Organizing a Tournament/Discussion

Some of the SL deshi and visitors have advice to give on running a Go tournament.

How many people win how many games?

That is, if I'm organising a tournament with six rounds ([ext], how many people (as a proportion of total entrants) can I expect to win six out of six, how many five out of six, how many four out of six?

I rather assume it follows a Gaussian distribution with a mean at 3.5, but ... well ...what's Standard Deviation, in that case?

Can anyone help with any kind of rule-of-thumb?

Thanks muchly, JennyRadcliffe

(oops, didn't say - McMahon Pairing, usual BGA style-ee, so to speak).

Bill: It follows a Binomial distribution. Binomial and Gaussian distributions are similar, except in the tails. But it is the tails that we are most interested in in tournaments.

Assuming that the pairings are such that the chance of winning any game is 50-50, the odds of someone's winning all games in N rounds vs. winning all but one vs. winning all but two, etc. are

1 : N : N(N-1)/2 : N(N-1)(N-2)/2(3) : ...

to get the probability, divide the odds by 2^N.

Unless you know something beforehand about the expected relative strengths of the entrants, using these probabilities is a good rule of thumb.

JennyRadcliffe: Ah, splendid, thank you. So the (n+1)th line of Pascal's Triangle gives the distribution. Thanks!


As a tournament director, you should know the official rules according which you play, e.g. the [ext] Japanese rules, at least superficially, and have the document available in case of dispute. You will also have to apply tournament rules, e.g. the [ext] AGA tournament rules or the [EGF tournament rules|[ext]] (LINK DEAD). If your tournament is organized according to the McMahon Pairing formula, you can download the [ext] pairing program.

But then again, this is probably not the answer to your question. As the president of a relatively small federation (100 members) I have seen our tournaments' attendance decreasing slowly but steadily. I launched an inquiry among our members about the why and what to do to turn the tide and the general answer seemed to be "the more fun, the more people". Our small tournaments had turned into much too serious business. Next year, I intend to change our club tournament into a one day of playing and one day of visiting the historical town. I will also include some side events. Therefore, go ahead with the Japanese music. Make it fun, don't care too much about noise or time constraints.

BillSpight: I agree wholeheartedly with Dieter. The main thing is to make it fun. These are beginners. In addition to struggling with the game, they should not have to worry about tournament stuff.
Forget clocks, byo-yomi, strict time limits. Make the tournament a 1-day affair. The easiest way to manage this is to do round-robins. I used this format (after trying some others) for small tournaments years ago. :-)

Oh, yes. Another thing that people liked was, before registration, to set up some problems on a couple of boards for people to look at and talk about when they were not playing. It especially helped keep people interested during the registration period. At the end of the tournament you show the answers. :-)

Good luck!

this page was seeded by the original question below -- Bignose

Hello Sensei-folks. It looks like I will have a chance to organize a small tournament for beginning players in a coffeeshop. Since go is not much played in my town, I am anxious for this event to set a nice precedent, and help build a playing community.

I know that many of you have experience as Tournament Director. What do I need to know? Can you suggest ways and means for making tournaments "successful"? Are there resources on the Net somewhere -- an FAQ or the like?

Shall we have a Tournament Director Manual here (with large friendly letters that proclaim "Don't Panic")?

As a side note, the owner of the coffee shop is eager to include live music. He apparently has friends who play traditional Japanese instruments, and he thinks this will add the right note for a pleasant afternoon. I'm dubious about having music at a tournament; but then, this is not the Kisei. It might be fun.

Thank you, - TakeNGive (11k)

Bignose: Myself, I've been trying to find decent Tournament Directing Software released under a [ext] free software license.

Quicksilvre--make the pairings reasonable. A knockout tournament is nice, since it is fast--up to 64 players can be accomidated in just six rounds--but how will they be seeded? I paired my own tournament poorly, and the result was a lot of "W+179.5" and "B+Time." Speaking of which, set fast time settings, another problem with me.

Organizing a Tournament/Discussion last edited by on April 7, 2011 - 02:57
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