Thursday, December 21, 2017

In which we decide we were wrong

I am going to be changing my tune on judge obligations, at least a little bit. Previously I was wedded to the idea that limiting obligations resulted in lessening the overall pref value of a tournament. I think I managed to demonstrate this mathematically, but I learned since then that it doesn’t matter. Even if the lessening is pretty clear, in a word, nobody seems to care about it. What some people do care about is limiting their rounds and spreading their obligation and scouting. Also there is the issue of Backwoods High School for the Children of the Mentally Inert running 6 teams over three days, with different inexperienced parent judges each day. BHSCMI, by splitting the obligation at a tournament that theoretically doesn’t split obligations, but where the software does allow splitting, pretty much soaks up everybody’s strikes. I mean, they’ll have 6 judges, all prime targets for striking. And they’re just one school. The math doesn't work.

From this, to me, the conclusion is clear. If you want to give the users what they want, giving them, in certain situations, partial obligations makes sense. It doesn’t make sense at relatively small events with a limited pool, for a variety of self-evident reasons, but at a big event with a biggish field of a hundred or more, and the resulting pool of judges, it does make sense. I’m thinking here of Rather Large Bronx, for one. Then I’m thinking Princeton. We’ve used the Tiggers a few times now for introducing new practices, and it’s gone well. They make a good test clinic. Their attendees are a mix of veterans and noobs, the former of which won’t be a problem and the latter of which, well, we’ll see. At a tournament like Ridge, though, where we get pretty creative making sure the prefs are decent, any limitation of those prefs, like per-student obligations, would be seriously and noticeably harmful to the teams. Plus aside from the potential attendance of BHSCMI, there’s no real call for it.

Anyhow, I’m going to rewrite my documentation on this at some point in the near future. I’ll keep you posted.


Wednesday, December 20, 2017

In which various tournaments are updated

I’ve been helping Kathy put together this year’s Baby Bump. It’s now up on tabroom, although she’s still plugging away at the invitation. She took umbrage when I explained to her that no one actually ever reads an invitation. She claims she reads every last line of every last one of them. The exception that proves the rule, if you ask me.

BB will be like last year, with 4 rounds on a Saturday in novice and academy LD and PF. We’re also going to throw in a Congress, if the numbers can support it. Why not? It can be a profitable little activity, and we’ll have Catholic Charlie around to actually make it happen. My guess is that we won’t get enough interest, but it’s worth trying. We’ve got nothing to lose. The thing is, there’s only so many opportunities for congressfolk to get qualifications for the State tournament, which is the big thing around here for them. States operates on a process of obtaining half-quals at tournaments for your successes. In a shocking display of Rithmetic Makes the World Go Round, two half quals equals one full qual, and you’re in. The Paginator, hearing all this talk about half quals at the Christmas Chlassich last weekend thought he had wandered into the Tower of Terror. Oh, these Jersey people, especially the ones from Massachusetts. They just don’t understand.

Meanwhile, both Penn and Columbia are polished to within an inch of their lives. I’ll kill the TBAs for the latter the beginning of January. I’ve already done it for the former, but that one is way bigger, with way more rooms, hence way more demand. Both are big draws, though. It’s not just the Ivy thing, but that’s a part of it. People just like going to big cities and, of course, big cities are easy to get to. The tournaments aren’t half bad either, but that’s almost beside the point when it comes to colleges. If you’re looking for bids, they’re not easy to come by. And, given the cost of travel and lodging, they’re not cheap. Which doesn’t stop anyone, of course. I’ve had people insist that they should be admitted to these tournaments, despite not registering until the week before, because they worked hard to earn the money to go. Wouldst they had worked hard to train their coach to sign up with everybody else. Oh, well. I have no trouble playing the Grinch, or getting people in if I can. But I can only do so much.

Speaking of which, the series of plaintive woe emails from Kaz has turned a bit less woeful now that she’s found the extra space at the middle school that she was always hoping for. As long as she keeps all the Pfffters there, she can reckon ‘em by the dozens and it’s fine by me.


Monday, December 18, 2017

In which, at the end, we celebrate with Brazil's finest

Oy, as they say in the CFL. The Paginator and I entered about fifty thousand paper ballot results at the Regis Kristmas Chlassich. I’d forgotten what a pain that can be. Every time you turn around, another ballot wants entering. I’d rather yell at the e-judges to press the start button any day of the week.

The RKC was, overall, uneventful. While I was making my traditional opening remarks (the ones that, even if people listen to them, they ignore), Marty was getting the ballots printed up. Imagine my chagrin when he arrived sans ballots, plaintively crying that the ballots wouldn’t print, and then disappearing to either never return to this horrible place, or to fix it. Fortunately, it was the latter. Apparently Catholic Charlie, who gave us the Christmas Presents of his Absence (he was up Naticking) figured out that it was a non-printing character in the ballot instructions. Good gravy! Could it be that CP has simply left a bunch of IEDs in the programming when it comes to paper ballots? I wouldn’t put it past him. Anyhow, we did ultimately get things rolling, and paper ballots were distributed, and, as I said, we spent the rest of the day entering them.

