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An interesting and possibly original tournament format - Many a mickle maks a muckle

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February 4th, 2007


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09:04 pm - An interesting and possibly original tournament format
1) A slightly belated happy birthday to hmtriplecrown for yesterday. :-) Poop, I got the wrong month. Happy birthday to jaq, for today, February 5th. :-D

2) BA and Virgin are having competing fare sales at the moment, at least for UK customers and possibly for overseas ones as well. The British Airways one runs until midnight on Tuesday 6th February; the Virgin Atlantic one, typically £1 cheaper, runs until 10pm on the same day. (Strangely, it seems that Virgin put its fare sale on first, BA responded and Virgin responded to BA with an extra level of even deeper discounts on a few flights.) It's interesting to clearly see how the date of the flight affects the price, in any case, so we can identify "low", "shoulder" and "peak" seasons for flight pricing schedules in general.

3) It looks like we're moving house! We have already been served a notice to quit our rented apartment by 18th March, so that part isn't in doubt, but it looks like we have a house to move into. Actually, if you'd asked me this on Tuesday, I'd have said "it looks like we have a bungalow to move into", but our application fell through for no fault of our own when the house purchase chain that the would-have-been landlord fell apart. I don't want to say too much about it for fear of jinxing the process, but the place we hope to move into is very pleasant and surprisingly large; it comes furnished and gives the impression that we're house-sitting for someone rather than that we're the suckers paying someone to make their buy-to-let investment work. The downsides are that we may only have it for about a year (see "house-sitting" above) and that some of the stairs squeak, but these are small downsides indeed to a large number of upsides. More, under appropriate Friends-lock, when we move in.

4) I have a note saying "Date" here on my list of things to post about. What the heck did I mean by "Date"? I have no clue.

In any case, there is a EuroMillions lottery draw this Friday with a guaranteed jackpot prize pool of €100,000,000 (£66,000,000 or so) which must be paid out and cannot rollover, being distributed to the non-jackpot prizes if necessary. The guaranteed prize pool means that it is not possible to use the size of the jackpot to estimate how many tickets are in play, so it'll be slightly harder than usual to work out how much really is being added and thus to work out whether it's a +EV draw to enter or not, but it is clearly less -EV than the no-rollover draw it replaces. I leave working out the constraint as to when the draw becomes +EV to enter, depending upon the denomination of entry fee, as an exercise for the interested reader.

5) The titular interesting, and possibly original, tournament format.

This is designed for competitions which do not necessarily want to generate a single champion, but want to generate a regular, potentially indefinite, stream of interesting and meaningful matches. For instance, it is more intended as a replacement for the Davis Cup team tennis competition than as a replacement for the Wimbledon series of tennis competitions; by another analogy, it would be a far more suitable replacement for the world professional boxing championship title structure than for a world amateur boxing championship. The tournament is applicable across the board to any competition where two participants compete and where it is possible to define a definite winner (so competitions ending in a draw might be resolved by the toss of a coin, for instance). This structure appears particularly appropriate for an ongoing game show, whether broadcast on TV, radio or by some other medium (live performance, LJ and so on).

The essential concept is that the tournament structure is based around there being eight outstanding competitors at any one time, with possibly a ready supply of other competitors who might replace relatively poor performers in the main competition. The tournament will determine which of the eight is to be considered the best at any one time, with formalised opportunities for any of the others to demonstrate their claim to be clearly the best or clearly the worst.

To seed the competition, draw the original eight competitors into four matches, associating the initial competition by whim, by seeding or by random chance. (Unfortunate random chance will work itself out quickly.) The four winning competitors should be drawn into two further matches, whose winners will form the first competitors in the upcoming Championship Match, and whose losers will form the first competitors in the upcoming #1 Contender Match. The four losing competitors of the original round should be drawn into two further matches, whose winners will form the first competitors in the upcoming #2 Contender Match, and whose losers will form the first competitors in the upcoming Relegation Match. This completes the seeding process.

A round of the competition consists of the current eight competitors arranged into four pairs, playing the Championship Match, the #1 Contender Match, the #2 Contender Match and the Relegation Match respectively. Based on the results of one round of competition, a champion will be crowned, one competitor will be identified as being relegated and the most suitable set of matches for the next round of competition will be decided.

