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Prophecy Prerelease-Houston, TX

Doug Curry

After having been a part of so many of these events, I find it difficult to report on it since it all seems so routine now. Perhaps that is simply because I have so much experience with it now that nothing fazes me anymore.

Registration opened around 9:00 AM and around 11:30 we started the tournament. Since there were not going to be two flights, we waited to allow more people to arrive. As usual, there were several people who entered the tournament late and required a re-pairing of round 1, but since the software took care of it easily and the first set of pairings were never posted, this was not a big issue. Sometimes, when a single late entry arrives all you need do is pair that person with the bye, or give them a bye for the first round. Unfortunately, our latest entries were two guys from Panama who made the trip to Houston specifically to attend our tournament. But since we had held off on posting the pairings until after deck construction, there was no problem with deleting the current pairings and creating new ones.

Unlike the past several prerelease tournaments (PRTs) we have held in Houston, flights of 100 were not used. We didn't really have any more or less people show up than the past couple of PRTs, but instead of having one flight that was 100 or so people and another with only 50-60 people, there was a single tournament of around 150 people.

This was better in several ways for the number of people we had attending. Firstly, it provided a more competitive tournament than two smaller tournaments would have been able to provide. Secondly, there was no complaint of too small a prize because the full number of participants to support the prize had not been reached. This was a concern in the past because a tournament flight of only 50 would only garner one-half the prize that a full flight of 100 would. With a single event, that was eliminated. Thirdly, for the Staff, especially the head scorekeeper (me), running only a single flight meant no switching back and forth between two open windows on the computer and trying to keep straight two different tournaments running concurrently.

While after a few times it became fairly routine to run two tournaments, it was never easy. Some of the issues involved with running two tournaments simultaneously are that you really need to stagger the round start times. That way while one tournament is coming to the end of a round and the scorekeeper is trying frantically to enter the results correctly and in a timely manner, the second tournament needs to be about halfway through a round. That way they don't need data entry, new pairings made and printed, standings printed, results entry slips printed, etc. at the same time as the other tournament.

Another new thing that was done at this event was that side events started before the main tournament while people were waiting for the main tournament to begin. While this led to more than one pre-first round drop, that was not the fault of the TO or the judges. People drop from prerelease tournaments all the time to play in side events.

With more people, we had to play one additional round, but that did not add significant time to the tournament. The main event ran generally smoothly even though we had some novice judges helping out. The time of the tournament was approximately 14 hours from beginning of registration to awarding of prizes. A breakdown of the time spent on each of the various activities in the tournament:

  • Player Registration: 2.5 hours (about 45 minutes were spent waiting for more entries to arrive)
  • Deck Registration: .5 hours
  • Deck Construction: .5 hours
  • Play of the rounds: 10.5 hours for 8 rounds
  • Mean Round time: Approx. 69 minutes

There was one incident that might be worth mentioning. After the new pairings for a round were posted, two players complained that their points were incorrect. Both players confirmed that the results from the last round when they had played each other were incorrectly entered. I always keep the results entry slips until the end of the tournament for just such an occurrence. I consulted the results slip for their match and confirmed that I had in fact entered the result correctly according to the slip, and that the problem was that they had reported the result incorrectly on the slip. The Head Judge said to simply correct the score, fix the pairings so that they would play each other's opponents (fortunately, this was only the 2nd round) and drive on.

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