IFPA Op-Ed: from Bob Matthews

The two most asked about "how many" questions for this year are, "how many points will it take to make the top 250 for the $tern Rewards program?" and "how many points will it take to qualify for next year's IFPA?"
We'll get to that shortly. First, here's a look at what's behind the answers.
Two obvious measures of the success of the IFPA – WPPR program are the Sharp[e] increase in the number of ranked players and in the number of events. But there's another side to the story, one that affects players with aspirations to higher rankings. This is … how many WPPR points does it take to reach a specific goal? As the number of events has increased, many players are entering more tournaments than before, and collecting more points than they used to. In addition, with all the new players, more people are competing with you for those points in each event. What's it all mean?
Most of the big changes in "how many points does it take to …" have taken place in the past few years. The changes are more pronounced the further down the rankings you look, largely because here, fewer players have actually had 15 active events in the last 3 years to be counted until recently. Change is slowest at the top, since most of the top players have been attending several events each year for many years. Also, since the rankings take only a player's top 15 results, the point total for a top player won't change as much when they add one more event, since they're generally replacing a good result with a slightly better one. In the middle ranks, though, one more good result is likely replacing a result of 3 points or fewer, and so has more impact. This is even more true because the point gap between positions is much smaller as you go down the chart. Right now, if you're in the top 50 and add 10 points, you'd typically move up 2-5 spots in the ranks; in some cases, none at all. If you're #100 and add 10, that's good for 10-12 spots. At #250, 10 points more is good for a jump of 20-25 positions.
While the points needed for any given goal are still increasing, the pace has slowed in 2012 for most goals. [See the table below.]
Comparison of Ranking Points for positions post-PAPA:
Rank Aug 2012 Aug 2011 Sep 2010 Sep 2009
1 749 677 732 732
10 484 452 428 382
25 352 337 273 217
64 218 223 165 126
100 173 150 124 95
250 92 70    

So, let's get to the two specific questions we posed at the beginning. The Stern question is the easier of the two to answer. Right now, the cutoff for position #250 is at about 92 WPPR points. The points needed to be in the top 250 have still been rising at a steady pace this year, and we'd project that it will be close to 100 by year end. So, if you want to make the top 250, plan on having at least 100 points as of then. That's no guarantee, of course; we don't know what players will do in the next few months, but we do expect the cutoff to continue to rise. Also, in figuring out, "am I there yet," remember that any points you earned in the latter part of past years still have to "decay." That may reduce your total to something less than what it is now. Remember that once results become more than one year old, they are reduced to 75% value; to 50% after two years; and to 0% after three years. So, if you earned 20 points at an event in November of 2011, that result will only be worth 15 points on 1/1/2013 when it counts towards Stern and IFPA.

Let's do an example, using data for Joe Generic, who's now in 264th place, just outside the Stern cut number.
8/28/2012   <– Current Date            
Date Points Value Now Event Rank   Count Now Value 1/1/13 Event Rank 1/1/13   Count 1/1/13
8/1/2012 15 15 1   Yes 15 1   Yes
6/1/2012 8 8 4   Yes 8 4   Yes
4/1/2012 5 5 7   Yes 5 7   Yes
3/1/2012 6 6 5   Yes 6 5   Yes
10/1/2011 11 11 2   Yes 8.25 3   Yes
8/1/2011 3 2.25 14   Yes 2.25 14   Yes
7/1/2011 5 3.75 10   Yes 3.75 10   Yes
6/1/2011 4 3 12   Yes 3 12   Yes
5/1/2011 13 9.75 3   Yes 9.75 2   Yes
3/1/2011 5 3.75 10   Yes 3.75 10   Yes
10/1/2010 2 1.5 16   No 1 16   No
8/1/2010 10 5 7   Yes 5 7   Yes
7/1/2010 12 6 5   Yes 6 5   Yes
6/1/2010 3 1.5 16   No 1.5 15   Yes
4/1/2010 9 4.5 9   Yes 4.5 9   Yes
3/1/2010 6 3 12   Yes 3 12   Yes
11/1/2009 1 0.5 18   No 0 17   No
10/1/2009 4 2 15   Yes 0 17   No
Total of top 15 Events 88.00       84.75      
If the cutoff remains at 92 points, Joe remains out of the hunt, of course. Joe also needs to play again just to offset the decay on his 10/1/2011 result. Say Joe plays on 10/1/2012, and gets 10 WPPR points. For the year-end calculation, that will replace his then-15th-rated score of 1.5 from 6/1/10, raising his total to 93.25. That's good enough right now, but Joe probably still needs one more good result to get in. If Joe plays again on 11/1/2012 and gets 9 points then, that result will replace the 14th-rated score of 2.25 from 8/1/10, giving Joe a new total of 100 points. That's got a much better chance. Of course, if Joe gets more points in the 10/1/12 event, he may not need the other event on 11/1/12 to get in. Also, if the final cutoff is 95 or 97 points instead of 100, Joe needs fewer total points the rest of this year to get in. Note that the 6/1/2010 is not one of Joe's top 15 results now, but becomes one as of 1/1/2013 because of the decay of the 10/1/2009 event result.
The IFPA 10 question is harder to answer. It will probably take around 170 points, but it depends on a lot of things.  As with the Top 250 cut line, it's affected by who earns what the rest of the year and whose points decay how much between now and then.  The added complication here is, how many IFPA-eligible players will choose to attend or not attend IFPA 10 in Frankfurt?  History shows that people are more likely to attend an IFPA when it's on the same continent they are [~80%], and less likely when it’s overseas [under 30%].  So now, the mix of players in the top 100-150 that are from North America vs. Europe vs. elsewhere comes into play.  This shifts back and forth during the year, in part because more of the high-value European events take place later in the year than U.S. events, so the U.S. mix in the ranks rises through PAPA, then drops through New Year's.
Based on past non-U.S.-located IFPA events and the projected mix of countries of origin of the players, we project that the cutoff position may be around a rank of 110 to 115. Last year, low person in on rank had just under 140 points; right now, at rank 110, the cutoff would be 163 points. Given the current WPPR point trends, position #110 is likely to be at least 170 by year end. We don't suggest cutting it that close, of course. If everyone now eligible were to choose to attend, it would take around 300 points to get in, so the further you are above 170, the better your chances.
Bottom line: if you want to be eligible for the $tern Rewards program or to attend IFPA 10 near Frankfurt next year, get out there and win some points! And good luck to you all!


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