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European open pairs format

I've just been looking at the format in Montecatini.

  • 2-day qualifier
  • 1-day semi-final (46 pairs qualify from the 'A' semi, 6 pairs from the 'B' semi)
  • 2-day final

Superficially, it seems odd to have a semi-final that's half the length of the qualifier, so I decided to investigate further.

Poznan 2011, and earlier championships, were six day events (two days at each stage). I'm not sure what the reasons were for shortening the event, but I am sure they were valid.

Wouldn't it be better to have a 1.5 day qualifier and a 1.5 day semi-final? Perhaps, but that might present logistical issues. There would be a relatively short time for making rulings, checking scores, etc before the semi-final starts. Also, those who were playing in the final of the teams wouldn't be free to drop in to the semi-final of the pairs.

Ok, so let's assume we're stuck with the one-day semi-final. This actually should be fine; by using carry-forward appropriately, you can take advantage of all three days' of results.

The first thing to note about the way the carry-forward is calculated is that it is based on your position, not your percentage. As well as introducing some randomness, this also benefits those who score around 54-56% relative to those higher or lower than them.

  • 1st place: 60.6%, maximum carry-forward
  • 13th place: 55.72%, 87% of the carry-forward
  • 95th place (last qualifier): 51.56%, no carry-forward

Surely the aim should be to give each board from the qualifier a weighting relative to boards played in the semi-final? Now let's look at the size of the carry-forward.  

In the qualifier, 96 boards were played, so -

  • 1st place was ahead of 95th place by about 8.7 tops
  • 1st place was ahead of 13th place by about 4.7 tops

In terms of carry-forward -

  • 1st place was given almost 1.5 tops more than 95th place (17% of the margin after the qualifier).
  • 1st place was given less than one-fifth of a top more than 13th place (just 4% of the margin after the qualifier!).

In general, I consider carry-forward to be a good thing, but I wouldn't say that's a strong opinion. However, when an otherwise long event has a short stage in the middle, it is imperative that carry-forward be used to redress the balance. In order for this timetable to work, boards in the qualifier should be given 50% weighting. This would give the qualifier and semi-final equivalent validity (arguably, the semi-final would have greater validity).

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