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A method to use hand records for 7- and 8-table 2-session round robins
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Around my area, there is an increasingly popularity of bracketed round robin events at sectionals and regionals. In round robin team events, one source of unpredictability (and potential unfairness) is that different teams will play different boards throughout the day. If your team plays an unusually flat set of boards, your scores will likely be closer to the mean than if you play unusually swingy boards.

In the link below, I have uploaded a file that shows a way to allow all teams in 7- and 8-table round robins to play the same, or almost the same, boards. In a 7-table event with 6 rounds of 8 boards, each team will play 48 boards out of a set of 56 boards. In an 8-table event with 7 rounds of 7 boards, all teams play the exact same 49 boards.

Link: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1VkoPfxk1ZeyX2MciZA8GZxguUY54gCec

Note that this is a Google Drive link; I’m not sure if everyone has access. If not, but you want the file, DM me.

Advantages:

1. Reduce the variability of your team’s chances to play boards with large potential swings; we all play essentially the same boards at some point in the event.

2. Eliminate the need to shuffle-and-deal. You need your team captain to pick up the boards at the start of the match, and you can start play immediately. This may result in time savings over the course of 6 or 7 rounds by 15-20 minutes.

3. Create the ability to have hand records after the event.

4. Reduce wear and tear on cards from not needing to be shuffled.

5. Potentially reduce the need for caddies to move boards. If the directors create multiple board sets for a section, then each table can pick up a set of the 7 or 8 boards they are scheduled to play. After playing the boards, the boards can be returned to a staging table for the next round.

Disadvantages:

1. Directors need to deal boards and print hand records in preparation for the event. This incurs a new cost to the sponsoring unit/district that they did not have with a shuffle-and-deal event.

2. If using the method mentioned in advantage #5, you need to ensure that the boards are not somehow fouled.

3. The same boards are played throughout the day. Players will need to be instructed not to discuss any boards during lunch, since other players may be scheduled to play them in the afternoon.

4. The room may need to be set up so that adjacent tables are not playing the same boards.

How it would work:

Before the event:

1. Directors can print and distribute the guide cards to each pair on each team.

2. Directors would deal the boards. If anticipating a set of 8-table brackets, then 49-board sets will need to be dealt. If anticipating 7-table brackets, 56-board sets will need to be dealt. Assume that the directors have access to 4 sets of standard 36-board sets, which I arbitrarily will call Red, Blue, Yellow, and Green.

For 49-board sets:

3 sets of boards can produce 2 sets of 49 boards, enough to take care of 2 8-team brackets. The first set can consist of:

Boards 1-36- Red 1-36

Boards 37-49- Yellow 5-17

The second set can consist of:

Boards 1-36- Blue 1-36

Boards 37-49- Yellow 21-33

For 56-board sets:

4 sets of boards can produce 2 sets of 56 boards, enough to take care of 2 7-team brackets. The first set can consist of:

Boards 1-36- Red 1-36

Boards 37-56- Yellow 5-24

The second set can consist of:

Boards 1-36- Blue 1-36

Boards 37-40- Green 5-8

Boards 41-52- Yellow 25-36

Boards 53-56- Green 21-24

By following this schedule, the dealer and vulnerability will match the expected pattern. A sticker can be placed on the boards for the Yellow and Green boards to show the new board numbers.

During the event:

1. A staging table would hold all boards. When a team captain is ready, they can pick up the scheduled boards from a caddy who would help distribute the boards.

2. After the boards are played, the captain returns the boards to the staging table.

3. Scores are reported to the directors and displayed as usual.

4. If a set of boards gets fouled, the directors can have a supply of extra boards, which can be shuffled-and-dealt for that one round.

How these schedules were created:

8-table: I made a Linear Program to optimize the schedule so that everyone plays all boards.

7-table: I slightly modified the excellent work Pete Matthews has on the MIT Draper Lab Club website; I just changed his schedule from 4-board rounds to 8-board rounds. Note that the file also includes guide cards for 5-, 6- and 7-table 1 session round robins, all based on the info that is on the MIT website.

Potential extensions:

1. There is potential to allow for Bridgemates via integration with a scoring program, such as BridgeScore+.

2. It may be possible to extend this idea to a Swiss event with an arbitrarily large table count. When directing a single-session club Swiss, I have had success in using hand records. Before each round, I would randomly assign each match to be played with a set of 6 boards. Starting with round 2, I would repeat this, with the restriction that the boards assigned were not played by either team yet. Occasionally, the last round sometimes included one or two shuffle-and-deal matches, since there were no boards that were unplayed by both teams.

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