Another attempt at a handbook
Another Attempt At A Handbook is the text of an EGC handbook and comes in the category of General Resources. The information in it is valuable and should be suitably edited into STL. It is not neatly formatted here, just roughly pasted.
As bits are incorporated, please indicate that this has happened by editing this page and changing the relevant sections into italics by surround them with pairs of single quotes (''). In lists with * or ;: each line needs its own set of quotes.
EGC ORGANISER'S HANDBOOK - A SKELETON
15 August 1999
- 1. PURPOSE OF THIS DOCUMENT 2
- 2. THE EUROPEAN GO CONGRESS 2
- 3. EVENTS 3
- 4. SERVICES 3
- 5. THE CONGRESS PLAN 5
- 6. CONCLUSION 6
1. PURPOSE OF THIS DOCUMENT
Over the years, the European Go Congress has grown in size and stature. It is run by dedicated individuals, who for the most part do not have vast experience of organising large groups of people. There is now talk of organising the congress professionally. Whether or not this actually happens, it is apparent that we need a detailed plan of what the congress contains, and how the congress should be run.
It is not the purpose of this document to provide such a plan - that has to be a collaborative effort involving several experienced organisers. Rather it is the aim to start the ball rolling by trying to identify what the plan should contain. It is hoped that the final outcome will be a sufficiently detailed handbook, so that every congress will be all the more enjoyable through being well run.
The first thing it seems is to set out what the congress should contain. Given this, the next step is to identify the kinds of plan that each component needs. The conclusion draws together the key issues.
2. THE EUROPEAN GO CONGRESS
The following list views the congress as a sequence of events to be enjoyed by players:
- Main Tournament
- European Championship, 10 round McMahon open with long time limits.
- Weekend Tournament
- 5 round McMahon with 1 hour time limits.'
- Side Tournaments
- 9x9, 13x13, Pair, Rengo, Rapid, Handicap, Lightning, short time limits.
- Computer Go
- Silicon championship.
- Other Tournaments
- Joker Go, Pits, Sports.
- Professional Instruction
- Game commentary, Simultaneous, Individual games.
- Comments by a stronger player.
- Friendly games
- Often away from the main playing area.
- Sightseeing trips
- Organised on the 2 off days.
- Recreational Sports
- Table tennis, bowls, swimming, soccer, putting.
- Books and go software.
- Congress Mementos
- T-shirts, bags, mugs.
- Group Photo
- Try to get all.
- Opening Ceremony
- Welcome and drinks.
- Closing Ceremony
- Prizes and thanks to organisers.
Clearly each event needs to be planned, and it is quite conceivable that each will be managed by a separate organiser. This extensive delegation reduces stress and gives each organiser a manageable role.
We need the following services in order to support the above events:
- Single as well as double rooms at or near the playing site.
- Coffee/Tea available first thing in the morning.
- Very irritating when there is no toilet paper.
- Tournament Office
- Always open for dealing with problems.
- Playing Rooms
- Separate room for supergroup.
- These are often too high.
- Go Equipment
- Stones, Boards, Clocks available in informal areas as well as main area.
- Translation Service
- Especially important in East European countries.
- Information Centre
- One single place providing communications for all events.
- Children's Centre
- Both parents may wish to play or have a break.
'Registration System :Some form of registration required for each event. 'Main Computer System :Main registration and pairing for Main and Weekend tournaments. 'Document System :Notices and Bulletins.
These services need a layout plan and all plans are tied together via an overall administrative plan.
It would be extremely tedious for the handbook to specify in detail a plan for each of the events listed above. On the other hand, it would not be very helpful if all the handbook said was that there must be a plan. Some form of overall guideline is needed and the following highlights some of the main points that could be made.
3.1 Tournament Management
There can be no doubt that good time keeping in tournaments makes for a much more enjoyable congress. Bad time keeping has a knock-on effect and irritates the non-playing partners of go players who are there to enjoy their holidays. The European Congress has a duty to every one, player and non-player alike.
So why are tournaments so notoriously late to start? The overwhelming reason it seems is the difficulty in maintaining the accuracy (or otherwise) of the register. The solution to this problem is to get players to check the register themselves. It should always be put up on display, in a standard place so that players can check their details well before the first round of the tournament. If the first round is on time, the rest of the tournament goes smoothly.
The game results list for the main tournament should be published as soon as possible after the last game is finished, so that players can check the results and see how they and their friends are doing.
