Friday, October 26, 2012


Only recently did I notice that the ACBL masterpoint formula awards a 10% premium for board-a-match events. Yesterday we ran a BAM at the Warner Robins club with a respectable 7 tables and it awarded 1.29 MP per player for the 100% sectionally-rated game. One should not be able to win such an obscene number of points (3.12) for 1st out of 7 at a club. You’d have to be 1st out of 17 in a sectonally-rated pair game or 1st out of 9 in a sectional Swiss game to get that many points (1st in a 9 table MP or Swiss game is worth 3.17).

There are no match awards for BAM so that takes away a little bit of the bonus that BAM gets compared to Swiss but this still ought to be a good argument for making more team games BAM. If I ever get to be in charge of a tournament schedule, there will definitely be some main events that are BAM, specifically the Sunday event will be flight A BAM and flight B Swiss, but I’ve mentioned that several times before.

There were a number of interesting deals last night. I was put to the test in the first round in this not-so-great 3C contract.



The bidding is crucial here, although if I paid no attention to the bidding, I would have surely gone down 1 by simply taking the finesses and cashing winners. However, the fact that RHO doubled after 1C-P-1D and LHO bid 2S directly over my 1NT rebid led me down a very wrong path. Yes, I have a crappy 1NT rebid but it’s BAM and I can sometimes be a hand hog. Anyway, when 2S came back to me, I competed to 3C and got it there.

LHO led the HJ which I took with the Q. That looks a lot like a singleton. I then played a club to the ace, RHO dropped the T, then played low on the second club. This made it appear that she had a doubleton (consistent with the bidding) so I went up with the K and led another club. It seems pretty likely at this point that RHO started with something like Kxxx, KTxx, AKx, xx so taking a losing club finesse would expose myself to 2 heart ruffs plus the natural trump trick. As it turns out, QTx was on my right. She then cashed the SA, DAK, and led the DJ. So, RHO is 3-3 in the minors. Which major does she have 4 of? If I figure this out, I can still escape for -2 and win the board against a likely 2S making at the other table.

RHO could have started with Axx, KTxx, AKJ, Qxx. That gives LHO KQxxx, J, Txxx, xxx.
If RHO started with Axxx, Kxx, AKJ, Qxx, that gives LHO KQxx, Jx, Txxx, xxx.
Of course, what if RHO has no 4 card major? Axx, Kxx, AKJx, Qxx. That gives LHO KQxxx, Jx, Txx, xxx

The first one is definitely more likely so after ruffing the 3rd round of diamonds, I prepared to endplay RHO by leading a spade, expecting LHO to win and continue spades. I could ruff that with my last trump and lead a heart to the 8. RHO would win that but have to lead a heart into my A9 tenace. I would come to 4 club tricks and 3 hearts for -2.
As it turns out, RHO had the 3rd hand (and therefore an abnormal double), so when I led the heart toward dummy. LHO won the HT and cashed 2 spades for -4. Sure enough, the teammates were in 2S making so -2 would have been enough to win the board. FML.

Monday, October 22, 2012

New football rankings and Athens sectional recap

Few things went according to plan with last weekend’s trip to Athens, at least according to the plan in place on Friday morning. Even the other plans that were made as the weekend went along were often changed. Playing 2 sessions of bridge Saturday was the one thing that did. Ironically, that was clearly the worst part of the weekend. Winter, however, got to spent that time having tons of fun with our new friends and I was able to join them after bridge.

If you don’t play bridge, skip this paragraph. Bridge was easy Friday night. We won with ease as everyone was in a gift-giving mood. Saturday was kind of terrible. Twice I attempted to duck smoothly when declarer finessed into my K (behind the ace) to save my entry, cut him off from dummy later, or something like that. In neither case did I score my K later and the plays were costly.  The hand that still baffles me the most is when my partner held Qxx, void, KQxxx, KJTxx. I opened 1H, he responded 1NT, and I rebid 3H. He raised this to 4H. What the heck does it take to bid 3NT? I mean, yes, ideally, the spades would be a tad better but this falls well within the expected spade length/strength for this bidding. Then my LHO doubles 4H and partner still doesn’t bid NT. Obviously now our 6-0 trump fit is getting s 5-2 trump split or worse and you have TWO good sources of tricks outside hearts! 1H-1NT-3H is not like 1H-2C-3H: the latter shows a self sufficient suit because 2H is still forcing with 6+ hearts. In the former (the auction that actually happened), 3H is the only bid you have available to show some extras with 6 hearts so you can’t expect it to be self-sufficient. It could be and if so I may well bid 4H over 3NT.

Non-bridge players who are football fans: start reading again. In other news, college football rankings through week 8 are out. Notre Dame is #1 and UGA is way down at #22 in my computer. Somehow, my algorithms don’t love the SEC as much as usual and certainly not as much as the voters. Here are the top 25 in the Asbury computer followed by some computer predictions for next week.

