Bits and Pieces

March 26, 2009 at 3:07 pm 8 comments

Some bits and pieces before they get lost.

(1) Andrew Webb has posted a comment here which is worth looking at, going back to earlier ideas.

(2) This is a rewriting based on further information supplied by Peter Gill as given in comments below. One of the players on the losing finalist team in the Women’s played although she was unavailable for one of the events under consideration. I understand this was permitted on the basis that she might win the final and then the issue, which was the suddenly changed dates of the PABF championship would not have been relevant. Immediately the tournament was over, this player was then replaced by a player who had not played in the playoffs at all, as I understand it, nor had any partnership experience with the player who had been left without a partner.

Now, I find this fascinating in view of Gill and Markey’s stance in favour of selection by selectors. Are you two going to actually respond in print that this piece of selection was appropriate, compared with filling the gap with an experienced pair, presumably from one of the losing teams, but even perhaps from the winning team – there may well have been a pair available for both events.

Frankly, just this very act on its own is enough to damn the process of selection if you ask me. It is hard to see how the interests of the team and Australia have been served, but Peter and Phil, naturally your input will be keenly looked forward to.

(3) It does seem obvious, looking so far at the discussion of selection by selectors rather than by bridge, that by bridge is the obvious answer – we are merely quibbling, as Ben has pointed out, how to organise the bridge. I think it is a great shame that finals in Australia have been watered down to a point where they are becoming a bit of a joke. Most recently the final for the ANOT has been decreased to 64 boards, which is an absurd number of boards for a final, is it not?

I guess we have so many national events now that none of them really mean much. Maybe in some respects we were better off with fewer events where if a team got to a final it was excited to do so. As far as I can understand the logic of the decision for the ANOT, the players consulted didn’t want the Final to cut into dinner and drinks time.

Well, I for one, dissented, but by the sound of it, as usual, most of those consulted disagreed with me.

So, the players can’t have it both ways….they can’t vote for shorter finals and then complain that the finals aren’t long enough.

Whatever form of playoff there is for the Australian Team should be two weeks long with no match shorter than, say, 100 boards – so that there isn’t any question of luck coming into it. If the playoff is kept pretty much open as it was this year, (as long as you were prepared to pay the ridiculous entry fee), then anybody can afford those two weeks – because, after all, they don’t have to play all those interminable national championship events during the year.

(4) What do you think about the resignation in the Final? Remind me not to call in Gold-Ebery-Simpson-Antoff to play bridge for my life in the next James Bond film. Again, is that just because we play so much national level bridge that even the playoff for the Australian team is not worth playing for the sake of it?


Entry filed under: thoughts on bridge.

Final of the Australian Playoff I had a dream…

8 Comments Add your own

  • 1. phil markey  |  March 27, 2009 at 6:36 pm

    to start with the last query

    the ebery team conceded 70 odd imps behind with 32 boards to play the next day

    new day – 32 boards – 70 imps – around 2.2 imps a board

    bring it on i say

    i dont know what they were thinking when they conceded – its a horrible decision for several reasons in my view – suffice to say that i’m glad they arent the ones who are “really” representing my country

  • 2. andrew webb  |  March 27, 2009 at 6:55 am

    If there isn’t much to choose between 1st and 2nd prize – and in a sense, the “I’ve played bridge for Australia” sense – there is NO difference between them at all, then it is not surprising that the “losing” team wasn’t interested in hanging around Bondi for another day.

    On the question of length of final, given that both finalists have ALREADY secured a place in an event which consists of a long round robin & some knockout finals of significant length, it seems to me that we would be better off with 128 board SEMI-FINALS, where something is actually at stake, and maybe a 4 board playoff to select the PABF vs BB team.

    • 3. cathychua  |  March 27, 2009 at 9:23 am

      I love this idea. Well, I’m sure we’d all like to see a long final as well, but the point is well made.

    • 4. Peter Gill  |  March 27, 2009 at 12:48 pm

      I agree – the vital semi-finals should be 128 boards.

