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Pair Games Explained

49er PAIRS

This is an otherwise open event, but all players must have fewer than 50 masterpoints.

99er PAIRS

All players must have fewer than 100 masterpoints.

199er PAIRS

All players must have fewer than 200 masterpoints.

299er PAIRS

All pairs consist of players who have fewer than 300 masterpoints.

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BAROMETER PAIRS

The Barometer Pairs game is differentiated from other pair games by the method of distributing the boards and by the scoring.

In the usual type of pair event, all or most of the boards are in play every round. The boards are moved from table to table on a predetermined schedule so that eventually all pairs play most of the boards at some time during the session.

In a Barometer game the boards don’t move from table to table after each round. All pairs play the same boards at the same time throughout the event. The director and his staff will have preduplicated many sets of boards prior to the game. Quite often each table will have its own set of boards. Equally often, two or three tables will share one set of boards. Each set of boards goes out of play after one round.

As a result, all scores for a given set of boards are available as soon as the round is over. The director retrieves the score tickets and enters them immediately. Quite often the scores will be posted for inspection by the players after each round, so each pair knows where it stands at all times. Any given pair’s fortunes will rise and fall as the game goes on—hence the name Barometer.

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BRIDGE+ PAIRS

The Bridge Plus+ Pairs is specially designed for new players who have just finished taking a series of lessons. The bridge is very relaxed. The director, who often also was the teacher, is available to answer questions and offer assistance.

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CHARITY PAIRS

The Charity Pairs is a regular pair game, the only difference being that a minimum amount of the proceeds from the selling of entries is earmarked for a specified charity, such as the ACBL Charity Foundation.

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CONSOLATION PAIRS

Some multi-session pair games have qualifying sessions instead of being play-through. A certain number of pairs in each group qualifies to play in the final session or sessions. Usually a special game for non-qualifiers is run alongside the final. This game, a regular pair game as far as movement and scoring are concerned, is called a consolation.

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FAST PAIRS

In the Fast Pairs game the speed of play is increased by a major factor. Instead of the usual seven to eight minutes allowed to play each board, the game is set up so that boards must be completed in five minutes. Sometimes this permits more boards to be played. More often this type of game results in a game finishing at an earlier time. Such a game often is called a Speedball Pairs.

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FLIGHTED PAIRS

The event is broken down into two or three fields based on masterpoints. Each field competes as a separate event. The flight for which a pair is eligible is determined by the masterpoint holding of the player with more masterpoints. Pairs may opt to play in a higher category but not in a lower one.

Often, but not always, the breakdown is as follows: Flight A—0 to infinity; B—0-750; C—0-300. All pairs are eligible to compete in Flight A. Only pairs with fewer than 750 points (Flight B limit) are eligible to play in Flight B. Only pairs with fewer than 300 points (Flight C limit) are eligible to play in Flight C. Pairs eligible for Flight A may compete in Flight A only. Masterpoints are awarded based on the number of tables in the flight entered added to the number of tables in all lower flights.

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HANDICAP PAIRS

The Handicap Pairs is conducted like an Open Pairs game, but the scoring method is different. The game produces two sets of winners, scratch and handicap. The scratch standings are the same as they would be in an open game. However, the handicap standings are based on the scratch score plus handicaps that are awarded to make the event more evenly contested.

The handicap can be figured in either of two ways. First, it can be based on the players’ ranks (a measure of expertise), with more matchpoints awarded the lower the rank. Second, it can be based on recent performance as compiled either by the director or the computer. Full awards are given for scratch scores that place overall.

Fifty-percent awards are given for handicap scores that place overall. A pair that is eligible for matchpoints, both scratch and handicap, receives the higher of the two awards, not both.

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IMP PAIRS

An IMP Pairs event is played like a regular pair event but is scored in a totally different way. A basic score is set for each board—usually an average of all the scores compiled on that board. Sometimes the top and bottom scores are eliminated before the average is taken so that extreme scores will have less impact on the average. Then your score is algebraically compared with the average and translated into International Matchpoints (IMPs) according to the IMP formula. The IMP scale is printed on the ACBL convention card.

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INSTANT MATCHPOINT PAIRS

A very special method of scoring is used for the Instant Matchpoint Pairs, a rare event—it is run only three times annually by the ACBL.

Identical hands are played throughout the ACBL (throughout the world in the Worldwide Pairs). As soon as the hand is played, the players can learn their Instant Matchpoint result by looking at the traveling score. All hands are scored in advance. A good-looking program book is distributed to all players at the conclusion of the game in which each and every hand is thoroughly analyzed by an expert.

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INTERMEDIATE PAIRS

Only new and inexperienced players are eligible to play in the Intermeditate Pairs. Upper masterpoint limits vary.

