Formats

edited August 2019 in EBU Tournaments
I was going to combine this with the post on scoring methods, but they are only loosely linked and the post was getting quite long.

Swiss has the advantage of giving those not doing well something to aim for - win their match, get their quarter of a green point. But there must be other ways of achieving the same effect?

Some events abroad have a 1 or 2 day qualifying Swiss followed by breaking into groups of 8 for round-robin A/B/C/D/E finals. A similar idea to the Eastbourne teams, I suppose, but with the advantage that those who haven't had much success so far get a 'fresh start' on the final day. Would be a good format for a 2.5 day event expecting 30-60ish teams.

The US has "bracketed knockouts" at every major event, where players compete only against those of a similar standard to them. I think a "bracketed knockout congress" could work here. Break the entry into groups of 16 by NGS; play one match Saturday afternoon; those that lose play a consolation swiss in the evening. On the Sunday, have the remaining four teams in each bracket play a round-robin, with a new consolation event for the twelve teams in each bracket that didn't make the finals. Would this segregation of the field be popular here? I'm not sure.

Another US thing is to cut roughly half the field at the end of every day and give those players a new event to play in. Not so different to what we do with the SBH/Autumn congresses, I suppose.

Finally, at Eastbourne, I felt that the wait between sets was excessive. Is there a way to get assignments out sooner, perhaps by assigning before the last results are in? Elsewhere, Swiss Pairs is still assigned a round in arrears, although with much shorter matches. Failing that, maybe hand records could be published on a set-by-set basis to provide some entertainment during the wait!

Comments

  • I've always been sceptical of the idea of bracketed KOs. I would rather try to win a round or two against the top players, and maybe have a plate competition. It just doesn't seem much fun entering an event where I don't have even a theoretical chance of winning the main competition because I'm not allowed to play in it, rather than because I've been outplayed.

  • edited August 2019

    MickyB wasn't suggesting bracketed knockouts at every congress, just for one of them. There are plenty of other congresses you can play in. You may want to play against the top players, and indeed you can, at almost every other congress. At the moment there are no events for players who only want to play against players of approximately their own level, for those players bracketed knockouts would appeal. I'm all for giving them a try.

  • I would have enjoyed the Swiss Teams even more if it split into three Finals and a new 'start from scratch' one-day event on the Sunday, which people that could only make the Sunday could also join in

    Peter Bushby Suffolk

  • I agree with Peter, but would add an option to enter the Sunday Swiss Pairs free of charge, having already paid to play Sunday, would have been welcomed by some.

  • @RobRich said:
    I agree with Peter, but would add an option to enter the Sunday Swiss Pairs free of charge, having already paid to play Sunday, would have been welcomed by some.

    We have allowed this in the past. Perhaps we should make more of the possibility, rather than waiting until asked.

  • edited August 2019

    Another variation would be a knock-out teams competition with an initial group stage. e.g. with an entry of 30 teams, randomly draw the teams into 4 groups of 7 or 8, with the top 4 in each group going through to the main knockout stage. The remaining teams go into a secondary event. Teams which lose in the first knockout round of the main event should also join the secondary event (otherwise some people might think it was better to finish 5th rather than 4th in a group).

    I'd prefer this to a bracketed teams because everyone still has a theoretical chance of winning the main event. But you still guarantee that everyone plays at least two knockout matches (with a plate competition for first-round losers in the secondary event). And it has some of the advantages of a Swiss in that, by the end of the event, you're playing against people who have done similarly well up to that point.

  • @gordonrainsford said:

    @RobRich said:
    I agree with Peter but would add an option to enter the Sunday Swiss Pairs free of charge, having already paid to play Sunday, would have been welcomed by some.

    We have allowed this in the past. Perhaps we should make more of the possibility, rather than waiting until asked.

    Let's not wait just until the weekend. Why not introduce bracketed knock-outs offered during the week as well?

  • @Am4Fun said:

    @gordonrainsford said:

    @RobRich said:
    I agree with Peter but would add an option to enter the Sunday Swiss Pairs free of charge, having already paid to play Sunday, would have been welcomed by some.

    We have allowed this in the past. Perhaps we should make more of the possibility, rather than waiting until asked.

    Let's not wait just until the weekend. Why not introduce bracketed knock-outs offered during the week as well?

    I'm not sure I understand this as it relates to the EBU's Summer Meeting, but the two occasions on which we tried to run bracketed teams were not popular or successful.

  • @gordonrainsford said:
    the two occasions on which we tried to run bracketed teams were not popular or successful.

    Don't think I've ever been aware of any bracketed teams events outside of the US, when was this tried, Gordon? Thanks.

  • @mickyb said:

    @gordonrainsford said:
    the two occasions on which we tried to run bracketed teams were not popular or successful.

    Don't think I've ever been aware of any bracketed teams events outside of the US, when was this tried, Gordon? Thanks.

    It was tried in place of a ODGP Swiss Teams in Canterbury about 12 years ago, with quite a lot of advance publicity and the support of the EBU board, but the players felt it was a poor substitute for Swiss, in particular because they didn't have much to play for towards the end of the event if they weren't doing well.

    Then we tried it for the one-day events at Brighton, since they were intended to appeal to a fairly wide range of abilities and so in theory that should have been attractive, but in practice they just didn't attract enough players to make it work well.

