National Handicap Pairs?

One suggestion we have had is for there to be EBU events handicapped by NGS. Putting this together with the popularity of our Masters Pairs last year being run in clubs and by clubs, I wonder if we should run a National Handicap Pairs on the same basis.

The way I imagine it, clubs all over the country would run and promote the event, primarily for their own members but also allowing others to join in. It would be scored across the country, but each pairs' score would be reduced by the average of their NGS grades (we'd add on a constant to everyone's scores so that they are in the familiar range with an average of 50%). Master points and prizes would be awarded based only on the handicapped national result, and we could have a trophy for the overall winners. Obviously anyone playing in it would need to have a public NGS, at least for the period over which the event is played.

My questions are:
* If you are a club player who doesn't regularly play in EBU events, would this appeal to you?
* If you help run a club, would you be interested in running such an event for your members?
* Do you think such an event should be a single session, a double sesssion, or something in between?
* Do you think this would be best on a Sunday (which is when we run our other national one-day multi-venue events), or some other day of the week?

Comments

  • I think it's a great idea to have more handicap-style events, particularly since all of the setup (EBUScore compatibility and the existence of the NGS) is already there. As a starting point though I would imagine something like this starting out as a Sims evening (one-session) to gauge interest and the logistics of it, before looking to extend the format (the risk with a separate event is deterring higher ranked players; the benefit of that is that lower ranked players feel more comfortable in playing in it).

    At club level, I think more could be done for those achieving e.g. more than +10 on the NGS par measure, which is arguably more achievable for those with lower NGS rankings (some may disagree on that!). If half-price entry to a county or national event was offered to anyone reaching that (or a different target as required for it to be financially viable), then that might make those events more popular. Obviously you would want to avoid giving reduced entry to people who would turn up anyway, but it sounds very restrictive to say that you can't have attended a similar event in the past; On the contrary, if it's true that lower ranked players (who presumably don't play in larger events as often?) are more able to exceed their expected score, then these prizes would in general go to players who haven't attended so many of these events anyway. If necessary, a cap of 1 prize a year could be introduced, but restricting it to people who haven't played before takes away the benefit of advertising it as a prize that anyone could win.

  • @495670 said:
    .... if it's true that lower ranked players .... are more able to exceed their expected score ...

    Please see section FR5 on Page 38 at

    https://www.ebu.co.uk/documents/miscellaneous/ngs/full-guide.pdf

    While I haven't looked in detail at players at the very top with grades near 70%, I have found that generally it doesn't matter what grade you have, the standard deviation of your expected score for a session is constant. On re-reading this section, I am reminded that it can make a difference if you are playing in a small section or a small movement, so this should be considered. Also, if a Multi-Section event (eg a Sim) is being considered, it will be desirable that all sections play as close to the same number of boards as possible.

    Barrie Partridge - CTD for Bridge Club Live

  • Thanks for pointing out this section to me - yes it looks like I was a bit hasty in coming to that conclusion! Nonetheless, I think there is some merit to some sort of NGS par prize system - even if some regular tournament players receive a discount, a cap of 1 prize per year would limit the reduction in revenue (which would hopefully be less than the gain from more new players, both financial and on an enjoyment level (more tables makes for a better event after all!)). I would also agree with your note about a small section/movement (coming from a small club myself) so it would be worth looking at that; I would suggest a minimum number of boards too of 18 (as per the masterpoint scale).

    The Sims point shouldn't be too much of an issue - most clubs play a similar number of boards anyway, and even more so in Sims events.

  • edited September 2019

    @gordonrainsford said:
    One suggestion we have had is for there to be EBU events handicapped by NGS. Putting this together with the popularity of our Masters Pairs last year being run in clubs and by clubs, I wonder if we should run a National Handicap Pairs on the same basis.

