Pretty much summing up the Tournament Director’s Toolkit is my presentation from the NDCA conference, a pdf of which is here (and, of course, on the NDCA website). I managed to get through almost all of it in the allotted time. There was, as expected, discussion about prefs. There does seem to be unapologetic acceptance that prefs are limiting a team’s exposure to about 50% of the pool, and that the ship has sailed on this. Some folks felt that simply making 25% 1s and 25% 2s in acknowledgment of this is a better practice than even tiers, but honestly I think that only works at smaller tournaments, where even I have limited the number of tiers. At the biggies, when you’ve got the big pool, good preffing with even tiers works fine, and I see no reason to act otherwise. No one commented much on limiting obligations. The arithmetic there is obvious. If you have 100 judges with a full obligation, you’ve got 100 judges to choose from in doing a pairing, and if you have 100 judges with a half obligation, you’ve got 50 judges to choose from in doing a pairing. Pairings will inevitably be worse. It’s another sailing ship, but some tournaments haven’t gone there yet, and they do so at their peril. Either they want to play with the big kids, or as judges themselves don’t want to judge much, if they support this practice. I think I’ve made it clear where I stand. I still haven’t asked my boss at the DJ if it was okay with him if I were only obligated to do half my work. I think I know what he would say.
One person did push for ordinals, which do have the theoretical arithmetic beauty of being the most mutual approach. I was even tempted to try it myself at Bump, before I bumped myself out of coaching in Hudville. But I think my argument still holds, that tournaments doing things differently from other tournaments have whatever benefits from what they’re doing lost in the disadvantage of making customers do things differently. I’ve been involved in serious change management over the years at the DJ, and no one ever likes change unless they clearly and definitively benefit from it. I don’t think anyone would see that benefit from ordinals if, indeed, it really even exists. It seems to me that with ordinals you’re more mutual but less preferred. But that’s just a guess on my part. Never having done it and only observed from afar, I can’t speak too authoritatively on it.
And that’s the end of that. To all of you Nats Cats, enjoy California. To the rest of you, enjoy the Memorial Day weekend without having to schlep to Sacramento. Try to remember what the point of Memorial Day is. Salute accordingly.