Swiss Manager - Help Needed

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Paul McKeown
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Swiss Manager - Help Needed

Postby Paul McKeown » Sun Aug 13, 2017 11:42 pm

Hi, does anyone have experience with Swiss Manager?

I find it a rather cussed piece of software, unfortunately.

Today, pairing the Richmond Rapidplays U120, I needed to re-pair some players in the first round.

However, I ended up with enormous problems trying to do this, and in the end, I defaulted to using Swiss Master, instead. (The Open & U160 were continued to be paired with Swiss Manager, without issue.)

I have been wasting hours this evening trying to recreate the tournament with Swiss Master (with a view to uploading the tournament to chess-results.com). However, without any success.

I have this problem that it ignores my pairings if I pair the first round manually, and acts as if the round has not been paired. This problem disappears if I pair the first round by computer. However, I then have to correct the pairings. If I go to "Round 0", it won't let me repair the first round manually. If I go to "Round 1", it will allow me to pair the second round manually.

I know that it is possible to pair the first round manually, as I have done this before. However, sometimes I get this problem, and I end up just banging my head against a brick wall.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Btw. in case anyone asks the obvious, in the "Other" tab of the "Tournament Data Dialog (Swiss System), the radio box "Players/Teams can be always be paired manually" is ticked.

Please, someone.

Paul McKeown
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Re: Swiss Manager - Help Needed

Postby Paul McKeown » Sun Aug 13, 2017 11:55 pm

Managed to remember what to do.

For some reason, you have to pair the first round automatically, and if you wish to correct it, you have to use "Pairings/Set New Player". All subsequent rounds can be paired directly manually. Very irritating functionality.

Now going to go and walk the dog, who is as frustrated with me, as I am with Swiss Manager!

Brian Towers
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Re: Swiss Manager - Help Needed

Postby Brian Towers » Mon Aug 14, 2017 12:41 am

Adam Raoof maintains a handy list of Swiss Manager tips and tricks. Ask him nicely and I'm sure he'll let you have a copy. That's step 1. Step 2 is to keep it on your laptop for quick reference. That way you reduce the cursing, swearing and head banging to a few seconds rather than hours.
Ah, but I was so much older then. I'm younger than that now.

Michael Flatt
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Re: Swiss Manager - Help Needed

Postby Michael Flatt » Mon Aug 14, 2017 8:24 am

Swiss Manager is a very powerful capable computer pairing program but its greatest failing, as you discovered, is the non intuitive menu system.

Tournament Controllers using it in a tournament for the first time frequently run into the same difficulties that you have encountered. It can be very embarrassing and frustrating.

Expertise can only be gained by regular use and it is essential to have to hand a crib sheet, as advised by Brian Towers, just in case you forget the procedure for removing players, setting byes and repairing. That is primarily the reason I don't like using it.

Swiss Master is a simpler and more straight forward program to use. It is designed for use with the FIDE rating list, although it is possible to import the ECF list by reformatting it.

UTU Swiss (the replacement for Tournament Director program) is very minimalist in design and operation, and takes a little time to familiarise yourself with its use. It has gone through a number of upgrades which I found have made it easier to use.

I find UTU Swiss the easiest program to create ECF grading submission files for occasional junior tournament that has been run using manual pairing cards. Typically, they will be the reserve section of an EPSCA Jamboree. Currently, UTU Swiss isn't on the FIDE list of approved pairing programs.

FIDE endorsed pairing programs: https://www.fide.com/FIDE/handbook/C04Annex3_FEP16.pdf

Gerry_Jepps
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Re: Swiss Manager - Help Needed

Postby Gerry_Jepps » Mon Aug 14, 2017 10:39 am

You could also have a look at Vega: http://www.vegachess.com/tl/index.php/H ... glish.html
It interfaces with the ECF list and outputs ECF grading files. It is also FIDE approved. The Linux version is free. The Windows version is free for tournaments of up to 30 players (so you can download it and try it without having to buy).

Alex Holowczak
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Re: Swiss Manager - Help Needed

Postby Alex Holowczak » Mon Aug 14, 2017 9:59 pm

Paul McKeown wrote:I find it a rather cussed piece of software, unfortunately.


Without wanting to comment on the specific nature of your problem - in which you've answered your own question - I actually find it better and more intuitive than the alternatives.

