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Drawn Matches in Round Robin/Swiss?

Posted By: Colin Owen
Date: Friday, 14 June 2013, at 3:10 a.m.

In Response To: Answers to questions about *New tournament format* (Frank Berger)

Firstly, a somewhat (but not totally) OT point about the change in soccer to '3 points for a win'. This was introduced in order to encourage attacking football. Decades on, the synopsis is that - is hasn't worked. On the whole, there are indeed somewhat fewer draws, but the average number of goals per game is unchanged! A very long term Spanish study for example, found that when teams get a goal in front they simply become more desperate to stay in front, committing more fouls.

What it certainly has done is to introduce luck into the classification at the end of the programme of matches. Intrinsically, two draws are of identical equivalence to a win and a loss - yet they now score one less point. The fact that it is the same for every team doesn't make it right: it is the same inaccurate and arbitrary scoring system for every team. They say "the table never lies". Well, if you don't share the points when teams draw, it certainly can! Titles, promotion/relegation issues and qualification for the next round of a tournament have been decided in favour of teams that had intrinsically inferior records. '3 points for a win' represented a step backwards for soccer.

Back to bg, it seems to me that the proposed scoring system by Mika (which is clearly based upon one used in Ice Hockey) as well as changing the strategy of matchplay, is likewise very arbitrary in the way that it differentiates between a 'pure' win and a DMP one. It isn't actually necessary to change the standard bg scoring system (ie win/lose) for his format to work, and his proposal here only increased resistance to an otherwise interesting (though probably somewhat flawed) format. But, in a Round Robin or Swiss type format, either of which his initial qualifying round approximates to, it would indeed reduce ties in the final classification if matches were not simply a win or a loss - that was surely part of his thinking? Is there a way to do this that does not impact as much on matchplay strategy, and is not arbitrary? One is simply to play 'best of three' format, giving different degrees of victory. But if each match needs to be relatively short, like Mika'a one off 5 point rounds, this may not be feasible.

In our game you cannot have a draw. Certainly not in a single game (mutually agreed call-offs in money play aside) and certainly not either when playing a match to a fixed number of points. If instead, matches were a fixed number of games, then this would be possible - but this is not proposed here. A match to 5 points, for example, is the same as playing 'the best of 9 points'. Of course, each point is not played for separately as in most other games/sports, but it's still essentially true: the first player to win a majority of 9 points is the winner.

Playing 'best of 9' is the same as playing a 'best of 8' match - provided that there is a 1 point tie breaking game if it went to 4-4. In knockout rounds you must have a winner, but this is not necessary in Round Robin or Swiss matches. In fact, the existence of some drawn results actually reduces ties in the final classification. So, why not count a 5 point match that goes to 4-4 as a draw?! This could apply, not just in Mika's proposed preliminary round format, BUT IN ANY ROUND ROBIN OR SWISS EVENT!

Scoring such an outcome as exactly halfway between a win and a loss is completely fair and mathematically correct - unlike in the prevailing system in soccer, or more importantly with Mika's proposed system. Why are 3 DMP wins equivalent to 2 'pure' wins and a 'pure' loss? This has no mathematical basis. But clearly, two 1a 1a draws ARE equivalent to a win and a loss.

Of course, such a system could still change match strategy - but largely only in the final round of a competition. If a player knows that, in order to finish high enough in a Preliminary Swiss/Round Robin to make the next stage, or to win a Swiss, he must win his final match - and his opponent only needs a draw - then he cannot double at 2a 1a Post Crawford, but must play for the gammon. At 3a 1a he must NOT win a gammon in the Crawford game! The way round these anomalies is to simply ban drawn results in the final round. Any 1a 1a scores then are settled by a DMP game.

Having the possibility of a drawn match, that is accurately assessed by the scoring system, must surely have fewer match changing strategies than one where DMP wins were downgraded with 'pure' wins, and in an arbitrary way? In the early or middle rounds of Round Robins or Swiss formats the possibility of a drawn match would have little or no effect on strategy. Like many (most?) players, I too am very resistant to introducing score based issues in deciding results. 5-0 or 5-4 should count the same. They still would. But risk taking in the game result is already built in, in the form of calculated risk of losing in order to win a gammon or bg. Would it be total anathema to introduce just a little of this scenario in the match result itself, sometimes?

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