Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Sunday BAM!

It has been a tradition to have a two-session Swiss team game on Sunday of a tournament but I was so happy to be browsing tournament results from last week and see that the sectional in Fairfax, VA, offered a flight A BAM on Sunday! The flight B event was still Swiss but that's okay - it's the better players who are more likely to prefer the grind of a BAM. To any tournament organizers reading this, I would really like to see more Sunday Board-a-match games.
I make no secret about the fact that Swiss team games are my least favorite form of bridge scoring. IMPs in general places too much importance on parts of the game – slam bidding, taking big risks on defense, and the invitational bids that no longer seem invitational because partner can’t stand the chance of missing a game – due mostly to the imbalanced nature of IMP scoring. I have always liked that every hand counts the same in matchpoints. Why should bidding a slam be worth 11 or 13 times as much as making an overtrick in a partscore? Why should a bad defensive play that costs gives up the contract be worth 4 imps when the contract was 2H but be worth 10 imps when the contract was 4H (or 5 and 12 imps if they were vul)?
In addition to that, Swiss teams can really drag if you’re not in the running, more so than any other event. In most other events, you don’t know for sure how well you’re doing until the end. This is also why I don’t particularly like barometer games or Swiss pairs. People do particularly strange things that disrupt the game when they see for sure that they are having a 32% game. In most normal events like a KO, when you lose, you are out and can to start a new event. In Swiss events, when you are losing badly, you may be able to drop out (if it won’t cause a problem with the movement) but then it’s like you’ve wasted part of your entry fee.
I also think Compact KO’s would be good for Sunday events that way people could get on the road back home earlier if they lose. Yes, this would decrease ACBL’s revenue because some teams would only play one session instead of the required 2 for a Swiss, but the people would like it better. Actually, my personal preference would be to combine these 2 ideas and have a Compact KO scored as BAM but I know that event would not be well-liked by bridge players in general.


  1. I couldn't agree more. I've never played BAM since it is hardly every offered. In the northeast, only the NY regionals have a BAM event that I know of.

  2. I think we need a multi-step process here. First, the ACBL needs to reward different types of events equally. Maybe, if it's not a free gold point brigade, people will stop gravitating toward just KOs. Then, in a tournament, each day or group of days should be devoted to a different event or type of event.

    So, perhaps, in a 7-day regional. make Day 1 an intro day, Day 2 a qualifier in a 2-day matchpoint event, Day 4, a qualifier in a 2-day BAM, and Day 6, a qualifier in a 2-day KO. In the meantime, for non-qualifiers, or for people who can't play the 2-day events, the tournament could run other events, such as 2-session Swiss, side games, and the like.

    I like the variety of events, but don't like it when all the top competition is playing KOs.

  3. I see what you're saying about IMPs, and I sort of agree, but BAM scoring goes too far the other way sometimes. For example, doesn't it seem fundamentally wrong that the difference between 4H making 5 and making 4 is the same as the difference between 4H making 4 and down one? There ought to be some sort of bonus for actually, you know, making your contract; and this bonus should be bigger than the overtrick bonus. Maybe the discrepancy is too big at IMPs, but at BAM it's zero. (At MPs this works out a little better because there will be some scores between 4H making 4 and 4H -1.)

    My biggest complaint about Swisses is the shortness of the matches. Scoring is pretty random when you're only playing 6 or 7 boards against each team. The longer the matches, the more likely it is that the best team wins. Usually that is what I want. :)