An eclectic selection

I was recently browsing through the Australian Scrabble website when some differences (between the Australian association and our own) caught my attention – and are probably worth a mention. Note that I might have made a few factual errors here so please feel free to point them out.

Looking back at the 2008 Australian Nationals (which Naween won), the 24 played rounds (I’m assuming in 3 days) were split into two sections – where players could meet again after the halfway mark. There were no King-Of-The-Hill rounds played. Compare this to the Singaporean Nationals, where there are no repeats for the first 12 rounds and KOTH for the last 4 rounds. Not that each of the systems have a drastically different outcome – but this is at least noteworthy, and the Australian system (which seems somewhat fairer to me) would probably serve as something to consider should the disparities (between, say 1 or 2 players to the rest of the field) grow greater over the next few years. I don’t suggest a change at the moment – if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

The second issue is regarding qualification for the WSC. Hubert has pointed this out to the committee – however such a system might be worth looking at again since there is now a tendency for the ratings to fluctuate wildly after major tournaments. The Singaporean system, as I’m sure all Singaporeans know, is to pick the National Champions of 08/09 and 09/10, and in addition to that choose the top 2 rated players excluding the National Champions. A better explanation can be found here. However I feel that this system is weak on a few grounds:

1. Given the rating fluctuations over the past year, it is quite foreseeable that someone will jump into 3rd or 4th place following a good performance at the Nationals this year (say 5th place), despite not having played much at all throughout the year (he/she might have amassed his/her 56 games early on in the QP). Indeed this may be considered ‘fair’ to some since he did deserve the rating jump – but to qualify on the basis of doing well for one tournament (not winning it, like the National Champion) might seem unfair to others. On the other hand, if someone has been doing well for the whole year (e.g. winning 5-6 tournaments), but crashes out at the Nationals for some reason, he/she might not qualify based on ratings.

2. If we are only to look at ratings after the QP, potential qualifiers might be affected in two ways, and this might cause some problems in the future. Those who are currently about to qualify (meaning 1st to 4th placing in Singapore) would have a greater motivation to avoid tournaments closer to the end of the QP, so that their ratings are not affected by poor performances. Meanwhile, those who are out of the qualification zone would probably want to play more till they get their rating up there, and from then on avoid playing.

This can be put in comparison with Australia’s four peaks Q statistic system (read up more about it here), which specifically requires that every player meets a minimum number of games in each period and calculates the qualification rating based on rating peaks instead of rating at the end of the tournament. Perhaps adopting such a system would demand too much effort currently (its complication was one of the reasons why this system was rejected here), but we can adopt some features of such a system – splitting the required number of games into required number of games for each period (which would be split depending when the tournaments occur as our tournament distribution is not exactly even) to make sure we have players for every tournament; and calculating the qualification rating based on some system of averages (e.g. average rating after each tournament within the QP, or the peak system) instead of our current system of looking at rating at the end of the QP.

Looking for new music again! Need recommendations!

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