      A 2011 format could be:
      – Division 2 (open to any teams) = about 128 boards (not 96 baords as in 2009) on Saturday/Sunday. One team survives.
      – the three pre-qualified Division 1 teams have no weekend play. They start on Monday with 128 board semi-finals. the team with most Playoff Points can choose its semi-final oppo.
      – Grand Final of 128 (if Winner take All) or 4 (if not) boards on Wed/Thursday. I prefer Winner Take All. Then perhaps the Final would actually be played, and be a match to be respected.

      I think that would be an improvement, but see below.

      The Ebery and Leibowitz teams who qualified from Division 2 played only 32 boards on the Sunday of the Playoff, not exactly optimal use of the time available. An argument could be made that this gave them an advantage over 4 of the other teams in their Division. If the identical format to 2009 were used again, an extra 16 board match in Division 2, with full carryforward of VPs, between the 2nd and 3rd teams for the last qualifying place would be better utilisation of time.

      It was quite funny on Sunday afternoon for the Klinger and Green teams in Division 1 which eliminated no teams. The tailed off last Thomson team rejected the Klinger and Green teams’ offer to skip playing their meaningless last 20 boards, so they were sitting there playing 20 boards of meaningless bridge, while the players in the vital Division 2 had gone home, their event with only 2 VPs between 3 teams for the vital last qualifying spot having no bridge to play, despite plenty of time being available (ir was 5-30pm), due to a lack of knowledge of sensible better formats which were discussed by at least one ABFTC member as recently as late 2008.

      Oh well, most of you prefer this sort of thing – which you compare to the World Championships which have vastly different time limits, different lineup submission methods, different conditions and different regulations from our Playoffs. This is what most of you seem to want.

      If you claim that even Blind Freddy could tell in advance that the 2009 Playoff format was flawed, it was less than one week ago that I told several people that the Playoff format looked OK to me, given the circumstnaces that the ABF had to put up with (player withdrawals at the last minture from two teams).

      My point is that Trials will always have problems like this –
      as there has been for many years now , and the problem will not miraculously stop. Trials might in theory sound OK, but in practice, all over the world, in country after country, they are a mess.

      I prefer to have a Selector. Peferably just one selector.
      Sure , you can criticise the Selector, especially one who might crop up in someone’s dreams, but I think the concept of a Selector and a Training Squad is better. Not perfect, just better. Less of a mess.

      Just as the VBA is less of a mess than Victorian bridge would be if it were run by an outside body such as the ABF or WBF.

      A few years ago, Kenyan bridge had a split between two administrative groups and asked the WBF to step in and take over. The WBF refused – not our role, sort it out yourselves, they said.

      Peter Gill

      • 5. Ian Thomson  |  March 27, 2009 at 4:49 pm


        I rejected the kind offer because tactically it was best for the Thomson team to play as much bridge as it could over the Saturday and Sunday. We were using the first stage as a warm up.


  • 6. Peter Gill  |  March 26, 2009 at 7:31 pm

    The Women’s situation is not an internal Australian problem.

    The PABF dates in Macau were recently (a few weeks ago
    I think) changed from June 7-17 to June 18 -28.
    Australia and NZ were not officially informed of this and
    only discovered by accident via some of our youth team.

    The ABF then sent the Playoff contestants information
    (also on the website) which allowed those who were unavailable on June 18-28 to withdraw if they qualified for
    the PABF instead of Brazil. This all seems reasonable to me.

    The Open Playoff Final, like the Women’s Playoff Final,
    was originally going to be 64 boards this year,
    as it has been in past years. It was increased
    by the ABF to 96 boards following lobbying
    from (amongst others, perhaps) Sartaj Hans.