    The way I imagine it, clubs all over the country would run and promote the event, primarily for their own members but also allowing others to join in. It would be scored across the country, but each pairs' score would be reduced by the average of their NGS grades (we'd add on a constant to everyone's scores so that they are in the familiar range with an average of 50%). Master points and prizes would be awarded based only on the handicapped national result, and we could have a trophy for the overall winners. Obviously anyone playing in it would need to have a public NGS, at least for the period over which the event is played.

    My questions are:
    * If you are a club player who doesn't regularly play in EBU events, would this appeal to you?
    * If you help run a club, would you be interested in running such an event for your members?
    * Do you think such an event should be a single session, a double sesssion, or something in between?
    * Do you think this would be best on a Sunday (which is when we run our other national one-day multi-venue events), or some other day of the week?

    We discussed this at last night's Committee meeting (Mayfield Bridge Club). The conclusion was that we would show interest in such an event but our main problem is that we only play on Tuesdays and Fridays. Hosting the event would be difficult unless played on a Tuesday evening (say). There are plenty of weekend events and club events that will clash with any chosen date but that's not necessarily a reason not to hold a handicapped competition which may be popular with some members.

  • I think an occasional handicapped event is a great way to appeal to those who perhaps feel they wouldn't have much chance in a scratch event. I do wonder, though, whether there should be a prize for the winners on a non-handicapped basis, too - otherwise the event might be of less appeal to the better players.

    On a (slightly) related note, my (non-bridge-playing) wife's comments on a recent event included "Shouldn't there be a prize for the best non-professional team, too?"

  • My problem with handicapped events is that if you control for skill in bridge all you're left with is luck, so this is no better than a lottery. The standard argument against this is that people can "have a good day" or "play above themselves", but I don't think this is actually a thing. Your propensity for "having a good day" is built into your grade already, so it's all just variance.

    It's also open to abuse (someone can easily tank their grade to have a better shot at the prizes) and could lead to perverse incentives (someone not wanting to play in the lead-up to the event because their grade might go up and give them a worse handicap). Then there are people who don't have a grade, or who have a very new (and inaccurate) grade. Are they not allowed to take part?

    You end up with a situation where you're either measuring how wrong people's grades are, or how lucky they are on the day. How good they are at bridge has nothing to do with it, which seems a bit weird for a bridge tournament.

  • @AlanW said:
    I think an occasional handicapped event is a great way to appeal to those who perhaps feel they wouldn't have much chance in a scratch event. I do wonder, though, whether there should be a prize for the winners on a non-handicapped basis, too - otherwise the event might be of less appeal to the better players.

    I don't think it's important to appeal to the better players - in fact it might well make a better event for those who this is aimed at if not too many of them played! Almost every other event is aimed at the better/more experienced players and this one should be aimed at everyone else.

    On a (slightly) related note, my (non-bridge-playing) wife's comments on a recent event included "Shouldn't there be a prize for the best non-professional team, too?"

    I'm not sure how we would define professional teams. Should we ask each team about their financial arrangements? What about those whose expenses are being paid, are they professionals?

  • edited September 2019

    @michael said:
    My problem with handicapped events is that if you control for skill in bridge all you're left with is luck, so this is no better than a lottery. The standard argument against this is that people can "have a good day" or "play above themselves", but I don't think this is actually a thing. Your propensity for "having a good day" is built into your grade already, so it's all just variance.

    It's also open to abuse (someone can easily tank their grade to have a better shot at the prizes) and could lead to perverse incentives (someone not wanting to play in the lead-up to the event because their grade might go up and give them a worse handicap). Then there are people who don't have a grade, or who have a very new (and inaccurate) grade. Are they not allowed to take part?

    You end up with a situation where you're either measuring how wrong people's grades are, or how lucky they are on the day. How good they are at bridge has nothing to do with it, which seems a bit weird for a bridge tournament.

