Half-point bye ... Why ?

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Alan Burke

Half-point bye ... Why ?

Post by Alan Burke » Tue Jul 10, 2012 11:42 pm

No doubt many people will give good reasons as to why players should be able to claim a half-point at a congress by simply failing to appear for part of the event, yet it does seem a bit odd that the other players who take full part in the competition may then be disadvantaged by their willingness to do so.

At a weekend congress many players often fail to play on the Friday evening knowing they can just claim a half-point, whereas those willing to give their full support to the tournament can only benefit by actually winning their first round match and may also be financially worse off by having to pay for that night's accommodation.

Indeed, it is sometimes beneficial for players to only gain a half-point in the first round so that they can then go through the tournament just 'off the pace' from the leaders and so maybe not have to play them until it might become absolutely necessary. There are occasions where a player took a half-point bye in Round 1 and ended up as joint winner of the tournament without actually playing either the co-winner nor the players who came third, fourth or fifth - all of whom played the full five rounds of the competition.

Yes, maybe some players may be discouraged from entering events if they were forced to always turn out on a Friday evening, but surely the players who are dedicated enough to take part in the full tournament should be prioritised. There may be others, but I am unaware of any other competitive pastimes where a player can score points by voluntarily refusing to play - a football team having to play 40 league games in a season would not be allowed to just claim 8 games as draws (ie 1/5th) instead of having to play them.

Therefore, in trying to encourage competitors to actually play the game and if withdrawing this half-point facility and treating any such absentee as a loss is felt not to be viable, suppose any eventual winnings by these players are reduced by at least 1/5th and distributed amongst the other prizewinners ?

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Lee Bullock
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Re: Half-point bye ... Why ?

Post by Lee Bullock » Tue Jul 10, 2012 11:46 pm

I completely agree. I think something like losing a % of the final winnings or if they finish on the same score as the someone who played on the Friday then they dont get as much as that person etc. Is an interesting idea anyway.
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Re: Half-point bye ... Why ?

Post by Ian Thompson » Wed Jul 11, 2012 12:18 am

Alan Burke wrote:No doubt many people will give good reasons as to why players should be able to claim a half-point at a congress by simply failing to appear for part of the event, yet it does seem a bit odd that the other players who take full part in the competition may then be disadvantaged by their willingness to do so.
As half-point byes are usually available to all players anyone who thinks that taking a guaranteed half-point is better for them than playing a game can do so. In that way, no-one can be said to be disadvantaged by the availability of half-point byes. I never take half-point byes. I think I have an immediate advantage over anyone who does because my maximum score is immediately half a point more than theirs.

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Lee Bullock
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Re: Half-point bye ... Why ?

Post by Lee Bullock » Wed Jul 11, 2012 12:21 am

Ian Thompson wrote:
Alan Burke wrote:No doubt many people will give good reasons as to why players should be able to claim a half-point at a congress by simply failing to appear for part of the event, yet it does seem a bit odd that the other players who take full part in the competition may then be disadvantaged by their willingness to do so.
As half-point byes are usually available to all players anyone who thinks that taking a guaranteed half-point is better for them than playing a game can do so. In that way, no-one can be said to be disadvantaged by the availability of half-point byes. I never take half-point byes. I think I have an immediate advantage over anyone who does because my maximum score is immediately half a point more than theirs.

Thats the theory. But its wrong. If you start with .0.5 you can avoid all the top seeds and 100% players and never have to play them and over take them all in the last round. I have seen it happen. You can by taking a bye finish on 0.5 more that you would if you didn't take it as you can get an easier route and there avoid the top players.
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Alan Burke

Re: Half-point bye ... Why ?

Post by Alan Burke » Wed Jul 11, 2012 12:47 am

Yes Ian, your maximum score (ie a win) would be better, but that is only if you can guarantee that result - and, of course, that would mean you would probably be taking on another first round winner in the next match whereas the player taking the bye is usually certain of just facing another on a half-point. Anyone taking the half-point bye is of course also taking a gamble because players don't know until arriving at the venue who they are going to face, but at least they know they are not going to start the event with a loss. I just think that the players who give 100% support to a tournament should be given more benefit than those who don't.

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Re: Half-point bye ... Why ?

Post by Geoff Chandler » Wed Jul 11, 2012 1:17 am

Hi Alan.

"I just think that the players who give 100% support to a tournament should be given
more benefit than those who don't."

