The WBF continues to improve its tournament conditions of contest. One such laudable change, implemented in Bali, was to allow the fourth-placed team among eight qualifiers for knockout play to declare itself available to be picked by the first-, second- or thirdplaced teams. Subsequently, the third- and second-placed teams could declare themselves available to the teams finishing ahead of them. This corrects the often-unfair plight of the fourth-placed team, previously guaranteed to face the best of the fifth-througheighth group. It had often been thought advantageous to finish fifth rather than fourth.
Another improvement is a relaxing of the requirements for financially-strapped NBOs to compete in the Bermuda Bowl and Venice Cup. Now they will need to either have a team in the World Bridge Games or send a pair in the new National Open Pairs. In contrast with these improvements is the change from the 0-25 VP scale to a 0.00-20.00 scale. The rationale behind the change was the credo, “Every IMP counts.” That assertion, however catchy it sounds, has no intrinsic merit whatsoever. In bridge, not every point counts as a fraction of an IMP, so why should every IMP count as a fraction of a VP. It is inherent in the game that not all tricks are of equal value and that each IMP covers a range of points. Why should VPs be different?
The new scale will discourage newcomers with its apparent complexity and will convince editors to truncate or round off scores, or worse, ignore them altogether. Are we no longer trying to get young people into the game? Do we no longer care to report bridge scores in the press? Opposition to the new scale has come in an official statement from the IBPA Executive to the WBF and informally from a host of scribblers such as Ron Klinger, Brian Senior, Tim Bourke, Paul Marston and yours truly.
The major correspondence (abridged) pro and con is presented in extra pages in this Bulletin (see pages 16-18). The unabridged correspondence can be found at www.ibpa.com.
Since I’m a curious guy, I compared the official rankings of the Bermuda Bowl in Bali with the rankings as they would have resulted under six other scoring methods (see page 15 for the results). All these methods reveal that (at least for the Bermuda Bowl in Bali) it doesn’t matter which scoring method we use, the results are the same (there were a couple of minor differences). In that case, what we should be doing is simplifying the Victory Point scoring, not complicating it. It seems Victory Points are an illusion.
How about a simple 8-VP scale with 16 IMPs (in a 16-board match) for an 8-0 win and 5-IMP spreads for the other VP totals, i.e., an 11-15 IMP win = 7 VP, 6-10 IMPs = 6 VP, and 1-5 IMPs = 5 VP. An IMP draw would be a VP draw. The ranges and maximum for 8 VP could be modified if it were desired. Other than win/loss, what could be simpler?
Another possibility is IMP differential, perhaps with a maximum. No VP conversion would be needed, simplifying things even further. Either method would be better than the current one and both with give the same result. The new scale may be mathematically sound, but it could be improved upon socially.