Events and Designations
In duplicate bridge there are three basic types of events: Individuals, Pairs and Teams. There are many types of games within each category. On this web page information is given as to what the three types of events are all about. In addition, there are explanations of the various special games within each category.
Chapter I. Individual Events
The Individual game is the only form of duplicate bridge in which you do not have a partner chosen by you. The game is set up in such a way that each player is a separate contestant who plays with a multitude of different partners. Sometimes you play only one board with each partner; other times you play two or three, rarely more.
The movement is more complicated than in a pair event. In the Rainbow movement --- which nowadays is just about the only one used for games of seven tables or more --- it is necessary for the players in each direction to have a different move each round (guide cards are usually used for smaller games). The idea is for each player to partner someone different each round against a brand new set of opponents.
Computing your score is quite different from rubber bridge --- it is based on matchpoints rather than on totals. You achieve a total score on each deal, but that score is then compared with all other scores achieved on that board. You earn one matchpoint for each score you surpass and half a matchpoint for each one you tie. In addition to overall awards, there are section awards for each direction within a section.
Since each player is playing with so many different partners, it is impractical for partnerships to use complicated systems and conventions. Most players prefer to play some simple form of Standard American.
Chapter II. Pair Events
The pair game is the most common form of duplicate bridge. Two players compete as a partnership throughout the event, whether it is one, two or more sessions.
One of two basic movements usually is used.
For larger games, the Mitchell movement usually is the choice. This is basically simple --- after each round the boards are passed back to the next lower tables and the East-West pairs advance to the next higher table. The North-South pairs are stationary, with rare exceptions that will not be noted here.
For smaller games, the movement usually used is the Howell movement. Usually guide cards are used that tell each pair where to go for the next round and also list the boards that should be played each round at that table.
Computing your score is quite different from rubber bridge --- it is based on matchpoints rather than on totals. You achieve a total score on each deal, but that score is then compared with all other scores achieved on that board. You earn one matchpoint for each score you surpass and half a matchpoint for each one you tie.
In addition to overall awards, there are section awards for both North-South and East-West within a section (Mitchell movement only).
Following is an alphabetical breakdown of the various types of pair games.
The Barometer Pairs game is differentiated from other pair games by the method of distributing the boards and by the scoring.
In the usual type of pair event, all or most of the boards are in play every round. The boards are moved from table to table on a predetermined schedule so that eventually all pairs play most of the boards at some time during the session.
In a barometer game the boards don't move from table to table after each round. All pairs play the same boards at the same time throughout the event. The director and his staff will have pre-duplicated many sets of boards prior to the game. Quite often each table will have its own set of boards; equally often two or three tables will share one set of boards. Each set of boards goes out of play after one round. As a result, all scores for a given set of boards are available as soon as the round is over. The director retrieves the score tickets and enters them immediately. Quite often the scores will be posted for inspection by the players after each round, so each pair knows where it stands at all times. Any given pair's fortunes will rise and fall as the game goes on, hence the name Barometer.
The Bridge Plus+ Pairs is specially designed for new players who have just finished taking a series of lessons. The bridge is very relaxed. The director, who often also was the teacher, is available to answer questions and offer assistance.
The Charity Pairs is a regular pair game, the only difference being that a minimum amount of the proceeds from the selling of entries is earmarked for a specified charity, such as the ACBL Charity Foundation.
Some multi-session pair games have qualifying sessions instead of being play-through. A certain number of pairs in each group qualify to play in the final session or sessions. Usually a special game for non-qualifiers is run alongside the final. This game, a regular pair game as far as movement and scoring are concerned, is called a consolation.
The Continuous Pairs game is always a multi-session event. Each session is a regular pair game, and awards are given for each individual session. In addition, there are overall awards for those who perform best during the various sessions. Each individual receives credit for his best two scores, and the overall ranking is done from these figures. Each player may play with as many different partners as there are sessions since the overall standings are determined on an individual basis.
Continuous Pairs must consist of three or more sessions. At North American Championships, session awards are paid in reds, but overall awards incorporating the scores from all sessions are paid in gold points. Masterpoint awards are based on the formula for a two-session open event.
In the Fast Pairs game the speed of play is increased by a major factor. Instead of the usual seven to eight minutes allowed to play each board, the game is set up so that boards must be completed in five minutes. Sometimes this permits more boards to be played; more often this type of game results in a game finishing at an earlier time. Such a game often is called a SPEEDBALL PAIRS.
The event is broken down into two or three fields based on masterpoints. Each field competes as a separate event. The flight for which a pair is eligible is determined by the masterpoint holding of the player with the more masterpoints. Pairs may opt to play in a higher category but not in a lower one.
