Goodbye Columbus

The design problem that’s been the focus of the last several posts is for the monthly backgammon tourney of the Columbus Backgammon Club, directed by Chris Yep. Chris started by sending a rather innocent-sounding question: should be adopt a shifted bracket for his main-and-consolation event?

Several days and more than sixty simulation runs later, we have an answer: No.

But in the course of finding that answer, we explored a number of issues, and put a finer edge on the bracket he will run. He’s reallocated the prize pool, a bit, and found that he can add to the length of one of the rounds, improving fairness, at a minimal cost in the time needed to run the event. Here are the analyzed brackets for the design with those adjustments: columbus1, and columbus2.

What Chris didn’t realize going into the project is how many moving parts there are to the design of a simple tourney. But he was ready to engage with all of them. Like many directors, I think Chris is used to hearing a lot of objections from his players, and he wants to have an answer for every one of them. I wish him luck.

I learned some things, too, and have a number of things I think I need to look into.

I very much enjoy working through real design problems, and encourage readers to send me queries if you think I can be of help. Or even if you think I can’t – I’d love to get a question or two in the form of, “Here’s my design – don’t you agree that it’s the acme of perfection?” I’m willing to bet that even if I can’t convince you that there’s something you need to change, I can at least raise an issue or two that you haven’t thought through completely.

So, keep those design questions coming!


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