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The Evils of E-W and Sitouts
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I could eliminate required sit-outs by setting up robots, getting and using tablets, and running the table as a teaching table on BBO, using the hand-record file for the game. But I don't.

Rumors were swirling around among the players in my advance sign-up-required, seeded, seating assignments available as you come in, game about

  • how the same players always got stuck with sit-outs,
  • how the stronger players sat N-S so if you wanted a better chance to win you should sit E-W. 

("Swirling about" may be an overbid; one of the players with big ears told me this.)

Of course, even with pre-game sign-up required, we have the ineluctable last-minute drop-outs, last-minute "We came to see if you have room for us" pairs, and such.

I didn't take a "tact pill" before writing the next page, and actually sent it out as part of the weekly e-mail to the players late last month.

Directors, how do you deal with seeding and seating at your club games?

Anyone, suggestions for how to present this information in more tactful ways would be much appreciated.


A Club Director's job is not easy. A Club Director must make decisions that are sure to be unpopular with some players. "You can't please all of the players all of the time." As with a famous job description, "It's a chancy job. It makes a [Director] watchful, and a little lonely,"

One Director's Viewpoint on Seating and Sit-outs

To properly seed and seat the players requires ranking the participating pairs, and having them divided fairly equally by strength between N-S and E-W (incredibly difficult when so many of the stronger pairs request/require N-S), and spreading them out so that all pairs play a fairly equal mix (by strength) of opponents.

Simple example: With 12 tables, you ideally have 8 "A" pairs (4 N-S and 4 E-W), 8 "B" pairs (4 N-S and 4 E-W), and 8 "C" pairs (4 N-S and 4 E-W). You have nine three-board rounds; ideally each pair has 3 "A" pairs, 3 "B" pairs, and 3 "C" pairs as opponents for those rounds. To accomplish this, the pairs are usually seated so that every pair is preceded by a pair of different strength, and followed by a pair of different strength. Ideally, the order is "C," "B," "A," lather, rinse, and repeat. Traditionally, the two top pairs begin by opposing each other at table 3. Each game starts with each table having opposing pairs of close-to-equal strength, and that close-to-equal strength shows up again in Rounds 4 and 7.

For the Sunday games, I modify this because TWO pairs insist on having specific table assignments for health reasons. Call them the "Picky Pairs" Wink That means the top "A" will-not-move (N-S) pair against the top "A" able-to-move (E-W) pair may begin elsewhere, so that the Picky Pairs and their equally-as-possible-matched E-W (able-to-move pair) opponents are placed at the Picky Pairs' Chosen Tables.

This is the best I can do to keep the most players happy.

"Half the pairs have to move every round." "Not me! My pair cannot move/prefers not to move. We insist on being a stationary pair."

"When and only when there is an odd number of pairs, some number (number of rounds played) of consecutive pairs will miss one round with a sit-out." "Not me! My pair insists on playing every board, every round."

"The sit-out pairs will be N-S, i.e. stationary pairs." "Why the stationary pairs?" "Because the two most annoying things to pairs seem to be moving and sitting out. It seems most unfair to inflict both annoying things on the same group. So if there is a choice, each pair chooses

  • to move or
  • to be subject to a sit-out (but only if there is an odd number of pairs, and not even all of the time then)

With stationary pairs having the possibility of a sitout, they still choose to be stationary. Preference or health, makes no difference. It is unfair to inflict both moving and sitting out on the same group of players. I am NOT the only Director to recognize this and attempt to act appropriately.

"If I have to move, I'm going home. I won't play.

If I have to sit out, I'm going home. I won't play."

"You have two choices. Stay home or come to the game. I can usually give you a stationary seating (always if you have medical reasons). I can only avoid you having to sit out if there is an even number of pairs. If there is an odd number of pairs and you happen to be one of the stationary pairs that must sit out, either stay and grumble (and maybe have a good time anyway), or go home - and then no one else will have to sit out as there will be an even number of pairs. That may make you popular among the pairs you leave behind to play. Your choice, stay or go."

I won't send a pre-registered pair home. But if they volunteer to leave, that's their choice and I won't oppose them.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

I hope this information dispels confusion and stops rumors!

Yes, I should  never send an e-mail without taking a "tact pill" and then re-reading it first.  Yes, I should use a trusted editor.  Sorry, didn't happen that week.  Frown

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