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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 (A)

Fairness (A) is the fairness of meeting expectations. Regardless of whether a particular practice is equitable (appealing to fairness (B)), or meritocratic (fairness (C)), tourneys are often judged to be unfair because they’re not run the way that people expect them to be run.

Most of the discussion of fairness on tourneygeek concerns fairness (B) or fairness (C). There’s a good reason for that – tourneygeek seeks, where it can, to provide clear answers to questions or whether something is more or less fair, and so tends to concentrate on the two sorts of fairness that are, at least to some extent, quantifiable. Fairness (A), in contrast, is unquantifiable because people’s expectations tend to be qualitative rather than quantitative. Thus disputes about fairness (A) can rarely be definitively resolved.

But this does not mean that fairness (A) is unimportant, or that there’s nothing sensible to say about why some fairness (A) claims are stronger than others.

The strength or weakness of a fairness (A) argument depends on two factors: the source of the expectation, and the degree to which that expectation is relied upon. Considering the source goes to whether the expectation is reasonable, and considering the degree of reliance goes to whether the expectation is consequential.

The next two posts will work through an example to show how considerations of source and reliance might help us assess the strength of a fairness claim in a particular context.

 

 

 

Recharge Redux

From time to time I look back at old posts. Recently I looked at my pair of posts on the issue of recharge rounds, particularly the ones that require the winner of a “losers bracket” to defeat the winner of the “winners bracket” twice in order to win the overall championship.

Here I considered recharge in terms of efficiency, participation, and spectacle, and concluded that none of those three considerations really supported the practice of including a recharge round. But here I did some simulations to see if recharges contributed in a positive way to fairness, especially fairness (C). I concluded, with some surprise, that fairness was enhanced by the use of a recharge round.

But in looking back at that post, I’m struck by the fact that I did all of the simulation work on 16 brackets. A 16 bracket is the smallest bracket that’s capable of being shifted. Perhaps the results would have been different if I’d used a larger bracket, where the number of additional rounds played by players coming up through the losers bracket is greater. So I re-did the experiment, recently, using 64 brackets rather than 16s. And, sure enough, the results are somewhat different.

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Where the Bodies are Buried

I recently revised the A drops on my 48 double elimination bracket so that the byes would be more evenly distributed when the bracket was run with only 40 entrants.

To validate the change, I’ve run extensive simulations, and reported the results in a form I haven’t used for a while: the analyzed bracket. It was an interesting exercise, and one that shows how errors of this kind can easily go undetected. The analyzed bracket does, indeed, show the problem, but it’s subtle enough that it would be easy to overlook if you didn’t know where it might lurk.

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An Improved 48 Bracket

I’m occasionally asked to draw brackets for upcoming backgammon tourneys, and one of the popular requests is for a 48 bracket – that seems to be the size of the field fairly often these days.

On my printable brackets page, I’ve supplied only brackets for the powers of two, with the idea that an in-between bracket like a 48 is really just a 64 with 16 fewer lines, so that you can run the tourney just fine by using the seeding lines on the 64 to allocate byes to the opponents of the lines seeded 49 to 64.

Some have complained, however, about the way that the 48 brackets I’ve supplied play. Specifically, they dislike the fact that some players get a second bye in the lower bracket before others have gotten a first bye anywhere. This is a valid objection, and one that I’ve  taken too long to address. But I’ve done so now, and posted a 48 to the printable brackets page that’s better than the ones I’ve been supplying in spreading the byes more evenly. Continue reading “An Improved 48 Bracket”

A Social Swiss, Part II

Now to complete the design of my friend’s tennis league. In the first post, we’d gotten as far as showing how the partnerships should be formed. Now we need to determine who plays who in the actual matches, taking into account a preference for “interesting” matches.

In an earlier post, the quality my friend calls “interestingness” was called “competitiveness”, and discussed briefly here. In that post, I speculated that the only format that seemed particularly designed to enhance competitiveness was the Swiss system. That led me, in an effort to meet my friend’s preferences, to incorporate the pairing logic of the Swiss system into the design for his tennis league.

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Extreme Sorting: the Paralympics

As discussed in the last post, there are some difficult problems associated with deciding what players are entitled to participate in what events. Perhaps it will comfort organizers who are wrestling with such problems to consider a context in which the sorting problem is exceptionally complex and difficult: the Paralympic Games.

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Sorting Out the Entrants

In my friend’s tennis league, the players prefer “interesting” matches, which in this context means matches between teams of roughly equal skill. In the last post, I showed how I generated partnerships, but not matches, for the league. Presently, I’ll discuss how the matches are done, which will also explain why I’m calling this format a “social Swiss”. But first it’s worth discussing the idea of interesting matches in general.

A concern for interesting matches is most common when choosing which players or teams are eligible to enter an event. The tournament will generate more interesting matches if the range of skills among the entrants is small.

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