Player of the Decade

Jeff Meckstroth

As the third race for Player of the Decade winds down, it appears all but certain that Jeff Meckstroth will win it for a third time.

The race measures platinum points, which are awarded only in NABC+ events and in limited amounts in some NABC events. Platinum points were introduced in 1990, along with the Player of the Year race. While Meckstroth has won Player of the Year “only” three times, none of them in the past decade, his consistency year in and year out has made him unbeatable in Player of the Decade. He won about 5000 platinum points in the 1990s and more than 7000 in the 2000s.

The all-time masterpoint leader with almost 90,000 points, Meckstroth has 62 NABC titles and nine world championships.

Meckstroth has won 5802.96 platinum points since the beginning of 2010. While he leads Robert Levin by only a little more than 140 points, Levin would have a hard time catching him this week. They both play on the Nickell team, as do four of the top five leaders in the race.

The next four players down in spots 6 through 9 are all members of the Fleisher team. Even if Fleisher were to have a very good tournament, winning both the Soloway and the Reisinger, that would net each of them 450 platinum points – barely enough to get Eric Greco ahead of Meckstroth if he were to leave San Francisco empty-handed. Greco is 429.41 behind, so adding 450 would put him ahead by 20.59. Clearly, Meckstroth will find more than 20 platinum points somewhere. A “bad tournament” for him would leave him with somewhere around 100.

That leaves Zia Mahmood, in third place and not a member of either the Nickell or Fleisher teams, as the only person with the slimmest of an outside shot. Zia is behind by 192.53, an awful lot of ground to make up in seven days. Zia is playing in the Soloway on Hemant Lall’s team with David Gold, Reese Milner, Roy Welland and Sabine Auken, seeded No. 14.

If both Nickell and Lall were to be knocked out of the Soloway today, in time for team members to enter the Blue Ribbon Pairs tomorrow, a win there would give Zia 190 points – cutting Meckstroth’s lead to 2.53 plus whatever he picked up in the same event.

Zia would need to have a very good tournament while Meckstroth had a very bad one to make up the nearly 200-point gap. It’s almost enough to say Meckstroth has the race locked up.