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Annual Abolish the last chance post (please, think of the children)

Posted By: Matt Cohn-Geier
Date: Saturday, 14 February 2015, at 3:53 p.m.

So, since my post a year ago, I've gone to more tournaments, played in more last chances, and hated the experience, without exception.

One of the biggest problems I've had with a LC was in San Antonio.

On Thursday, I made the finals of the Dual-Duel. The other semifinal was Mochy vs Kit Woolsey. Due to time constraints this match could not be finished on Thursday.

There were 87 players in the main event. Without progressive brackets that means at most a bracket of 128: a maximum of 7 rounds in the main, 7 rounds in the consolation, and 7 rounds in the LC.

On Saturday, I lost my first round match. I went on to win 2 matches in the consolation before losing my 3rd, to make my record an extremely average 2-2. As it turned out I had played an extra round on Saturday--the schedule had only allowed for 3 rounds to be played that day. As a result, I was a round ahead of the bracket.

My LC match was scheduled to start at 10:30 AM on Sunday. The directors (wisely) decided to split the conso and LC due to lack of time. I was now 5 rounds away from splitting the LC. So in essence I was in the round of 64. I was a round ahead of the bracket who were still in the round of 128. Since it was a progressive LC, they had already played the round of 256 on Saturday night.

So, as of Sunday at 10:30 AM, the progressive LC in fact had no advantage over a traditional LC--and in reality it turned out that it was considerably slower because now the losers of 9 point matches had to be fed in, rather than the winners of 5 point matches.

I considered just forfeiting my LC match so I could focus on the Dual Duel. However, this didn't make much sense: I was 2 rounds further advanced than some others in the bracket and I was waiting on a 9-point match, so forfeiting wouldn't save me any time. I also just don't like to forfeit from the main event. But most importantly, Mochy and Kit were both still alive in the LC as well--so even if I forfeited I could be waiting for quite some time for my Dual-Duel match.

I decided to sleep in and see what happened. I made my way down to the playing room sometime around 11:45am on Sunday. The match I was waiting on was at 5-5 to 9. After several more games it went to DMP. All in all the match ended around 12:45 PM, so I started my LC match at around 1PM. I won that match in the LC.

I then had to wait for my next opponent in the LC. He was alive in some side events (notably, doubles), so that took another two hours. Again I considered forfeiting but it was the only event I had other than the Dual-Duel, and Mochy (who had just beaten Kit) was still alive in the LC, so again it wouldn't have helped me anyway. It's also sometimes considered poor form to beat someone and then forfeit.

I lost my 2nd match in the LC, making my record for the tournament now 3-3. This is what I would call an average result. Yet I had wait times in the LC of several hours multiple times--despite some of my matches going towards the long side. After losing my last bid in the LC, I still had to wait for the Dual-Duel against Mochy, who--guess what--was still alive in the LC. At this point I left to try to catch a glimpse of the Super Bowl before I started my Dual-Duel match.

Mochy quickly lost in the LC semifinals. I guess I was lucky that he didn't get to the finals. We started the Dual-Duel final at around 7PM, approximately halftime of the Super Bowl, 6 hours after the scheduled start time.

I did not enter multiple side events. I was not alive in the Masters, Seniors, Tournament of Stars, National Championship, USBGF Freeroll, Speedgammon, MC satellite, and Main Event on Sunday. The only events I had on Sunday were the LC and Dual-Duel final. I did not get close to the money in the LC and I finished with a subpar percentage of matches won in the main. Yet I had to wait several hours multiple times for my LC matches to start, I had to seriously consider forfeiting (and probably would have done so, had that been an option), I had to start my final match 6 hours behind schedule and I also had to miss the Super Bowl and the associated party so that my Dual-Duel match could get finished at a reasonable hour. Fortunately I had booked a Monday flight.

Even if I hadn't had the Dual-Duel, I would still have had to choose between playing the LC, watching the Super Bowl, or perhaps changing my flight (assuming I had booked a 10PM or 11PM Sunday flight).

Bill and Tara didn't do anything wrong, apart from perhaps needing an extra day to hold all of the side events. Maybe they could start some on Thursday with the Dual-Duel. The giant logjam here was the LC. Take it out of the equation and everything would have run a lot more smoothly.

But I know there are some people who would literally die if they didn't have just one more backgammon match on Sunday. So, if you want a solution, hold a freeroll for those out of the main, 1 pt matches, no ABT points awarded. That way you can hold it on Sunday afternoon and finish an entire bracket of 128 in an hour. If a player is involved in some other important side event they can stop their finals match for 5 minutes to play a 1pt game. Personally, I'd rather a TD just pulled names out of hat and told me whether I won or not.

These ideas sound absurd to me, but they're still clearly better than the LC status quo. That's because the LC is beyond absurd. The reason so many people forfeit is because the event is bad. What I would like to see is the prize money redistributed into the main and conso. The tournament can then hold side events on Sunday for those who still want to play. I, for one, would much rather play a high-entry Super JP on Sunday (assuming I am out of the other side events). There are probably many other players out there who are very similar to me. Tournaments could hold lectures, prize giving ceremonies, and other fun side events on Sunday. That way the winners of the tournament would get paid more money, brackets on Sunday would be much less of a nightmare, people could go home earlier if they want to, TDs would make more money, those knocked out of the tournament would have something fun to do, pretty much everyone would come out ahead. I have very little understanding of why someone wouldn't think that's a good idea.

I understand that no matter what you do, someone will always be disappointed and will find a reason to complain. However, it seems to me that a well-run tournament shouldn't count on its players to forfeit, and certainly shouldn't expect to have 20% of its field forfeit. Something has clearly gone wrong there.

Finally, keep in mind: Every time you hold a last chance... God kills a kitten. Please, think of the kittens.

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