The lack of intuition about where some of the functions you might want are located are most likely due to a translation issue. I assume, without knowing German to a very high level, that it all makes perfect sense when the menus are in German... But once you've done it a few times, it all comes naturally. You just need to practice.

I've been using it for a few years now, and even now on occasion, I sometimes get very over-excited when I find a feature that I didn't previously know existed, but it's magnificent. For the Southern Gigafinal in particular, being able to input (say) all the Under 8 Boys into one file, and then split them into n groups by allocating the players a group ID, and splitting them into groups, was one such moment of excitement. It meant that when, inevitably, someone withdrew after I did the groups but before the start of the tournament, I didn't have to faff around redoing the groups by moving hundreds of players around all over the place. I could just go back to the original unsplit tournament, change a few group IDs, and re-split the tournaments.

There are probably other features I haven't yet discovered the power of; for example, it has a function that allows you to set the rating categories for rating prizes, but I've never really experimented with that. One day... :)

Paul McKeown
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Re: Swiss Manager - Help Needed

Postby Paul McKeown » Tue Aug 15, 2017 12:05 am

Why on earth would it want to stop you from manually pairing the first round?

Can't say I'm impressed by the user interface and some of the functional quirks, even if there is rich added on functionality. In my view, the essentials should be easy and intuitive to use. I worked in software development for many years, and in the testing and acceptance phases it was sometimes the case that user interaction was tracked by video recording and keyboard and screen capture; if the user was continually unable to access the necessary functionality, even after reading user documentation, end user acceptance would have been blocked.

Paul McKeown
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Re: Swiss Manager - Help Needed

Postby Paul McKeown » Tue Aug 15, 2017 12:25 am

I thank everyone for their suggestions regarding software, but as Swiss Manager is the software of choice amongst senior/influential arbiters, controllers and ECF officials in England, it seems best to choose to use that.

I would agree with Alex H, in that "Pairings/Set New Player" would seem to be a poor choice of translation. I would suggest "Pairings/Change", or something along the same lines might be better. There are other localisation issues I could suggest, such as the order for entering dates, which ought to be locale sensitive, or at least configurable. And there seems to be an issue with importing players with no id.

To correct the impression that might have been given above by Michael Flatt, yesterday was not the first time I have used it in a tournament. Sometimes I find it works effortlessly, sometimes you find yourself having to relive the work pattern of its designer, and woe betide you, should you choose a different path. Of course, I am not an experienced user of the product, either.

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Re: Swiss Manager - Help Needed

Postby Paul McKeown » Tue Aug 15, 2017 12:29 am

For the experts, though, here is a question.

Is there a way to get a full report (or a means to export the data) on all the players in an event, with all the entered data provided, including name, id, FIDE id, grade, rating, gender, club, date or birth, etc?

Or even better, that plus all the games played. That would be perfect for generating the necessary info for ECF grading, for instance.

However, if such a thing exists, I haven't found it, and I end up hacking together various columns from various reports to get what is needed, which seems like unnecessary drudgery.

Paul McKeown
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Re: Swiss Manager - Help Needed

Postby Paul McKeown » Tue Aug 15, 2017 12:39 am

One final thought on the manner.

Would it not be a useful for (by way of example) the Chess Arbiters Association, or the ECF, to organise occasional courses on the various items of software in use for arbiting and controlling tournaments?

The course given for arbiters deals with the rules, and manual pairing. It would be useful in my view, if there was an extension in which the main software used in practise was dealt with.

I would happily pay to attend such a course.

Roger de Coverly
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Re: Swiss Manager - Help Needed

Postby Roger de Coverly » Tue Aug 15, 2017 1:02 am

Paul McKeown wrote:Why on earth would it want to stop you from manually pairing the first round?


Elsewhere in the world, there isn't the same relaxed attitude to first round pairings that's long established in the UK.

Soheil had a story that in an Iranian tournament, they aborted the entire first round because of a perceived incorrect pairing.

Standard operating practice in UK tournaments dating back to the early 1970s is that you pair the first round based on expected entries. You allow a half hour or an hour default time (for a standard play tournament) and pair the opponents of no shows and late entrants as an additional pool of players.

Standard operating practice in European tournaments was that the first round could start at least an hour late whilst the organisers/arbiters checked who was present and whether their membership or category status entitled them to play.

Notoriously Nigel objected to the UK repairing procedure, which hadn't ever been cleared with FIDE or explictly introduced into the FIDE pairing rules.