Championship Match: winner declared champion of the tournament for this round and appears in the Championship Match next time, loser drops to the #1 Contender Match next time.

#1 Contender Match: winner declared #1 contender of the tournament for this round and appears in the Championship Match next time, loser drops to the #2 Contender Match next time.

#2 Contender Match: winner declared #2 contender of the tournament for this round and appears in the #1 Contender Match next time, loser drops to the Relegation Match next time.

Relegation Match: winner escapes relegation from the tournament for this round and appears in the #2 Contender Match next time, loser is relegated from the tournament and replaced by someone from outside the existing tournament structure who will join the tournament structure in the Relegation Match next time.

In short:

+------------------------+                               +------------------------+
|                        |                               |                        |
|      CHAMPIONSHIP      |------------------------------>|      CHAMPIONSHIP      |
|                        |                               |                        |
|         MATCH          |\                 ------------>|         MATCH          |
|                        |  \             /              |                        |
+------------------------+    \         /                +------------------------+
                                \     /
                                  \ /
                                  / \
                                /     \
+------------------------+    /         \                +------------------------+
|                        |  /             \              |                        |
|      #1 CONTENDER      |/                 ------------>|      #1 CONTENDER      |
|                        |                               |                        |
|         MATCH          |\                 ------------>|         MATCH          |
|                        |  \             /              |                        |
+------------------------+    \         /                +------------------------+
                                \     /
                                  \ /
                                  / \
                                /     \
+------------------------+    /         \                +------------------------+
|                        |  /             \              |                        |
|      #2 CONTENDER      |/                 ------------>|      #2 CONTENDER      |
|                        |                               |                        |
|         MATCH          |\                 ------------>|         MATCH          |
|                        |  \             /              |                        |
+------------------------+    \         /                +------------------------+
                                \     /
                                  \ /
                                  / \
                                /     \
+------------------------+    /         \                +------------------------+
|                        |  /             \              |                        |
|       RELEGATION       |/                 ------------>|       RELEGATION       |
|                        |                               |                        |
|         MATCH          |\                 ------------>|         MATCH          |
|                        |  \             /              |                        |
+------------------------+    \         /                +------------------------+
                               |       |
                               |       |
                               |       |
                         RELEGATED   PROMOTED


Anyone is, at most, four consecutive victories away from the championship.
Anyone is, at most, four consecutive defeats away from relegation from the competition.

It would be possible to extend the competition in exactly the same fashion to include a #3 contender match, a #4 contender match and so forth, but "#1 contender" and "#2 contender" are both reasonably meaningful titles ("#1 contender" means "you get to play the champion next time" and "#2 contender" means "you get to play the loser of this championship match next time for a title shot") in a way that "#3 contender" is not, and even strong teams will flirt with relegation from time to time. If anything, I would be tempted to remove the "#2 contender" match level of competition from the tournament to leave just "championship match", "#1 contender match" and "relegation match", rather than to introduce extra levels in.

I leave issues of relegation and promotion deliberately blank; it would be possible to have a lower division run on exactly the same lines whose champion is promoted to this division, or it could be possible to regionalise the competition and have several parallel lower divisions, the champion of one of which is promoted to the upper division. Past champions might be favoured for promotion back into the competition, along with marketable up-and-coming players, perennial crowd favourites and the like.

Heck, it's got to be more interesting than the current spate of meaningless friendly matches we get in international (association) football, or the threatened revival of the Home International series...

I am idly considering running an ongoing competition on LJ just to see how this works out in practice - but if you're a game-organising, tournament format geek and want to go right ahead then please fire away happily and don't wait for me. How the matches might be conducted (i.e., what sort of competition it actually is) remains completely open to question!
Current Location: The place where we're leaving soon
Current Mood: creativecreative... and, yeah, geeky
Current Music: Zanussi Electrolux 1261W, "The Washing Machine Song"

(11 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:hmtriplecrown
Date:February 4th, 2007 11:46 pm (UTC)

Wait a month

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My birthday is March 3, not February 3. I thank you nonetheless. :-D
[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:February 5th, 2007 12:36 am (UTC)

Re: Wait a month

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D'oh! Edited accordingly. Bet I forget on March 3rd, too.
[User Picture]
From:tall_man
Date:February 5th, 2007 06:59 am (UTC)
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I might be well off, but isn't this format not unlike the end-of-season realignments that are used by soccer leagues in Europe, where the top team in the league can be promoted to the next higher league, and the bottom team is demoted to the next lower league?