    I think we are so attached to the Swiss concept (and the master points that go along with it) that it's hard to get people to be enthusiastic about other things. I certainly like the idea of a wider range of formats, but even those that have worked, like Point-a-Board, are tending to die off in popularity. Maybe your suggestion (and that of a couple of other people) to try Patton scored teams is ripe for trying, but it is effectively the same as current Pachabo scoring and while people seem to enjoy that once a year, I can't say there has been much call for it to be extended.

  • The Kent event appears to have been bracketed round-robins rather than bracketed KOs - very different IMO. Not that I'm convinced that bracketed KOs would be successful, but the whole idea is that if it's not gone well so far you enter a fresh event rather than trying to claw your way back to average!

  • While I'm sure I would find a well-attended Bracketed Teams enjoyable, it's more about what those who wouldn't be in the top bracket think - would they rather have the opportunity to play against the top teams, or to start in an event they have a greater chance of winning? Market research at some of the stronger affiliated clubs could be helpful.

    If bracketing isn't popular, that doesn't preclude holding relatively short knockout events, i.e. over a weekend.

    How about this for a format?
    * Main event = knockout teams.
    * Consolation event/repechage = swiss.
    * Any team eliminated from the KO drops into the Swiss with an appropriate carry-forward.
    * The knockout plays down to three teams, at which point they are joined by the leaders of the swiss for the semi-finals (or, alternatively, a 4-team round robin final).

    For ~48 teams, this would mean six matches of ~16 boards in the knockout.

  • I think's mickyb's suggestions definitely provide scope for a new format that combines the swiss format, playing against stronger teams and also having a good chance of winning matches or an appropriate consolation event that you end up in. The one area I would disagree on is the length of matches for congress events; There is more demand (in my view anyway) for shorter matches, while playing against a range of opponents, than playing a long match that you are perhaps always likely to lose. For those that like accumulating masterpoints, there is a greater chance of getting a "shock" win over a shorter length of boards, particularly if the first board goes well! That said, I wouldn't want to unnecessarily damage the chances of the strongest players. Finally, in agreement with mickyb, I think it's important that all players initially start in the same field, as opposed to being placed in a consolation event before starting.

    With that in mind, the competition could follow the same format as above, but starting in mini pools of e.g. 5 teams, including 1 seeded team, playing 4x4-board rounds and with the top two or three qualifying for the next round. All teams can now play one of the very strong teams (unlike a knockout where many teams will play against teams they don't know and aren't one of the "very strong" teams), and the knockout can follow afterwards as normal with longer matches for qualifying teams. With a reduced entry, you could run a double elimination event over a couple of days to give once-defeated teams a chance of still winning the whole event, and not immediately falling into the consolation.

    I think a swiss consolation is a great idea and compromise, and offering a place in the later rounds for the leading team means there's still something to play for, even if losers in later rounds start with a handy carry-forward.

    Finally, I don't think it's a great idea to immediately trial a new format at a main congress, which already comes with a higher entry fee compared to clubs/counties, in case it's unsuccessful and people don't return in coming years. Instead, a county could offer to host a trial event of this kind (with the EBU's support), or one of the few very large clubs in the country could trial it as a club evening, with the EBU possibly providing some contribution to table money to make it an even more attractive option to attend. If enough different formats are trialled, then hopefully we can find something that works for those looking for a non- "pure swiss" event in a Congress B style atmosphere. Polling members is helpful, but providing a quick response without charge is far less useful than seeing and polling the enjoyment of members at a trial event that they have chosen to attend.

    Another random list of ideas/thoughts again... feel free to consider all or none of the above. :)

  • I like that idea for R1. Besides anything else, it balances the draw a bit compared with just having head-to-heads and triangles, and you can extend R1 a bit to allow more than 48b on the Saturday and to avoid splitting teams off so quickly - e.g. groups of five play five-board matches and groups of six play four-board matches.

  • edited August 2019

    It would translate brilliantly to a longer event too - e.g. three days (BH weekend) -

    • Saturday: six groups, seeded by NGS, with two to qualify from each.
    • Sunday: Ro12 (24 boards) and Ro6 (32 boards).
    • Monday: SF/final, with vugraph. Timed such that those finishing the swiss can hang around to watch the last half-dozen boards of the final.
  • edited August 2019

    @gordonrainsford said:
    Maybe your suggestion (and that of a couple of other people) to try Patton scored teams is ripe for trying, but it is effectively the same as current Pachabo scoring and while people seem to enjoy that once a year, I can't say there has been much call for it to be extended.

    Scoring and format are largely separate issues. I suggest keeping one a "known quantity" as far as possible, i.e. any new Patton event should be a one-day swiss in the first instance, and any experimental formats should be IMPed teams or matchpointed pairs.

  • One idea for a new format I'd like to see given serious consideration is for a proper championship format and condition rapid play event. Whereas Speedball is just currently a drunken late night thing, I think it should be a different but respected variant. Chess after all has rapid play and blitz which are now used as World Championship deciders.

    So something like 4 minutes per board, with a minute to move between rounds. Slow play fines are a legitimate threat and part of the scoring. Systems would need to be regulated to some degree too. Automatic expulsion for anyone who inanely starts shouting 'speedball'.

    It's a different skill set to play high standard bridge at a faster speed and is the type of event that would attract a younger crowd, particularly if it were, say, three 24 board sessions in a day - more bridge!

  • @Alan_S said:
    One idea for a new format I'd like to see given serious consideration is for a proper championship format and condition rapid play event.

    Gordon suggested elsewhere replacing the speedballs with proper Fast Pairs events, I think that's a good idea. As ever, it's probably best to start small before scaling up (to a full day's play).

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