September 2007 Scholastic SideAuthor: Hank Anzis
As I am getting ready for our scholastic season, which starts November 10th, with the Iowa Grades Championships in West Des Moines, I received some very welcome news. Thanks to the efforts of Roger Gotschall, Iowa’s delegate to the United States Chess Federation, there has been a USCF rule change that will allow me to offer non-USCF members to play in our scholastic tournaments by purchasing a one-day tournament membership. The IASCA will pay part of the tournament membership and the player will have 60 days to apply the cost towards a 1 year USCF membership. So thanks to Roger, it will be easier than ever for young Iowans to try their hand at tournament chess. If you know any chess players who would like to play in our tournaments but is not a USCF member or just want more details yourself, please contact me for more information.
I spent the Labor Day weekend directing the Iowa Open in Cedar Rapids. In addition to the Open and U1600 Reserve sections, tournament organizer Jim Hodina held a Beginner Open for players rated under 1200. We had 30 players and everybody seemed to have a good time. I enjoyed catching up with some of the children and parents.
It seemed that there were a lot of players in the tournament who ended up with 3 points and some players did not get trophies based on tie breaks. Tie breaks often lead to a lot of confusion to parents and players alike, so I want to use this months’ column to explain the common tie break methods.
Head to Head
This is the easiest and best tie-break. Whoever wins the individual game between the tied players wins the tiebreak. Unfortunately, this is rarely able to be used as the tied players may not have played, or in the case of a small section, they are tied because their game was a draw while winning all the rest of their games.
This is another easy tiebreak. Simply add the scores of the all the players you played. This is a good tiebreak at the lower prize levels because a player is rewarded for having to play a top player in an early round where they only have a small chance of winning. It is not as good for the top prizes as a player is penalized for playing an opponent who does not have a good tournament.
Median attempts to correct the Solkoff by removing the highest and lowest scores of the players you players before adding them. This is more suitable for longer tournament since removing 2 scores from the totals only leaves 2 or 3 scores to make the tiebreak.
This adjusts the median tiebreak by only removing the lowest score (for scores with at least the same amount of wins as losses) or removing the highest score (for scores with more losses than wins). I like this tiebreak for first place since it removes the random first round pairings for unbeaten players.
This simply adds the score each player has reached at the end of each round. It rewards winning early. In a 5 round tournament, player who wins all her games except the first round would have a cumulative tiebreak of 10 (0+1+2+3+4), while a player who wins all her games except in the second round will have a cumulative tiebreak of 11 (1+1+2+3+4). It tends to reward the higher rated player since they will play weaker players in the early rounds and build a better tiebreak.
This is the same as cumulative, except instead of adding the player’s scores at the end of each round, it adds each opponents cumulative. This tiebreak requires a computer or at least a calculator and should only be used as a last resort. I would rather just get an extra trophy for someone who would miss out on a trophy after being this equal.
So which tiebreaks do I use? I prefer head-to-head, then Solkoff, and then Median for scholastic tournaments. In our IACSA scholastic tournaments, I try to use tiebreaks to determine who will win a trophy and who will have a trophy mailed to them, but now that you understand more about the tiebreaks, hopefully you can have a better idea where your son or daughter stand in a crowded tournament table.