Teams Versus Pairs


What You Can Do


Charles Goren
Charles Goren

Teams Versus Pairs

The Way it Should Be

If 80 people show up to play bridge, the total number of masterpoints awarded should not depend on whether they organize themselves into teams or pairs. They are not suddenly better bridge players, or more deserving of masterpoints, just because they decide to play teams rather than pairs.


Unfortunately, the ACBL's formula for computing overall awards is based on tables rather than competitors. It's just a bug in the formula. But as a result, overall awards of a team event are approximately twice that of a pairs event.

For example, suppose 80 people show up for a Regional event. If they organize themselves into pairs, they are awarded a total of 69.06 masterpoints in overalls, which is .86 masterpoints per person. If they organize themselves into teams, they are awarded 128.12 masterpoints in overalls, which is an average of 1.73 masterpoints per person. (calculations)

This is an obvious error, producing a massive distortion in masterpoints. It needs to be changed, preferably as soon as possible. Who can object? -- the error is obvious. If it can't be changed, then nothing can be changed.

Club Games

The club game apparently has no discrepancy between team and pair events (as long as there are no overall awards).


Players feel that masterpoints are too difficult to win at a pairs event. Meanwhile, the points they win from team games are "cheap". In other words, the awards do not match merit. (This is bad -- see principles of awards.

Also, Members who seek masterpoints tend to attend team games. Tournaments find they get better attendence for team games, so they offer more team games and fewer pairs events. (There is apparently no corresponding demand for team games at the club level, where team games do not award extra points.)


Four essays are related to this topic; the Letters to the Editor of the ACBL Bulletin describe the problems of having the team events award more than the pair events.

Making the Change
Inflation or Customer Complaints?
The Mistreated Individual (Event)
Letters to the Editor