Each team (Team Europe & Team USA) has twelve players and a non-playing captain, as in the Ryder Cup golf match. For the bridge, nobody sits out so there are always six tables in play: three with Europe sitting North-South (E1-3) and three with USA North-South (U1-3). There are three separate events: Pairs, Teams, and Individual.
Pairs: Each of the six pairs on Team Europe is drawn to compare with a particular pair on Team USA. They will meet each of the other five pairs of the opposing team but not the pair with whom they compare, who always sit in the corresponding seats at the matching table. All five sets of the pairs will take place on Monday.
Teams: The captain puts the six pairs into three teams. The team-mates of a pair sitting North-South sit East-West at the matching table. They meet each of the 3 opposing teams for two sets. This takes all Tuesday and half Wednesday.
Individual: Each player on Team Europe is drawn to compare with a particular player on Team USA. A player does not meet the player with whom he or she compares. That player will always be in the same seat at the corresponding table. Each player partners the 11 other members of his team for one short set, meeting various combinations of the opposing team. In every case the four individuals at one table have their corresponding opponent sitting in the same seat at the matching table. Four sets will be played on Wednesday afternoon and the remainder on Thursday.
In Louisville one commentator called the scoring more difficult to comprehend than Special Relativity. Now, with two small changes* and a clearer way of describing what is going on, all should become understandable (I hope!). On every deal a table compares only with the matching table where the corresponding players are seated. Just as with one hole of golf, the score on the deal is compared at the two tables and recorded as win, lose or draw for Europe or USA (bridge-players call this point-a-board scoring).
Each set of deals makes a match, also recorded as win, lose or draw for Europe or USA. As with the golf, the margin of the win in the match is irrelevant. As there are three pairs of tables comparing, every set has three match results.
In the Individual each set is of just six deals. To avoid half points each match has 2 Buffett points at stake (2 for a win, 1 for a draw) i.e. for 11 sets with 3 matches in each set the total number of Buffett points at stake is 66. As the Pairs (11 deals per set) and Teams (12 deals per set) are longer, 4 Buffett points are at stake in each set. For the Pairs there are 5 sets, 3 matches per set, and 4 points per match, so 60 points at stake. For the Teams, there are 6 sets (covering a day and a half), 3 matches per set and 4 points per match, so 72 Buffett points at stake.
The total of Buffett points over four days is 198. When a team reaches 100 points, it has won the Trophy. If the scores are tied on 99 each, Europe, who won the trophy in Louisville, will retain it.
* The changes are i) the match awards are half those in Louisville and ii) the team award is rounded up to avoid the half-points seen in Louisville.
Bridge Base Online
The Buffett Cup is broadcast live on Bridge Base Online, which provides an opportunity for spectators to follow the action in all of the matches as they happen.