Hello folks! This is Buster Brackets, coming at you live and direct from the Geekery Dome in beautiful Bloomington, Indiana, USA, site of this year’s hottest contest: the Miss FOTA 32 Fairness Pageant. Alongside me is the man who always has his ear to the ground, Worm Tourney. How’s it going, Worm?
I couldn’t be more pumped, Buster! We’re about to see some of the world’s fairest brackets going head to head for the FOTA 32 crown. You ready to have some fun, fella?
You bet, Worm, and I know that dozens of tourneygeeks all over the world are as excited as we are. They’ll be one the edge of their seats from Malta to Maryland to see who carries off the crown. While we’re waiting for the action to start, let’s talk about some of the controversial new ground rules that the IATg directors have come up with.
There’s a lot in those rules to absorb, Buster.
First, a mention of some of the things we won’t be seeing under the new format. Call me an old fairness (A) guy, Wormy, but I’m going to miss some of the events we’ve seen in pageants past.
I’m with you there, Buster. I won’t miss hearing the brackets nattering on about world peace, and I don’t really care whether or not they can play the harpsichord. But I’m going to miss seeing them in swimsuits. Nowadays you can’t even tell some Dolly that she’s got a nicely balanced F round without getting ordered by the HR department to show up for sensitivity training.
The world’s moved on, Wormy, and we’ve got to move with it. So let’s focus on the action we will see. What stands out for you?
It’s got to be the fairness (B) test, Buster. They didn’t used to care about fairness (B), and that allowed some pretty racy brackets to do well. I expected we’d see some kind of fairness (B) test, but I think the IATg may be overreacting to set the bar at just 1.00.
That’s going to put the kibosh on a lot of the tricks we saw used by the Miss FOTA 8 contestants, Worm. There’s no rule against seeding, for example, but I can’t see how any seeded bracket could possibly come up with a an f(b:A) under the 1.00 limit. And forget about earned byes. We’re going to see a lot of really conventional brackets.
The other thing to watch out for, Buster, is the time limit. Each bracket has to play out in just 500 minutes. That’s enough time for some pretty fancy bracketing, I expect, but you can bet that the winners are going to be pushing that limit pretty hard to get the last few points of fairness.
It is long enough for a second bracket, Wormy?
It is, Buster, but here’s where it gets interesting. There are some line effects in shifted second brackets that may be hard to squeeze in under 1.00. You see, some quadrants may get C drops but no D drops, while others get D drops but no C drops. That’s going to unsteady the lines a little. Not much, but it may not have to be much to nudge a bracket over the 1.00 limit.
Are you saying that we won’t be seeing any shifted brackets, Worm?
No, I’m not. I know that some shifted brackets will try to qualify – I just don’t know whether they’ll be able to pull it off. And even some unshifted brackets may have a hard time – they’ll run slower and less fair without the shift that they’re used to.
So a third bracket is out of the question?
Never say never, Buster. We just don’t know what’s possible under the new rules – we may see some triple eliminations, and we may not. And, on the other side, I expect to see at least a few single elimination brackets trying to give it a go.
Let me ask you a question about the time limit, Worm. It looks to me like there’s a loophole. The final round has to start within 500 minutes, but there’s nothing about when it’s got to end. Doesn’t that mean that a bracket can be best of 1001 games in the final and still meet the time limit.
It does indeed, Buster, and that ‘s a problem. So there’s a gentleman’s agreement that no final match can be more than best of nine games. There’s also an agreement, by the way, that no simulation run longer than a million trials will be allowable.
How do you suppose they overlooked the issue about the last round?
A little birdie told me that it’s because of a problem with the simulator, Buster. It seems that the simulator doesn’t actually record the end time for the tourney as a whole, just when each round starts. And there’s another bug in the flow part of the simulator – apparently it’s pretty good at timing a single trial, but not so good at averaging them. The IATg isn’t talking about this for the record, but the same little birdie told me that they’re just going to ignore the bug and accept whatever timing the program comes up with.
What about recharges, Worm? Do you think we’ll be seeing any?
It’s hard to say, Buster. With luck way up at 3.0 the recharge bonus may be small, though I don’t think it will be negative. But if a bracket has a recharge round, it’s the recharge that will become the last round that’s got the free best-of-nine going for it, and it seems a shame to waste that on a recharge. Also, they’re going to have to find the time for that recharge somewhere else, so some other part of the bracket is going to have to suffer. So I just don’t know about recharges.
I understand the Swiss are boycotting the competition. Why is that?
It’s not a boycott, Buster, the Swiss wanted to come. But the simulator just can’t handle a Swiss system tourney, or any other un-bracketed format, for that matter. So the Swiss have been told to stay home. And they’ll be nothing in the way of a round robin, either.
Fascinating, Wormy! I have a million other questions, but they’ll have to wait because the fun is about to start!