Often, but not always, the breakdown is as follows: Flight A --- 0 to infinity; B --- 0-750; C --- 0-300. All pairs are eligible to compete in Flight A; only pairs with fewer than 750 points (Flight B limit) are eligible to play in Flight B; only pairs with fewer than 300 points (Flight C limit) are eligible to play in Flight C. Pairs eligible for Flight A only may compete in Flight A only.
Masterpoints are awarded based on the number of tables in the flight entered added to the number of tables in all lower flights.
This is an otherwise open event, but all players must have fewer than 50 masterpoints.
The Handicapped Pairs is conducted like an open pairs game, but the scoring method is different. The game produces two sets of winners, scratch and handicap. The scratch standings are the same as they would be in an open game. However, the handicap standings are based on the scratch score plus handicaps that are awarded to make the event more evenly contested.
The handicap can be figured in either of two ways. First, it can be based on the players' ranks (a measure of expertise), with more matchpoints awarded the lower the rank. Second, it can be based on recent performance as compiled either by the director or the computer. Full awards are given for scratch scores that place overall, 50% awards are given for handicap scores that place overall. A pair that is eligible for matchpoints both scratch and handicap receives the higher of the two awards, not both.
An IMP Pairs event is played like a regular pair event but is scored in a totally different way. A basic score is set for each board, usually an average of all the scores compiled on that board. Sometimes the top and bottom scores are eliminated before the average is taken so that extreme scores will have less impact on the average. Then your score is algebraically compared with the average and translated into International Matchpoints (IMPs) according to the IMP formula. The IMP scale is printed on the ACBL convention card.
INSTANT MATCHPOINT PAIRS
A very special method of scoring is used for the Instant Matchpoint Pairs, a rare event. It is run only three times annually by the ACBL.
Identical hands are played throughout the ACBL (throughout the world in the World-wide Pairs). As soon as the hand is played, the players can learn their Instant Matchpoint result by looking at the traveling score. All hands are scored IN ADVANCE. A good-looking program book is distributed to all players at the conclusion of the game in which each and every hand is thoroughly analyzed by an expert.
Both members of all pairs must be under 26 years of age in order to compete in the Junior Pairs. It is run along the lines of an open pairs.
LIFE MASTER PAIRS
All contestants must be Life Masters.
A Masters Pairs is usually run in conjunction with a Non-Master Pairs. An arbitrary lower limit of masterpoints is set, and at least one member of every pair must have at least that number of masterpoints. The game itself is run along the lines of an open pairs.
All pairs must consist of two men.
All pairs must consist of one man and one woman.
A Newcomers Pairs, which is run along the lines of an open pairs, is for new players only. Usually the upper masterpoint limit is 5.
Another name for NEWCOMER PAIRS.
All players must have fewer than 100 masterpoints.
A Non-Masters Pairs is usually run in conjunction with a Master Pairs. An arbitrary upper limit of masterpoints is set, and both members of every pair must have that number of masterpoints or fewer. The game itself is run along the lines of an open pairs.
Only new and inexperienced players are eligible to play in the Novice Pairs. Usually there is an upper masterpoint limit. Often this limit is 5 or 10 matchpoints, but it could be 20 or even 50.
All players must have fewer than 200 masterpoints.
Any two players can compete as partners --- no restrictions of any kind.
One member of each pair is a top-flight player, the pro, so to speak, and the other is a new or relatively new player, the amateur. The purpose is to enable the new player to meet and get to know some of the better players in the area. The new player also gets the benefit of good advice and tips from his or her "pro". The game itself is run along the lines of an open pairs.
Both members of each pair must be at least 55 years old.
The speed of such games is increased dramatically. Instead of the usual seven to eight minutes allowed to play each board, the game is set up so that boards must be completed in five minutes. Sometimes this permits more boards to be played; more often this type of game results in a game finishing at an earlier time. Such a game often is called a FAST PAIRS. Except that the rounds are shorter, the game is run along the lines of an open pairs.
This type of game is different from most others because it produces more than one set of winners. The field is divided into two or three strata, each with a predetermined maximum and minimum masterpoint limitation. The tournament directors attempt to seed the field in such a manner that approximately equal numbers of players from each stratum are competing in each direction. During the course of the event, pairs from each strata play pairs from all other strata.
All pairs in the event are ranked when computing the overalls in the top stratum. The pairs in the top stratum are then eliminated and a second set of rankings is determined for the pairs remaining. Next the pairs in the second stratum are also eliminated and a third ranking is done for the third stratum. It is possible for pairs in the second and third strata to place in a higher stratum, but pairs in the top stratum are eligible for awards only in the top stratum.
