3. Running a Tournament

This chapter covers the running of a tournament on the day itself. Much of the work happens on the day, and it is therefore useful to find some local players who are willing to help with various tasks outlined below.

3.1 Preparation

3.1.1 In advance

If you use our Registration system download the Godraw file as late as possible.

If you don't then, when people have entered in advance, enter their names into the draw computer as they enter, and at the latest, the day before. It can take a surprisingly long time if you leave it until you are in a hurry! If someone has told you they might enter, still put them in the draw, just don't register them. It's better to waste 30 seconds the day before, than to risk spending 30 seconds on the day, when there's a long queue at the registration desk.

The day before the tournament, look at the EGF rating list, and ensure that the players are assigned their correct up-to-date entry grades. Of course, players may choose to enter at different grades; but if they accept the recommendation to enter at a grade as calculated from their GoR, it will help if you know what that is.

If you are doing a draw by hand, prepare the cards in advance, as described in section 3.3.2; and again, do this before the day of registration.

Set aside an area for a noticeboard (which you may call the "Information Centre"), where you can place the draw, results sheets, a summary of the rules (i.e. time limits, komi, etc). This should be where as many people as possible can see it at once, and where the crowd looking at it will not obstruct anything else.

Bring a cash float. You will need to have some change, as people will pay with £20 notes.

Bring a good supply of scrap paper, blu-tak, marker pens, sellotape and other stationery equipment.

3.1.2 On the Day

On the morning of the tournament, you should make sure that visitors can find the venue easily, perhaps by placing signs directing them to the venue. It is also helpful if you can find volunteers to arrive early to lay out tables and boards (and, if applicable, the Bookshop). Each board should be labelled with a number. If there is more than one playing room, label the doors clearly with the numbers to be found in that room.

Set up a table for registration. You should have a list of the people you are expecting to register, including details such as name, grade, club and whether they have paid in advance (or how much their entry fee will be). You should confirm these details when they register, particularly their grade, as this could easily have changed between their entry and the tournament.

Since many tournaments offer a discount to BGA members, registration can be a time when discussions about someone's membership status comes up. If one of your entrants wishes to join the BGA we are very happy for you to (effectively) sign them up on the spot. Check which category of membership they need and collect the appropriate fee from them as per our joining page. After the tournament, contact the membership secretary and give them the entrants name, address, email address, membership type and fee paid. Send the fee to the treasurer.

3.1.3 Checking Entrants Grades

If people don't enter at the grade recommended by the GoR strength then there are a few things you need to bear in mind (see Ratings Policy for more details.):

  • if they have a foreign Go Association grade accept it
  • if they've got a GoR strength and entered at a lower grade or higher+1 grade please query if this is correct and accept the entry if the player says it is
  • if they don't have a GoR entry then, subject to an upper limit of 2 dan unless previously agreed by Council:
    • if they have a online server grade their entry grade should be 2 less than this
    • if not try and get them to discuss their entry grade with another experienced player and then accept the result
  • if a kyu grade then accept the entry (which is at least 2 grades above a previous tournament entry)
  • if a dan grade then Council should have pre-approved the entry (which is at least 2 grades above a previous tournament entry)

3.2 General Points

It is best to find a non-playing organiser, since the work involved in running a tournament is not confined to the time between rounds. A non-playing organiser is better able to deal with problems which might occur during games, such as broken clocks or running out of coffee or biscuits, or looking after a surprise visitor.

A few minutes after each round starts, you should ensure that all the clocks are running, even if one or both players are absent. Some people are reluctant to start the clock when their opponent is absent, so you should do it yourself, otherwise you risk running late!

3.2.1 Ghosts

You may find that you have an odd number of entries. Even if you start with an even number, some players may not wish to play in all rounds. As it is strongly recommended not to give any player a bye, you should have at least one player willing to act as a ghost, who will only play if required to make an even number. It is usual to let such a ghost play for free.

Alternatively, you may ask for volunteers, probably from your local club, who are each willing to drop out for one round if this makes the numbers even. Such volunteers should receive a discount on the entry fee. You will need at least one such ghost per round, preferably more in case one ghost becomes unable to play.

It is desirable, however, for there to be only one ghost and he/she not be above the McMahon bar.

The results of ghosts' games should be presented, and submitted to the rating system, in the usual way.

3.3 Organising The Draw

If the organiser has not run a tournament before, he/she should familiarize himself with whatever method she/he has chosen to do the draw – be it using a computer or manually with cards. He/she can usually receive assistance when he makes the draw, from one of the participants in the tournament; Association Officers are willing to help if asked. Chapter 4 gives a more detailed overview of the McMahon system used by many British tournaments.

3.3.1 Using a Computer

Most tournaments nowadays use a computer to produce the draw, and most tournaments in Britain use Geoff Kaniuk's GoDraw program. Using this is recommended by us in particular because there will almost certainly be people at the tournament who can help with its operation. The program is also used to process tournament results for display on our web site and for submission of the results to the EGF for ratings. If you choose to use GoDraw, a donation to the Castledine-Barnes trust, a charitable trust providing financial support to young Go players in Britain, is encouraged, provided of course that the accounts still remain healthy.

Other programs are available, including OpenGotha, written by Luc Vannier, and MacMahon [sic], written by Christophe Gerlach, both popular in Europe. GoDraw and these programs all handle McMahon, Swiss and Round-robin style tournaments.

Chapter 5 provides further details of good practice for using a computer to do the draw.

3.3.2 Producing a Draw by Hand

Although most tournaments use a computer, smaller events, or events with unusual pairing systems, may still prefer to do the draw by hand.

Each player is given an identifying number and has a card (e.g. a postcard) made out as shown to the right. The card is used to keep track of the player's current McMahon score, and other relevant details such as who they have played, which colour they took, and whether they were drawn up or down.

