Tournament Structures

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Alan Walton
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Re: Tournament Structures

Post by Alan Walton » Sun Apr 08, 2018 9:52 am

When the Manchester Summer Congress experimented a few years ago with a single section with accelerated pairings; in round one I paired against a well known northern player (won't name him) who has consistently always seem to enter majors (graded between 140-160 and plays 100+ games a year), he actually commented after the game (which I won easily) "I don't enter tournaments to play players of your strength"

So I suspect there are a lot of chess players who never want to get out of the majors and try to improve their grades to enter opens; the question is whether these type of players should be rewarded monetarily, if you cut the prizes in the lower sections and improve open prizes (including open rating prizes) it may give these players the motivation to improve their chess

Nick Burrows
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Re: Tournament Structures

Post by Nick Burrows » Sun Apr 08, 2018 10:02 am

Alan Walton wrote:
Sun Apr 08, 2018 9:52 am
if you cut the prizes in the lower sections and improve open prizes (including open rating prizes) it may give these players the motivation to improve their chess
It may do that. It may also make it hard for some tournaments to break even.

Kevin Thurlow
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Re: Tournament Structures

Post by Kevin Thurlow » Sun Apr 08, 2018 10:17 am

"I do apologise if my questions were seen as critical of tournament organisers - they were offered as a simple suggestion to eradicate the problem of some sections having far fewer competitors than others. "

No need to apologise - it's clearly a sensible suggestion.

"So I suspect there are a lot of chess players who never want to get out of the majors and try to improve their grades to enter opens; the question is whether these type of players should be rewarded monetarily, if you cut the prizes in the lower sections and improve open prizes (including open rating prizes) it may give these players the motivation to improve their chess"

True.

We've had the discussion before of course. Even Richard Clarke (designer of the grading system) said you shouldn't take it too seriously, it was just an estimate of performance. It does seem crazy when you see a 160 regularly (perhaps always) winning more money at congresses than a 200. Of course games between 100s and 200s are probably a waste of time for both, so by all means have separate sections (but allow lower-graded players to enter higher sections), but save the bigger money for the top sections. You might get more higher-graded players, and that might encourage other players to enter so they can say they played in the same event. You also get fewer bandits, and as it is difficult to prove banditry, this is a neat solution.

One bit of banditry that was proved was when a player invented a 30 game match (which he lost 30-0) with a much-lower graded clubmate and sent it for grading. The lower graded player asked the graders why his stable 80ish graded had suddenly rocketed to about 140. "Er, did you beat X 30-0 last season?"
"No of course not - I never played him."
A recalculation was carried out...

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Michael Farthing
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Re: Tournament Structures

Post by Michael Farthing » Sun Apr 08, 2018 11:39 am

Eric Gardiner wrote:
Sun Apr 08, 2018 9:29 am
Yes it would mean that (most) players wouldn't know in advance whether they were going to be in the top, middle or bottom of a section (and thus to be able to reliably assess their chance of winning a prize) but I think this is a good thing. I appreciate it would be unpopular with those seeking a regular income from winning Minors, Intermediates etc. :wink:
There are congresses that do this: I believe Leek is one (apologies if my memory is inaccurate)
I don't compete in them - I want to know in advance where I am in the section. Sometimes I pick a section I'm high in if I feel my self-esteem needs a boost (this often back-fires) and sometimes I pick a harder section to give myself a challenge. So there are other motivations beyond those already mentioned.
I'm willing to accept that the established model is best from a purely business viewpoint.
While not accusing Eric of this, that phraseology can carry a rather disapproving overtone. We should not forget that in the world of chess congresses a sound business model means surviving without a loss, not making lots of yummy money.

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Re: Tournament Structures

Post by Alex Holowczak » Sun Apr 08, 2018 12:28 pm

I've read most of this thread with interest, but held off my thoughts until now.

I think we need to think about the weekend tournament in general. England has lots of them, but hardly any 9-round Open tournaments compared to other countries in the rest of Europe and beyond. They are designed to attract mass participation from amateur players to fit around a work schedule, rather than something that is aimed at strong players - they can't get title norms, for example. If they choose to enter, then great - but more often than not, they do so on the same terms as the amateur players.

Because they fit around a working schedule, they are often organised by volunteers either in a personal capacity, or much more likely with the financial risk being undertaken by a local, regional, or even national organisation. So the tournaments have to fit around the schedule of the volunteers too.

So weekend tournaments start from the point of volunteer organisers organising something for amateur players with mass participation in mind. So if you're doing that, what is the best format to get amateur players playing in tournaments? The format that seems to have evolved is to have 3 or 4 sections (perhaps 5 or even more in the behemoths of Scarborough or Blackpool), and grading or rating limits so that there is a "tournament for everybody" to get competitive games and play in.

