August 2014 English Bridge
THE last time that I played in a Sim was a few years ago. Partner
and I scored well, and finished second nationwide. This was
perhaps more of an achievement than it sounds. Partner had a bit
too much to drink: when I sent him an e-mail the next morning
congratulating him on his performance, not only did he not
remember how he got home, he didn't even remember that he'd
been playing bridge the previous evening. Still, it hasn't blighted
his international career. Hasn't done mine any favours, mind . . .
Sim Pairs Issues
One of the issues with Sims which keeps cropping up is of
inconsistency and fairness. Why did I win my club heat with 56%
and yet score only 48% nationwide? Why do the cards always
favour North-South? It's a swindle!
And yes, it can certainly look that way. It isn't, of course - we'd
hardly run competitions which were open to such opprobrium,
but perhaps it's the right moment to explain why things
sometimes look a bit peculiar, and then I'll move on to suggest a
couple of 'Best Practices' which will, if followed, in the long run
reduce the appearance of inconsistency and bias.
There's an explanation on the EBU web site, at http://www.
which explains the scoring differences. It's even got tables and a
worked example! But the long and the short of it is that when you
play a Sim, you're actually playing in two events at once, and your
scores are undergoing not one, but two sets of comparisons. Making
4´ with two overtricks may well have beaten all the cautious bidders
and timorous players in the local game (especially the pair who
made 2´ + 1) but if your second overtrick was based on a successful
finesse, then anyone across the whole field who bid a slam will be
making it, the same way that you made twelve tricks. What's more,
there's no upside for you: nobody who bids the slam is going to go
off: there will be no minus 100s below you to offset those plus 1430s
above you. And to really lay it on thick, don't forget that more and
more people are going to tie your magnificent 680. This is either too
depressing for words or, more probably, what actually makes playing
in Sims a bit more challenging than you'd thought.
To do well, you have to outsmart not only everybody at the club,
you've got to match or better everyone across the country. So, if
you find yourself in the upper echelons of a Sims ranking list (or
even heading it) I think you can justifiably feel a sense of some
achievement. Unlike, of course, my partner from the first
paragraph, who, by the time we'd finished playing, wasn't feeling
anything at all.
Now, on to 'best practices'. The last thing that I'm going to do is start
telling clubs how to run their own events, including Sims heats.
That would be plain wrong - but it can't be just me who thinks
there's an answer to the most common complaint: 'The cards
always favour the same direction.' (They don't, as the hands are a
complete set of computer-dealt hands not a manufactured set.)
Play a one-winner movement, either by arrow-switching or dusting
off the Howell cards! Eliminate perceived bias at one fell swoop!
The other obvious step is to draw for position. A lot of clubs have
members who have 'favourite chairs' or 'always sit North-South'.
How about, just on Sims nights, forgetting that? It's a National
Competition, after all, so why should club-exclusive preferences
hold sway (obviously this doesn't apply to people who have genuine
reasons for being stationary)? I don't think I'm being particularly
un reasonable by suggesting that for a special session a club is
entitled to request that members break their habits. It would make
all the difference. So, there's the answer. If you think your club
would benefit from this, tell them - I'm sure they'll listen, and the
end result will be a much more satisfactory evening for all.
New Prize Structure
Finally, don't forget that we have a new prize structure, as well, which
will benefit both players and clubs. Details can be found here:
http://www.ebu.co.uk/sims-prizes. If you have not played in a Sim
Pairs before, you might discover that if the event is nicely run and
everybody enters into the spirit of things (remember: you're playing
in two competitions at the same time) it can all be rather jolly. r
Sim Issues by Ian Payn
SIM PAIRS CALENDAR TO APRIL 2015
EBU Autumn Sim Pairs Mon 8th to Fri 12th September 2014 Proceeds will go to the new charity, English Bridge Education & Development
British Sim Pairs - Autumn Pairs Mon 6th to Fri 10th October 2014
British Sim Pairs - Winter Pairs Mon 5th to Fri 9th January 2015
Bridge England Sim Pairs Tue 3rd to Wed 4th February 2015 The event is held to raise funds to aid performance in our international
teams and supports all teams (Open, Women, Seniors and Juniors)
British Sim Pairs - Spring Pairs Tue 7th to Mon 13th April 2015
(No event on Mon 6th, due to the Bank Holiday)
The new prize structure was published on page 29 of the February 2014 issue of English Bridge