is not something for 'others'. The individual uses it as a learning tool to improve their game and to try and work out where their deficiencies lie. It is obvious that a lower-rated player will want to pair with or play against a higher rated player in order to improve. The same is true in chess. The reward structure is coincidentally the same for masterpoints with the important difference that in the masterpoint system there is no altruistic drive to assist the lower-rated player to improve. In bridge higher rated players only want to play with each other because masterpoints are not awarded below 50%. This implies that there is no skill at all below this point. The present masterpoint system, therefore, implies that no learning at all has occurred until a player has reached the equivalent of an Elo rating of 1600. This is the equivalent of a very strong club player in chess. It is hardly surprising that people find it difficult to encourage others to take up a sport where the disincentives are so strong, and the incentives so mild. A famous educator once remarked that the examination is the curriculum. This is a very clear example of that effect. This much is obvious to me. If BBO, or any RA, wants to give players (especially new players) a true sense of improvement they will award masterpoints on a scale that goes from 0 to 100%. There will be no change at all in who the best players are. It is still a logistic curve. But new players will gain calibration and a greater sense of satisfaction as they learn.
non est deus ex machina; även maskiner behöver lite kärlek, J'ai toujours misé sur l'étrange gentillesse des robots.
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#7 User is offline   armantt2k 

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Posted 2021-August-02, 21:24

Many times I've been told to "play against stronger players - it's the only way to learn".

Personally, I walk away mostly amazed, confused, and uneducated after I sit at tables against stronger players. I have not reached the level of bridge playing where I can recall all 52 cards in 18 hands after a game, and see what they did that I should next time.

Paper travelers are used at many local bridge clubs to provide ACBLscore with the +-scores - virtually worthless for post-game analysis. Bridgemates are only a small step up - you can see the contract and final trick count. You can see were MAYBE you should have reached a different contract, or MAYBE you could have made an extra trick declaring or defending, but not HOW it was accomplished. You cannot see HOW the auction or HOW play of the hands progressed at other tables. Did the bidding differ, telling Declarer where the missing Q was more likely to be? Did the opening lead make a difference? (BTW, most clubs that use Bridgemates don't even set them up to record the opening leads - "too distracting to the players" - so even that bit of info is unavailable)

Online Bridge is the only place that ALL the game information necessary to do meaningful, in-depth post-mortems is captured, organized, and made available. BBO History allows an aspiring player to "watch" stronger players bid and play the same exact hands that they messed up. That is how you learn to make better decisions. You learn by WATCHING stronger players, not playing against them. To REALLY learn, you need to see ALL the bids, ALL the tricks, and ALL the cards to understand what they did to get a top MORE OFTEN than you, to get fewer bottoms MORE OFTEN than you.

Of course, this has to be combined with hours of studying (reading a few good books and/or watching many online videos) about conventions, defensive signals, endplays, counting, etc to be able to REALLY UNDERSTAND what BBO History is showing you.

And then you have to practice, practice, practice - hours, months, years of playing. If you're like me, you WILL make the SAME mistakes over and over, until you eventually, something clicks and you 'learn' what needs to be done in a particular situation, and then recognizing similar situations. On to the next weakness - there's always more to learn (or un-learn).

Finally, Bridge is a TEAM game. You only get to play two hands 25% of the time. Heck, once the auctions over, there's another 25% where you don't even play your own hand! So you need a partner who wants to improve as much as you do, and is willing to study and grow along with you. Otherwise, all your hard work will be in vain.
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