Dropping Seeds

I’ve exchanged a few emails with a reader who runs a small softball tourney. With his permission, I’ll work through the issues surrounding his particular tourney, showing where I see design issues, and suggesting a format.

First, however, I’d like to spend a post on a more abstract question he posed in his first email to me. The question is whether the drop patterns I suggest, and have tested primarily in blind draw tourneys, should be reconsidered when used in a seeded tourney.


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Still More Better Bad Byes

Some months ago, there were a series of posts (here, here, and here) about the allocation of byes – whether it was better to spread them evenly though the field, or to group them together so that they could begin play immediately by starting the second round with the byes playing each other.

One of the arguments made in favor of grouping the byes together is that it improved the flow of the tourney. Players would have to spend less time waiting for their opponents to become available, and the tourney as a whole would play our more quickly. Another observation was that the grouped-byes example I chose was intended specifically for a consolation backgammon tournament, and that my simulation was not for a full double elimination rather than a consolation, and that I used a luck parameter unsuitable for backgammon.

Armed with the new simulator, I can revisit the issue, addressing in particular tournament flow.

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Oh! Calcutta!

I’ve just returned from a backgammon tournament in Chicago. The format was a modified Swiss system. I will write more about Swiss tournaments soon – there is much to recommend them.

I did well in Chicago. I tied for second place in the open devision of the main event, and came within a single game of the overall championship. So, despite the fact that I, of all people, know how very much luck there is in backgammon, I’m tempted to think of myself pretty highly as a backgammoner just now. And, while it’s undoubtedly true that I wouldn’t have done so well without some measure of skill, I have to keep in mind that however good (or otherwise) I am, I haven’t gotten materially better since the last tourney I played in Minnesota, where I failed to win a single match.

In All That Luck, I offered some thoughts about how backgammon players deal with the fact that their game is so heavily dependent on chance. But there were on display in Chicago some additional ways that backgammon players have devised to recognize skill when actual match results are so capricious. One of these is the Calcutta auction.

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Going with the Flow

One of the practical considerations for a tournament director in choosing a format is how well the tournament flows. But flow is a complicated concept – ideal flow, and the steps needed to attain it, will vary from one sort of event to another.

Sometimes you want to keep the competition moving, minimizing the time that the competitors have to spend waiting around for an opponent, a playing field, a referee, or some other needful resource to become available.

Other times you want to keep the competition from moving too fast. Particularly where the competition is physically exhausting, you want to allow sufficient time for players to recover from one match before asking them to play another.

Poor flow can compromise any of the four goals in the FEPS framework.

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Recharges and B1G Baseball


The most common use of a recharge round is to allow the undefeated winner of the upper bracket a second chance if it loses the initial bracket unification match. But a recharge round can be used in other ways also.

The 2017 Big 10 baseball championship being held in Bloomington over the next five days has a bracket unlike any other I’d encountered. In it, there are two possible recharge matches, neither of which eliminates the possibility that a team will can fail to win the overall championship even when it has only one loss.

This bracket, B1G baseball 2017, has a number of interesting features, which can be appreciated by comparing it to a standard 8 bracket (A.B.|.C.X): B1GbaseballAlt.

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Fairness and Recharge Rounds

Recharge rounds are the possible immediate rematch rounds where a match is replayed if the initial pairing results in equalizing the number of losses for the two teams. The most common (but not the only) use of recharge rounds is in unifying the lower and upper brackets in a double-elimination tourney.

Yesterday the propriety of including a recharge round was considered in terms of efficiency, participation, and spectacle, and I found that none of these factors made the case for the recharge round was not particularly strong. This post will discuss the other one of the FEPS goals: fairness.

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