 Rank    Prev  BCS     W     LTeam   Str. of Sch.       Rating
11570NOTRE DAME1493.881
44760OREGON STATE3489.829
55370KANSAS STATE4487.974
871461TEXAS TECH2678.863
98    NE80OHIO STATE7577.413
1361952WEST VIRGINIA1773.090
14141170Mississippi State11571.423
15201271FLORIDA STATE9970.399
16132161BOISE STATE10170.251
17121362SOUTH CAROLINA2470.159
1892052TEXAS A&M2269.980

This seems odd: my computer has its top-ranked Fighting Irish losing 28-20 to Oklahoma (-9). Then again, it does try to account for home field and momentum from recent games and even adjusts a bit if a team is at the end of a particularly tough stretch of games. Other scores to expect (with the point spreads in parentheses taken from
BYU 28 (+2),              @Georgia Tech 24
Florida 33 (-3.5),         Georgia 20
@South Carolina 35 (-14), Tennessee 24
Clemson 37 (-16),   @Wake Forest 24
@Florida State 36 (-26), Duke 24
@Alabama 30 (-24),   Mississippi State 21
@Kansas State 37 (-8), Texas Tech 28
Here’s another anomaly: @Vanderbilt 161, Massachusetts -114. This is undoubtedly because Massachusetts has a negative rating of -2.902 and apparently that throws the prediction algorithm out of whack. Geez, I need to add some home state bias to this program. This business of predicting GT to lose when they're officially the favorite is not cool. Neither is predicting UGA to lose by 13 when they're only 3.5 point underdogs.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Does being unconventional mean you can't win at the top level

Last weekend was the off week for both Georgia and Georgia Tech and I listened to a bunch of the sports talk shows on 790 Saturday. There was a lot of discussion of whether the Yellow Jackets should fire their coach. They need to win 4 out of their last 6 games to keep their streak of years going to a bowl game alive and the Georgia game is the only one they should be an underdog in. Both GT and UGA have been to a bowl 16 straight years. The only teams with longer active streaks are FSU (30), Florida (21), and Virginia Tech (19).
Anyway, the consensus seemed to be that GT should be content being an above average football program that once in awhile competes for an ACC title but isn’t really relevant in national championship talk. The academic reputation makes it difficult to recruit top notch players and we don’t want to lower the standards any more or go out and hire someone like Nick Saban and emphasize football too much.
Furthermore, people are again questioning whether Paul Johnson’s “high school offense” can be win at the highest level of college football. Now I’m going to try to relate that to whether canapé can win at the highest level of bridge. The triple option and running style of Paul Johnson’s offense can demolish weak competition in much the same way that canapé can create a big advantage against weak to intermediate bridge players. The unfamiliarity of the offense/bidding system is just something that the masses just aren’t capable of handling effectively. Does that system edge go away when you start playing the cream of the crop or is it just that the talent isn’t there to beat the cream of the crop? Is the system holding back the team’s potential?
Certainly the top football programs will have more talent and naturally do better but is the trickiness of the option and persistent running game and opening 4 card suits and keeping 5 card suits hidden now more of an advantage to the opposition? My instinct is that system doesn’t matter. In terms of pure effectiveness against the best opponents, the advantages and disadvantages cancel each other out. But the extra mental strain to learn an unusual system might take away from one’s ability to perform the more basic tasks effectively.
There’s no doubt the learning curve is steep when starting to learn a new offense or bidding system but being different is fun. Since players are only in college at most 4 years, they’re spending disproportionally more of their time just getting used to the unconventional style at Georgia Tech so I kind of lean toward running a more typical offense, similar to what the masses run. In bridge, however, a strong partnership lasts a lot longer than 4 years so you can afford the growing pains of learning an unconventional system. Eventually, it will get to the point where bidding Swedish canapé is as easy and natural as 2/1. I don’t think it has quite reached that point with any of the few people I play it with – I mean, the basics of the system are still being defined – but it will get to that point soon, and that’s when results will get even better.
On that note, through 7 weeks, here are the top 30 in college football according to my computer. 
 Rank     Prev     BCS        W          L Team     Str. of Sch.    Total Rtg.
115 60 NOTRE DAME1094.097
241 60 ALABAMA4690.727
322 60 FLORIDA2689.042
458 50 OREGON STATE2587.107
5104 60 KANSAS STATE6183.422
6313 51 WEST VIRGINIA3280.797
71917 51 TEXAS TECH1778.999
86       NE 70 OHIO STATE6578.338
91818 51 TEXAS A&M4177.438
1093 60 OREGON8676.883
11229 41 OKLAHOMA2474.919
1287 61 SOUTH CAROLINA5173.838
131622 51 BOISE STATE7173.424
141412 60 Mississippi State11671.851
152015 60 RUTGERS11371.665
16720 42 STANFORD470.087
17246 61 LSU7569.610
181221 50 CINCINNATI11869.016
191111 51 GEORGIA8368.525
201714 61 FLORIDA STATE10767.031
212610 51 USC7866.760
221524 42 IOWA STATE364.809
2353  52 UCLA5864.744
2423  70 Ohio12364.644
2521  51 Louisiana Tech10064.578
262823 51 TCU10163.664
273016 60 LOUISVILLE12063.100
282519 51 CLEMSON10663.021
291325 42 TEXAS2162.398
3037  61 Northwestern10462.159