3.2 Management of Professionals
It cannot be a good thing to see some Professional Go players wandering around aimlessly. A Professional’s time is extremely valuable and far better use could be made of their time. Many Go players, especially below Shodan are shy of asking a Pro for a game let alone asking for comments on a recorded game. There seems to be everything to be gained by providing each Pro with a task list for each day. By publishing this task list in a standard place, Professionals know their duties and players know what is on offer. Kyu players could be given more structured access to Pros by having consultation sessions, where each player gets say 15 minutes individual attention for comments on games. The time is booked.
3.3 Event Planning
By having a separate organiser for each event in the congress, the load on the chief organiser is dramatically reduced, and that person can focus on knitting the whole congress together. Each event organiser then manages a smaller tournament closer to their own experience, and for that reason it is likely to be more enjoyable and successful. What will help the event organiser to plan the event is a suggested format with approved handicaps, number of rounds and appropriate times. There is usually no need to rely on a computer for the smaller side events. Pairings could easily be done using appropriate cards perhaps prepared in bulk by the EGF.
All the services mentioned in section 2 require physical space to be allocated for the function of the service. This is becoming increasingly difficult to manage with the unpredictable size of the congress. Nevertheless proper planning of how the available space is to be used is vital to the smooth running of the congress. Key areas are the registration centre, information centre, tournament office, and playing rooms.
4.1 Registration centre
The European Go congress typically allocates the first day for registration. Let us be optimistic and call this a 10 hour day having 10x60 = 600 minutes. A well attended congress has 600 players, and so we need to register people at the rate of 1 minute per person. It is quite clear from this rather high rate, that the whole process of registration needs to be thought through very carefully.
We can assume that all the details for a pre-registered player are known, so consider what is involved:
Identify the player. This means searching though your data base to match the name to the person standing in front of you. In a well designed system, this search should take no more than 15 seconds.
Collect their money. This player is pre-registered so all costs have been calculated and agreed in the entry form. With no currency conversion involved, the financial transaction can be completed in 30 seconds.
Give their room number. Since the player has pre-registered, the room requirements have been identified and a room booked. Handing over room number and essential information should take no more than 15 seconds.
Hand over tournament goodies. The player gets a pre-printed badge, a congress pack, and maybe a carrier bag. All this should consume at most 10 seconds.
So even with this well oiled, highly optimistic, and prepared system, it is not possible to register a player in 60 seconds. The only alternative is to set up 4 servers, each one to carry out one of the tasks identified above. Now you can spend one minute on each task and still meet the goal. If any one of the tasks cannot be carried out in one minute, then something has gone wrong and the player must be sent to the problem desk. Here you have one person who can deal with all problems and provides at least a temporary solution in one minute.
The system sketched out here relies on adequate and thorough preparation before registration day. It also relies on adequate physical space available for the 4 server desks and the problem desk. Once registered, the player departs to the social area well away from the registration area. It is essential that people can flow through the registration area; therefore it has obvious and well separated entry and exit points.
It is inevitable that a computer system will be used, and this must be backed up and brought up to date before the start of registration. So there has to be a cut-off point, say 6pm on the day before the start of registration. After that point no information is added to the system and the player is regarded as a late registration. All late registrations are dealt with by the problem desk at a priority lower than genuine early registration problems. By utilising severe financial penalties, the proportion of late registrations can be dramatically reduced.
4.2 Information Centre
The information centre is typically a sequence of notice boards each one dealing with a specific topic such as:
- main tournament registration and results list;
- daily professional schedule and booking;
- side events;
- and messages between players.
It is conceivable these days that such a centre provides players with free? Internet access.
If used properly, the information centre can ease the burden of the organisers by providing a mechanism whereby players can check their own details themselves and then inform the organisers via a correction card of any changes. This applies to both registration and checking of results after the end of the days play.
The essential point to be made here is that the information in the centre should be kept up to date and it should be the standard place where people look for information. Notices spread over the site are likely to be misleading as it is hard to keep these up to date.
4.3 Tournament Office
The tournament office contains one area to administer registration and pairing, and another for general document preparation e.g. notices and the congress bulletin. The computer systems for these carry out very distinct and different functions and on no account should they be shared.
Players normally have no business to be in the tournament office. However when the have a problem it is to the tournament office that they go, and then there should always be someone on duty who can handle any problem.
4.4 Playing Rooms
The pairing for the tournament should be placed in the information centre and a (perhaps partial) copy in each separate playing room. The display should be spread out to avoid overcrowding. It should also always be displayed in the same place.
In my view we have a rather heavy handed approach to recording the result of the game. An extremely safe way is simply to get the winner to ring their name on the copy of the draw in the playing room. Filling in a form does not in any way add to the accuracy of recording the result, and can actually lead to more errors. With the pairing marked it is then usually easier for the operator to enter the results into the pairing system.
