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A Third Option for Regional KOs - Stratified Swiss KOs

There is a clear demise in KO play in regional tournaments throughout the ACBL.  Reasons are many but what can we do with what we have right now to build a better offering?  

Bracketed KO's work well when there enough teams to provide for roughly consistent brackets.  Too large a spread in ability within any one bracket leads to dissatisfaction for those teams who are at the bottom of the bracket.  Too few good teams leads to dissatisfaction among the top team who generally play more sessions per tournament, and might casue no top bracket at all if too few teams are willing to play. 

Current Options

Mini-Soloway Bracketed KO's

This approach uses a Swiss or Round Robin competition among a pre-made field of 5+ teams per bracket.  Play-ups can be handled easily, and general consistency of ability (as measured by MPs) is achieved.  With the first day being a Swiss-type game, everyone plays a full day.  3rd an 4th places require a playoff unless the bracket is 9 teams or more.  MPs are awarded in accordance to the average of the Bracket in which you play. An issue occurs when there are 4 or fewer top tier teams. Lesser teams might not want to play up.  This will cause issues with either the top teams or the lesser teams.  This negative consequence is avoidable.  

Repechage

Provide teams KO'ed in the first day a second day bracket in which to play another KO sessions.  Teams who lose twice are eliminated.   This does guarantee teams a whole first Day of bridge and it does allow for larger fields and earlier head to head matches.  Not sure how exciting or rewarding the loser bracket KO will be on day 2.  

2-Loss KO

This approach allows teams who lose to continue playing in the loser's bracket until they get their second loss.  The problem here is that the extra time it takes to identify a winner is substantial.  16 teams reduce to 8 in the winner bracket and 8 in the loser's bracket.  Then 8 winners reduce to 4 and there are 8 teams (4 new minus 4 with 2 losses) in the losers bracket.  Now the next round causes 2 winners and 4 loser teams.  The fourth round would create one winner and 2 loser teams who have to play to get to one loser bracket champion.  (So, 6 rounds if I count correctly, with one team sitting one round out). Then the overall award is the winner of the match between the two bracket champions.  Just figuring out the MP Awards hurts my brain.  

Swiss Qualifying KO

This idea (Mike Ma and others) allows for a large single Swiss field, with second day brackets created by the order of finish.  This allows a full day of play for everyone, match awards for everyone, and allows teams to qualify for the second day KO phase.  The downside is that if a stratified Swiss KO A team plays poorly they could be relegated to Flight B or C, causing great unevenness on the second day.  Indeed it is theoretically possible that 4 A teams could finish 1, 5, 9, and 13 and win all 4 brackets.  There is also the issue with determining the MP awards for the KOs.  If a lower team wins, they reduce the awards because their MPs reduce the bracket average.  How many brackets could be arranged is undefined but it is possible that any multiple of 4 could go on to the next day.  

Stratified Swiss KO's

Regardless of how one chooses to stratify (A/X/Y, BCD ; A/B/C/D/E), there is a way to provide for a full day one Swiss type experience with the second day KOs offering a better incentive to lesser teams who do well, and guarding against dominance by top flight teams.  

1) Teams are assigned to Strats ahead of the event with 5-9 Teams per strat by average MPs as determined by the DIC and attendance. MPs Awards are assigned to the brackets by the MPs of the teams initially assigned, regardless of who competes in the second day KO.  

2) All Teams compete in regular Swiss fashion for Day one, for Match and O'all awards.  

Day 2:

The top 4 scoring teams are placed in Bracket 1.  Any Strat A team not qualifying for Bracket 1 is out.  Note: With 4 or fewer top tier teams in Bracket 1, not all will necessarily qualify for day 2.  Yes, it is theoretically possible that no strat A teams qualify! 

The next 4 Top scoring teams are in Bracket 2.  Any Strat B team not qualifying for bracket 2 is out.

The next 4 top scoring teams are in Bracket 3.  Any Strat C Team not qualifying for bracket 3 is out.

And so on... (Remember strata here are defined by the field and not a preset criteria). I use the word strat to avoid the baggage that brackets carries.  We are not limiting the competitoin day one among the strat itself.  

The advantage for this approach is that it eliminates any risk that Top teams play in lower brackets, and keeps the brackets for the second day level.  It also sets a larger number of teams in the bracket than the Swiss Qualifying approach, enabling larger awards.  

Lower ranking teams can earn their way to higher paying brackets.  Higher ranking teams cannot earn their way to a lower bracket.  

Teams not eligible to play day two can keep their Swiss awards from day 1.  

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I happen to like the Mini-Soloway solution a lot.  However, having only 3-4 top tier teams, then a large MP separation with the rest of the field, creates issues and ill-will.  As we think about the possibility of introducing KOs to Gold Rush players, a different mechanism is necessary to handle the split field.  The Stratified KO Swiss does just that.  

Gold Rush KO's you say?  Yes - This is a better way to bring GR players to the KO fold than expecting them to make the jump to KOs on their own.  Why not?  We already have GR Swiss and GR Pairs.  GR KO is an evolutionary step toward keeping the game moving forward.  So, with Gold Rush in mind, we'd envision A/X/Y strats and B/C/D/E GR strats, enabling 16 GR trams (if at least 20 show up) and 12 Top Strat Teams (Assuming 15 show up) to compete. 

I look forward to your comments....

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