By John Riches, posted to the Nottingham E-mail group.
I have had three requests for further information regarding our "Pre-drawn Swiss" events, so I have decided to give some details below in case others are also interested.
Entrants can be of any standard. We prefer to limit entries to 24 (with 2 courts available) or 36 (with 3 courts), but other numbers are possible, e.g. 12 or 60. The events fill up very quickly and those who miss out are encouraged to stand by as "reserves", ready to replace anyone who has to withdraw during the event, although we stress on the entry form that if you enter you are expected to play one game every day, win or lose. Withdrawing for a less than compelling reason is reprehensible because it may affect the chance of someone winning a major prize.
We usually play singles, but doubles has also been tried. Everyone plays only one game each day, which makes it less suitable for players travelling from distant areas, but quite a few players do come to Adelaide from country areas, and spend the free time attending to business or sight-seeing.
There are usually 6 rounds over 6 days, with three 3-hour playing sessions each day.
Everyone plays 3 players ranked above them and 3 players ranked below them, except of course those at the top or bottom of the rankings. For example, in a 36-player event player number 12 would play numbers 6, 8, 10, 14, 16 and 18; while number 13 would play numbers 7, 9, 11, 15, 17 and 19. Thus, apart from the top six and bottom 6, odds play odds and evens play evens, which can be useful in avoiding drawing players against members of their own families.
With one game each day no catering is needed other than perhaps a cup of tea or coffee. The whole draw is published before the event starts, so it is not a true "Swiss" event, but it allows players to know from the start who they will be playing each day and at what time, so that they can come only for the one session and go home when the game is completed (or else stay and watch some of the other games).
With 24 players and 6 rounds on 2 courts double-banked there would be three 3-hour playing sessions each day. An entry fee of (say) $20 would allow two main prizes of $100 each, plus minor prizes, and would yield a tidy profit of at least $200. Sponsorship (or increased entry fees) would increase the profit.
The two main prizes are called the "Championship" and "Handicap" prizes. The Championship prize is shared equally between the players who win all their 6 games; or if no-one does, then between those who win 5 games. Sometimes we have a "stop on the bell" rule and allow draws, so the winner could have 5.5 points. There are no bisques used. All games are played under "advanced" rules. Every player is given a number of hoops in before the event starts, calculated according to their handicap. We normally give them 4 times the number of bisques they would receive in a handicap game from the strongest player in the event. Thus if the strongest entrant had a handicap of -1, a player whose handicap is 10 would receive 11 * 4 = 44 hoops start. To this starting number is added the number of hoops made by the player each round. The number of hoops made by your opponent is irrelevant. It is possible to win the handicap prize even if you lose several of your games, and there is always keen interest in the round-by-round cumulative "handicap" totals, with accompanying speculation as to whether or not the back markers still have a chance of catching up to the front-runners. When you play against a stronger opponent you simply try to make as many hoops as possible to add to your handicap score; and when you play a weaker opponent you try to stop them from scoring hoops and staying ahead of you. The handicap prize is most often won by a "bandit" who has just learnt to make breaks, but everyone has (or thinks they have) a realistic chance of winning either the Championship prize or the Handicap prize. The top players usually see themselves as playing to win all their games and share in the Championship prize, but occasionally a top player will win the Handicap prize. A player cannot win more than one prize, and if his results make him eligible for more than one prize, he takes whichever is largest.
Here is a table, as best I can do it on email, showing the pattern of who
plays who in a 12-player 6-round Pre-drawn Swiss. The players are
ranked 1 to 12 according to handicaps, and an 'x' in a row indicates that the
player whose number is at the start of the row plays the opponent whose number
is at the top of that column. I have chosen only 12 players because it
would be hard to fit in many more across the computer screen.
In case the table does not print out properly, you can construct it from the following information:
Player 1 plays against numbers 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7.
A possible draw for the 6 rounds to accomplish this could be:
Round 1: 1 vs 7, 2 vs 8, 3 vs 9, 4 vs 10, 5 vs 11, 6 vs 12.
I hope I have not made any errors in the above, but cannot guarantee it.
This 12-player 6-round event could be played on just one court with double-banked games and 3 playing sessions each day for 6 days, or on 3 courts with double-banked games and two session each day (in which case each player would get 2 games each day and it would be all over in 3 days). We have also had events with 12 players and only 4 rounds over 2 days; and with 4 rounds over four consecutive Fridays. It is better to have more players, with a good spread of abilities and handicaps from top to bottom.
One interesting aspect of the Pre-drawn Swiss is that players are willing to pay higher entry fees in order to allow larger prizes (and greater profit) because they all think they have a chance of winning one of the big prizes. Smaller prizes can be given for the highest handicap hoops total in various handicap ranges, or a ladies prize, or a visitors prize, etc.
I would hope that from the above information someone with an interest in mathematics would have little difficulty working out a draw for another number of players and rounds (although some numbers are not possible); but I will offer to assist anyone who wants to try out the Pre-drawn Swiss format and has difficulty with it.
One of the main attractions of this format is that players can go back to their clubs and tell everyone how they shared first prize with Colin Pickering, or won the handicap prize ahead of several top players, etc. Of course they conveniently omit to mention that they played an entirely different set of opponents which did not include Colin. As with Swiss tournaments in chess, we do not take the results too seriously; but we all enjoy ourselves immensely, and people immediately want to put their names down for the next one.
Best wishes to all
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