Wanted effective rating system


When I was a relative newcomer to duplicate bridge, I wrote a letter to the editor that was published in the April 2008 issue. The main point of my letter was that the number of masterpoints a player had might not be representative of how good they are, and I wanted to try to measure my improvement (if any) as I tried to progress.


But factors such as how often someone plays, the strength of the field in the game, the competency of ones partner (playing with a pro?), single/double/triple points from special games, number of pairs in a section, ect., confused the issue.


Stratified games helped newcomers like me, and I even received points scoring less than 50%, which I suppose is OK, but the real questions were how good of a player was I, and was I improving? The number of masterpoints I accumulated did not represent my strength, and people even joked that it was more like an attendance record.


Chess players have a rating which goes up and down based upon their performance, taking into account the strength of their opponets. Beat a stronger opponent and gain a lot of points. Beat a weaker opponent and gain fewer points. Lose to a stronger opponent and lose a few points, ect.


The editor responded to my letter by saying that a long-term goal was to basically develop a rating system that reflected current playing strength, as well as to retain the cumulative masterpoints earned. This seemed like a great idea to me, sort of like a baseball player having lifetime statistics. I just figured Id continue playing, trying to improve, and see when the ACBL would act on this, although longtime players told me not to hold my breath!


Well its been over nine years and nothing has been done. It seems that now is the time to actually do something about this. With the advent of electronic scoring in most clubs, all the data about a player and his partner and opponents is available. It should be reasonably easy to develop an algorithm to determine the current playing strength of a player. In my opinion, the current playing strength would not be an exact number to hang your hat on, but rather a good indication of the skill the player has. Ill leave the details on how to do this to the ACBL to figure out.


Just to be clear, I am not saying to eliminate masterpoint totals earned over a lifetime of playing, just to add a new measure: current playing strength.


Barry Elberg

Westbury NY