A Backgammon Swiss: Spectacle

This post will complete the FEPS analysis of my recent backgammon tourney, run according to the Swiss system, by considering the fourth goal of tournament design: spectacle. Spectacle is not the glory of the Swiss system.

Whatever its other virtues and defects, the Swiss system is not good at catering to the needs of spectators. It is not good at producing high-stakes loser-goes-home matches. And  it is not even good at producing a clear winner. There are good reasons why the Swiss system is all but unknown in professional sports.

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A Backgammon Swiss: Efficiency

Continuing with the FEPS analysis that compares the 32-player Swiss backgammon tourney I ran on Saturday with a format commonly used in past events. Now let’s consider how the two compare in the item of efficiency. There are two main aspects of efficiency to consider: the time needed to run the tourney, and the time and attention of the tournament director.

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A Backgammon Swiss: Participation

Last weekend I ran a 32-player backgammon tourney using true Swiss system pairings rather than the more usual bracketed elimination format.

There is much to consider in choosing between the two styles. In this post, I’ll consider the most obvious differences from the standpoint of participation.

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A Padel League

A reader asked for advice about how to run a league for Padel – a racquet sport that’s somewhat akin to tennis or squash. He expects to have about 30 teams, and wants to play the league in three months, at one match per week for each player.

First, a side observation about the request. I find that I’m more likely to be asked about games and sports I haven’t heard of than about the ones that I’m already familiar with. Perhaps that’s because the well-established sports also have established traditions for how their tourneys are run. It’s the new sports, or at least the less common ones, for which organizers seek the help of the likes of tourneygeek. And so it’s these less common sports that are likely to generate interesting new ideas about how tourneys should be run.

The reader suggested a creative format: Start with a group stage, with groups of four. Then use the group stage to seed a double-elimination bracket thus: group winners go to round 2 of the upper bracket; group runners-up go to round 1 of the upper bracket; third-place teams go to round 2 of the lower bracket; and fourth-place teams go to round 1 of the lower bracket. Will this work? Is there a better way?

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Into Darkest Switzerland

It is time, finally, to venture with gun and camera into the heart of darkness – making Swiss pairings. As our trusty native guide, we’ll use Bwana USCF – Chapter 2 of the USCF Official Rules of Chess (7th edition). Chess players have been running Swiss tournaments for years, so darkest Switzerland holds no terror for Bwana USCF. Still, we must be alert to the possibility the Bwana USCF will try to lead us into occult rituals peculiar to the needs of Chess.

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