Sunday, June 7, 2009

Running score (bridge, sport)

Just finished watching the early afternoon vugraph on BBO of this year's team trials for selecting the representatives for the US in this year's world championship. In two of the round of 32 matches in this session, there was a "state of the match" gamble on the final board.

In one match, one player made a leap to slam which made on some helpful lies and won the match despite trailing by 5 imps going into that board. While the auction made it seem that the jump to slam was a calculated risk, it was still very likely that the perceived score influenced the decision.

In another match, one player bid a grand and went down while the other table bid and made the small slam which decided the match. I did not kibitz this match, but I was told that bidding the grand might have also been a "state of the match" decision. The problem was that the team that bid the grand was actually up 5 imps going into that board!

This brought up a very good point among the specs. Bridge is the only sport (or mindsport if you want) where there is no running score known to the players up to the last decision to be made. In all physical sports there is a running score, in poker there are chip counts, and in a race you can always look back and see where your opponents are. In bridge, depending on the number of boards designated per set, you can only know the running score up till that last set. The only argument for a sport where the running score wasn't known was boxing, but that score is a subjective tally and I think that's different.

What's also different with bridge is that it's the only sport where there are a set number of boards that are played. Because of the need for comparisons across the duplication, this is different from a "timed" event. I'm not sure I know any other sport/game that does that. In the end, bridge cannot do a running score without slowing the game down tremendously. Because of the duplication, both sides would be restricted to playing each individual board within a specified time frame, or else the table that plays faster would be disadvantaged by the lack of score comparison. This is also why a barometer style pairs is ok, because it's normal to expect all pairs to finish a round simultaneously.

This is just something we all have to accept as bridge players, and it might also be another reason in support of why bridge is not a sport, but a game or mindsport if you will.

1 comment :

thg said...

In another match, Martel-Stansby and company were down big going into the final segment. They took a number of swingy actions and were up 3 IMPs going into the final board. They made a speculative double of a major suit game which made, so lost 5 IMPs, and with them the match, on the last board. I really doubt they would have doubled had they known they were up 3.