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Handicap Games

Leveling the playing field in "Section A"

We have upgraded our weekday morning section "A" to a handicap game which will make the section more approachable, feel more mixed and help it grow.  We are following in the footsteps of what Honors in NYC and BAND in Dallas  have been doing successfully for the past two years.

We recognize that all bridge players are not of equal experience and ability. As this section may have experts playing against advanced beginners, the former will almost always do better than the latter. A handicap system is a way of leveling the playing field such that players of all standards can play against each other as if they were of equal ability.


In some sports, such as golf, players regard their handicap as a measure of form and aim to improve on it.  Maybe in bridge, after you become a Life Master, becoming a scratch player may be the new goal?!  


Based on a player's past performance and average results, a handicap of scratch to 3 points per board is assessed and applied. Note: depending on the strength of your partnership on any particular day, your collective handicap may increase or decrease accordingly, therefore the handicap you got yesterday, may not be the same as the one you get today.  Similarly, as a partnership shows growth and gains experience, their handicap will be reduced.  

Handicaps are not be based on a partnership's total masterpoints, but rather their past recorded performance and results.

How does this change the results and masterpoint awards?  It improves things for everyone!

In a regular game, with an A, B and C stratum, the C pairs are protected, from A or B pairs taking all the masterpoints, but if they played an exceptional game, a C or B pair could take away masterpoints from A pairs, whose awards are not protected.  On the contrary, in a handicap game, because all of the players are "leveled out", there isn't protection by strata.  It is anyone's game.


To simplify it, imagine that there are six possible masterpoint awards at the end of a game.  

In a regular game, there would be few awards for A pairs, few for B pairs and few for C pairs.  An amazing game could end up with all the masterpoint awards going to B and C pairs. A pairs are not guaranteed a placement award, but B and C pairs are guaranteed at least a section top award within their "protected" category.  

In a handicap game, because everyone has been "equalized", if there were the same potential masterpoint awards, they could go to the top performers, regardless of A, B, or C category.  In theory, all the awards could go all to the A pairs...or to all the B pairs... or to all the C pairs.  

Handicap Guidelines


The following handicap scale is an estimate of what to expect based on your "strata assessment".  This scale is a guideline and it should be noted that the"strength of field" may cause a director to increase or decrease handicaps accordingly. Note: a pair that is not a regular, or has a small past record of play at the Sagamore, will automatically be given a handicap based only on their current masterpoints until they have played with us more regularly and or program can formulate the appropriate handicap, unless we have some knowledge of their expected skill.

Partnerships       Handicap

      X / X                 scratch

     X / A                 scratch

     A / A                 scratch

     A / B                     .5

     A / C                      1

     B / B                      1

     B / C                      2

     C / C                      3

What do we consider X, A ,B or C?

Players who are currently considered by their peers as expert players and the finest players in this section, including teachers suited for any level of instruction, are considered an "X handicap" or SCRATCH players.  This includes any player who has won a national or international title, regardless of their masterpoint rating or years of experience.  

Players who are excellent both in experience and past results, who would be an excellent choice "seed" player for this section, and/or are currently considered by their peers as solid, knowledgable players are considered an "A handicap".  This shall include any teaching professional that preps players for regional or higher events or teaches other "A or B handicap" players in this section. 

Players who are good both in experience and past results, and/or are currently considered by their peers as promising players in this section will be considered a "B handicap". Teaching professionals that teach "C handicap" players and rank beginners in this section, will also be ranked as a "B handicap".   

Players who are are relatively new to playing in this section, have the least experience compared to others in the field they are competing in, and/or are not a Life Master will be considered a "C handicap" when playing in this section, even if they are ranked A or B players when playing in other sections.  No teaching professional can be a "C handicap".  

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