5. Producing the Draw

This chapter provides guidelines for people who have undertaken the responsibility of producing the pairing for a tournament. Although a draw can be produced manually, it is now usual to use a computer.

This is for a good reason. Although the McMahon rules are apparently easy to state as described in Chapter 4, the more formal details get far more complex. So much so, that it is virtually impossible for a human to produce a pairing which satisfies all the rules in a reasonable time.

Accordingly, these guidelines cover the use of computers in producing the draw. There is no discussion of any particular program, instead we seek to uncover principles of good practice, be it for a manual or computer draw.

The information in this chapter is primarily aimed at larger tournaments such as the London Open, or the British Go Congress, but the principles of good practice apply to all tournaments. In smaller tournaments, it may be the case that one person plays the rôles of Tournament Director, Drawmaster, Referee and assistant.

5.1 Schedule

Since it is the Drawmaster's responsibility to produce the pairing for each round on time, he or she should be closely involved in setting the playing times for the tournament. There are three good reasons why it is important to produce the pairing on time:

  1. It is common for tournaments to be run in a hall which is booked and paid for. This often means it is booked for a fixed time and overruns are not allowed.
  2. Players participating in a tournament may wish to take the opportunity to explore your local surroundings. Poor control of start of round interferes with player's other interests, and they rightly get annoyed if the round starts late at a time different from the scheduled time.
  3. Tournaments may offer side events slotted into spare time. If the main tournament time slips, this can interfere with the smooth running of side events.

Two of the most common reasons why schedules slip are inadequate planning for registration on the day, and very slow play by some top players using excessive byoyomi/overtime periods. Therefore the schedule needs to be designed to take into account the vagaries in these areas. Registration is discussed in more detail below, but for now it should be emphasised that once one has decided on a schedule, then every possible effort should be made to stick to it. In particular this means having a clear policy on how to handle late arrivals, and publishing that policy in your tournament literature. You will also need to have formulated a policy on how to deal with slow play holding up the draw for the next round. Players get disgruntled if they appear to be hanging about for no obvious reason.

The schedule specifies starting times in detail for each of the tournament phases, and the Drawmaster needs to be sure that all the times announced are realistic. This needs to be done before the tournament publicity is produced.

5.2 Pre-registration

It is the Drawmaster's responsibility to ensure that the correct details for a player are used in constructing the draw. Registration systems vary from the simplest "give me a call" to sophisticated on-line database systems which can produce a registration file for you to import. Whatever the system, the Drawmaster has to ensure that the correct data is used in the draw system. In particular no player should be entered twice, and every effort should be made to use the correct spelling for player's names.

In theory the source of all data for the system is the entry form, so the Drawmaster must approve this form at the time that the tournament publicity becomes visible to players.

5.3 Workplace

The Drawmaster works under pressure in order to produce the draw on time. If you are lucky enough to have your own physical room, then well and good. If not then you must make arrangements to clearly identify your workspace in a shared environment. This can be done by suitably arranging furniture, or judiciously employing a ball of red string to mark your territory.

Apart from space for your equipment and a chair, you should arrange the space for a chair to accommodate an assistant to help with result entry.

5.4 Registration On The Day

Without doubt one of the most complex aspects of running a tournament is managing registration on the day the tournament starts. It is at registration that player's details finally get verified, and so the Drawmaster is exceedingly involved in this process. In large tournaments, registration may also involve booking players into accommodation. Consequently the requirements of the draw need to be integrated with any other such matters in your registration system.

Whether you are processing incoming players by pencil and paper or using a network of terminals there are two questions that need to be answered when setting up your registration scheme.

Q1. How much time does it take to process a player?
The answer to this will need to take account of the unexpected. For example, needing to explain further details or correct pre-registration data.
Q2. How many players are you expecting?
This of course should be known from your pre-registration data. Go players however are notorious for entering tournaments late. Yet the answer to this is crucial for a whole host of reasons relating to the draw schedule and the tournament director's nightmare: "Will I have enough sets?"

Given the answers to these, you can allocate sufficient resources to register players in the time quoted in your tournament publicity. Players do get rightly annoyed if they arrive in good time for registration only to find that the start of Round 1 is hours late because queues have built up at an inadequately manned registration desk.

It is even more important than it seems to get each player registered fast. Some players, if kept waiting for more than two minutes, will want to compensate for their wasted time by getting value for money when they eventually get to the front of the queue, by chatting to the registrar about the traffic they have come through, the weather, who else has registered, etc. So there is a positive feedback effect in how long the queue is.

There will always be some players who arrive on the day out of a clear blue sky. Such players should be diverted to a late desk and be required to fill in a registration form before returning to the main registration queue.

If at registration a player changes some detail vital to the draw, then it is essential that such changes be written down and communicated to the Drawmaster. Registration details may also change later during the tournament as players realise their names or clubs are wrongly spelled for example. It seems simplest if all the changes that players need to make are written on exactly the same form so that players get to know the one and only way of communicating changes to the Drawmaster. It is even better if the form is a slip of paper in an alarming pink colour so that it won't be missed.

At the start of the registration session, the Drawmaster publishes the register so that players can check their details and see what their friends are doing. The Drawmaster is now kept busy updating the draw system with player's changes communicated via the pink slips. These slips are described in greater detail in section 5.6.

Players are marked in the system as "registered" as soon as the information reaches the Drawmaster that they have actually arrived. You cannot rely on hearsay reports that someone is on the way; you can only register someone if you have actually seen the colour of their eyes!

Once all players are registered, you are ready to close the register at the appointed time.

