Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Where's the PGN?

Readers are complaining that the PGNs are not coming in as quick as it should. This is justified. If a more modest event like the just completed Australian Open, in Manly, can manage it - then why not the Queenstown Chess Classic? On this note, every effort is being taken to correct the situation. Gary Bekker conscripts anybody he can see who's standing around doing nothing. But, of course, entering games into a database isn't exactly an exciting task. One poor lass who was on the job, and who sat next to me yesterday, looked like she was about to die from boredom!

It's not only readers who are complaining.

"In fucking Europe, the next round's pairings are up in 2 or 3 minutes. Here it's 2 or 3 hours!" said Dizdarevic.

At the current rate, the next pairings are posted around about 11PM or so. A big issue for some who really want to get in some early prep in the evening instead of doing most of it in the following morning when they really would rather be out on a sight-seeing tour. I must say, Dizdarevic has my sympathies.

Kudos, however, must go to the organisers for responding to the necessary when needed. For example: cross tables, mysteriously omitted from the website during the first couple of days, were later added. And yesterday three clocks were made available to anyone who wanted to play blitz. That's a good thing, for this event has so far been fairly quiet - not a lot of noise going on; noise that, in my view, add significantly to the atmosphere of an event. Other organisers ought to take note: let people have some fun!

There'll be a couple of tough action today on the top boards. Johansen, after a near unbelievable win over Steadman, fronts up against the top seed, while Gawain Jones' will be wanting to see this Englishman cement his lead as he today faces the rested Rozentalis. Rozentalis comes back to the event after doing some sight-seeing in Milford Sound.

Finally, Chessbase already has updates in Spanish and German.

9 comments:

Balrog said...

The problem is a lack of PC's to enter the games. The organisors are 1000km away from homebase without much local support and since the event is already dropping $100k it's a bit hard to chuck more money at it. Anyone online who wants to enter games can have a jpg of the scoresheets and help entering them would no doubt be appeciated!

Balrog said...

Incidentally all pairings are published about 30 mins after round completion after results have been checked and the output of the two pairing programs SM and SP has been verified. So far SP is winning the accuracy stakes.
Getting the webpage updated has been taking longer however!

Libby said...

A couple of ideas worked well for us in getting games entered at the Aus Junior in Canberra where we had over 100 games to enter each round. With only an occasional oversight, we had all games online by about 7pm each day (with all games having been played in a single afternoon round)

We purchased six cheap laptops to give us additional capacity to enter games. These were very easy to "on-sell" after the event so cost the event next to nothing.

We provided incentives for players to enter games. Now we were dealing with juniors and that makes a difference but if there was an incentive (lucky draw each day) for players/spectators etc to enter games then it may make it easier to co-opt volunteers. And if you don't get more volunteers then you are at least rewarding those you have. Our incentives cost us nothing and were donated by general sponsors or tied into tourism incentives that can themselves have value when you are trying to promote an event to local government etc.

Anonymous said...

Having players enter their own games is a great idea - but make sure there is someone in charge of correcting/checking the game info, as many times I have looked for games from the Australian Junior and had the players' names reversed or something else entered wrong.

The lack of PC's is not a great excuse... surely the arbiters all brought their laptops, or at least should have?! And at the Australian Open, there was just one laptop used to enter games! Two arbiters managed to run the tournament, and just using the time during the round when they weren't really doing anything (which, lets face it, is around 90% of the time - not much to do unless there is a dispute), they entered something like 62 games. Even if you have one arbiter "on patrol" while the other enters games, then swap them over (to avoid death by boredom) you would get all the games entered.

Tournament organisers should start expecting a bit more work from the arbiters - after all, they aren't being paid to do one hour of work and 6 hours of chatting and watching top games. I don't think most arbiters would mind something else to do anyway - they always look kinda bored :P

Balrog said...

The games are being entered on the arbiters PC's - annoying when they want to use them for their own purposes! There are four arbiters who are kept pretty busy for nine hours a day and apart from meal breaks seldom get out of the tournament hall before midnight.
As for being paid - they aren't!
Thankfully the organisers are paying most of their expenses however. Despite incentives less than 10% of the players are prepared to help entering games and so far no-one on the planet has offered to enter them remotely. Don't worry - we are having a good time and doing our job properly. We do get a good chuckle out of people like anonymous who want more work for free - please apply for the arbiter position next time :-)

siow, weng nian said...

