Tournament tips and hints

These hints and tips are mere suggestions.  They are all items that have worked well in tournaments.

  • Schedule – Details are important
  1. Before you submit your schedule to ACBL for approval, make sure you have all the details covered.  If for example you do not specify what kind of Swiss games you will have on the last day, you will end up with an open game.  Most tournaments have A/X and B/C/D stratas but it needs to be specified in the schedule.
  2. Allow time for hospitality breaks.  10 mins in the middle of a session is a great way for slow tables to catch up and allow people to stretch their legs or go to the bathroom without having to rush.
  3. Consider whether people want morning-afternoon sessions vice afternoon-evening session.  If possible, why not offer both?  It works very well for NABCs.
  4. How much time in between sessions?  More that one hour works well to give players a good break and allow for a lunch that is not rushed.
  • Directors – Liaise with the Director In Charge (DIC) early
  1. Insist on having enough Directors present and that they are available on the floor.  1 Director for every 15 or 20 tables should work well, depending on the layout of the playing area.
  2. Use at least one Local Director to supplement the ‘Tournament‘ Directors.  They cost less and will gain invaluable experience.
  • Partnership Desk –
  1. Use a board to post people’s partnership requests.  This needs to be up while the play is ongoing so that players showing up can look up potential matches even if no one is at the desk.
  2. Preferably have somebody there at the desk who is not playing.
  3. Have local players ready to partner up with visiting players at short notice.  There is nothing worse that having a visiting player unable to play while all the local players are enjoying the tournament.  It gives a bad reputation to your tournament.  You can even offer free games to these ‘volunteers’ so they can help fill in a spot so the Pairs game has no sit-out table etc…
  4. Encourage players to use the partnership desk on MyACBL.  A great way for players to find suitable matches ahead of the tournament and make your job easier.
  • Caddies –
  1. Young caddies usually work great.  Make them earn their money.  Use them for other things than just passing boards during the Team events.
  2. They can help clean up the garbage that players leave behind.  They can even deliver glasses of water to players and return the empty glasses out of the playing area.
  3. In Pairs games they can move the boards from table 1 to the last table when the tables are not close to each other.  People really appreciate the extra attention.
  4. (At a sectional a tip jar collected $250 for the caddies due to the extra service)
  • Game area –
  1. Have signs set up to show where the sections are and which tables are in which rows.
  2. Make a sign to show where the Knock-outs are taking place.  And use different table designations for Knock-out tables.  How about KO1, KO2 and KO3?  Using C when C is already used for Pair or Swiss games is confusing and leads to players roaming the playing area looking for their table.
  • Sponsorship –
  1. A small committee can go to local businesses and get sponsorship money.  They love to support seniors events and you can recognize their support with a banner showing off the ‘Gold’ sponsors, ‘Silver’ sponsors etc… based on the amount of the sponsorship.  Some shops will give you merchandise that you can use for door prizes.  You just have to ask.
  2. The federal government even has grants to support senior events and you may be able to get dealing machines etc…
  3. Local restaurants offering discounts to players is another bonus well appreciated.
  • Hospitality –
  1. Free tea and coffee is a huge bonus for the players.  It can be done at a hotel, Montreal has been doing it for years.
  2. Ask Tim Hortons for coffee and they will give you huge coffee urns.  Grocery stores will give you tea, fruit trays etc…  MacDonalds even gave trays of muffins.  A hotel may not allow those food items close to the playing area, but you may be able to offer them in your hospitality suite that the hotel could provide at a rebate.
  • Timings –
  1. Different tournaments have different schedules and the local committee should run it has they wish.  But make sure the games start on time.
  2. Tell players, ahead of time, that registration will close 10 mins before start time.  Anybody showing up late will be added in as a late play if possible, but the game should start on time.  10 mins should allow enough time for the Directors to get the game going and for pre-game announcements.
  • Registration –
  1. Consider a way to have players register ahead of time.  Offer a discount for a meal or a special reward (10 self sticking names with the player number) to reward those who sign up early.  Then you have an idea of how many people are showing up for each event.
  2. Set up a credit card system to allow players to buy their playing fees.  They get a coupon good for one entry and can buy as many as they wish.  Those coupons are only good for your tournament.
  3. If using cash, consider making the cost easy to handle.  17$ per player is ok but 17.50$ would be much better since a pair would have to play 35$ and a team of four 70$.  Less change for whoever takes in the money.
  4. Whether using credit cards or cash, have a station collecting all the money and issuing coupons.  The Directors have one less thing to do (counting money) and it should help them run the tournament better.  (ACBL recently requested that the committees running the tournament collect the money instead of the Directors.)
  • 50-50 draws –
  1. Selling tickets while the players are waiting for the game to start is easy enough and it is a great way to raise funds to offset the cost of hosting the tournament.
  • Final Notes
  1. It may look like impossible to implement all the recommendations.
  2. We can help.  Contact the District 1 VP for more information.  Plus you can choose to implement one, many or none of these recommendations.
  3. Finally if you have items to add to this list, send them in.
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