Do people here remember the Stars Barred events of a decade or so ago? They seem to have fallen out of favour. There used to be lots of them, and the idea was that they were more attractive to amateur players because they deliberately barred titled players (or players above a certain strength) from playing. I remember the Staffordshire Congress was a stars barred event in those days, even though it awarded the Staffordshire Individual Championship as part of it. That meant that one year, Lawrence Cooper was unable to enter the Staffordshire Individual Championship... :?

So I think a weekender, or a Rapidplay tournament, should be seen for what it is - a format devised by volunteers whose principle aim is to attract amateur players to play more chess. It would even be hard to argue that the e2e4 and 4NCL weekend tournaments weren't aimed principally at amateur players, albeit they have concessions to FIDE titled players in some aspects; so there is an element of compromise. But I think that means that you need defined section limits and prizes (which may or may not be monetary). If you start from that basis, there's no particular reason why players in the Open need a different prize structure compared to the other sections.

If you wanted to organise a tournament aimed at professionals or stronger players, then perhaps a 9-round format with titlenorms available would be a better format, and you've no real need for other sections at all.
Last edited by Alex Holowczak on Sun Apr 08, 2018 1:13 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Roger de Coverly
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Re: Tournament Structures

Post by Roger de Coverly » Sun Apr 08, 2018 12:47 pm

Alex Holowczak wrote:
Sun Apr 08, 2018 12:28 pm

Do people here remember the Stars Barred events of a decade or so ago? They seem to have fallen out of favour.
Arguably they were replaced by the e2e4/4NCL format of having at least two FIDE rated sections with a fairly high cutoff for exclusion from the second section.

Two long established "stars barred" tournaments in Exeter and Kidlington have both gone Open in recent years.

There is a long tradition of small sections which pre-dates the establishment of the weekend Congress in near to its current form by Stewart Reuben and others in the late 1960s. Events like Ilford over the Whitsun bank holiday would have innumerable 6 player all play alls, supposedly with players of equal strength. That was the structure for lower sections at Hastings as well. Even with Swiss pairings, there was suspicion of going above 32 players, no matter how long the tournament.
Alex Holowczak wrote:
Sun Apr 08, 2018 12:28 pm
If you wanted to organise a tournament aimed at professionals or stronger players, then perhaps a 9-round format with titlenorms available would be a better format, and you've no real need for other sections at all.
With the exception of the Major Open, what we don't see very much of in the UK is a "B" section in the Norm events. This would exactly follow the time schedule of the Open, rather than force players whom the organisers wish to exclude from the Open having to play in two separate tournaments. The 4NCL have announced a 9 rounds in 5 days tournament for October this year. Will this be just one section or multiple ones? It's just a future date at the moment, so perhaps decisions on this have yet to be finalised.

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Re: Tournament Structures

Post by NickFaulks » Sun Apr 08, 2018 12:50 pm

Alex Holowczak wrote:
Sun Apr 08, 2018 12:28 pm
I've read most of this thread without interest
I'm sorry we've been wasting your time.

Alex Holowczak
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Re: Tournament Structures

Post by Alex Holowczak » Sun Apr 08, 2018 12:56 pm

NickFaulks wrote:
Sun Apr 08, 2018 12:50 pm
Alex Holowczak wrote:
Sun Apr 08, 2018 12:28 pm
I've read most of this thread without interest
I'm sorry we've been wasting your time.
Whoops - now fixed! :lol: It originally said "without commenting" before I changed the wording. Didn't change the without... :oops:

Alex Holowczak
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Re: Tournament Structures

Post by Alex Holowczak » Sun Apr 08, 2018 1:02 pm

Roger de Coverly wrote:
Sun Apr 08, 2018 12:47 pm
The 4NCL have announced a 9 rounds in 5 days tournament for October this year. Will this be just one section or multiple ones? It's just a future date at the moment, so perhaps decisions on this have yet to be finalised.
Yet to be finalised, but the expectation is that there will be sections. The 4NCL has an organisational constraint that wasn't relevant to (for example) the Northumbria Masters - the need to have lots of people staying in the hotel.

Mick Norris
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Re: Tournament Structures

Post by Mick Norris » Sun Apr 08, 2018 1:38 pm

Alex Holowczak wrote:
Sun Apr 08, 2018 12:28 pm
I've read most of this thread with interest, but held off my thoughts until now.