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JUNIOR PAIRS

Both members of all pairs must be under 26 years of age in order to compete in the Junior Pairs. It is run along the lines of an Open Pairs.

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LIFE MASTER PAIRS

All contestants must be Life Masters.

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MASTER PAIRS

A Master Pairs is usually run in conjunction with a Non-Master Pairs. An arbitrary lower limit of masterpoints is set, and at least one member of every pair must have at least that number of masterpoints. The game itself is run along the lines of an Open Pairs.

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MIXED PAIRS

All pairs must consist of one man and one woman.

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NEWCOMER PAIRS

A Newcomer Pairs, which is run along the lines of an open pairs, is for new players only. Usually the upper masterpoint limit is 5.

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NON-MASTER PAIRS

A Non-Master Pairs is usually run in conjunction with a Master Pairs. An arbitrary upper limit of masterpoints is set, and both members of every pair must have that number of masterpoints or less. The game itself is run along the lines of an Open Pairs.

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OPEN PAIRS

Any two players can compete as partners—no restrictions of any kind.

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PRO-AM PAIRS

One member of each pair is a top-flight player—the pro, so to speak—and the other is a new or relatively new player—the amateur. The purpose is to enable the new player to meet and get to know some of the better players in the area. The new player also gets the benefit of good advice and tips from his or her “pro.” The game itself is run along the lines of an Open Pairs.

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SENIOR PAIRS

Both members of each pair must be at least 55 years old.

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SIDE GAME SERIES

(The Side Game Series is always a multi-session event. Each session is a regular pair game, and awards are given for each individual session. In addition, there are overall awards for those who perform best during the various sessions. Each individual receives credit for his/her best two scores, and the overall ranking is done from these figures. Each player may play with as many different partners as there are sessions since the overall standings are determined on an individual basis.

The series must consist of three or more sessions. At North American Bridge Championships, session awards are paid in red points, but overall awards incorporating the scores from all sessions are paid in gold points. Masterpoint awards are based on the formula for a two-session open event.

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STRATIFIED PAIRS

This type of game is different from most others because it produces more than one set of winners. The field is divided into two or three strata, each with a predetermined maximum and minimum masterpoint limitation. The tournament directors attempt to seed the field in such a manner that approximately equal numbers of players from each stratum are competing in each direction. During the course of the event, pairs from each strata play pairs from all other strata.

All pairs in the event are ranked when computing the overalls in the top stratum. The pairs in the top stratum are then eliminated, and a second set of rankings is determined for the pairs remaining. Next, the pairs in the second stratum are eliminated, and a third ranking is done for the third stratum. It is possible for pairs in the second and third strata to place in a higher stratum, but pairs in the top stratum are eligible for awards only in the top stratum.

The stratum in which a pair plays is determined by the member of the pair who has the most masterpoints. Unlike flighted events, pairs do not have a choice of strata—they are automatically placed in the lowest stratum for which they are eligible.

The game is run like an ordinary Open Pairs, although the field is carefully seeded so that each Strat A pair plays against all Strat A pairs in the section against which they are competing.

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STRATIFIED BY EXPERTISE PAIRS

A preset limit on masterpoints is set. If both members of the partnership are over the limit, they are in Strat A. If one is over and one is under, they are in Strat B. If both are under, then the pair is in Strat C. Otherwise the conditions are similar to those of regular Stratified Pairs.

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STRATIFLIGHTED PAIRS

The Stratiflighted Pairs is almost identical to a Stratified Pairs with one major difference — the pairs in the top flight compete in a separate event, totally apart from the other strata. The top flight can be divided into two strata if preferred. The remaining pairs play a stratified game handled exactly like a Stratified Pairs. In other words, there are two games, both of which are run along the lines of an open pairs.

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SWISS PAIRS

The Swiss Pairs is run along the lines of a Swiss Teams. Pairs play against each other in short matches, with various methods of scoring determining the winner. As in Swiss Teams, pairs with approximately the same records are paired against each other for subsequent matches. This type of event has not proved popular and is seldom used at tournaments today.

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TEAM OF TWO PAIRS

Both of a team’s two pairs sit in the same direction in different sections in this unusual type of pair event. Eveyone plays a session of matchpoint duplicate—just like a pair game. Of each team’s two results on a board, only the better is entered to determine the matchpoint score. Naturally, the score not used for your team is the “better” score for your opponents. Strategy is necessary to maximize potential matchpoints. To be successful, a team should not play or defend the same contract or make the same play at both tables. In other words, the methods used by the two pairs should be different to increase the possibility of a favorable result. This event is usually sanctioned only at sectionals.

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WOMEN’S PAIRS

All pairs consist of two women. The game is run along the lines of an Open Pairs.

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