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San Antonio Glitches -- Long -- Comments and Suggestions Appreciated

Posted By: Bill Riles
Date: Wednesday, 5 February 2014, at 4:11 p.m.

I thought overall the tournament was a grand success. There are so many great features and accomplishments.

Yes, there were a few problems -- as there are at any tournament.

We learn from our experiences and mistakes.

A few observations and comments on some of the responses I've heard and some of my own. Though long, this commentary is not meant to be all-inclusive. We're only a couple of days removed from the tournament so there is much to be reviewed and decisions to be made. These are just some early thoughts.

1. There were some unfortunate delays. The delays were caused by several factors.

The 80 bracket (which I love in principle) needs some refinement. We corrected a few things prior to the tournament. I eventually accepted the compression of the progressive consolation and last chance early rounds in an effort to reduce the number of total rounds necessary; however, by not compressing the late round entries, gaps of several rounds existed on occasion -- causing significant waits. Also, by compressing the early rounds, some compromise was necessary and this resulted in placement 'irregularities' of mixed records entering into like rounds. I had suggested a more conventional progressive feed but my advisors recommended against it because, for a very few people, it would take an extra round or two. In retrospect, I should have held firm. It would have eliminated the mixed record play and the large gaps (delays). Lesson learned. It will not be used in the same form again.

There were also some delays in the Advanced division -- even with a standard 64 bracket. Obviously, delays are not always because of the bracket structure. The primary problem here was one extremely long first round match that cascaded delays throughout the remainder of the divisional play. It should have been policed better and not allowed to have happened. It also takes at least a couple of rounds generally to identify a pattern of slow play for given players. Remedial action can then be taken but, unfortunately, much of the damage to the schedule likely has already occurred.

We must also educate all players -- obviously, not so much in the Championship division -- to be more pro-active in finding their next match. The staff is not (perhaps should be) continuously monitoring the status of every match. If a player has a scheduled match they should make the effort to find the opponent or to ask the staff to find the opponent for them. They should not sit in the back of the room or wander off for hours waiting for their name to be called. The players also have some responsibility for keeping the tournament moving.

We allow players to take advantage of the great weather and the location of the ballroom suite to play some matches in the pre-function area and around the pool. When players do so they should be considerate of the tournament and all other players by alerting us to the fact and by trying to be responsible in their play.

2. As the director, one of the most aggravating and frustrating elements of the tournament for me was the 'dinner breaks' on Thursday and Friday. As these are 'side event' days we tried to provide considerable flexibility for players to make their own arrangements based on the requirements of their own choices of events. Unfortunately, for some this does not work. Some players are responsible and considerate of opponents and the tournament, others are not. Next year we will have very specifically defined dinner breaks on Thursday and Friday -- though not as long as the major 2.5 hour Saturday dinner break. (We are currently thinking 1.5 hours and 2 hours, respectively.) The "no excuses, no exceptions" rule employed this year on the resumption of play Saturday evening will be employed on all evenings next year.

3. The Menger is a historically significant hotel with tremendous charm, ambiance, and attractiveness. That does not change the fact that it is, in parts, a 155 year old structure. Also, it is on a federal registry of historic buildings so certain changes cannot be made. Thus, it is not the newest Marriott or Hyatt. There is considerable variance in room sizes, appointments, etc. -- on two sides, the exterior rooms are immediately adjacent to the streets and can be noisy for some. The hotel staff recognizes these facts and works very hard to most efficiently accommodate all guests. They have always worked extremely well with the tournament in relocating guests for any reason. Tara and I will see that any problem is remedied; however, Tara and I CANNOT remedy any situation if we are not told of the problem.

I think it unfair for some to complain after the fact when no complaint was issued during the tournament when something might could be done with the annoyance. We have to have a chance to remedy. The vast majority of feedback we receive from attendees is very positive regarding the hotel -- they accept the quirks and enjoy the charm. I think the couple of comments we have heard on 'odor' likely result from the changing weather and a very old HVAC system in parts of the hotel. During the 4-5 days of the tournament this year, it was cold, then hot, then cool. Much as in many homes, when switching between heating and cooling systems, transient odors may be experienced. I'm not an HVAC expert but I assume this may be even more pronounced with old systems.

In summary, we think the tournament was great in so many ways. That does not mean there weren't problems. We are open-minded and we are determined to learn from those mistakes that we can correct. Our goal is to make the tournament bigger, better, and more smoothly executed each year to provide a pleasant experience for our players. Each of you by your comments, suggestions, and ideas can help.

Thanks to all for your attendance and support.

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