    The ANOT Final has never been longer than 64 boards.
    You’re right – it has been shortened – I just checked the
    flier – it is 56 boards thi year. The problem in past years
    is that the last planes out of Adelaide to Melbourne and
    Sydney leave fairly early and finalists miss their planes.
    56 boards in the ANOT in my opinion is better than the
    VCC where the Final is shorter by 56 boards, being
    0 boards long. I wonder, could the Melbourne players’
    lack of expousre to a Final (and thus tough practice)
    in their home national be a contributory factor to Beaumont’s
    claim that Victoria is under-represented on National teams?

    In the Playoff Final, I was commentating on BBO at the time
    of the concession. My impression is that Leigh Gold wanted
    to play on, despite having a two week old baby Taydon to
    go home to. My impression is that Antoff and Simpson
    were tired from their sterling travails.

    In passing, Jason Pitt’s baby is fine, Kylie Robb’s baby is due
    in a few months, as is Ben Chosid’s and John de Ravin’s.
    Peter Wilsmore’s baby is fine.

    Motivation might have been a factor in this Playoff.
    Thomson, with at least one player who needs a few days’
    solid bridge to play himself into form, had every reason to be unmotivated to do well early which would have given
    them an undesired day off. The Ebery team who had
    qualified for an event in which they could win Medals
    might not be fully 100.00% motivated to qualify for
    Brazil, then have a 3rd pair added on who end up
    playing all 48 boards every day in Brazil, who knows?
    There are lots of “mights” in that paragraph of speculation.

    Peter Gill.

    • 7. cathychua  |  March 26, 2009 at 8:47 pm

      Peter, Re the situation in the women’s. So, you are telling me that although you are SURE that selection will produce the right team for Australia, in the women’s in this predicament, instead of replacing one person with an effective pair, whoever might be available, they add one person with no partnership experience. Do you really think that is a good advertisement for selection rather than qualifying by winning????

      • 8. Peter Gill  |  March 27, 2009 at 1:20 pm

        I assume you’re referring to adding Sally Brock to the England Women’s Team as discussed earlier in the blog.

        No, they added Brock and Smith, an established (but far from regular, say like Gosney – Gill) partnership who played together in Verona in 2006 amongst other times, to the team to replace another pair. To get Smith and Brock to play, I’m told they had to convince Sally to come out of her brief retirement. Then, according ol my English sources, they won the World Championships largely due to the excellent contribution of Brock and Smith, the pair added to the foursome who were to be retained after the failure in the European Championships.

        Sure, the individual whose addition to the team you seemed to support on your blog, Michelle Brunner might have been added to the team instead of adding this pair, and might have done
        as well as Brock – Smith did, but she couldn’t afford to do one imp worse in the WC, which England won by one imp. Jack Zhao had to stay up all night consoling the Chinese Women after their one imp loss.

        If instead you are referring to the Aussie Women’s team for the PABF, I have no idea who is in or out of that team. I do know that a sole selector did not do any selecting, since the
        sole selector concept does not exist in Australia. In this case, it seems that the power rested with the players, who have apparently selected someone, which the ABF might or might not allow. That is the opposite of what I want. I want a sole selector, taking the power of selection away from the players, because that is what works overseas, if one believes data.

        What you say is happening with the Aussie Women is the opposite of what I want. I want Team Selection by a selector. You are referring to Trials. Are you arguing that in this case the Trials did not work due to the introduction of an unestablished partnership, so that makes Trials a better option than my idea? I would argue that this whole thing, whatever it is, makes Trials look even worse.

        And of course I’m not sure, nor even confident, that selection can produce the right team for Australia. No method can. It’s just that overseas experience suggests that no matter how bad the selector is, the outcome is likely to be better results than if Trials are used. That’s the benefit. The loss is that it would make the ABF more unpopular with the players, since
        it takes piower of selection of teammates away from the players, and is clearly less democratic.

        Those of you who like to see sponsors (Otvosi, Rothfield, Kaljo, Noble etc) playing for Australia in the World Championship must hate my idea, since a sponsor would have no chance any more to make the team. What is so neat is that the ABF is relatively rich, and subsidises players handsomely for representing Australia, so our national teams don’t need sponsors unless the players are greedy.

        Peter Gill


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