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How to evaluate tournaments

Posted By: Phil Simborg
Date: Wednesday, 27 February 2013, at 3:02 p.m.

In Response To: What's going on with Cyprus Open? (Svilen Dimitrov)

Looking at the cost of entry and the return is only one of many criteria to determine if you are getting your money's worth.

For years I have participated in contract bridge tournaments and racquetball tournaments and other kinds of competition where I paid a membership fee and entry fee and never received a penny, and tens of thousands of people all over the world pay to enter all kinds of events that cost money and pay nothing.

Someday I hope to see backgammon tournaments where you simply pay the director $50 or $100 and in return you get a great event where you can win some points (status), a trophy or plaque, some reasonable hospitality, a lovely venue, and mostly, a great, fair competition and a chance to be with and watch great players compete. The director would make a reasonable payment for his efforts and that would give him the incentive to put on more great events.

For now, particularly in the Open Division, people are attracted by the prize money and the potential to win it, so that is the culture we have. Again, in a perfect world (in my view) we could keep that for the "pro" division and make the lower divisions strictly about the competition. Lower the entry cost and forget the prize money.

For now, however, look at what you get for your total investment. Look at how well run the event is, the venue, the cost of the hotel, the hospitality, and the things that great tournament directors like Chiva provide to make sure it is a pleasant and fair and thoroughly enjoyable event. If it means a little less back to the winners to make it all happen, so what?

If you really are playing tournament backgammon in order to make money or get a return on investment, unless your name is Falafel or Mochy or MCG or the like, you are wasting your time. I'm not sure even they can realize a reasonable profit, after all expenses, strictly from tournament play.

If you don't want to go to someone's event because you don't like the rake, or the many things they provide aren't appealing to you, then don't go. Most of us pick tournaments because of location and because we like the way that particular tournament is run, and an extra 5 or 10 percent either way in the prize pool is not going to affect us in any way unless we win, and if we win, we're very happy anyway.

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