There was one eye-catching feature of the small backgammon tourney we discussed yesterday. That was that it included only a partial last chance. Why would anyone run a partial last chance? Presumably, it’s because there isn’t enough time to run a full one. Let’s take a closer look at that issue.
The structure for the consolation was a standard shift for tourneys of that size: AB.C.D.|.|. What was odd was that the last chance was structured H.I.|. Now, the E round doesn’t drop because the loser of the main final gets paid. But what happened to the eight F and six G drops? They just didn’t happen, which means that 14 of the 20 players ordinarily eligible for a last chance didn’t get one.
I ran this structure through my simulator, looking particularly for flow. My simulation timings are only approximate, but they’re still pretty suggestive of the way the tourney flows. Here are the average start times for the last match to start in each round.
The main bracket is rounds A, B, C, D, and E, which start at noon, 1:47, 3:38, 5:24, and 6:58, respectively. The consolation bracket consists of rounds F, G, H, I, and J, which start at 3:23, 5:12, 6:58, 8:07, and 9:21. The last chance has only three rounds, K, L, and M, which begin at 8:07, 9:16, and 10:04.
Note that the rounds in the consolation and last chance are a bit closer together. That’s because they’re played to fewer points: seven points in the consolation, and only five in the last chance. But the time savings is modest because the consolation and last chance still have to wait on the longer matches in the main bracket to begin. The last chance doesn’t even begin until the main bracket final is well under way.
What would happen with a full last chance? Let’s construct one, using the method described elsewhere. It could be structured FG.GH.I.|.|. And its five rounds, K, L, M, N, and O, would begin about 6:22, 8:09, 9:19, 10:02, and 10:51. So, though the last chance is two rounds longer, it only plays one round longer.
Even one more hour or so of play may be one too many for a format that’s already taxing the patience of those who do play the last chance. But the limited last chance seems a poor choice. It offers additional play to only 6 of the 18 players who could use a last chance, and those are six players who have already gotten a lot of play. If you want to offer more play to the people who actually want it, better to drop those F’s and G’s too.
Or, better yet, play a Swiss – an idea I’ll return to in the next post.