The Friday night player and the Friday bye claimer pay the same entrance fee.
Both support the tournament 100%.
It would be different if the bye claimer was giving a reduction because he only
plays 4 games instead of 5.

I always took the ½ point bye. 4½ will put in you in for a piece of the pie.
3½ will get you into the grading prizes.

That's all I ever wanted just a piece of the pie every now and then.

Playing on a Friday night has 3 outcomes.

You win - You will now have tough opponents all weekend.

You draw - You could have got that ½ point for nothing with no effort.

You Lose - You could have saved all that effort and got yourself ½ a point.
(also the lose will mean a sleepless Friday night resulting in a Saturday morning loss.)

So don't play on the Friday night, get ½ point bye and usually avoid
the winners (the tough ones) till Sunday. Plus you are fresh on the Saturday morning.

Alan Burke

Re: Half-point bye ... Why ?

Post by Alan Burke » Wed Jul 11, 2012 2:45 am

Geoff, although both players do pay the same entrance fee, one actually competes on the Friday whilst the other doesn't, so I would suggest that whereas the former is giving 100% support to the event, the latter is giving slightly less, whilst taking the half-point bye also means the player in question is not risking the loss that the Friday night player is willing to do.

Regarding the night's sleep on the Friday, those taking the bye can go to bed as early as they wish whereas the first round player (even a winner) might still have to travel home sometime after 11pm and then only have a few hours rest before getting up early the next day to return to the venue.

I just think that those who actually play the game rather than deliberately don't turn up should be rewarded in some way for their loyalty - it would certainly be a farce if everybody in a tournament decided to take the Friday night bye.

As I said in my original post, maybe to totally ban the half-point bye might not be universally agreeable but perhaps such players should forfeit part of any prizemoney for earning it with only 4/5ths as much as effort as someone who turned up for every match.

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Re: Half-point bye ... Why ?

Post by Geoff Chandler » Wed Jul 11, 2012 4:40 am

Hi Alan.

I still disagree that the player playing on Friday night is supporting the tournament more
than the bye player. Infact the bye player is dipping out of a game of chess.

Bringing in a no bye clause of Friday night would actually mean less players entering
and eventually put up the entrance fee to cover expenses.

There are genuine cases of people who have to work on the Friday and won't
be able to make the Friday night game. Do you want to punish the working classes.

Is this the hidden agenda? You want the working man removed from chess tournaments
so they can only be frequented by the unemployed, students and invited GM's.
The working man is only allowed to come in at the weekend and spectate but not partake.
Why?

What has the working tax paying public done to deserve this?
First they take away our right not to wear a seat belt and now no chess.

The only way to really stop it is drop the Friday night game altogether.
(that will lower the entrance fee because the playing hall has only to be hired for 2 days instead of 3).
You can have 3 games on a Saturday, 2 on a Sunday.

(And when they see these zombies playing atrocious chess in the 3rd Saturday game
everyone will be blaming you Alan Burke. The man who did not like Friday night byes.) :wink:

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Re: Half-point bye ... Why ?

Post by Sean Hewitt » Wed Jul 11, 2012 7:57 am

Alan Burke wrote:...it would certainly be a farce if everybody in a tournament decided to take the Friday night bye.
On the contrary, it would be great :lol:

Ian's right. The option of a 1/2 point bye is there for everyone. If anyone thinks that taking it is such an advantage, then take it. As an organiser I would rather offer the option of a 1/2 point bye and encourage entry from those who, without that option, could not play. Which is why, in longer tournaments, we allow players to take more than 1 half point bye (3 in fact).

Typically, 25-35% of players seem to take a 1/2 point bye on a Friday. Excluding such an option would be extremely risky economically unless you thought they would play anyway. If they didn't, the remaining players would be staring at a significant price hike / prize money reduction.

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Re: Half-point bye ... Why ?

Post by Kevin Thurlow » Wed Jul 11, 2012 8:00 am

I'm playing at the Millfield Congress and taking a half-point bye to avoid playing 3 games on Saturday. If the half-point bye had not been available, I would not have played at all.

Where there is a Friday round, not everybody can get there on time as Geoff says. A friend of mine used to like playing in Opens to get tough opposition but frequently ended up getting a full point bye at some stage for being at the bottom of the tournament. I suggested asking for a half point bye in a convenient round to (a) get better opposition and (b) prevent the organisers giving a full point bye.

I have run congresses with 3 games on the Saturday where an entire section has taken a bye on the Saturday night!