It will be useful to have a large table out of range of the "helpful" comments of the players for the purpose of laying out the cards to do the draw. Do not use paper as it blows away, but small pieces can be used stuck to a glass sheet with Blu-Tak.

The card illustrated in figure 3.1 is suitable for a six round tournament. Each box gives details of one round of the tournament. This player has played four rounds, losing in rounds one and three, and winning in rounds two and four, with a current MMS of -2. It is important for purposes of presentation of results that the players' identifying numbers should be in order of entry strength. This means that the numbers should not be allocated until the last possible moment (it can even be done as late as during the first round).

No two players should meet more than once, and, if possible, below the bar, players from the same club should not meet (except where either could win the tournament). It is also a good idea to ensure that players from the same family do not meet (even if they play in different clubs).

3.4 Results

3.4.1 Presentation

Results should be recorded on a wall chart as the tournament progresses, and a final set of results in similar format should be compiled for circulation afterwards. An example of a recommended format, as generated by Geoff Kaniuk's GoDraw program, recommended by us, is shown below.

In this fictitious example, player no. 51 won in rounds 1 and 3 and lost in rounds 2 and 4, giving him a total of two wins, and increasing his McMahon score from -6 to -4.

Another example, of the recommended format for manual pairings is shown below. It should be easy to see at a glance how many games each player has won, and who his opponents have been. Here, player number 42 lost in round 1, won in rounds 2, 3 and 4, and scored a jigo in round 5.

41F. Baggins4 kyuThe Shire 4213923834034433
42F. Prefect4 kyuBetelgeuse 4104414323933733

Players should be ordered according to their starting grades, and numbers must correspond with those on the cards used in making the draw.

In addition to this display (and even more important) is the draw sheet. This is a written list of players' pairings and board numbers for the current round. Conventionally the first player of each pair takes black. This list is to be used for the players to record their results on (by circling the winner's name). For larger tournaments, or for those who prefer a more streamlined system, a separate result slip can be provided for each game for each round, to be filled in and returned by the winner.

If you are using a computer program to do the draw, it is likely that the program can produce all of the necessary displays, including the draw sheet and wall chart, automatically.

3.4.2 Missing Rounds

A player who would qualify to win a tournament through our normal rules must have played every round in the tournament.

Players who miss rounds, but qualify for prizes, can still gain those at the discretion of the tournament organiser.

3.5 Side Events

3.5.1 Novices Tournament

Some events run a tournament for novices alongside the main event. This is particularly worth considering if there are a lot of local players (especially from local schools) who are new to the game and would otherwise be reluctant to enter a tournament. There does not have to be a large turnout for this to be worthwhile; even as few as four makes it viable.

It is advisable to call it a "novices" tournament rather than a "beginners" tournament, as this makes it easier to get people who have been playing for a while to take part. In particular, juniors who have been playing for a few years and are in the 20-30 kyu range seem unhappy at the idea of being called a beginner ("novices" seems to be tolerated better).

3.5.2 Tournament Format

It is good to be flexible about the format until you see who turns up. The general form is to hold a teaching session in the morning, covering the rules and some basic tactics such as capturing races and life and death, followed by a tournament in the afternoon.

For the tournament itself, things like board size, clocks etc. will depend on the players. In general most people at these grades do not need clocks. People who have hardly played before might find 13×13 to be quite big whereas someone near 20 kyu is likely to much prefer 13×13 to 9×9. Past events, e.g. the Novices Tournament at the 2005 Cambridge Trigantius, have had a wide range of players – the strongest had been playing online a bit and were probably slightly stronger than 20 kyu, the weakest weren't very sure of the basic rules. The games were a mixture of 9×9 and 13×13. There are usually some handicap games and it is good to try to arrange things so that nobody loses all their games if possible.

3.5.3 Advertising

The best form of advertising for such an event is word of mouth – if people (especially at the local club) can encourage novice players that they know to come along it makes a big difference, especially as these players are often nervous about taking part. Any groups of juniors who are not too far away are also worth targetting. The sooner the event can be confirmed the better (and also it helps to have an explicit box on the entry form to say whether people want to enter the main or novices' event).

3.5.4 Self Pairing Tournaments

It is common to hold self pairing tournaments as side events. The idea is that players who finish their main tournament games early can play further games between rounds. These side events are usually played on smaller boards, or on a full size board with fast time limits. Usually there is a restriction that a player can play each opponent at most twice. The simplest method of choosing the winner is by number of wins, although other more complex formulae are possible.

All you need to do to hold such an event is make a wall chart, where participating players enter their names and fill in a running total of points (and opponent number) for each game they play, as illustrated below.

No.Namerd. 1rd. 2rd. 3rd. 4rd. 5total
1Gandalf 213142
2P. Pevensie 104030
3A. Dent 401122
4A. Dumbledore 312212

3.6 After the Tournament

You should send the results to the Tournament Results coordinator (email to results at britgo.org) as soon as possible after the tournament. His preferred format is the output file from GoDraw, but if you have done the draw by hand, a copy of the draw sheets with results will do. Even if you have done the draw by hand, it is possible to use GoDraw to recreate the pairing after the tournament and then send in the file.

You should also send a short report to the Tournament Coordinator (email to tournament-coordinator at britgo.org) for the news web page, listing prize winners and anything else notable plus pictures too.

The Levy should be sent to the Treasurer using this form to specify it and pay via the linked Payment page. Arrangements should be made for our sets to reach the next tournament. Written letters of thanks should be sent to any sponsors, including the owners of premises used.

Last updated Thu Feb 20 2020. If you have any comments, please email the webmaster on web-master AT britgo DOT org.