Building a Better Formula


What You Can Do


Helen Sobel
Helen Sobel

Field Size

The Way it Should Be

Masterpoints per person should not change just because more (or fewer) players are competing. In other words, masterpoints per person should be independent of field size. This is an obvious principle -- players are not more meritorious just because they play in a larger (or smaller) game.


In club games, a 15 table game awards 76% more masterpoints per person than a 5-table game. At the extremes, the smaller section of a 13.5-table club game awards 85% more masterpoints per person than a 5-table game. (In contrast, my formula yields only a 6% discrepancy between 5 and 15 tables.)

Similarly, it should not matter whether the players organize themselves into a Howell or Mitchell movment. But with 10 pairs, a Howell Movement yields 50% more masterpoints per person than a Mitchell movement.

In tournaments, a field of 14 awards 94% more masterpoints (per person) in overall awards than a field of 142. Extending the range, a 5-table tournament awards 2.7 times as many masterpoints per person (270%), in overall awards, than a 108-table tournament.

Would tournaments artificially divide players into small sections to increase the overall awards? Can you say, "It's too easy to win gold points at a knockout"?


Of course, masterpoints per person should not depend on field size, but it is possible to be more demanding of a formula: Ideally, expected masterpoints should be the same for the elite players and the lesser players. The current formulas don't satisfy this criterion either -- increasing size in a club game mostly benefits the elite players, and increasing size in a tournament benefits the elite players and hurts the lesser players.


I think players prefer to attend large club games. Meanwhile, tournaments often break a field down into smaller sections.

Changing the Formula

The backbone of the ACBL's masterpoing awards is the basic formulas it uses for club games and tournaments. Patches are then put on of these formulas, trying to make things work. The ACBL could just try to improve the patches. But it makes more sense to use a better backbone. I suggest a fairly simple log formula.


Essays related to this topic:

Masterpoints per Person: The Club Formula
Masterpoints per Person: The Tournament Formula
Criteria for a Good Formula, and a Proposed Formula
The Formula I Propose