Thursday, March 30, 2017

In which we philosophize about numbers

The bigger a field is, the easier it is to tab, provided you’ve got enough judges. It’s the little ones that are the hardest, especially when there’s an imbalance, that is, a lot of teams from one or two schools.

The big tournaments tab themselves. What you have to look for is that all the judges are being used correctly, that the byes are going to the people who deserve them (something tabroom has yet to do satisfactorily), and that people show up and end up within a reasonable amount of time. It probably takes about an hour to tab a big round: fifteen or twenty minutes to make sure it’s okay and the assignments are right, a half hour lead-up time, then fifteen minutes of getting each round started. Usually we’re tabbing multiple events on a staggered schedule, and as soon as one division is set, the next one pops up. (I’m not counting time for entering results because there’s less of that every year, thank God.)

In other words, the computer does all the work, and mostly does it right. It can’t do things like prefer 2-3 prefs over 1-2s, but that’s easy enough to fix. There may be little things that remain problematic, but the big work is done in the processor.

Little fields are harder. The computer might be perfectly happy with double-pull-ups, or assignment of the bye will be ceded to side constraints, or not, or any number of things like that. Clever manipulation of judges, e.g., moving a varsity LD judge into a JV PF round, no way. Good judges on the bubbles, maybe. All the teams from X HS undefeated, hitting pullups? That may be unsolvable. Simply not pairing the round? It does happen. I print up cards, in that case. Kaz uses the manual matcher. Whatever.

Looking ahead to the NY States tournament, it appears that the younger the students, the more of them there are. Only 19 people are qualified to debate LD at the varsity level across the entire state? No. But only 19 people want to. Whatever. I’m not an interested party anymore, so it is what it is. 27 in JV. 37 in Novice. The point is, the divisions will be progressively easier to tab as the students become younger, because there’s progressively more of them. But none of them are gangbuster big. This is going to be an interesting tournament to run because we will, in fact, have to run it. There is a belief that will put tab rooms out of business. Not yet. 

Each tournament has its own ethos, its own problems, its own fun and games. Each, in other words, is unhappy in its own way.


Wednesday, March 29, 2017

In which we take on regions

Not here. Facebook. Sorry to make you click multiple times, but it may be the only exercise you're getting today, and I'm trying to keep you healthy.

Monday, March 27, 2017

In which we note a couple of quick items

I’m going on hiatus in a couple of days, resurrecting after Easter. Meanwhile, for those who are keeping score, on Facebook @TournamentToolkit I recently talked about online onsite registration, which I’m most agin’, the ins and outs of publishing the names of your teams and judges, and tracking down bogus entries. If you do go there, please like and follow. That will make sure the posts get into your feed. Unless you hate them with a feverish passion you were unaware was buried in your otherwise calm and sober personage, in which case keep it to yourself. 

That is all.


Friday, March 24, 2017

In which we double-verify

I just spent a bunch of time setting up two-step verification on things. You probably should too. It may seem like time wasted, but at the point where your data gets hijacked, which is not an impossibility, you might think otherwise. Let’s put it this way: everyone I know of in the tech industry does it. Does that tell you something?

I’m more disinclined to do things like turn off fingerprint recognition in hopes of eluding customs officials. I might feel differently if I were less white and less old and less American in general. Your password entry into your devices is generally protected, apparently, but not physical access. There is some sort of nice point of distinction, but don’t ask me what it is.

Underlying all of this is the growing sense of paranoia about devices slash personal data in general slash the 21st Century, versus acceptance of the risks of the times. Some even question if they are, indeed, risks, and not simply the prices you pay for the benefits. People publish their life stories on Facebook, for instance. I have connections who can’t fart without lighting a match to it on Fb. I’ve asked about this, and generally people say they’re doing it for themselves, sort of as a journal, rather than expecting anyone else to really care about it. Okay, I can buy that, I guess. But there are ways of keeping a private journal. Every time I post a new profile picture, or any picture, I doubt if I’m doing it so that people will like it and respond how gorgeous I am, which seems to be the reaction any woman I know gets. Post-post feminism? Posting feminism? Beats me.

I’m now managing three accounts of Fb, plus trying to make two others disappear. That latter apparently takes a month. I can live with that. They’re really not active, except for the regular string of likes from people with unpronounceable names from unidentifiable countries, i.e., spammers. The others are my personal account, which nowadays is mostly fed by people Trumpifying one way or the other, a new DJ account that we’re building as a communication center for our customers, and the new Tournament Toolkit account, which I hope will become a place people can discuss best practices in tournament direction. That’s a lot of Fb, although as far as the first one is concerned, my personal contributions lately have been nothing but entertainments as a balance to Trumpifying. I do that on Twitter. As soon as Trump is dumped—my prediction is, sadly, a loss in the 2020 general election, and not sooner—I plan to give up Twitter for everything except tracking which celebrities just died, which is what I used to do. Ah, the memories.