The stratum in which a pair plays is determined by the member of the pair who has the most masterpoints. Unlike flighted events, pairs do not have a choice of strata --- they are automatically placed in the lowest stratum for which they are eligible.
The game is run like an ordinary open pairs, although usually the field is carefully seeded so that each Strat A pair plays against all Strat A pairs in the section against which they are competing.
STRATIFIED BY EXPERTISE PAIRS
A preset limit on masterpoints is set. If both members of the partnership are over the limit, they are in Strat A. If one is over and one is under, they are in Strat B. If both are under, then the pair is in Strat C. Otherwise the conditions are similar to those of regular STRATIFIED PAIRS.
The Stratiflighted Pairs is almost identical to a STRATIFIED PAIRS with one major difference. The pairs in the top flight compete in a separate event, totally apart from the other strata (two or three strats). The top flight can be divided into two strata if preferred. The remaining pairs play a stratified game handled exactly like a Stratified Pairs. In other words, there are two games, both of which are run along the lines of an open pairs.
The Swiss Pairs is run along the lines of a Swiss Teams. Pairs play against each other in short matches, with various methods of scoring determining the winner. As in Swiss Teams, pairs with approximately the same records are paired against each other for subsequent matches.
This type of event has not proved popular and is seldom used at tournaments today.
All pairs consist of either two men or two women, no mixed-gender pairs.
TEAM OF TWO PAIRS
Both of a team's two pairs sit in the same direction in different sections in this unusual type of pair event. Everyone plays a session of matchpoint duplicate, just like a pair game.
Of each team's two results on a board, only the better is entered to determine the matchpoint score. Naturally the score not used for your team is the "better" score for your opponents.
Strategy is necessary to maximize potential matchpoints. To be successful, a team should not play or defend the same contract or make the same play at both tables. In other words, the methods used by the two pairs should be different to increase the possibility of a favorable result.
This event is usually sanctioned only at sectionals.
All pairs consist of players who have fewer than 300 masterpoints.
All pairs consist of two women. The game is run along the lines of an open pairs.
Chapter III. Team events
This type of event is fast becoming very popular with tournament and club players. Like a pair event, players compete as pairs. A team can consist of four, five or six players, but only four team members ever play at the same time.
Here is how a team game works. Two members of your team, playing as a partnership, sit North-South at one table. Two other members of your team, also playing as a partnership, sit East-West at a different table. The two pairs from the opposing team fill the empty spots at the two tables. During the course of a match, exactly the same boards are played at both tables.
Since results are achieved at both tables on exactly the same boards, a comparison of results is possible. Scoring is done by comparing the results, but the methods of scoring vary according to the type of team game being played.
The three basic types of team games are Swiss, knockout and board-a-match. A fourth type, a round-robin teams, also is sometimes held. A round-robin, however, really is a special case of Swiss teams.
For many years Swiss Teams has been the most popular form of team event, but in recent years it is being overtaken by Knockout Teams. A Swiss event is a partial round-robin set up in such a way that winners play winners and losers play losers. It is based on the Swiss concept that governs play in most chess tournaments.
After each round, the game directors sort the team records and set up new matches between teams of approximately equal records. In general, teams are not permitted to play against each other more than once.
The length of matches is determined by the size of the field and the number of sessions. The most common match length is seven boards, but five, six, eight and nine are not uncommon.
At the end of a match, the East-West pair return to their home table where they compare their scores with their teammates. The event is scored on International Matchpoints (IMPs). This is a special conversion system designed to translate totals into a scoring system that gives fairer comparisons. The IMP scale is printed on the ACBL convention card.
To figure the score, the algebraic difference is taken on each board and then translated into IMPs. When all the boards have been scored, the pluses and minuses are added. If the total is a plus, that team is the winner; if the total is a minus, that team is a loser.
There are three different ways to compute the final score of a match. These scoring methods will be covered in BOARD-A-MATCH SWISS TEAMS, VICTORY POINT SWISS TEAMS and WIN-LOSS SWISS TEAMS.
Sometimes the field for a Swiss teams is very small. Quite often in such a situation the game is changed into a full round-robin. Each team plays every other team in a short match. The winner is determined in the same manner as in a Swiss teams. The same types of scoring used in Swiss teams are used in a round-robin event.