Banning byes would drive some people away and that is not good for tournaments or players.
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Christopher Kreuzer
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Re: Half-point bye ... Why ?

Post by Christopher Kreuzer » Wed Jul 11, 2012 8:22 am

I agree with those who have pointed out the advantages of half-point byes. They clearly outweigh the disadvantages, certainly at this level of chess (amateur weekend chess). If there are paying spectators and professionals being provided with conditions and appearance fees, those players should play all rounds.

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Re: Half-point bye ... Why ?

Post by David Pardoe » Wed Jul 11, 2012 8:47 am

I agree with Geoff regarding the damaging effect of lower entry numbers if the `bye` option is dropped.
Dont forget the `bye` option applies to other rounds also, and is very useful to many players.
We`d need to look at the stats to see what success rate that `bye` group have regarding prize winning.
I know that lots of players take these, and consequently many will fail to get into the prize list, perhaps because they took the Bye. From a prize winning point of view, I definately think there are more `losers` than winners.
Also, dont forget that the player taking the Bye actually gets less for his/her money... ie, one fewer games, and also does not get any grading benefit from that Bye.
There might be merit in lowering slightly any share of the prize fund winnings...but not by more than say 10%.
I`d need to be convinced that this was a good idea...certainly very doubtful.
It might be that those who do take the `Bye` and subsequently stay amongst the leading group after 3 rounds should be `paired up` to ensure they face tougher opposition.
It should be noted that most players arent really bothered about prizes...it is generally regarded as the `iceing on the cake`, except perhaps by `circuit topguns`.
However, you also have the case of `full point Byes`, where players havent got an opponent. ie, an odd number of entrants. Should they get a full point for doing nothing. There might be an arguement for pairing these `up` against harder opponents (but that would happen just by virtue of them gaining that `free point`.
Maybe those who get such `Byes` should automatically take the black pieces in the following round....again, I am sceptical about such tinkering.
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Alan Burke

Re: Half-point bye ... Why ?

Post by Alan Burke » Wed Jul 11, 2012 9:31 am

As I said in my original post .... "Therefore, in trying to encourage competitors to actually play the game and if withdrawing this half-point facility and treating any such absentee as a loss is felt not to be viable, suppose any eventual winnings by these players are reduced by at least 1/5th and distributed amongst the other prizewinners ?"

Rather than just give answers against the removal of the half-point bye, the only person to so far to comment on the above part of the suggestion is Dave Pardoe who can at least see some merit in that idea.

Regarding the full-point bye awarded to certain players during an event, those are generally due to circumstances outside the control of those players and as such I agree they should not be penalised, whilst concerning the grading benefits being missed by those taking the half-point bye, they are also not risking losing grading points with a possible loss.

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Re: Half-point bye ... Why ?

Post by Andrew Camp » Wed Jul 11, 2012 9:49 am

Good thread full of interesting points on both sides.

We travel and support congresses as a family - my wife, daughter and myself. My daughter is only 11 and we feel she is not yet old enough to play a Round One on a Friday night which may not finish until 11pm and then have to be up in time for breakfast and Round Two at 9.30am. Thus she always takes a bye in Round One and either my wife or I take one so we can be at the hotel with her. Usually, either my wife or I will play the first round.

There is also the problem of travelling. We live in North Wales and are not lucky enough to have two or three events on our doorstep every weekend. This means two or three (sometimes more) hours of travelling just to get to the event. School does not finish until 4.10pm and this cuts it fine for us to get to the event in time. On these occasions (such as Buxton two weeks ago) we all have to take the bye.

I think if the half-point bye were removed and we knew that we'd be practically out of the running in a far away congress that we had chosen to support due to one of the above circumstances, then we probably wouldn't enter.

Now multiply this scenario by the rest of the players in similar positions.

I do not disregard the views though that there could be other options:

1) A weighting of prize money in favour of those who play all rounds is not without merit
2) Having three rounds on Saturday and two on Sunday is possible but that would be very hard on very young players - who we really need to encourage to play the congress circuit
3) Four round congresses using sum of progressives and play offs to break ties
Last edited by Andrew Camp on Wed Jul 11, 2012 9:58 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Half-point bye ... Why ?

Post by Adam Raoof » Wed Jul 11, 2012 9:57 am

Or use Buchholz, where the bye counts as zero for ties which would affect prizes and possibly BCQ places.
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