    Golf seems to run perfectly well without serious concerns about people deliberately damaging their handicaps, although it would certainly be possible. The reason is because the golf handicap or the NGS grade is one of the motivations for playing, so it would in some sense be counter-productive to deliberately go against that, especially as it would still require you to do well to win the event - having a poor grade would not in itself be sufficient to get you to score well.

    Actually I wonder if it would encourage those who haven't played 150 graded boards to do so, in order to be eligible to play in it. Those with no grade or a hidden grade would not be able to play in it, or would have to play off a punitive grade, but they could easily make their grade public for a few days if they wanted to play in the event.

    Bridge already has an element of luck in it, to varying degrees depending on the format/scoring method, which I think is part of the appeal of the game. The idea that anyone can have an occasional good day keeps people playing who might otherwise be disheartened.

  • I am 100% in favour of the EBU embracing Handicaps as a way of encouraging more players to take part in events, for the simple reason Handicapping gives every partnership (whether they are both rated 2 or are both Aces) a genuine chance of success.
    At our club (Stansfield in deepest Suffolk) we produce a Handicap result every Thursday in addition to the usual gross score and it has proved very popular. Less experienced/skilled players get a real kick out of coming top of the Handicap and seeing their names in the spotlight. As a result, for the last two years we have run a Handicap competition open to players throughout the county, which has proved successful - for the very simple reason everyone knows they have a genuine chance of success and are not there just to make up the numbers as the usual ‘faces’ win. Suffolk recently staged an Autumn Pairs competition which included a Handicap prize in addition to the others.
    Handicapping is the mainstay of the horse racing calendar and was introduced to offer more competition (not betting as has been stated) Similarly, the Handicap system underpins golf. Now that bridge has a transparent and effective Handicap system based on NGS, it could transform the game.
    No-one is suggesting the big competitions - Gold Cup etc - should be Handicapped but there is a big opportunity, if properly exploited, to broaden the appeal of players taking part in competitions.
    One word of caution. My guess is that few clubs are aware of how Handicaps can be run (a couple of ‘ticks’ in the scoring boxes) so it will require some careful promotion by the EBU.
    Go for it, Gordon!

  • @gordonrainsford said:
    One suggestion we have had is for there to be EBU events handicapped by NGS. Putting this together with the popularity of our Masters Pairs last year being run in clubs and by clubs, I wonder if we should run a National Handicap Pairs on the same basis.

    The way I imagine it, clubs all over the country would run and promote the event, primarily for their own members but also allowing others to join in. It would be scored across the country, but each pairs' score would be reduced by the average of their NGS grades (we'd add on a constant to everyone's scores so that they are in the familiar range with an average of 50%). Master points and prizes would be awarded based only on the handicapped national result, and we could have a trophy for the overall winners. Obviously anyone playing in it would need to have a public NGS, at least for the period over which the event is played.

    My questions are:
    * If you are a club player who doesn't regularly play in EBU events, would this appeal to you?
    * If you help run a club, would you be interested in running such an event for your members?
    * Do you think such an event should be a single session, a double sesssion, or something in between?
    * Do you think this would be best on a Sunday (which is when we run our other national one-day multi-venue events), or some other day of the week?

    It's good idea and, although I'm not on the Committee, I would hope that my Club, Altrincham, would be interested in participating.

    Double session would be a good idea - on two separate days - but single session would be ok if double is impractical. If two session the sessions could be a week, fortnight or month apart.

    Sundays should be out - it should be played on normal club nights similarly to SIM pairs.

  • I also think it's a good idea Gordon... to answer our questions:

    • If you are a club player who doesn't regularly play in EBU events, would this appeal to you?
      I do play in EBU events but would support this at my club

    • If you help run a club, would you be interested in running such an event for your members?
      I do run a club and we would support it if we could play on a Thursday afternoon

    • Do you think such an event should be a single session, a double sesssion, or something in between?
      Single session (plus maybe an accumulated percentage over 4 quarterly events?)