The name of this event is most apropos --- the winners advance to the next round and the losers are knocked out of the competition. There are many kinds of knockout events, but basically they come down to this --- two teams face each other in head-to-head competition, and only one survives. There are variations on this theme, but the above explanation fits the vast majority of knockout situations.
The setup is similar to Swiss Teams in that two members of your team sit North-South at one table and two others are East-West at a different table. The team against which you are playing fills the other four seats at the two tables.
Knockout matches usually are much longer than Swiss matches --- 24 boards is common but sometimes it is as many as 64. After the match is finished, the East-West pairs return to their home tables to compare scores. Once again the International Matchpoint Scale is used, just as in Swiss Teams. The team with the greater number of IMPs is the winner and advances to play in the next round. The losers are no longer in the event.
Specific conditions of contest may vary. Each team has a responsibility to be aware of the conditions and to conform accordingly.
Board-a-Match Teams is the toughest type of event in tournament bridge, which may account for its lack of popularity. A team plays a small number of boards against one opponent --- usually two, three or four --- then moves on to take on another opponent. The movement is set up in such a way that your team always plays any given board against two opposition pairs of the same team. Often the movement is similar to the Mitchell movement used in pair games, but with some major differences that are always explained by the tournament director.
At the end of a session, the members of a team gather to compare scores. Each board is scored separately as a win, a tie or a loss.
The reason why the game is so tough is that EVERY board is equally important. Some boards in Swiss and knockout events are not all that important --- very little may be at stake. But every board in a board-a-match game is worth one full matchpoint, and a high degree of concentration is necessary throughout every board of a session.
All special team games are forms of one of the three basic types above. Here are definitions of the special games.
BOARD-A-MATCH SWISS TEAMS
The basic formula for the way in which Board-a-Match Swiss Teams is conducted can be found under SWISS TEAMS at the beginning of this chapter. The difference between this type of Swiss teams event and others is the method of scoring.
The scoring for this type of event is radically different from the other two forms of Swiss teams. After play is finished and the team compares scores, one matchpoint is awarded for each board won and half a matchpoint for each board tied. The margin of difference on any board is of no consequence, winning a board by 10 is the same as winning a board by 4000, it's one. This type of game is rare. Occasionally it is run at a North American Championship, but seldom elsewhere.
BRACKETED KNOCKOUT TEAMS
Some method of seeding based on ability and experience is used to divide the total field into two or more groups. The breakdown is according to the average masterpoints of all players on each team. Each bracket comprises a separate event with its own masterpoint awards. There is no interplay between brackets.
The size of each bracket and the number of brackets depend on the number of teams entered. The purpose of bracketing is to establish groups within which each team is competitive.
COMPACT KNOCKOUT TEAMS
The usual match in a knockout event runs for at least one full session. However, in a compact event, the matches are shortened so that two matches can be played in one session, with just four players per team. This makes it possible to determine a winner in a 16-team game in just two sessions. This means the entire event can be finished in one day.
An event that is broken down into two or three fields based on masterpoints. Each field competes as a separate event. The flight for which a team is eligible is determined by the masterpoint holding of the player with the most masterpoints. Teams may opt to play in a higher classification but not in a lower one. Often the breakdown is as follows:
0 to infinity
All teams are eligible to compete in Flight A; only teams with fewer than 750 points for each player (Flight B limit) are eligible to play in Flight B; only teams with fewer than 300 points for each player (Flight C limit) are eligible to play in Flight C. Teams eligible for Flight A only may compete in Flight A only.
All players have fewer than 50 masterpoints.
HANDICAP KNOCKOUT TEAMS
A handicap is assigned to each team based on a formula that takes experience and ability into consideration. The handicap is in the form of International Matchpoints (IMPs) and is added to the IMP total of the less experienced team. The winner is determined by the score AFTER the handicap has been added in.
All members are younger than 26.
A shortened form of KNOCKOUT TEAMS.
A Masters Teams usually run in conjunction with a Non-Master Teams. An arbitrary lower limit of masterpoints is set, and at least one member of each team must have at least that number of masterpoints.
All members of every team are men.
The Mini-Knockout Teams consists of a series of very short matches. It is designed to produce a winner in just one session of play. It often is played as a midnight game at regionals and NABCs. It's often called a Lose and Snooze Teams because the winners play on while the losers can get to bed a little earlier.
A Mixed Team comprises at least two men and two women. The maximum number of team members is six, and the breakdown by gender must be as even as possible --- for instance, with a six-player team three must be men and three must be women. The team at all times must field mixed pairs --- at no time may a pair consist of two men or two women. The event can be a knockout, a board-a-match or a Swiss.
