This blog provides supplementary thoughts and ideas to the site. If you haven't seen the main site, there is a lot there including the Martel and Rodwell interviews, photos, and articles. This blog is focused on advancing bridge theory by discussing the application of new ideas. All original content is copyright 2009 Glen Ashton.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Bridge Numbers

I've seen a request for some metrics recently, and here's my shot at it.

Note if you want to object to any of these, post a comment, but please give a source or argument for your counter-figure.

First, players who sign on to BBO at least once a year: 1M

We will now use this figure to calculate all other percentages given below, in these approximate metrics:

Players who sign on the BBO at least once a week: 250K (25%)
Players who sign on the BBO at least once a day: 100K (10%)
Number of specs watching a very popular vugraph: 5K (0.5%)
Number of specs watching a normal vugraph: 500 (0.05%)
Number of specs watching a limited-interest vugraph: 100 (0.01%)
Number of paid/requested copies of the ACBL Bulletin: 140K (14%)
Number of paid/requested copies of The Bridge World: 6K (0.6%)
Number of copies sold for an extremely popular bridge book: 100K (10%)
Number of copies for a bridge bestseller: 20K (2%)
Number of copies for a bridge book by a well-known author: 3K (0.3%)
Number of copies for a well-received book by a relatively unknown author: 1K (0.1%)
Number of copies for a bridge "niche market" book: 250-750 (0.025%-0.075%)
Typical number of views of a posting on BBO forums: 100 (0.01%)
Number of active or semi-active authors on 78 (0.0078%)
Number of unique views on a new web site/blog with strong content: 1K (0.1%)
Estimated* viewers of a new bridge blog: 50 (0.005%)

* that is with limited promotion: tell a few friends, warn a few enemies, post a link on etc.

How could you improve that last figure if you are starting a bridge blog?

You could use the "big event" or controversy to drive viewers to your blog. For example, your very first blog post could start:

Open Letter to Bobby Wolff
You, Sir, are a dinosaur. And I don't mean that in the good sense. …

Post a few links to this and now you have 500 viewers and 50 comments.

This then drops off to 50 viewers and a single comment for the second post ("how not leading my suit cost us sixth place at the sectional", and drops off one partner too).

Using a proven method of other blogs in non-bridge markets, you could start off as the "secret expert!", a "world class top level very successful big money superstar professional" giving out "secrets" in this "top secret" blog.

You could tell them that Fantoni-Nunes will be dropped again from the Italian team (actually my next post will speculate about this - don't you love teasers - "Is an Armed Robber waiting in your closet? Watch the 11 o'clock news tonight!" Feel like sleeping and missing our news now?)

Future posts could cover the "secret" methods of the pros - the whirlwind declarer and the sominex coup.

Then you could add nasty gossip dashed with innuendo: "guess which pro has been sharing a hotel room with another pro, and this is not pro-position 8!" (this produces 85 comments, many of them not nice to you - "dear mr. secret policeman …")

You could easily ramp up to 2000+ viewers quickly, but you have to go into the bridge witness protection program.

What about bridge systems and conventions metrics?

Number of people who will adopt your bridge convention if it doesn't go mainstream: 0-300 (0.0%-0.03%)
Number of people who will adopt your bridge system: 0-50 (0.0%-0.005%)
Of course there are a random number that will take a system and modify it into their own approach. Soon you are seeing systems such as the Biking Club, the Baltic version of the Viking Club.

How can you get your convention to go mainstream?

Let's take a convention of mine that meets the main characteristics (see Oct 21 post): simple, easy to adopt, significantly better.

Context: Playing 1XYZ (or as the ACBL miscalls it "two-way new minor forcing") over opener's 1NT rebid, 2C puppets to 2D, and now responder passes with a D signoff, or bids with an invitational hand.

Convention: If playing 1XYZ, the sequence 1any-1M;-1NT-2C;-2D-3NT will show opener 5 in responder's M (major), and offer opener the choice of game (pass 3NT or bid 4M).

Advantages: Non-disclosure of opener's hand, clean sequences.

How could one get this convention dumped into the mainstream? First one could write for the Bridge World (0.6%), and even though the article will be placed near the back of the magazine, many of the readers (not including Larry Cohen who will skip the article) will give the idea serious thought. One could write for the ACBL Bulletin (14%) Bidding Lab column, but most readers will either skip over the article or don't care for it.

One could attempt to post your thoughts to places like and BBO Forums (0.01%), win a few flame wars, and try to get some interest there. You could get it posted on a web site - number of google hits to the excellent bridge web site and/or "weak two archive": 50.

Something that can help is "branding" the convention.

One could call the convention the "Wolf 3NT" - notice when this it said verbally, one might think it is a convention played by or endorsed by a dinosaur.

One could write a book of these conventions (use the Wolf Pack to sink your opponents), selling 250-1000 copies (0.025%-0.1%): people tend to take ideas seriously if found in a book, compared to finding them roaming loose on a web page or blog.

One's best hope for a convention is that it is picked up by one or more bridge superstars. This works like a product placement ad - for example in the November Bridge World Brazilians Branco-Brenner are seen using "Gawrys Third Suit" (found in WJ2005 - even though it is the fourth suit, it's called Third Suit), something BridgeMatters discussed years ago here:

Thus this convention now has a lot going for it:

- Good branding
- Used by bridge superstars
- Mentioned in the leading bridge magazine

I expect that Gawrys 3rd suit will grow in popularity. If only that could happen for Wolf 3NT - perhaps I could call it Wolf 359 and pick up all the Star Trek fans.


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