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A Guide to Tourneygeek

Tourneygeek grows in a haphazard fashion. For me, that’s what makes it fun to write – I can speculate when I’m feeling speculative, analyze when I’m feeling analytical, draw new brackets when I’m feeling (slightly) artistic, or add new features to my tournament simulator when I’m feeling geeky.

But readers can be forgiven for not sharing my mood of the moment. So in this post, I try explain how the various threads – theory, practice, individual games, resources, and geekery – have developed, and show how to follow the main themes from post to post.

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Fairness ($), Part II

The new tournament simulator is nearing usability, and there will be some significant results very soon, I hope.

In the meantime, I have progress to report on improving on one of the chief fairness metrics. Fairness (C) is defined, qualitatively, as the degree to which a tourney design rewards superior performance. But the method heretofore used to measure this quality can be criticized as too narrowly focused on the overall winner of the tournament. In this post, I’ll propose an extension of the metric that considers not just the overall winner, but every place for which there is prize money.

The redefined fairness (C) metric will be useful not only for comparing the fairness of particular tournament designs, but also for determining the payouts themselves.

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Big Brackets

I”ve added a few brackets to the printable brackets page, including some for 64- and 128-team tourneys. I’ve also added guides in the notation from the last post identifying the structure for the brackets that were already there, and adopted a naming convention for new printable brackets whereby the name of the file itself is a variant of the notation.

The lowers for these big tournaments are provided mostly as a curiosity, as it’s uncommon for a double-elimination or consolation format to be used on a field so large. But there are, from time to time, practical uses for big brackets.

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A Notation for Bracket Structure

Tourneygeek has been quiet for a while, but that is not (or at least not mostly) because I’ve been idle. The new simulator is nearly ready to run, and there should soon be plenty of results to report. I hope these will include substantial progress on such matters as a coefficient of competitiveness, fairness (D), and new measures of efficiency based on modeling playing time.

In the meantime, I’ve been coding several basic tournament designs for the new simulator format. In the course of this, I’ve developed a shorthand way of describing lower brackets that is handy for showing how they are (or are not) shifted.

The idea is to show how the drops from the rounds in the bracket above are distributed among the rounds in the bracket receiving the drops.

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We’ll Send a Car for You

I remember watching some television show, so many years ago that I cannot hope to remember the details or even the name of the show, that had one line of dialog that has stuck with me.

A man has gone to Las Vegas ready to become wealthy by using a secret betting system he’s devised. Things go badly. He’s broke and broken, and the casino has cut off his credit – it’s time for him to quit. He’s granted an interview with the casino manager, and complains that they’re kicking him out they’re afraid of him, because he’s got a system! Then comes the line I remember:

If we’d known you had a system, we’d have sent a car for you.

This post builds on yesterday’s post, Card Sense, by discussing gambling systems: the ones that will, indeed, get you kicked out of a casino, and the ones that may inspire them to send a car for you.

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Card Sense

People who are good at playing one game are often good at others. In particular, there seems to be a general ability, sometimes called “card sense”, that seems to enable a player who is good at one card game to excel at other card games.

Card games may have this distinctive skill because of the way that almost all card games, and very few other games, incorporate the element of chance.

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A Little Round Robin

Today a small example of practical tournament administration.

The Indiana Challenge Cup is contested by three teams of six players from each of the three backgammon clubs in Indiana. The players are ranked, within the team, in order of their standing in the local club. They’re put into three pools, one with the first and second ranked players, another with the thirds and fourths, and the last with the fifths and sixths. A round robin is played within each pool (except that players from the same club don’t play each other), and the club championship is determined by the overall number of wins by the members of each club.

Last year, as it happened, the ICC suffered from one of the common maladies of round robin tournaments – the ambiguous result. At the end of the four rounds, the scores were 12-12-12, so that tiebreakers needed to be applied. One team was eliminated on the basis of the record of their first-ranked player, and the other two teams had a doubles playoff round.

My club hosts the tournament this year, and I’ve put some thought into the preparation.

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