No debate this weekend for me. There’s just that one more trip unto the breach at NY States. Meanwhile, if you haven’t already done so, check out the Toolkit page on Fb. Feel free to comment. Tell me I’m full of horse manure. I don’t care. Like DJT, I’m always right and I never lie. (A phrase that began “Vote for me because” in an old Firesign Theater bit. Not that you have any idea who that is…)


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

In which we are elsewhere

Long post on attendees at @TournamentToolkit on Fb. That's enough for one day.

Monday, March 20, 2017

In which we tell you how to flip

As I pointed out on Facebook on the Tournament Toolkit page, one thing was pretty clear on Saturday at CFL Grands. Aff was killing in LD, and Con wasn’t far behind in PF. I wonder if there’s reasons for that.

Maybe the housing was doing so well because we were in the capitol of Liberal Tree-Hugging America. Housing is far from a natural right, though, so the idea that it’s a civil right guaranteed by the government, specifically in the US, requires an awful lot of leaps from what is a right to what ought to be a right. Even as a civil right: although housing is perceived as a right in the UDHR, it’s pretty far down the line of the things that a government is able to guarantee, and rights require guarantees from governments by definition. I’m wondering if LD has gotten so far away from a basic, classical understanding of rights that it just hooks on to whatever claims it wants to make, despite drawing on a subject with more literature than virtually anything else in ethics. The pool on Saturday wasn’t exactly drawn from the avant garde of the $ircuit, but they were nevertheless generally pretty experienced. And good debaters know how to adapt to CFL judges. Go figure.

Meanwhile, PFers were hot and heavy for the US to pressure Israel for two states. Again, maybe the location of the event says something here, but I’m not sure what. It could be that, indeed, the two-state solution, which pretty much everybody in the universe prefers aside from Benny the Net and Landslide Donnie (who seems to prefer whatever he sees on Fox News five minutes ago, and then blames it on Hillary), is simply hard to beat in a straightforward debating environment. As I also pointed out at TT on Fb, this one really needed judges to step back from their own opinions. Maybe they did, maybe they didn’t.

Needless to say, there aren’t a lot of opportunities to debate these resolutions, aside from qualifiers and maybe state events. Given the tendency in the LD world to believe that, aside from NSDA, the topics end with Jan-Feb (thanks for nothing, TOC), this may not be an issue for them. PF, which seems a bit more bought into the actual months it occurs, would only have one more chance. I would be curious if other operations using these topics had similar results, considering that our results were both definitive and, because of the size of the field, statistically useless.


Thursday, March 16, 2017

In which we reminisce

Tonight is the annual dinner for the folks who run the NYCFL.

I've been doing debate for the group since, well, what seems like forever. At least a decade. I can remember when I went to my first dinner. I really didn't know everyone all that well, and I'm not exactly the most comfortable small-talker ever, but with this group, there was plenty of talk to go around. Most memorably, Sister Raimonde was in attendance that year, and every other year pretty much until she retired. She was a pretty frightening character from a distance, but one thing I noticed about her right away was how much her students liked her. That's always been key to my judgment of coaches: if their kids like them, they're probably okay. Kids and dogs can tell these things. And it's certainly true that not all kids like their coaches. Or all coaches like their kids. There's often a grudging respect, but not much more, and sometimes not even that. Oh, well.

Anyhow, Sister R was rather enjoyable in person, and so was everyone else. Over time the personnel have changed, but it's still fun. Of course, nowadays I work regularly with Catholic Charlie and JV, so right there we are able to settle in for one of the few social events of the year when we're together. So, it's a bit of fun for the backstagers, once again at an Italian restaurant in White Plains, right down the road from the DJ. I'm looking forward to it.

And Saturday is Grands, and everything seems to be lined up. Looking forward to that, too. I'm so easy to please nowadays.


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

In which we get serious about the new Fb page

There is now a Tournament Toolkit page on Facebook. I originally used the View from Tab page, but I felt that really didn’t do the job. What I’m hoping for is that this will be a place where those of us who do this a lot can share information and tips and ideas and help, outside of the dedicated help of After all, that’s just about tabbing, and there’s a lot more to running a tournament than running a tab room. My recommendation is that, if you’re running a tournament, you don’t tab it yourself, so most of what I talk about in the toolkit on my website is not specifically, although much of it may be controlled within that software.

The next step is getting the page noticed. If you’re here, would you mind going there and following the page? It’s @TournamentToolkit. I’ll also try sharing it to my own Fb page, so people will see it.

I’m hoping that it won’t be a one-way communication, since I’ve already got plenty of that. I know there’s more than one way to do things, and while I think I’ll be describing best practices, someone else might have a bester one. (And why didn’t Word question “bester” when I typed it out? Blogger did. Google smarter than Microsoft? Uh-oh.)