Each player needs adequate elbow room to allow recording of games, coffee mugs, and other paraphernalia. It is therefore possible to calculate how much space each player takes and so arrange a comfortable distribution of tables. It seems much harder to get tables of the right height!
5. THE CONGRESS PLAN
This plan drives the administration of the whole congress from inception to the final packing up of the equipment and beyond. It identifies the main tasks required to produce the congress and could well include the following sections:
Venue: Description of the surrounding location, the playing site and the accommodation provided. Identifies any travel problems getting to the site or moving in the locality.
Events Plan: Statement of which events are to take place; identifies people responsible for each event; identifies resources needed to run the event.
Services Plan: Contains a clear statement of the physical layout of the main areas and any other services provided to players. Sketches or drawings could well be used to illustrate how the main areas function.
Budget: Given the above information it is then possible to prepare a budget. The aim should be to run the tournament at a modest profit of 10% to 15%.
Presentation: Sufficient information should now be available to deliver a presentation to the EGF. The plan must be probed for any weakness at the presentation.
Publicity: Once the bid has been accepted, the congress administration is well placed to start generating the required publicity.
Schedule: For each event or service, it necessary to produce a detailed schedule naming required tasks, completion time, and individuals responsible.
Report: Once the congress is over, a report is produced detailing what went especially right, and what went badly wrong. It is only by maintaining records of this nature that one has a chance of improving the congress plan, and by implication the congress itself.
It is important that the congress plan is set out in a sufficiently general way so that it does not need to be modified too often. The schedule is obviously a large part of the plan, but the congress plan need only identify which detailed schedules are required, by when, and by whom.
The work above has attempted in broad outline to identify what the European Congress is, and the planning that is required to ensure that it is smoothly run. The administration has been broken down into three main plans called the congress plan, the events plan, and the services plan. It has been emphasised that each plan is managed by a separate organiser; any sub plans within a plan are further delegated so that eventually one person is responsible for the actual running of an event or service.
Essentially, the focus throughout is on identifying the preparation that is needed for the production of the congress. By making the effort spent on preparation more rigorous, much anguish and anxiety can be avoided during the actual time of the congress.
6.2 The Handbook
It is clear that the handbook has several useful functions to perform, and drawing on the above it possibly could contain the following sections:
Definition of the European Go Congress - The handbook lays down minimum requirements for the congress. For the main tournament, it should specify the pairing rules in abstract terms, so that if people use computers they use the right options. It should suggest formats for each of the events listed in Section 2 so that organisers have a basic structure to work from. Details such as handicaps for fun tournaments could be very usefully set out in an appendix.
Planning the Congress - This section contains a clear statement of what the plan for the congress should contain, perhaps along the lines of Section 5. It might also contain hints on how one goes about choosing a suitable venue, and this could draw on the kind of material discussed in Section 4. It might also suggest ways of estimating the attendance.
Guide to the Presentation - The country preparing the bid produces a draft congress plan and budget. At a meeting with the EGF the plan is examined for weaknesses. This guide specifies the kind of questions that the meeting will put to the organisers, a typical example being: show how you plan to register 600 people in one day. It is essential that the organisers know which areas are to be probed, so that they can think through the plan and prepare clear responses. Much effort will need to be spent on this guide so that it does not come across as negative or dictatorial. The purpose of it is to achieve the highest possible quality for the congress.
The Congress Report It is vital to record the successes and failures of the congress plan so that it may continually evolve into something better. The handbook needs to identify what goes into the report, and one way of doing this is to design a form which the (exhausted)organisers fill in after the congress. This form closely follows the structure of the plan. The success or failure of the budget is separately reported, and is not part of the congress report.
6.3 Services provided by the EGF
It is important for the EGF to maintain statistics of each of the main parameters driving the congress, and some of these are:
- entry arrival
- how many entries each month before the congress
- number of entrants
- used for budgeting and planning
- people entering but not arriving
- single room
- how many people want single rooms
- shared rooms
- how many people are prepared to share
By maintaining statistics along the above lines, organisers are better able to construct a realistic budget and a congress plan. This information should certainly be published in the electronic form of the handbook.
One of the major problems any congress has to face is the risk of booking accommodation where a substantial deposit is required. The EGF could ease the burden immensely by underwriting the congress along the lines followed by the BGA. Thus the EGF takes half the profit of a congress, but absorbs the entire loss if any. In such a financial environment, a congress can go ahead and book enough rooms early without having to worry about the risk. The figure of "enough" is supplied from the statistics which have been so carefully recorded.