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ACBL collegiates qualifier

As mentioned in another post, the ACBL Collegiates qualifier substantially changed its format this year. I would like to discuss here this change.

First, a bit of background. In the last few years, the Collegiates qualifier was held as a single-session event on BBO. I entered the event three times (2011-2013); there were always between 20 and 24 teams vying for 8 spots. In 2011 and 2012, the teams were split in 4 groups of 6 teams each playing a full RR of 5 board matches with the top two teams qualifying (one year the organizers had a fill-in team to avoid sit-outs, leading to ridiculous arguments about whether to count the matches against the fill-in, but that's another issue...). In 2013 and 2014 (I did not play the last year, but followed the UC Berkeley team), teams were split in two groups of 10-12 teams playing 5 rounds of Swiss and the top 3 teams of each group as well as the two next highest VP scorers qualified. In all cases, there was no monitoring whatsoever.

Qualifying for the national finals is worth a LOT of money. Each team member gets his trip paid (to a limit of $500), three nights at the host hotel, and ca. $200-300 of "pocket money". Each member of the winning team got an additional $500 scholarship. (As a side note, the increase in scholarship to $5000 to this year's winners seems to be more or less exactly offset by the decreased cost of qualifying only 4 teams, so I assume the decision was basically made at constant budget.)

As other people mentioned in various posts, there is a very strong incentive to c... hm, take advantage of the (in)effective conditions of contest to improve one's chance to qualify for the national finals; and indeed last year two players were suspended for suspicious actions. Even assuming that everyone is honest, it seems a bit too random to award such a large amount of money based on a single-session event in a very uneven field (sometimes even with different number of teams per group).

This year, the format is different. There will be two consecutive and independent 6-round Swisses with 16-board matches (with the captains having to coordinate the match time themselves -- still no monitoring) and the top two teams of each Swiss will qualify. A team can enter the second Swiss even after playing in the first one. So far it seems that 14 teams (a sharp drop from last year!) have registered.

The current format seems much better than the previous one: 192 boards are certainly much more reasonable than 25 for such an event, and match records (lin files) are to be submitted, likely for handling allegations of irregularities (still, they were also available the previous years, and good luck proving that I peeked at my teammate's hand to take the right 50-50 guess at trick 1).  (Also, the finals KO is now two 24-board matches played on two consecutive days, which seems a bit too little given that the top teams are usually reasonably close in ability and are usually just playing in the corner of a regional pairs game (at least it was when I last entered) so it shouldn't cost much to make it two 48-64 board matches.)  [EDIT: Bryan Delfs indicated in the comments that each match is actually 48 boards; my reading of the CoC was incorrect.]

As suggested by many, monitoring (as is done, e.g., for the junior team trials) is likely the best solution. In fact, even assuming a fairly large entry of 25 teams, an 8-round Swiss with 7-board matches (i.e. two sessions to be played on a single day -- more random than the new format but still reasonable), the ACBL could pay a reasonable(?) allocation of $100 per monitor (one per team) by just decreasing the winner's scholarship by a bit more than 10%).  Given how much the ACBL is spending on this event, it seems reasonable to request that they do it right...

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