Michael Flatt
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Re: Swiss Manager - Help Needed

Postby Michael Flatt » Tue Aug 15, 2017 9:10 am

Alex Holowczak wrote:I've been using it for a few years now, and even now on occasion, I sometimes get very over-excited when I find a feature that I didn't previously know existed, but it's magnificent. For the Southern Gigafinal in particular, being able to input (say) all the Under 8 Boys into one file, and then split them into n groups by allocating the players a group ID, and splitting them into groups, was one such moment of excitement. It meant that when, inevitably, someone withdrew after I did the groups but before the start of the tournament, I didn't have to faff around redoing the groups by moving hundreds of players around all over the place. I could just go back to the original unsplit tournament, change a few group IDs, and re-split the tournaments.

Yes, I did find Matt Carr's User Guide to Swiss Manager written specifically for the Megafinals to be very informative and helpful. Thanks are due to Sarah Longson for circulating it to Organisers of Megafinals.

On the evening before the tournament I created such tournament groups without difficulty. On the day of the tournament I singularly failed to do it for the single group that I had overlooked. Working under pressure at the start of a tournament is rather different that in the comfort of your own sitting room with all the time in the world.

Software should be designed with the User in mind. Other computer pairing programs manage that quite well. I don't believe it to be a language translation issue; it is the underlying design philosophy of the program and User Interface that causes unnecessary difficulty to the User.

I have never successfully managed to use Swiss Manager after having taken a break from using it, but that may be because I don't like having to rely on a crib sheet.

Paul makes a good case for the Arbiters Association to promulgate best practice in use of pairing programs and run training courses to assist new users understand how to get the best out of Swiss Manager.

Alex Holowczak
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Re: Swiss Manager - Help Needed

Postby Alex Holowczak » Tue Aug 15, 2017 9:36 am

Paul McKeown wrote:Why on earth would it want to stop you from manually pairing the first round?


It doesn't. You can manually pair any round if you want to. You can make adjustments for re-pairings if you want to.

Paul McKeown wrote:There are other localisation issues I could suggest, such as the order for entering dates, which ought to be locale sensitive, or at least configurable.


You have to enter the date format in accordance with the relevant ISO format. Given the multitude of different formats a date could be written in, you can't really blame the programmer, or FIDE, for wanting dates submitted using the ISO format.

Paul McKeown wrote:Would it not be a useful for (by way of example) the Chess Arbiters Association, or the ECF, to organise occasional courses on the various items of software in use for arbiting and controlling tournaments?


The ECF is considering doing precisely this!

Michael Flatt wrote:On the evening before the tournament I created such tournament groups without difficulty. On the day of the tournament I singularly failed to do it for the single group that I had overlooked. Working under pressure at the start of a tournament is rather different that in the comfort of your own sitting room with all the time in the world.


I agree that working under pressure on the day can be a problem. So why would you leave it that late - or even the night before - to create the tournament files, particularly if it was a piece of software you were unfamiliar with? You can create the skeleton files without any players a bit more in advance, and then you can even put them on Chess-Results to tell people where to look for pairings. Before I started using it properly, I ran various test tournaments to make sure I knew how to handle all of the things that could happen, so we were relatively confident that something wouldn't go wrong on the day. This included things like re-pairing, late entries, late withdrawals, defaults, but even some more advanced features for other tournaments; e.g. the team pairing system worked properly in that it didn't re-seed scoregroups by the tie-break, and then end up pairing on the tie-break rather than the matchpoints. The key to it is testing it in advance and making sure you're prepared, and not relying on it to work straightaway on the day.

Roger de Coverly
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Re: Swiss Manager - Help Needed

Postby Roger de Coverly » Tue Aug 15, 2017 9:50 am

Alex Holowczak wrote:You have to enter the date format in accordance with the relevant ISO format. Given the multitude of different formats a date could be written in, you can't really blame the programmer, or FIDE, for wanting dates submitted using the ISO format.


I think being unfriendly to users in software design is an entirely valid complaint. It's been possible to specify date formats in spreadsheets since at least Windows 3 in 1990 and probably before. The trick is to store dates as the number of days since 1st Jan 1900 or earlier. For that matter presentation of dates is a global Windows setting.

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Adam Raoof
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Re: Swiss Manager - Help Needed

Postby Adam Raoof » Tue Aug 15, 2017 10:08 am



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