May 2015 Sectional Frequently Asked Questions

Matthew Kidd
Tournament Manager
Published March 9, 2015

What is a regionally rated sectional event?

A regionally-rated sectional event is an event that awards the same number of masterpoints as the event would if it were held at regional instead of a sectional. However, the points are still silver points rather than the red and gold points awarded at regionals. In practice this means 27% higher awards.

Masterpoints are awarded via two systems, one used for ordinary club games and a second one used for tournament games. Clubs are allowed to run a certain number of special games whose awards are based on the tournament award system instead of the ordinary club game system. Most of the charity games, for example, Charity Fund, Junior Fund, International Fund, Education Foundation game, award 64% (7/11) of what a sectional tournament would award as of January 2015, the last time the masterpoint formulas were revised. Other special club games such as a Club Appreciation Pairs/Teams Game or an Upgraded Club Championship, award 82% (9/11) of what a sectional tournament would award. Special club games awards are still usually black points.

Since 2012, sectionals have been permitted to run up to two regionally rated sessions, though this does not seem widely known. The sanction fee is an extra $1 per player and the money must be designated for the ACBL Educational Foundation, Charity Foundation, Junior Fund, International Fund or Grass Roots Fund. Our regionally rated sessions are Saturday morning and Saturday afternoon. Regional events pay 27% higher awards than sectionals (14/11).

The fractions with a denominator of 11 are the result of the different R factors. See the January 2015 version of Masterpoint Award Rules & Regulations if you want to know more.

What charities are you contributing to?

The unit board has chosen to contribute to the Grass Roots Fund for the Saturday morning session and the ACBL Education Foundation for the Saturday afternoon session.

The Grass Roots Fund supports our district’s North American Pair (NAP) and Grand National Team (GNT) district level winners, primarily by giving them cash to offset their trip to the Nationals. First place winners receive a generous award and second and third place winners receive smaller awards, provided they decide to compete in the Nationals. Your contribution to the Grass Roots Fund is money kept in our district. Also because the NAP and GNT events have three flights, the money is spread around rather than primarily given to pros.

The ACBL Educational Fund is a nonprofit organization established in 1987 to get more people of all ages and walks of life playing bridge. In part it allows the ACBL to pay a small stipend to bridge teachers and in many cases provide free teaching materials to students. Our unit’s six year teaching effort at La Jolla High, headed up by Randy Fadem for five years and Sandra Gagnon for one year (and counting, we hope), is supported by this fund.

What is Board-a-Match?

Board-a-Match (BAM) scoring combines the camaraderie of teams with the woolly ride of matchpoints. The movement is similar to the Mitchell movement used in big pair games though half of the East-West pairs will find they are moving to the next lower table instead of the next higher table. On each round you are playing 2-4 boards against one other team. But instead of the usual IMPs scoring in teams, the boards will be scored matchpoint style, i.e. your team will either win, lose, or tie the board, regardless of the degree of difference between the raw scores.

Many of the usual matchpoint issues are relevant in BAM events. For example, +620 loses to +630, but wins against +600; thus converting an eight major suit fit to 3 NT will be a win if playing in a trump suit does not produce an extra trick. The low level skirmishes around +80, +90, +100, +110, +120, and +130 remain very important. But there is no sweet middle spot. In a pairs event it is often right to shoot for the middle of the road average plus (Ave+) result based on your understanding of the field. This is not true in BAM. Every board is head to head with another team and you probably know something about their skill level. One consequence is that one frequently plays and defends doubled contracts. If your side can not bid on and you feel there is a greater than 50% chance to set the contract, the correct strategy is double assuming you do not feel you will outplay them on the hand. Otherwise, for example, your +50 will lose to the other team’s +100.

BAM events are not new. The Reisinger BAM event is considered by many experts to the hardest event in the country. It occurs just once a year at the Fall Nationals in six sessions over three days. The Nickell team (Eric Rodwell, Jeff Meckstroth, Ralph Katz, Bob Hamman, Zia Mahmood, and Nick Nickell) won at the San Diego Nationals against a world class field.

And yet sadly, BAM events are seldom seen below the National level. How would one ever get any practice? I hope to rectify that a little bit here at this sectional and hope you will take a chance on BAM. You just might like it!

Note: This event will only be held in the open section, replacing the Monday afternoon pair game. For 199er and 749er players, there are regular pair games on Monday afternoon.