A Non-Masters Teams is usually run in conjunction with a Master Teams. An arbitrary upper limit of masterpoints is set, and all members of each team must have no more than that number of masterpoints.
All members of every team have fewer than 100 masterpoints. The event usually is run either as a Swiss or a knockout.
All members of every team have fewer than a previously determined number of masterpoints. The event usually is run either as a Swiss or a knockout.
All members of every team have fewer than 200 masterpoints. The event can be run as any one of the three basic types listed at the beginning of this web page.
In an Open Teams there are no restrictions on the makeup of the teams --- except the numerical limit is six. The event can be run as one of the three basic types.
RANDOM DRAW KNOCKOUT TEAMS
The teams that remain in competition are paired for their next match by means of a random draw. Typically all the possible positions are written on slips of paper, and the captain of each team draws his next assignment at the time he reports his winning match result. The pairings for the first match also are random.
All teams play a match against each other team in the field. Usually IMPs are translated into Victory Points for each match, and the team with the most Victory Points is the winner. The win-loss system also is sometimes used.
All members of every team are at least 55 years old. The event can be run as any one of the three basic types listed at the beginning of this web page.
SPEEDBALL SWISS TEAMS
Speed of play is a major factor. Each match consists of five boards, and an average of only five minutes per board is allowed for play, 25 minutes per round. Usually five rounds are played, and the event sometimes is called a five-five-five Swiss. This event frequently is a late-night game during a section, regional or NABC. It is sometimes flighted or stratified.
A Swiss Team event that produces more than one set of winners. The event is run along exactly the same lines as an Open Swiss Teams. Any team may be paired against teams from any of the other brackets.
The only difference comes in the rankings. First overall in the top stratum is determined by comparing all scores. Then the scores from the top stratum are eliminated and a second ranking takes place for the remaining teams. Next the scores from the second stratum are eliminated and a third ranking takes place.
It is possible for teams in the second and third strata to place in a higher stratum, but teams in the top stratum are eligible for awards only in the top stratum.
The stratum in which a team plays is determined by the player who has the greater number of masterpoints. Teams do not have a choice of strata --- they are automatically placed in the lowest strata for which they are eligible.
A Stratiflighted Teams is almost identical to a STRATIFIED TEAMS, with one major difference --- the teams in the top stratum compete in a separate event, totally apart from the other strata. The top flight can be divided into two strata if preferred. The remaining teams play a stratified game handled exactly like a Stratified Teams.
Each pair consists of either two men or two women.
UNSEEDED KNOCKOUT TEAMS
Another name for RANDOM DRAW KNOCKOUT TEAMS.
All members of every team have fewer than 300 masterpoints. The event can be run as any one of the three basic team categories as listed at the beginning of this chapter.
VICTORY POINT SWISS TEAMS
The basic formula for the way in which this game is conducted can be found under SWISS TEAMS at the beginning of this web page. The difference between this type of Swiss Teams event and others is the method of scoring.
Up to a point, it's the same as Win-Loss scoring. The boards are IMPed and an algebraic sum is arrived at. However, this figure is then translated into Victory Points according to a formula worked out in advance. Subsequent matches are paired according to a team's Victory Point total, not according to its win-loss record. Overall rankings are based on Victory totals. The 20-point and 30-point Victory Point scales are printed on the ACBL convention card.
WIN-LOSS SWISS TEAMS
The basic formula for the way in which the Win-Loss Swiss Teams is conducted can be found under SWISS TEAMS at the beginning of this web page. The difference between this type of Swiss Teams event and others is the method of scoring.
This is the usual method of scoring. A team compiles its results and determines whether the total is plus or minus. If the total is plus 3 or more, the match is deemed won and the team receives one matchpoint. If the total is plus 1 or plus 2, the team receives three-quarters of a matchpoint. This result is termed a "winning tie." If both teams score exactly the same number of IMPs, each team gets half a matchpoint. The team that loses by 1 or 2 is said to have suffered a "losing tie" and is awarded one-fourth of a matchpoint. If the team loses by 3 or more IMPs, they are a loser and get no matchpoints.
No losing team receives masterpoints for the match, even if they lose by only 1 or 2 IMPs. Winning teams receive full match masterpoints even if they win by only 1 or 2 IMPs.
All members of every team are women. The event can be run as any one of the three basic team categories as listed at the beginning of this web page.
ZIP KNOCKOUT TEAMS
Another name for COMPACT KNOCKOUT TEAMS. This type of event often is staged as a midnight game at regionals and North American Championships.
ZIP SWISS TEAMS
Another name for SPEEDBALL SWISS TEAMS.