    • Do you think this would be best on a Sunday (which is when we run our other national one-day multi-venue events), or some other day of the week?
      Best on Club days - why not organise as the SIMS?

    Peter Bushby Suffolk

  • @Wuffle said:
    I am 100% in favour of the EBU embracing Handicaps as a way of encouraging more players to take part in events, for the simple reason Handicapping gives every partnership (whether they are both rated 2 or are both Aces) a genuine chance of success.
    At our club (Stansfield in deepest Suffolk) we produce a Handicap result every Thursday in addition to the usual gross score and it has proved very popular. Less experienced/skilled players get a real kick out of coming top of the Handicap and seeing their names in the spotlight. As a result, for the last two years we have run a Handicap competition open to players throughout the county, which has proved successful - for the very simple reason everyone knows they have a genuine chance of success and are not there just to make up the numbers as the usual ‘faces’ win. Suffolk recently staged an Autumn Pairs competition which included a Handicap prize in addition to the others.
    Handicapping is the mainstay of the horse racing calendar and was introduced to offer more competition (not betting as has been stated) Similarly, the Handicap system underpins golf. Now that bridge has a transparent and effective Handicap system based on NGS, it could transform the game.
    No-one is suggesting the big competitions - Gold Cup etc - should be Handicapped but there is a big opportunity, if properly exploited, to broaden the appeal of players taking part in competitions.
    One word of caution. My guess is that few clubs are aware of how Handicaps can be run (a couple of ‘ticks’ in the scoring boxes) so it will require some careful promotion by the EBU.
    Go for it, Gordon!

    Dear Wuffle
    I think a handicap side score at our club would be excellent. Despite being a strong club the usual suspects take the top places week-in week-out. I think the not-so- top players would really appreciate seeing how they've fared in the same way as they might in a handicapped golf event (see Gordon's point). Our problem is that to provide a separate handicapped result it must be simple and if possible automatic. Are there any guidelines as to how to do this?
    Regards
    Alan

  • Actually, I suspect you may already have a simple and automatic handicapped result! When results are processed for NGS purposes, you can see a summary of your club results with each pair's positive or negative result relative to their NGS-expected result. Simply ranking pairs on the basis of this "NGS" column gives you a handicapped result.....

  • @AlanW said:
    Actually, I suspect you may already have a simple and automatic handicapped result! When results are processed for NGS purposes, you can see a summary of your club results with each pair's positive or negative result relative to their NGS-expected result. Simply ranking pairs on the basis of this "NGS" column gives you a handicapped result.....

    Yes, obvious really and thanks AlanW. Is it fairly simple to copy the results into a spreadsheet and then sort on the NGS Column?

  • Just click on the NGS column header and it will be sorted for you.

  • Thanks TawVale. One last question (I hope!). Can the NGS score be converted into a percentage?

  • Add 50 to it and you should get what you want.
  • Thanks Gordon. I've tried it and it seems to work. But now you've given me one last, last question (I live in hope). How can it be made automatic? If the EBU table (after sorting by clicking on the top of the column) can be copied into a spreadsheet then the process could be made automatic. Nearly there!

  • edited October 2019

    AlanB ... Wuffle mentions his club 'Stansfield'. You could do worse than contact them to ask them how they do it?
    In the meantime:
    I checked their results for 26 September on on the Bridgewebs page there is a little box marked 'handicap'
    Click on that and you get a handicapped result displayed automatically - no need to wait for NGS upload to EBU.
    I then worked out how to make it work
    We use EBUScore at my club and I tried going into a past event. I went to player names thence player database.
    Then 'download EBU database' . Then I went into the Player Management Tab , ticked handicaps by grade, then clicked 'set Handicap File'
    Then I went back into reports, ticked 'handicaps' on the Ranks screen and displayed on screen
    Hey presto ... a report showing ranking by handicap appeared.
    To get the handicap tab on Bridgewebs as Stansfield do you need to:
    a) tick 'include handicaps' on the 'upload to Bridgewebs' screen
    b) go into Bridgewebs Admin, then Settings, then Scoring and tick
    'Ranking - Handicap
    For Handicap events, do you want a separate Tabs for Non Handicap Results and Handicap Results?'
    Hope this helps
    Peter

    Peter Bushby Suffolk

  • We use Scorebridge and the file download doesn't seem to work. Any suggestions?

