Sunday, February 21, 2010

Swiss roll

Ever noticed how quickly your team can slide out of the money in a Swiss?  My teammates and I were in the B1 bracket in the Watertown Swiss and were leading after six matches.  We had 81 VPs and 5 wins.  Even though we won 16 VPs in the last match, we were (almost) out of the money.

That's because we got blitzed by the eventual winners in the 7th match.  Two of the key decisions were slams.  Our opponents bid 6 missing an Ace as well as KJxx of trumps.  But everything came home.  Our teammates bid a 69% slam but it was off.

The point I'm trying to make is that in a Swiss, particularly using the 20-point VP scale, you cannot afford to lose by more than about 12 imps in any match and still expect to win.  You have to win some VPs in every match.  The 20 point scale is not forgiving of blitzes.  The winners did have one match in which they lost by 19 imps, but they steadily made up ground in all of the other matches.

In the flight A event, the winners actually lost 3 matches, but they never lost by more than 10 imps.  There were teams that won 5-and-a-half and 6 matches, respectively and ended up 4/5 and 7th respectively.  This does seem a little zany.  Most probably this could be "corrected" by employing the 30-point scale, which emphasizes winning, more like the "old" style of 0,1/4,1/2,3/4,1 point.

Using the 30-point scale, we would have been a clear 4th in our flight, rather than 5th equal.  Counting wins as in the old days, we would have been 2nd equal.

There's nothing wrong with the 20-point scale.  But I do like the 30-point scale – it's more true to the origins of the Swiss format.

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