Why Masterpoints Deserve Care

Principles of Masterpoint Administration

Teams Versus Pairs
Changing the massive discrepancy between team and pair events

Building a Better Formula
Criteria for a good formula, problems with the current formulas, and a better formula.

What You Can Do

Other Information

Messageboard, email, poll

Increasing Masterpoint Awards for Club Games


The ACBL Board of Directors recently voted to allow any club game to offer a charity game at any time. Charity games cost $1 per person extra; the awards are sectional black points.

I suspect this policy is a disaster waiting to happen. But for now, no one seems to know about this opportunity. This is the easiest way to increase masterpoints at the club.

I believe if you combine a charity game with a team event, you can take advantage of the fact that for sectionals (but not for regular club games), team events offer higher overalls.


Use a Howell Movement

If you have eight tables or less, use a Howell movement rather than a Mitchell movement. The Howell movement takes advantage of the fact that more masterpoints are awarded per person for more tables. Use this only for regular club games.

Masterpoints per person
# of Pairs    Mitchell   Howell   % increase

Explaining These Numbers. The actual amount of increase is tricky for two reasons. First, although masterpoints per person increases with larger field sizes, the increase occurs only when more pairs are given masterpoints. For example, masterpoint per person stays essentially the same for 9, 10 and 11 pairs, because 4 pairs win masterpoints. Masterpoints per person increases for 12 pairs, because now 5 pairs win awards.

Second, the increase for using a Howell movement over a Mitchell movement tends to be smaller when there is a half table, because scoring for the Mitchell movement rounds up to the higher number of tables. In other words, the 7 1/2 table Mitchell movement is scored just like an 8-table Mitchell movement. Nonetheless, in the range from 8 to 17 pairs (4 to 8 1/2 tables), the Howell movement always awards more masterpoints per person. (I do not know the awards for an 18-pair Howell.)

The advantage for the Howell movement starts to decrease after 15 pairs because the first place award is limited to 1.50.

Stratifying. Presumably you stratify your field. Without knowing how many B and C players you have, or how people will finish, it is impossible to predict exactly what will happen. But when you run the Howell movement, you have a larger B field and a larger C field. You will be more likely to have enough pairs to offer the B and C awards, and those awards will be larger.

I looked at club games from different clubs and calculated how many masterpoints per person were added for the B and C awards. The following table presents my data. There are problems with this data, so don't take it too seriously, but it shows the expected pattern -- masterpoints per person for the B and C awards is higher for the larger field.

The first column is the number of tables in a Mitchell movement or the number of pairs in a Howell movement. The second column is the A awards (if there were no B and C awards). The third column is masterpoints per person awarded for the B and C awards. (This "per person" includes the A pairs.) The final column is the number of observations.

section size    A awards   B & C awards   observed

The Nuisance Factor. You might prefer running a Howell movement. Perhaps you agree with the premise of this website that masterpoints per person should not depend on whether you run a Howell or a Mitchell movement. Feel free to express your opinion!

Some of your customers will appreciate winning more masterpoints, and you can more successfully compete with larger clubs. Some of your customers might not like the Howell movement. Perhaps you could send them to my website so that they could sign my petitions.


Stratifying & Stratiflighting

Of course, you should stratify. Everyone does, except when a game is handicapped. Handicapping a game in an interesting idea. But with the possibility of stratifying, handicapping seems less useful -- the lesser players can win the B and C awards. In any case, masterpoints per person are reduced when a game is handicapped, because there are no B and C awards.

However, as suggested by the table above, the loss of stratifying in a handicapped game is not substantial -- as much as 13% for a large game, as little as 5% for a small game.

Strati-flighting creates more masterpoints per person (than stratifying). As discussed in my essay, masterpoints per person are reduced when a B player takes an A award. This possibility is eliminated when a field is strati-flighted.

The ACBL apparently allows strati-flighting in a club game. This is the only time a regular club game can award more than 1.50 masterpoints to the winners. I have never seen results from a strati-flighted club game, but if they work like strati-flighted tournaments, they should award more masterpoints per person. There should be substantially more points awarded to the A players, and the B and C players should gain substantially too, as the advantages for larger fields will accrue to them when they are all congregated in the same sections.

Why have I never seen a strati-flighted club game? They are popular at tournaments, so I suspect they would be popular at clubs. In tournaments, the masterpoint gain is all to the A players (as compared to stratifying), but apparently the B and C players do not mind. In a club gain, the B and C players would also gain from strati-flighting, because they would be in a larger field (presumably). Probably club owners are not aware of this possibility.

It is impossible for me to compute the size of gain from strati-flighting because I do not have any data. However, it should be much larger than the gain in tournaments.



There are other tricks for increasing masterpoints, but they do not seem worth pursuing -- for a lot of trouble, you are going to get gains not much larger than 10%. One is trying to have a half table in a Mitchell movement. Adding another pair to fill out the movement loses you 3% for the 14 1/2 table game and 5% for the 9 1/2 table game. The loss is 10% for the 4 1/2 table game, but you should not be running a Mitchell movement with that many pairs (if you want to maximize masterpoints).

For better or worse, there are a lot of tricky things you could do when dividing a field into two parts. For the sake of masterpoints per person, you should not be dividing a field smaller than 17 tables, and there is a small hit for dividing up the 17- and 18-table fields. (The first table above can also be read as the disadvantage for dividing up a field into two parts.)

If you divide a field of 22 into two fields of 11, you are just missing the increase in masterpoints per person that occurs with 12 tables. If you instead divide your field into 12 tables and 10 tables, masterpoints per person increases by 5%. You can push this increase to 10% by dividing your field into 10 1/2 and 11 1/2 tables. As noted, a 10% increase is probably not worth the trouble. The gains will be smaller when you are splitting up larger numbers of tables. Anyway, if you are going to divide your field, you can probably get a large increase in masterpoints per person by strati-flighting your field.