Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Running a Chess Tourney 101

Finding these sorts of treasures online still leaves me gobsmacked. Courtesy of what is increasingly becoming Australia's one and only true chess forum, Matt Sweeney's Australian Chess Club Forum, we found this absolutely wonderful "Survivor's Guide" to running a chess tournament.

Melbourne chess personality and treasurer of the Box Hill Chess Club Trevor Stanning calls this little publication "a resource of wonder".

While the guide maybe aimed at chess folks in the Australian Capital Territory, it is is very useful to all chess organisers - novices and experts alike the world over. We are walked through some pretty simple stuff like roles and responsibilities of an organising team, "Setting Up on the day" and "Running the day".

There is also a section on "Odering Lunch" - just perfect for those who have to deal with a couple of hundred (sometimes a couple of thousand) hungry children!

But the one prescription that really brought a smile was this: "Do not leave until all children are collected!"

The guide was created by Canberra chess organiser Libby Smith who, in a posting on Mr Sweeney's board, has this lesson for would-be chess organisers, "I believe the effort and expertise required to run an event is grossly overstated and that the actual skill most required and least exhibited is simple administrative, organisational and time management abilities".

13 comments:

Kevin Bonham said...

Excellent document! Fantastic! I do however have a suggestion about the procedures for dealing with mistakes found later, at the bottom of page 10 and bottom of page 24.

I have frequently found that in, say, a seven-round junior tournament, a player will come to me at the start of, say, round seven and inform me that their score is wrong. They will usually insist that they won in round two or three where they have been shown as a loss. Their opponent who is shown as winning in the results also claims to have won. It is impossible to get to the truth of the situation and most often the child making the claim has a short memory or has had a long day and is confused.

The way I deal with this is as follows. When printing the draw for each round from SP ensure that it shows each player's score. Tell players that they must check their score at the start of each round (1 point for a win, half point for a bye, no points for a loss) and if their score is incorrect they must tell the arbiters right away. Announce that if there is a mistake and they have not told the arbiters by the end of the round after the mistake, it is too late to correct it. (You can still correct mistakes where you find a data entry error, ie the result entered in the computer does not match the result recorded on the paper). This gets the children in the habit of dealing with these issues right away rather than dwelling on them (and if they leave them for several rounds there is often a degree of memory drift about what actually happened.) That way any complaints about earlier rounds late in the day can be easily dealt with by "I said at the start of the day that if you found a mistake in your score you had to tell us before the end of the next round, so sorry, it's too late to do anything about it now." Children appear to accept this, whereas trying to resolve things that happened several rounds ago can often end with one child disappointed and one or both in tears.

I have found that many children are extremely helpful and under this procedure will even notify the arbiter when their score is too *high*.

Also, a round that has started (ie children have actually started playing moves on the board) should never be unpaired in my view, even if someone gets a lucky/unlucky draw that affects the final standings. That can happen naturally as a result of the luck and quirks of the Swiss System or bugs in Swiss Perfect anyway - it's a subjective call, but to me it just seems disorganised if you have players playing moves on the board and then call "ok, stop that game, you all have to play someone else".

Libby said...

Thanks Kevin

These issues happen rarely in our events. And almost exclusively they are a "typo" on our part.

We make players report scores as a pair. If you don't bring your opponent then we won't take your result.

However human error does happen. We have even issued an "extra" trophy when we have reviewed results after the event and found a mistake. We don't take it away from the recipient on the day but we do hand out another.

As for re-pairing, we almost never have to do that. I guess I'm coming from a position of wanting people "not to panic" if something goes wrong. Most things are fixable, kids (fortunately) are flexible and we have a good atmosphere of friendly competition with fewer sheep stations hanging on outcomes.

I'd like to stress that this was never intended as a blueprint for everyone's events. It's meant to help our local parents to run our events in a consistent fashion with some confidence. Children who enter in our Development Squad program must have a parent prepared to assist with at least one event that year. So we create teams to run each event.

In the past, I either had to write very long emails in explanation - or (more often) run it myself because that just seemed easier.

With the Juniors and Schools on the go this year - and going back to work - delegation has been thrust upon me and ACTJCL is very fortunate to have some great people like Rebekah Gupte, Jenny Wilkinson & Charles Bishop who have taken from me (by force when necessary) many jobs I hadn't learned to hand over ;0)

MOZ said...

Agree; printing the score avoids the problem.

DOP pre-round instructions of a lengthy nature undesirable.

Agree; no re-starts.


End of post.

Kevin Bonham said...

moz: I try to make the announcement about checking scores each round when putting up the draw for round 2. That removes it from the pack of announcements at the start of round 1.

I have to be careful here or Peter Hanna will show up and dribble for the zillionth time about some story he allegedly heard that I once spent more than 20 seconds making announcements at the start of an adult tournament!

Anonymous said...

Part1: A great document from Libby. Good work and well done.

Part 2: Amiel, here is some good advice for you. It is not in your interest to be promoting Sweeney's activities. I expect that Sweeney's ban from NSWCA activities will be extended for 1 year (until 1/1/2008) at the next NSWCA Council meeting, for activities detrimental to NSW chess. Therefore, it is unwise of you to be promoting him on your blog.

Anonymous said...

Part 1: A great document from Libby. Good work and well done.

Part 2: Amiel, here is some good advice for you. It is not in your interest to be promoting Sweeney's activities. I expect that Sweeney's ban from NSWCA will be extended for 1 year (until 1/1/2008) at the next NSWCA Council meeting, for his activities detrimental to NSW chess. Therefore, it is unwise of you to be promoting him on your blog.

The Closet Grandmaster said...

Ooohhh...I am sooo, like, scared!

- TCG

ggrayggray said...

TCG, we can all see you are scared, it is clearly showing in your picture on here :) hehe

Matthew Sweeney said...

2008 !?!?

That is funny.

The NSWCA council already looks like a bunch of drongos lead by the nose by a dog, a maggot, and a snake. If ever they wanted to get themselves into the League of Extraordinary Vertical Smiles, that would be the way do it. I am about as impressed as TCG, Furthermore, if TCG was targetted, it would be actionable. It has a name: blackmail.

442 said...

Not in Amiel's interests?...hmmm

Are you implying people who sympathise with Mr Sweeney in NSW
are skating on thin ice?

Amiel,keep on promoting Matt's bb.
Diversity is the spice of life.
There needs to be an alternative to chesschat,freedom of speech should not be stifled just to please someones powermad ego.

MOZ said...

The penalty they could impose on TCG is to not vote for him when the chess-writer of the year award is made for 2006. Now that would be a real travesty.

ARival said...

we run an annual tournament mostly
for juniors & could always do with
any helpful advice.
'Survivors Guide' looks like what we need,but when we clicked on the link in TCGs post it couldnt be found.
Isthere another way we could gey a copy?

Libby said...

The guide is still available on this webpage (click on the link at the top of the page)http://www.actjcl.org.au/actjcl/calendar.htm.

A lot of it is quite ACT-specific but you are welcome to use anything useful.

The purpose behind the guide was to assist volunteers in running events, to ensure consistency in procedures and prize giving for events, and to place this information in a public forum so the information is accessible and transparent for the membership.