Very interesting idea, though, especially as it makes the "champion" face a string of strong competition -- anyone who can survive at the top for any length of time in a pure-skill competition (chess, boxing, etc) under this kind of format truly deserves the title. I'd love to see boxing do something like this, it'd help get rid of the alphabet soup of titles -- one world champion in each weight class, rather than the 4 majors and constellation of minors that we have now!

Of course, that'd never happen.
[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:April 12th, 2007 07:41 am (UTC)
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isn't this format not unlike the end-of-season realignments that are used by soccer leagues in Europe, where the top team in the league can be promoted to the next higher league, and the bottom team is demoted to the next lower league?

In principle, yes. To me, this is one of the cornerstones of the fascination of sport - the concept that a team can theoretically start out as a grass-roots concern and eventually make it to the top of the world. The prevalent-in-the-US-but-not-exclusively-so franchise system seems to take a lot of the fun out of things for me, but I can see the reasoning behind it if business concerns are prevalent as opposed to my rather arbitrary consideration of "what's good for sport".
[User Picture]
From:jaq
Date:February 5th, 2007 09:18 am (UTC)
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1. Thank you.

2. I have been looking at flight prices too. I was annoyed to find out that the current prices are a sale that ends tomorrow. There I was hoping to book something around now, and it hasn't worked out that way. Hmm, looks like it would be better if I can go before the end of April.
[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:February 8th, 2007 08:51 pm (UTC)
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There's a BA fare sale for flights from the US at the moment, but it ends tomorrow. Possibly not relevant, but you ought to hear about it at the least.
[User Picture]
From:bateleur
Date:February 5th, 2007 10:03 am (UTC)

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I like your tournament format, since not only is it a fine source of interesting matches it's also elegantly simple.

The other great feature is that it's quite tolerant of a bit of randomness in results. In a round robin tournament competitors can be quite badly screwed by a single unexpected loss. Here, it will only be a very temporary setback and (even better) will actually result in more exciting matches, not fewer.

I shall look out for opportunities to try this setup out !
From:mr_babbage
Date:February 5th, 2007 01:51 pm (UTC)
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4. Date of the wedding, possibly? You wrote a lot about the nuptials in a previous post without actually reminding people of the date.

4a. Why is the EuroMs jackpot so much lower than last time? Have they changed the rollover rules? Also, I'm confused why the EM jackpot on the UK National Lottery site says: this week's jackpot £17.9m, est. next week: £66m.

5. I already play this system at my tennis club. Winners in a match go up one court, losers go down one court. What's slightly curious about this is that when you're waiting for a match to finish on your new court, you'll play neither of the players who are finishing their match on there but in fact one of the two players/teams from an adjacent court.
[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:April 12th, 2007 07:44 am (UTC)
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4. I've remembered now - it was to do with the date of the release of Harry Potter book 7. I'm working that day, alas. *gnashes teeth*

4a. That €108 jackpot was a one-off SuperDraw malarky.

5. Hence only "possibly" original in the subject line. :-) Does it work well in practice? Are people forever bouncing up and down between the same opponents when the differences in skill are enough to make results relatively easily predictable? Does that matter in practice?
[User Picture]
From:irinaauthor
Date:February 5th, 2007 05:26 pm (UTC)
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Congratulations on your house! You must be so excited!
[User Picture]
From:addedentry
Date:July 10th, 2007 08:28 pm (UTC)
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I thought I'd scroll back to the last entry you made about air travel for this (-:

http://www.wired.com/culture/lifestyle/news/2007/07/mileage_runner?currentPage=all

'Mileage running' sounds right up your street: at least, the calculations, if not the flying.

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