  • I don't use Scorebridge but if you go into 'Club Preferences' then 'Results Preferences' does ticking 'Use Handicaps in Standard Outputs' and 'Use NGS Values' work?
    The Help Screen on handicaps seems to say "You can use the current NGS percentage values for the players in the event by using the Handicaps menu on the Results screen "

    Peter Bushby Suffolk

  • edited October 2019

    @AlanB said:

    Thanks Gordon. I've tried it and it seems to work. But now you've given me one last, last question (I live in hope). How can it be made automatic? If the EBU table (after sorting by clicking on the top of the column) can be copied into a spreadsheet then the process could be made automatic. Nearly there!

    I think that's as automatic as it'll get for now, but it's really very quick to copy into a spreadsheet and put a formula to add 50 to the right-hand column. In principle it could be automated, but I think other things are a lot higher up our IT development list for the moment.

  • Combining this recent discussion of club handicap competitions with the title of this thread, 'National Handicap Pairs?'. There are obviously quite a few club handicap competitions going on for which the EBU does not allow the award of masterpoints. Will it not be hard to maintain that position if the EBU holds such a competition for which it awards masterpoints?

  • This cascade is very interesting. I think that there is a present tournament improvement that can be made without first introducing new " NGS handicap" tournaments and that this will familiarise members with this handicapping, so making it easier to have NGS handicapped events at a future date.
    I am a middling rated player. I know when I go to tournaments that there is a substantial section of top-graded players who navigate the congresses across counties and are likely to dominate the upper level results, so it is highly unlikely that I will break into this cohort.
    What I do not know is how well I have performed in the tournament. I have the absolute ranking but this is dependent upon the quality of the other participants and I have no metric other than seeing how I have performed against others in my club and other personally known partnerships. The issue is that, being fairly low in the performance list, it is more likely to feel that we have under-achieved.
    Would it be possible to have a predicted partnership NGS tournament ranking against the ranking achieved?
    This would be based on the partnership NGS which would be ranked on all players prior to the tournament completion.
    Where a member wishes to conceal ranking, their predicted rank would be blank but their grade ranking would be used in the overall ranking calculation.
    There are some glitches with NGS that have been partly aired already in this correspondence but I am sure that they are sufficiently accurate for this purpose. Even if I am 59th overall, if I have achieved a ranking increase of 5 positions above my predicted ranking, then sheer joy! If five below, then more partnership practice before the next one!
    Of course this predictor calculation would have to be fully automated. As the process is a simple look up joint NGS , sort for partnership ranking and then allocate position, this should not be too difficult to program.
    If it is a problem changing current tournament reporting short term, then the predicted rankings list could be produced separately for viewing and personal achievement comparison.
    I know that I would feel that this would add value and hope that others agree.

  • @00403545 - this essentially already exists. If you log onto My EBU after the event and look at your session history, the Par column gives you your performance compared to expectation. If it's a positive number it means you did better than the NGS predicted (and your grade will go up); if it's a negative number it means you did worse.

  • @michael I think what @00403545 is suggesting is possibly an extra column next to the NGS par one which gives your expected rank prior to the event by NGS (for two-winner movements, you might have to put an N or E after it). So if my partner and I's NGS were on average 55%, and two pairs had a higher average NGS than us, the predicted ranking column would say 3rd. You can then compare that to your actual ranking.

    It would be theoretically possible to copy all the results into a spreadsheet and work this out manually, but it's not as easy to use as they are suggesting.

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