Monday, July 31, 2017

In which we regionalize

(This is cross-posted to Tournament Toolkit on FB.)

In something of a throwback, Kaz and I engaged in a conversation over the weekend with a tournament director who wanted very much to set up regions at his tournament. It’s a big event, and people travel to it, and he didn’t want people to travel hither and yon and then, in a preset, hit a team they could have walked across the street to debate.

We demurred on two counts. First of all, when we tried regions once in the past, it was problematic insofar as the tabroom software is concerned. Palmer had to step in and fix it on the fly, and if I remember correctly he told us never to do it again under threat of excommunication, but I could be remembering incorrectly (as if that ever happens) and maybe he fixed it and I just want to remember it wrong.

Secondly, and more importantly, there is the issue of whether regions is a good idea per se. It’s easy to see the underlying logic of not wanting to travel to hit a neighbor—or be judged by a neighbor, which is also part of the regional concept—but is that logic sound? First of all, it’s only in the presets as far as the opponent is concerned, so what are the odds? And Kaz suggested that, as often as not, teams are happy to hit someone familiar early in a travel tournament. And honestly, at the point where the presets are random, eliminating some of the teams from the potential draw is, well, not random. Given that the only warrant for using regions is relative proximity, is that a good enough warrant? Maybe you know the local teams well and feel confident of a win against them. Maybe you’re nervous at the beginning of a tournament and would appreciate the comfort-food of a familiar opponent. I can think of other reasons, all sort of wishy-washy, that can counter the wishy-washy desire not to debate a neighbor. In any case, it’s just not a big issue, and certainly not one I've heard any demand for on the circuit.

One does have to add to that the fact that MJP overrules any regional judge issues (although I gather that, in the software, it just fights it to the death). I might be dying to be judged by Johannus Blowannus, who lives down the road, because I know his paradigm well. At the point where he can’t judge me, what’s the point of MJP? And if he can judge me, what’s the point of regions?

The only time I’ve thought much about regions in recent memory was at the NY State Finals, where there is a very real style bias that breaks into roughly upstate, NYC and environs, and Long Island. The NYC folk are pretty much all over the map, but in a contest between and Upstater and an Islander, if the judge were one of the two, that judge would be more than likely to be prejudiced in favor of their own region’s style, even if they were judging blind (i.e., undisclosed) entries. There, of course, I didn’t use regions, but just eyeballing, which did the job. Of course, there was no MJP, which would have rendered the point moot.

I can imagine that big Finals events, like CatNats or NatNats, might be inclined to use a regional approach for the sake of (perceived) neutrality, but other than that, it’s much of a muchness, especially in a world of MJP. Or, for that matter, a world of MPJ, if that’s your preference.


No comments: