Tuesday, 28 January 2020

Getting Challenge Tour events finished quicker

OK, here's a follow up to the previous post. I've gone through the timestamps of every game from the last 128 onwards of Challenge Tour 1, and then the first match played on each board in Challenge Tour 2. Here is what the board usage looks like:


This should just about fit in the blog template I have in place, if it looks shit on mobile I apologise, but it probably needs to be large enough that you can get a good view of what's going on. Putting things simply, each board is a line that goes along horizontally. The time along the top of the image is real time, and then everything in the actual chart is showing when an actual match is played on that board, and in which round.

Needless to say, I've been cheap and done this on Google Sheets (if you want to see the raw sheet, drop me a line and I'll send you the link), but to give you a clue, the dark and light purple are the round of 128 games, the horrible electric blue is the last 64, then it carries on through orange, green and so on until we get to the final. Then we have the second event start, where we colour in red the first game being played.

Now let's be extremely clear - these board assignments are not exact - they should be through the round of 64, but they've certainly shifted players around here and there, hence why if you look at board 15, there are two light purple blocks - namely because board 24 was so far behind at the time, they started their game somewhere else, which I've assumed to be board 15, as there was no other board available for the entirety of the time which that game was being played. There's similar things elsewhere. What actual boards are being used is not the big thing though. The key thing is to do the following. Draw a big rectangle from around half two in the afternoon to five o'clock on boards 17-32. See how many games are being played in that area.

This is an enormous resource, which when you're trying to play over 600 matches in one venue in one day you can't really afford to pass up, particularly when your scheduling requires the vast majority of players to come back the next day and do the same thing again. Even if we assume that it takes, I don't know, half an hour to switch all the Dart Connect tablets to the new system (which I guess is a huge overestimate, given they started event 2 within 10 minutes of event one being done), then you have 32 hours worth of board time on boards 17-32 alone to start the second event of the day. Looking at boards 9-16, they were all done not long after 3pm - that's another 25 hours of board time, being very conservative with setup time again.

Let's call it an even 50 hours of board time. That is going to be a massive underestimate, but I want to make a point about minimum gains - I think it's fair to do this, as you may have a bit added administration from what I want to say below. You can see from the chart I posted up that the time from an average nine leg match starting to the next one starting, barring huge lag while you're waiting for a player to finish a game on a slow board or section of the draw, is maybe 20 minutes. That would allow you to get through 150 games.

150 games. In a Challenge Tour event of the size we've had this weekend, that will eliminate HALF THE FUCKING FIELD before the first event has even finished. Just imagine how much quicker the event will finish if you do that.

How can you administer that? It seems easy to me. Let's talk through it:

- Halle 39, where they held the Euro Q-School, appeared to have half the boards on one side and half on the other. I assume Challenge Tour venues are arranged similarly, or at least in a similar fashion for all intents and purposes. Arrange the boards so that, if you label the board winners 1-32 going down the draw, the odd numbered boards are on one side of the venue, and the even numbered boards are on the other, and that from the last 32 onwards, you use the relevant odd numbered board (e.g. winners of boards 1/2 and 3/4 play on boards 1 and 3. Winner of that plays on board 1, etc etc), so the end of the first event is all played on one side of the event away from any clusterfuck on the new event.

- Register for both events at the same time. I assume this is done already. If not, do so, if someone is wanting to register for just the second event, they have a deadline of three hours after the first events starts (which here would be around 13:30). If you can't handle registration for two events at once, start registration for the second event immediately after you've drawn the first. There's enough hanging around in the early stages for people to do so at some point while they wait.

- Immediately draw the second event.

- Highlight who has been eliminated from the first event already (this is a simple vlookup for the Excel geeks among us if you just grab a player list from Dart Connect of the live first event) so we can easily see what games can be played straight away.

- Start allocating matches to begin some small amount of time after the last of boards 17-32 have played their last game. Here you need to be able to work on the fly a little bit, given you're going to have players still active in the first tournament, but if you've done the first step you should be able to be ahead of the game to some extent. For ease of allocating games, you just need to do a bit of manual allocation for who will play the first couple of games - on the first set of games you're going to play, just allocate as many games as possible to players on board 1-4, maybe 5-8 if there's some space, whose boards are going to be in use for the first event through to the very late stages. Once they've got a head start, you can start assigning games to the boards that players would ordinarily be on, and given an hour you've got every other board available for everyone else to catch up.

This is not hard to do. It is not hard to do in the slightest. It just needs a bit of careful planning and organisation, which you would think an organisation with the word "professional" as the first word of their name would be able to do. Then again, if they can't work out if Alcinas was to retain his card until a few days before Q-School, then what do I know?

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