I had set the tournament up for teams to check themselves in, and then I saw that a school that was as likely to be all here as Donald Trump is likely to turn off Fox News was the first to check in, about a half hour early. This set off the old claxon, and I turned off the check-yourself-in feature. Shockingly, that school was indeed all here, as the adult who wanted to pay me said as he was walking out the door, leaving them chaperone-less. More claxons, and eventually one of the kids’ parents showed up to be there when they fell down the stairs and broke their noggins. Anyhow, the point of this is that one needs to be very thoughtful about having teams check themselves in, especially when there’s a possibility of shenanigans. One school, with which I had communicated during the week, telling them, to wit, that they weren’t exactly signed up for the tournament, showed up anyhow with puzzled looks on their faces and an announcement that they were independent. I explained to them that when they fell down the stairs and broke their noggins, the fact that they were independent meant that their parents would sue the crap out of me, Regis and the horse they rode in on, as compared to being an official entry, in which case their broken noggins would be just another fracture in the daily life of el-hi students. They abjectly went off into the darkness, never to be seen again.

It was that kind of day all day. Give everybody 25 points and don’t fill out a ballot, and get your knickers in a twist when I suggest, perhaps not too kindly, that you’re a #&*$ idiot and to do what I told everyone to do in the opening remarks. This particular judge claimed to have listened to those remarks, which meant that he was willfully ignoring them rather than arrogantly being elsewhere because, as he claimed, he was the best debater in the country starting with his very first round lo these many years ago. He’s a junior now. He vowed never to return again, after the way I treated him. I think he meant this as a punishment for me. I also think he misread the signs.

We did finally get things wrapped up, and the Paginator and I strolled down Madison on a very balmy evening and settled in for a nice meal at a Brazilian restaurant. Marty downed his first feijoada. JV had previously warned him that it was made from all the parts of the animals that 1) no one usually eats, that 2) are rejected as being too gross for inclusion in the country’s sausage-making, but that was just not true. Drink a couple of caipirinhas first, and you can eat anything.  


Thursday, December 14, 2017

In which we merely touch base

Sometimes something will bother me in a book I’m working on for the DJ. Like the apparently anachronistic use of the phrase “Prince Charming.” I only gave it the Wikipedia treatment (once the kiss of death, but now pretty much okay for government work) to learn that, while princes and kings might have been charming for centuries, the first specific use of the term seems to be in Dorian Gray in 1890. Good ol’ Oscar. Hence I was right. In 1885 no one would refer to Prince Charming. Jeeves, bring me my red pencil!

Meanwhile, the Regis Kristmas Klassik is now klosed. It’s on the rather large side, but at least they’re not debating in the cafeteria, AKA the first circle minus point five. As for Columbia, I’m just eyeing it from the side, making sure it doesn’t make any funny noises. And tomorrow I’ll kill the TBAs for Penn. Or more to the point, maim them slightly, as the Delete TBAs button, surprisingly, does not delete TBAs. Or at least, not all of them. TBAs on the waitlist go away, while TBAs on your accepted list apparently become drops that you have to pay for. I’ll watch this closely tomorrow and see if that’s really true. I mean, it is early to shut things down, and most folks will just put in phony names, but by my lights, expending the energy to enter real albeit not necessarily correct names indicates a true desire to attend, as compared to some eager sophomore entering surreptitiously and sucking up endless slots because, just maybe, their school might come, if they can find a parent to pretend to chaperone. Other than that, Kaz has officially announced that LD is in the high school, which means I can walk to the ice cream shop for Bigle X. I’m meeting with Kathy tomorrow to set up Baby Bump. The Paginator and I have a reservation at my favorite Brazilian restaurant Saturday after the Klassik. And I think that’s about it for the immediate future.


Wednesday, December 13, 2017

In which we mull over the NYCFL Kristmas Klassik

NYCFL tournaments are pretty well-tooled, at this point. We could fit four rounds into the day, but the membership prefers three rounds, and even though their preference is screwy in my mind, it is the membership that drives the structure, not the all-knowing tab person. We get everyone checked in by 9:00. I give opening remarks at 9:30. Rounds are at 10 and 12, then there’s a half hour break for the judges to chow down, and another round at around 2:30 or so. Awards around 5:00, and there you are.

Unfortunately, the wifi at Regis isn’t robust enough to handle e-ballots, but so it goes. The CFLs at Regis have become the only paper tournaments left on my agenda, and there’s something warm and cozy about them. Given the fact that the judge pool is mostly fairly inexperienced parents or fairly inexperienced student judges, paper ballots aren’t the worst thing in the world. Not learning the whole E thing is one less thing for them to worry about. Not that the whole E thing is particularly complicated, but noobs perceive of it as complicated when added to the rest of the judging business, and the perception is all that is needed to make it real. 

Part of the well-tooling of the event is the mishaps. We will not be able to find judges who are hiding in plain sight, either filling their pie holes in the judges’ lounge or hogging a debating space taking six days to write a two-sentence RFD. (Which will, BTW, be “Both sides were excellent. Pro was more persuasive.”) A half dozen students will come to the registration desk and ask where to sign in, and I’ll tell them to talk to their coaches. Parent judges will try to check in with me, mostly because I’ll be looking relatively official. The idea that schools are responsible for their teams and their judges always proves elusive. I’m not quite sure why. You print a list of your people from tabroom, you check off the names when they arrive. It’s not rocket surgery.

I guess it just goes to show the range of coaching abilities. Some schools never fuss or muss, and other schools always fuss and muss. We can see them coming from miles away. I could easily provide you a list in advance of which schools will be the most annoying at any given tournament, and be correct with 95% accuracy. In the phantom zone of tournament management, I will say that this one thing is true: if you are one of the no-fuss-and-muss schools, I am at your service if something actually does go wrong for you. And if you are one of the always-fuss-and-muss schools, it’s the letter of the law and it’s your problem, not mine. Does that make me an evil person? Na’ah. Just human.