I think we need to think about the weekend tournament in general. England has lots of them, but hardly any 9-round Open tournaments compared to other countries in the rest of Europe and beyond.
Ideally, they would be 1 round a day for 9 days, so the problems are the cost of venue hire for the organisers, and the cost of accomodation for the players; not easy to solve in England, even if you could solve the issue of getting arbiters etc for 9 days
Any postings on here represent my personal views and should not be taken as representative of the Manchester Chess Federation www.manchesterchess.co.uk

Peter Shaw
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Re: Tournament Structures

Post by Peter Shaw » Sun Apr 08, 2018 3:34 pm

I would support tournaments being run in one section, like many others in this thread I find it bizarre that players graded 160 can win more prize money than players graded 180.

I was interested in how Go tournaments are organised, so I had a look here:

https://www.britgo.org/results/12months

it appears that all their tournaments have just one section, despite the difference in strength between the bottom and top being much bigger than chess. They use the 'McMahon system' to avoid mismatches, which seems to be some sort of accelerated swiss but top players start with actual points rather than dummy points.

Couldn't some version of this be used in chess?

NickFaulks
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Re: Tournament Structures

Post by NickFaulks » Sun Apr 08, 2018 3:46 pm

I don't know much about Go, but isn't it normal for handicaps to be used?

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Chris Goodall
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Re: Tournament Structures

Post by Chris Goodall » Sun Apr 08, 2018 3:52 pm

Peter Shaw wrote:
Sun Apr 08, 2018 3:34 pm
I would support tournaments being run in one section, like many others in this thread I find it bizarre that players graded 160 can win more prize money than players graded 180.
* Tournaments need to attract players. A tournament that doesn't attract players will end up paying no prize money to anyone.
* Most players, in the grand scheme of things, are terrible.
* Therefore, your tournament has to attract terrible players.
* Attracting players means offering them prizes.
* If you offer prizes for being good, terrible players will not win them.
* Therefore, one way or another, you have to offer prizes for being terrible.

That's your essential difficulty. I don't see a way out of it through tinkering with the structure of the tournament.
Peter Shaw wrote:
Sun Apr 08, 2018 3:34 pm
I was interested in how Go tournaments are organised, so I had a look here:

https://www.britgo.org/results/12months

it appears that all their tournaments have just one section, despite the difference in strength between the bottom and top being much bigger than chess. They use the 'McMahon system' to avoid mismatches, which seems to be some sort of accelerated swiss but top players start with actual points rather than dummy points.

Couldn't some version of this be used in chess?
Aren't handicap stones essential to that system, though? Go has the benefit of allowing a perfectly granular scale of handicaps. Chess becomes a completely different game if you take a pawn away.
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Alex Holowczak
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Re: Tournament Structures

Post by Alex Holowczak » Sun Apr 08, 2018 4:34 pm

Peter Shaw wrote:
Sun Apr 08, 2018 3:34 pm
it appears that all their tournaments have just one section, despite the difference in strength between the bottom and top being much bigger than chess. They use the 'McMahon system' to avoid mismatches, which seems to be some sort of accelerated swiss but top players start with actual points rather than dummy points.
NickFaulks wrote:
Sun Apr 08, 2018 3:46 pm
I don't know much about Go, but isn't it normal for handicaps to be used?
I've been fortunate to be an arbiter at the Frodsham Congress for the last couple of years, and they have a Go tournament alongside it. The Go tournament attracts 30-40 players, on average. It is run as a 3-round tournament, using the McMahon system.

Firstly, handicaps can be used, but I've not seen this in evidence at Frodsham. The only addition is the komi; the score given to white to off-set the advantage of black moving first, and eliminate draws at the same time.

Players are given dummy points depending on how good they are (there's a whole dan-based system for showing that that I won't go into). The players are split into two groups; the players "above the bar" who start on the same score, and everyone else. The bar is set by the equivalent of the arbiter to include the players who can realistically win the tournament. The players below the bar can't win the tournament, but people still seem to enter anyway.

Reg Clucas
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Re: Tournament Structures

Post by Reg Clucas » Sun Apr 08, 2018 4:38 pm

Michael Farthing wrote:
Sun Apr 08, 2018 11:39 am
Eric Gardiner wrote:
Sun Apr 08, 2018 9:29 am
Yes it would mean that (most) players wouldn't know in advance whether they were going to be in the top, middle or bottom of a section (and thus to be able to reliably assess their chance of winning a prize) but I think this is a good thing. I appreciate it would be unpopular with those seeking a regular income from winning Minors, Intermediates etc. :wink:
There are congresses that do this: I believe Leek is one (apologies if my memory is inaccurate)
Your memory is accurate, though I'm not sure that congress is still running(?)

I think it's a good idea. The "bandits" may not be too happy if they are just above one of the quartiles, but that's a point in its favour!

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