5.5 Closing The Register

The formal close of registration is a terribly important moment in the life of any tournament. At this point the full set of players joining Round 1 is known, and this triggers the following actions from you:

  • Confirm that you have an even number of players. If not, then invoke one ghost player to make up the numbers, and make sure that your ghost is entered in the draw. Don't even dream of awarding a bye!
  • Determine the size of the top McMahon group to set the bar. See section 4.2 for details of how to set the bar appropriately.

If you have some spare ghosts, you may be tempted to insert them in the draw as far as possible, while keeping the number even. Don't. There are all kinds of mistakes which can occur, and will only be detected after the draw has been published and play has begun – for example, the same player may have got registered twice (with different name spellings), so he will be drawn against two different opponents (or against himself). You will need a spare ghost to sort out such things.

Once these matters have been completed to satisfaction, it is a good idea to publish the latest version of the register so that players can check their details. You are now ready to produce the pairing for the first round.

5.6 Changes to the Register

The register should be published in the Information Centre, which is space set aside for displaying all the important documents such as the rank list, tournament rules, latest schedule, prize money, and the register. You should keep this area clear of player messages and other tournament information – it is meant for the main tournament!

If a player wants to change some details then writing changes on the register is not going to get noticed. A player may try to tell an organiser that he is skipping the next round while the organiser is busy with lunch arrangements – the message just gets lost. The only safe way is to instigate a clear formal system which is really easy to operate perhaps along the following lines:

Place a register change box below the published register. Next to this place a pile of printed pink slips with the following information to be filled in by the player:

  • Player Number
  • Family Name
  • Given Name
  • Grade
  • Club
  • Country
  • Rounds to be played in

Next to the register, publish instructions to players to mark their changes on the slips, and then place the slips in the box. As Drawmaster your only task now is to make sure you process the slips shortly before you do the draw for the next round.

5.7 Pairing For Round 1

Once the draw for round 1 is produced, you will need to double check the following:

  • Some players may have told you they are not playing in round 1 or are arriving later in the tournament. You will need to ensure that such players are not included in the draw.
  • Players from the same club below the bar may have been paired. You will need to ensure that such pairings are acceptable. If players have travelled hundreds of miles to your tournament, they really want to play new people and get upset if they play someone whom they play every week. If necessary consult the players and explain that there is a really huge club so players will have to meet, but you are trying to minimise these same club pairings.
  • Two players from the same family should not be paired without the player's consent. Remember they may even play for different clubs. If it does happen, be prepared to change the draw.

Note that if you are using GoDraw, you will be able to prevent critical same club or same family pairings by setting up a group of players who never play each other.

Once these issues are settled, you should now publish the draw, but do not let players start their games yet. Nearly all the problems with the draw will be discovered in the first 5 minutes.

The draw should be published in well separated sections to avoid overcrowding. If your tournament takes place in several rooms then place a selected copy of the draw inside the room. In later rounds players will get to know which room they are in, and avoid the mele around the main publication of the draw. Some things to avoid are:

  • Putting the entire draw on a single piece of paper, so that there will be a dense crowd trying to see it.
  • Putting the draw in or near a doorway, so that those who have found which room they are to play in still can't get there, and instead continue to contribute to the scrum.
  • Printing the draw using a printer with very little ink left, so that people can't read it except from very close up
All these bad practices will risk causing the schedule to slip, as well as annoying the players.

You can fix the hopefully few problems with the draw manually, by making notes on the published pairing. Try very hard not to redo the draw, once some players have seen it and learned which boards they are to play. When you are satisfied with its accuracy, instruct the referee to start the clocks. If you have published several copies of the draw, remove any redundant ones and leave only a master for recording the results. Once you have done all this, and ensured that the clock is going for each board, then you have time for a well earned break.

5.8 Results

When all games are completed, collect the draw sheets, now containing the results filled in by the players. If there is a referee, you can assign him the duty of ensuring that players do not wander off without recording a result. But even if you do, you will find that some of them get away and your result sheet is incomplete long after all the games have finished. Rather than delay the schedule, you should assign both players a loss, publish a list of missing results, and get on with the draw for the next round. When the winner of a game finds he has been assigned a loss, you should apologise, but point out that getting the draw done is a priority, and that it is the duty of the winner to record the result. You can manually assign him the missing point for his win, but he may have been drawn against a weaker opponent than he would otherwise have had.

In large tournaments, players may be required to complete and sign a form with their results, and in this case again you should receive the forms all duly signed. You will then need to order the forms in the correct board order as published in the draw.

Whichever method is used, you should confirm the result by physically writing a 1 next to the winner and a 0 next to the loser. Players can be very sloppy when marking results by ringing or underlining the winner so it is necessary to make this information precise. You can use an unusual colour of pen for this, so it is clear which marks on the results sheet were put there by players, and which are your interpretations.

Now get an assistant to read to you the results for Black in board order in groups of 5 (this assumes that you are using GoDraw). You can then enter these into the computer with a low error rate. When all the results have been entered, return to the beginning. Now you read out the results for White again in groups of 5 and your assistant confirms that the correct result has been entered. This double check is vital as you are not easily forgiven for recording a wrong result.

Once the results are confirmed as correct, print out the rank list and display it in your information centre. You are then almost ready to do the draw for the next round.

Before you do the draw, you must check your box of pink slips. Update your register, mark the pink slips as done, and put them in a "done" box for reference. Now do the draw!

5.9 Finale

Once the final round is completed, with all results entered and cross checked, publish a prize list for the tournament director. Publish a final ranklist for the players to look at (you may even print out spare copies they can take with them and read on the journey home). You will also need to produce files for the ratings system, and for your webmaster. Make sure you have a copy of the tournament file on disk or memory stick, then pack up.

Last updated Fri May 28 2010. If you have any comments, please email the webmaster on web-master AT britgo DOT org.