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Tournament Schedules

In this edition of tournament schedules, I’d like to bring some attention to the Olympia regional in a couple of weeks. Why? Because on Wednesday of this regional, the main event is a 2 session BAM! It doesn’t even compete with a new KO. It’s not enough to make me want to go to that tournament but during my perusal of schedules, it really caught my eye and I hope someone in the southeast will include this in a mid-Atlantic regional, just not on a Tuesday or Wednesday because I don’t really go to regionals early in the week.

If I ever decide to be in charge of scheduling for a regional, my schedule of the main events would look something like this:
Bracketed BAM KO (top bracket open to anyone) – Monday 7:30, Tuesday 9:30, 1:30, 7:30, Wednesday 9:30 (if necessary)
Stratiflighted/Gold rush pairs (3) – Tues, Wed, Fri 1:30 & 7:30 (0-750 gold rush may be 10 and 3)
Bracketed KO (2) – Tues-Wed, Wed-Thur
Open Swiss – Thur 10 & 2
4 session Open Pairs (cut after 2 sessions) - Thur-Fri 1:30 & 7:30
Open BAM – Fri 1:30 & 7:30
4 session BAM (cut after 2 sessions) – Sat 1:30 & 7:30, Sun 10 & 2
Gold rush Pairs – Sat 10 & 3
Fast Open Pairs – Sun 10 & 1
Stratiflighted Swiss – Sun 10 & 2

My rant on tournament schedules this time is about the major league baseball playoffs. As any good American knows, the format was changed this year by adding a 5th team to the mix from each league – 3 division winners plus 2 wild cards. The 2 wild cards play 1 game to see who gets into the best of 5 series against the league’s top seed. It’s kind of messed up to have 1 game determine what team advances, except in the case of a tie-breaker. I get it – more teams are still alive in September by adding an extra playoff spot but there ought to be some clause that says there will be no second wild card team if they are, say, at least 3 games behind the first wild card team. Last year, the Cardinals finished 1 game ahead of the Braves for the Wild card spot; a 1 game playoff for both teams wouldn’t be so bad in that situation. This year, the Braves finished 6 games ahead of the Cardinals but the Cardinals get a chance to essentially overcome 6 games in the standings with 1 head to head game. Also, in the 5 game series, the lower seed now hosts the first 2 games and the higher seed hosts the last 3. That’s messed up, especially considering that the top seed has to wait 2 extra days – until after the wild card game – to find out where they are going. Previously, the higher seed hosted the first 2 and the last game.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Rankings Through Week 5

Now that 5 weeks are through, the preseason adjustments and stuff have phased out and the only things considered for the rankings are the 2012 scores, taking into account, in this order: score, overtime, strength of schedule, margin of victory, total offense, total defense, and turnover margin. These rankings now sort of resemble the human polls except that there isn't nearly the bias toward the SEC that clearly exists in the polls.

     Strength of45.40
   Rank    AP     W      L TeamSchedule   Total Rtg.
114 30 OREGON STATE589.765
21 50 ALABAMA6885.338
39 40 NOTRE DAME3383.025
410 40 FLORIDA4482.789
511 40 TEXAS7280.835
67 40 KANSAS STATE4980.758
78 40 WEST VIRGINIA7679.725
85 50 GEORGIA7777.948
93 50 FLORIDA STATE8877.111
102 50 OREGON7876.811
11  40 TEXAS TECH6575.558
1218 31 STANFORD474.222
136 50 SOUTH CAROLINA9073.673
1420 40 Mississippi State11173.185
1512 50 OHIO STATE8473.094
16  30 CINCINNATI10072.118
17  31 BOISE STATE3869.809
1815 41 CLEMSON5669.030
19  40 Louisiana Tech11468.978
204 50 LSU11068.216
21  41 Miami, Fla.5369.148
2215 40 TCU11967.990
2324 50 Northwestern11765.682
2425 41 UCLA5066.186
2522 40 RUTGERS12365.996
26  50 Ohio12164.870
27  31 TEXAS A&M8564.369
28  31 IOWA STATE2063.573
2923 31 WASHINGTON2662.912
30  41 ARIZONA STATE9662.894

I guess Georgia-South Carolina is the biggest game this weekend and my computer says Georgia will wil 31-30. My computer is 19 points off from the spread on the Texas Tech-Oklahoma game. MY computer says Texas Tech by 11 while the odds are Oklahoma by 8. Pretty much all the other games I have fairly close to the official odds.
Maryland 27, Wake Forest 25
Clemson 40, Georgia Tech 27
Florida State 35, NC State 23
Duke 38, Virginia 24
Florida 26, LSU 23
Texas 41, West Virginia 38