I am happy to help enter some games, especially those invoving Aus juniors since I am uploading the games in replayable format on my blog. please contact me at wengnian.siow8@gmail.com and/or check out my blog at http://www.australian-junior-youth-chess.blogspot.com/

Anonymous said...

I find it hard to believe that all those arbiters are working for free, although I guess the incentive of a free trip to Queenstown might be some consolation (it sure does seem awesome). But if you are correct, I guess the organisers of Queenstown can't expect too much from them.

Regardless of the pay situation over there, in tournaments like the Australian Juniors/Championships the arbiters certainly get paid and organisers certainly should expect more from them.

I am getting a good chuckle out of the fact that 4 arbiters take twice as long to do the job of 2 arbiters in similar tournaments. And what on earth could you be doing until midnight?! I mean, unless some major problem has occured, I don't see how you could find enough tasks to fill that much time!

Balrog said...

Hi anonymous..it sounds as if you don't have arbiters in your events - just data entry people.Try reading section 13 of the laws of chess and then explain how one arbiter can watch 30 games simultaneously while fiddling with a PC? Maybe one can do that with junior events but GM's take a dim view when the arbiter says "sorry I wasn't watching".
In Beijing we had 50 arbiters and Dresden had 150 - pity we didn't know 2 Aussies were all we needed :-)(at least we had one)!
Oh and the midnight bit is doing bulletins, bookprizes,webpages and entering games etc

Anonymous said...

I think that most GMs have enough tournament experience to realise that the arbiter can never see everything that goes on in a tournament. If someone wants to cheat, they will just do it when the arbiter (or 4 arbiters) are not watching, which is quite a significant part of the game.

Of course you cannot compare this event to an international teams event like Beijing or the Olympiad - these situations have a far higher potential for cheating and/or disputes, and also a far larger budget to be able to afford loads of arbiters. Players do not expect this ratio of arbiters to players in other events, and it would be excessive to provide it.

I am not suggesting that the arbiters at this tournament are doing a bad job - I haven't heard many complaints from players (except about the late posting of the draw and games), so I guess they are probably doing a pretty decent job. I am just suggesting a way that they could do an even better job, by explaining how this was done in other events of a similar size. Whether or not you are willing to do this, or capable of doing this, is yet to be seen.

Just one last thought for anyone who thinks it's unreasonable to ask the arbiter to enter some games in their spare time during the round:
Think of the last tournament you played in with a long (FIDE rated) time control. At the beginning of the round, the arbiters are running around getting everything ready, then the round begins. Maybe the arbiters check all the clocks are going ok in the first few minutes, one checks the DGT boards are going, then once it's all going fine, what did you see the arbiters doing?
Chatting?
Writing arbiters reports for magazines (sometimes for their own profit)?
Eating?
Observing the top boards (not the players, just the positions)?
A bit further into the round, a few games finish. One arbiter takes results, signs scoresheets etc. Maybe there are a few minor problems, or even a major one - most take one or two arbiters 1-5 minutes to resolve. Arbiters occasionally walk around looking at the games. What did the arbiters spend most time on half way through the round?
Analysing games with players?
Drinking coffee?
Towards the end of the round, the arbiters are back on their feet, closely watching the time scrambles. From that point onwards, they are very busy - they enter results, work out the draw and post it.
Now, I'm not trying to be nasty, but any person who has ever played in or observed a long time control chess tournament knows very well that the arbiters have plenty of spare time during the round. And they could certainly enter a significant portion of the games from the round in this spare time.
Now, I'm not trying to be nice (:P), but every player also knows that even with the spare time they have, arbiters still have a very difficult and important job, and the players are all secretly grateful not to be in their position when they have to make a difficult decision. In other words, I am not saying that arbiters have an easy job - I am just suggesting that with better use of their wasted time during the round, the tournament could be a lot better off.