Balance between convenience and fairness
During the GNT qualifying sessions Saturday, flaws in ACBLScore and maybe in the conditions of contest for team events as well were discovered. The D7 flight B game had 20 teams with 4 teams qualifying for the semi-finals Sunday morning.
The teams were divided into 2 relatively equal 10 team groups, with the top two from each group qualifying. I surely expected this to be a full round robin with 9 rounds of 6 boards, arranged such that the highest seeds play each other toward the end. This looks like clearly the best way to narrow the field to 4 teams. However, possibly because the championship flight GNT was running concurrently with 8 teams (and therefore a full round robin of 7 matches), the flight B game was also run as seven 7’s but with Swiss pairings rather than a partial round robin such that everyone plays a relatively equal strength of opponents. To me, that seems most fair, since the goal isn’t to find a winner through the 2 session qualifying.
My team finished with a somewhat respectable 87 VP on a 70 average but that wasn’t good enough to make it through such a big cut – we definitely saved our best bridge for the Sunday Swiss in the concurrent sectional, in which we scored 96 on a 60 average.
The interesting/controversial thing was in the other group where one team withdrew after 4 rounds. The computer assigned 3 of the lower teams to a round robin for rounds 5 and 6. After round 5 there was a dilemma: the Fordham team had played everyone except the 3 teams in the round robin and the one that withdrew. Clearly they had not gotten the best of draws so far and the pairings for round 6 only made it worse. The Fordham and Boyd-Bowman teams were well ahead of the rest of the field and instead of breaking up the round robin or assigning them to play the withdrawn team and giving an artificial 14 VP or something like that, the two top teams in that group were paired against each other again. Fordham wound up just missing the cut and Boyd-Bowman wound up winning the event.
Should ACBLScore have been able to anticipate this potential problem and assign different teams to the round robin? Should it check that the teams toward the top of the pack be less likely to have to have a playback?
Should withdrawals be allowed in the middle of GNT qualifying events (or other similar events)? Should the conditions of contest be changed to make a field too big for a full round robin (or a full round robin within 2 separate brackets) to be played as a Swiss with the whole field? That would eliminate any potential problems with playbacks and withdrawals since there would be a larger pool of teams to pick from.
If we are allowing the potential for this to occur, should the round robin be broken up (have the round robin be continued in round 7 so that one of the round robins teams can play the team that has no opponent in round 6, thereby having to have a 1 round robin in round 6)?
Should the format of GNT qualifying change so that there isn’t such a huge cut at one stage – maybe with 20 teams, maybe qualify 8 teams and play another round robins with carryover.
At sectionals and club games and side games, I can understand running a movement because it’s easier or quicker but in major events, events should be as fair as possible, even if it’s a little less convenient.