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More thoughts about brackets

Posted By: Sam Pottle
Date: Thursday, 6 February 2014, at 3:47 p.m.

In Response To: San Antonio Glitches -- Long -- Comments and Suggestions Appreciated (Bill Riles)

It's very difficult to run a >64 player event in two days. Did it run long overall? What were the match lengths?

If one has a full field of 64 with a standard progressive consolation bracket (as at e.g. the Midwest Championships for many years), the consolation feed is perfect--there are no spare byes to be allotted, and every match is played between players with identical records. The consolation finalists will each be 6-1, and every player in the tournament will be on an eight match path until they either cash in the main flight or lose their second match and get eliminated. The tournament (not counting the last chance) is eight rounds long.

Once you have more than 64 players, some players will be on a nine match path. The tournament is nine rounds long. This is irreducible. A bog-standard 96 player bracket is nine rounds long, Neil's proposed format is nine rounds long, and I assume the actual tournament was nine rounds long. Anything I could recommend would be nine rounds long.

That said, not all long paths are equally troublesome from a scheduling perspective. Here's the secret: the players who lose in the early rounds of the main flight are not a problem. They will tend to catch up, because they are playing shorter matches than the folks who are still alive in the main flight. The bottleneck is always the last group (or two) of players feeding down from the later rounds of the main flight.

Therefore, to the extent that one has extra byes to allocate in the consolation flight, it's best from a scheduling point of view to give them to players who went 2-1 or 3-1 (or 4-1) in the main flight. Giving an extra bye (or two!) to the 0-1 and 1-1 players doesn't address the bottleneck.

If San Antonio chooses to keep its "pay 5 places" format, I would suggest giving consolation byes to the 10 third round losers and the 5 fourth round losers, so that they would feed into the consolation rounds of 32 and 16, respectively. This would leave another 16 byes, which could be given to 16 first round or 8 second round losers. This would get everybody who wins their first two matches off a long (nine match) path.

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