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potential swiss rules modification

Posted By: Chuck Bower
Date: Wednesday, 1 April 2015, at 12:07 a.m.

In Response To: potential swiss rules modification (Bill)

I'm pretty sure I understand your contention. I don't know how to rank it in the big picture. (Don't feel bad because I don't know how to rank my concern, either. :)

I wonder if backgammon swiss suffers from too much consideration of how swiss competition is played in other sports. (Actually you can substitute 'double elimination' for 'swiss' and the wonder still holds.) Let's look at two other mind-games that execute swiss competitions -- chess and duplicate bridge.

In both chess and bridge, except for (possibly) the highest levels of performance and competition, the players are less motivated for financial rewards and more for recognition. Two forms of recognition are evident: Elo rating (chess) and master points (bridge). Both of these reward systems are compatible with (and even encourage) all players to continue to compete as long as the event is active. Thus the practice of backgammon players dropping out after they no longer are in contention for money prizes is absent from these relatives.

The second difference is the luck component. I know from playing bridge that the chances of a 7-0 record swiss team being at or below the skill performance level of a 4-3 record team is pretty small. I also know from playing backgammon that just the opposite is the case.

The first difference leads to the bye problem. I don't know about chess but from my (admittedly ancient) experience in bridge, swiss events are designed to avoid an odd number of contestants (i.e teams). And since every team continues to play the entire competition, you (almost) never have an odd number of teams. Voila! No byes.

The second problem rears its head when the pairings in swiss backgammon are strongly driven to pair players of equal record.

In contradiction to this last point, the idea that only the players with the worst records should receive byes (in fact, non-contested wins) is an asymmetry which some (including I) see as unfair. If Neil and I were to play in the same number of swiss events, are we likely to receive the same number of byes? Advantage: the weaker player.

I don't expect backgammon to all of a sudden become like chess and bridge where players are strongly motivated by Elo and master points. So I think the bye issue (problem?) will persist. But does treating byes as half win, half loss relieve some of the inequity? I don't perceive a fairness downside (by my perception is often in error). I am concerned it might lead to longer tournaments, though. That would be enough for me to concede it's just another idea which creates more problems than it solves.

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