A Little Round Robin

Today a small example of practical tournament administration.

The Indiana Challenge Cup is contested by three teams of six players from each of the three backgammon clubs in Indiana. The players are ranked, within the team, in order of their standing in the local club. They’re put into three pools, one with the first and second ranked players, another with the thirds and fourths, and the last with the fifths and sixths. A round robin is played within each pool (except that players from the same club don’t play each other), and the club championship is determined by the overall number of wins by the members of each club.

Last year, as it happened, the ICC suffered from one of the common maladies of round robin tournaments – the ambiguous result. At the end of the four rounds, the scores were 12-12-12, so that tiebreakers needed to be applied. One team was eliminated on the basis of the record of their first-ranked player, and the other two teams had a doubles playoff round.

My club hosts the tournament this year, and I’ve put some thought into the preparation.

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Building a New Simulator

There has been a hiatus on tourneygeek in the reporting of simulator results. That’s because I’m comprehensively rebuilding the program, trying to eliminate some of the shortcuts and assumptions that were embodied in earlier versions. This is going to take some time, as it involves my learning a new language – an object-oriented one.

This post will describe some of the basic structure and flow I’m developing for the new simulator.

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Super Overs and Duckworth-Lewis-Stern

The short forms of cricket have been formulated with the fan in mind. Eliminating draws from the short form has been one of the features of the new formats.

To some extent, this has been done in much the same way as it is done in other sports – by creating a separate mini-game that can be used as a tie breaker. But cricket has also gone beyond any other sport I’m aware of by using some fairly complicated statistics to infer a winner from the circumstances of an incomplete match.

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Cricket for the Masses

Draws in First-Class Cricket discussed two respects in which long-form cricket is a tough sell for many sports fans – it takes too long to play a match, and those matches often end in draws. Since the middle of the twentieth century, cricket have been evolving to address these issues, slowly at first, but rapidly more recently. The invention of short-form cricket is an interesting case study in how a competition can be reshaped to improve its value as spectacle.

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Draws in First-Class Cricket

Kissing Your Sister discussed the growing aversion to the draw as an ambiguous result – originally, perhaps, an American phenomenon, but now apparently spreading.

But perhaps that discussion overlooked the one factor that’s particularly relevant to tournament design: Elimination tournaments cannot tolerate draws. And, since the elimination tournament is generally considered the most spectator-friendly, many games themselves have evolved to escape this limitation.

A number of games that once could, and frequently did, end in draws have been changed, at least in part so that they can accommodate the elimination format. They have been altered so that they now always produce a winner. Both this tendency, and some resistance to it, are illustrated by a single game: cricket.

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