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World Championship Format

Posted By: Bill Riles
Date: Thursday, 8 August 2013, at 1:03 p.m.

As many discussed earlier on Mochy's FB posting, I think the World Championship format and procedures should be changed.

It is, ideally, the World Championship. The objective should be to determine the best player. The current unseeded, random draw, single-elimination format is not the way to do it -- nor is it the way to even come close.

This year, once again, as in many past years, a number of the very best players were knocked out in the early rounds, some by pairings with each other. So, in the round of 16 we have only three remaining, unarguably elite players (Petko, Trabolt, and Wachtel) and they are all in the same half of the bracket. If they continue to advance, Petko/Wachtel would play in the quarterfinals and the winner would play Trabolt in the semifinals.

As I've said earlier, I think there should be a combination of seeding and a random draw. For the purposes of discussion, let us assume the tournament will grow and next year there are 256 entrants in the Championship division. Select the 16 top players and place one in each 16-player segment of the bracket. All of the remaining players could be assigned within the bracket by random draw.

Secondly, go to some type of double-elimination, Swiss, modified Swiss, Chiva's new system (sorry, I don't know the appropriate descriptive name) format so that a single-loss does not eliminate a player from Championship contention. Perhaps, also go to a best-of-three format (7 or 9 points) rather than single long matches.

Sure, there are several considerations that should be pondered. First, does such changes discourage some players who might otherwise attend? Maybe, but I don't think significantly so. Certainly, as always in backgammon, there remains the element of luck -- 'upsets' will happen. But a single upset will not kill the chances of an elite player, nor grossly advance the chances of a less experienced player.

Secondly, would the additional number of required matches cause scheduling problems? I don't think so. The current Monte Carlo schedule is extremely relaxed and the tournament extends over six days -- the additional matches could easily be accommodated. Matches should start considerably before the current 3 pm each day (perhaps, 10 am is more reasonable) and the very late (early morning hours) matches should be eliminated. In all Championship level matches, clocks should be mandatory. There is no reason in the world for 6-8 hour matches, as I know occur in Monte Carlo.

Thirdly, by expanding and extending the amount of play within the Championship division, the potential revenue from side events for the organizers could be (would be?) significantly reduced. There are any number of ways to address the problem. Everyone recognizes the necessity for the organizers to cover their reasonable expenses and to make a few bucks. Perhaps, it is as simple as raising the registration fee (effectively, increasing the rake -- marginally, I would hope -- on the event). Perhaps, in some manner, advancing players pay a bit more of a 'registration fee' the further they advance in the tournament. I don't know what would be best, but there are a myriad of creative manners to address the issue.

I won't discuss other ideas here, preferring to limit this discussion to format; however, some consideration, in my opinion, should be given to moving the tournament around the world, on some type of rotating basis, to give more opportunities to players in other countries and to provide varied travel venues for people to visit. Perhaps a rotation could include Monte Carlo, USA, Japan, Scandinavia, and maybe even South America. There could even be a sub-rotation within each of these areas -- as an example, maybe Las Vegas, LA, NYC, and Chicago in the USA. We can argue that later, let's work on the format first.

These are just a few of my thoughts. I would be interested in hearing the ideas of others. In my opinion, the objective should be a more legitimate and more credible World Champion than the current program provides. This can and should be done -- but not to the extent that it eliminates the possibility of an inexperienced player or an unknown player from still having an opportunity to come from nowhere to win.

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