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Kirk’s Apology to All Who Attended the Miniteams Tournament on Nov. 8

 

The Miniteams tournament was one of the worst events I have ever run.  While I’m not totally to blame, I feel some responsibility for the delays and I want to publicly apologize to all who attended the event, especially to the parents who had to sit an extra hour and half while we righted the ship.

 

To all who are interested in what happened, here’s an explanation.

 

The event is a fixed-roster team event.  As far as I know, WHSCA is the only group running large fixed team roster events in the state, so we have had to teach ourselves and the learning process is sometimes hard.  We use the Windows version of SwissSys, like most tournaments directors in Washington.  It does have the capability to handle fixed-roster team events and we have successfully used it in the past, but it was mainly developed for single-player events.  Since the vast majority of the users of the software never run a fixed-roster team event, the “debugging” of that portion of the code is less complete.  None-the-less, I am not inexperienced at this and knew full well I was heading into uncharted territory when I attempted the things I did. 

 

In the high school tournament, we had a no-show team.  The missing team was fully pre-paid and even more significant, pre-paid with an official Associated Student Body check.  I had numerous communications with the team prior to the event and felt certain they would be there.  In my six years of running these events, I have never seen a fully paid full team fail to show and fail to contact us in any way.  So at 9:15 with the registration desk closed, I had to make a decision, and I made a bad one.  I decided to keep them in the tournament, figuring they were just late and would come dashing in at the last second.  I also felt I could drop them after the first round without problem.  But I was wrong on both counts.

 

In a team event you must have an even number of teams.  Unlike a single-player event where byes are common, in a team event, a bye means a full sweep (3-0) and awards not one point, but 3 points to the team with the bye.  It has far too much effect on the team standings to give out a 3-point bye, so we must have an even number of teams.  With the missing team included, I had one person too many for an even team count.  That meant rounding up 5 extra players to make even teams (worst possible case) and I could only find 4.  So now I had a team with only two players. 

 

After the first round started, it became clear that the missing team was not going to show, and we needed to drop that team.  That would leave us with an odd number of teams, so the decision was made to cut two of the extra players from the field to even the teams out.  Unfortunately, the two we decided to cut were not both on the 2-person team, so in addition to 1) dropping the missing team, and 2) deleting the two-person team, I also had to move a player from one team to another.  I did that before the start of the second round, and the computer dropped the missing team OK, but had problems with the two-person team I was deleting.  It wanted to continue to pair that team, even though it no longer had any players assigned to it.

 

For round 2, I forced that deleted team to have a bye and that allowed round 2 pairings to be complete and posted, but then when the results were entered for round 2, and SwissSys went to pair round 3, it no longer made sense.  For example, it had Garfield, who had won all their games and not been involved with either of the two eliminated teams, as only having a score of 3 points (should have been 6).  The pairings were wrong, the scores were wrong, and it was not possible to repair the SwissSys files.  The only computer option was to start over and re-pair rounds 1 and 2.  The other option was to hand-pair with manually written pairing cards.  Both options would take time, but the manual process was guaranteed of success, while the computer option had uncertainties.

 

Suspecting problems, midway through Round 2, I began writing manual pairing cards in the event we needed to hand-pair the tournament, but it takes a long time to manually write all the data for 28 teams for two rounds.  I was only partially done with that task when Round 2 finished and we realized the Round 3 pairings were wrong and the computer now had totally wrong scores.  So we made the decision to switch to a manual pair for the tournament, and thanks to help from Dave Ellinger and Edwin Dizon, we were able to finish the pairing cards and hand-pair round 3.  But all this process took time – over an hour from the end of round 2, when the typical break is less than 15 minutes. 

 

During the playing of round 3, I went back to the computer and started over, with only 28 teams and just filling with byes and forfeits for the players who were now removed from the tournament.  I had to force-pair to match what was actually played in rounds 1 - 3 and tinker with the player data to deal with the missing players who had been dropped.  Ultimately, I was able to get the computer back on track before the start of round 4 and we dual-paired by hand and by computer the last two rounds. 

 

There were no problems with the MS/JHS tournament.  Eric Winges ran it smoothly with little or no help from me, since I was embroiled in the battle to fix the high school event.  Somewhere during round 3 when the HS was still playing and the MS/JHS was done, the decision was made to delay the MS/JHS so that it would be run simultaneous with the HS event.  In addition there was clock malfunction in one round, that further delayed the HS event when one game ran long and it was determined that the clock was not working properly.  That caused an additional 15-minute delay.

 

So there were many problems.  I hold myself personally responsible for the decision to keep the no-show team in the tournament to begin with.  If I hadn’t made that decision, or if the missing team had notified me that they were not coming, the event would have been run on time and I would not be writing this treatise.  I appreciate all the people who attended the event and I am truly sorry for any inconvenience that was caused by our seeming incompetence and disorganization.  Please trust me when I tell you we were working like mad in the TD room to correct the problems.  It was a bad day.

 

Sincerely,

 

Kirk Winges