Common Tournament Directing Mistakes
This is a list of common mistakes made by less-experienced tournament directors (and some experienced ones too!). The list is provided to help future tournament directors avoid these common pitfalls.
Before the Tournament
- Not training and/or being aware of the relative competence of moderators beforehand
- This is probably the biggest problem for most tournaments. You as the TD need to be aware of just how good each and every moderator at the tournament is. If at all possible, make sure that every moderator that you provide as a host has multiple experiences reading a full-length match under standard match conditions and is well-versed in the rules. The same caution goes for moderators that other teams are bringing; just because a team says that they will bring a competent moderator does not mean that said moderator is actually competent. On the other hand, if a team is bringing a very competent moderator, be sure to use him/her rather than a less-competent house staffer.
- Overly optimistic staff counts
- Ensure that every staffer that you are planning on using is confirmed beforehand, ideally with a phone number to reach them at in case they are not awake on the morning of the tournament. Also, make sure that teams who say they are bringing a staffer and other outside staffers confirm with you that they can, indeed, staff.
- Overly optimistic timing expectations
- Allotting 30 minutes per match is ideal, but this gets less likely as questions get longer, your moderators less experienced, and your tournament field size bigger (as small delays can pile up then). The first round can also take longer-than-expected to get started, so make sure to explicitly instruct teams and moderators to hurry to their round 1 rooms and get started ASAP rather than wait around. Budget in about 40 minutes at first, and then adjust downward based on how your readers are doing.
- Accepting too many teams into the field
- If you have to cap your field due to room or moderator limits, make the cap clear upfront and stick to it. Do not let a team badger you into accepting them if you cannot ensure a good tournament experience for the rest of the field. Also do not be swayed by the temptation to get a few more bucks upfront by adding more teams--if you run a bad tournament, your field will suffer next year.
- Being unclear about the rules to staff and new teams
- Pick a rule set, then communicate that to all teams and moderators. Ideally go over the rules again with moderators just before the tournament starts and make sure everyone is on the same page about timing, negs, etc. If you have unusual rules in your area for whatever reason (like [recognition rule]s, double-negs, etc.), make sure you emphasize how the rules that you are using differ from those.
- Putting rooms too far away from each other (including the control room)
- The control room should be at the center of all the other rooms in the tournament to reduce the amount of time it takes to bring scoresheets back and to quickly respond to problems if necessary. When you are putting rooms into various brackets, you should make sure to group rooms together as much as possible and avoid scheduling rooms within the same bracket up and down staircases (which take awhile to navigate). As TD, you should also be checking to make sure that rounds have started periodically (esp. in the first few rounds).
During the Tournament
- Rebracketing at a time other than lunch
- Lunch is the ideal time to rebracket for playoff rounds. You'll have lots of staff in HQ to help you out and teams are busy getting lunch, so they can come back to an auditorium or HQ after lunch and get their playoff seedings. Try to pick a tournament format that allows you to rebracket during lunchtime--it might even be better if you have to play 7 rounds to do so before lunch and then rebracket (be sure to announce this to teams so that they can eat a big breakfast) than to have lunch and then a separate rebracketing later.
- Giving too much/too little time for lunch
- This is tricky, since different brackets may finish at different times. In general though, 45 minutes is probably the minimum amount of time needed, depending on how far lunch options are away. One way to help avoid this is to explicitly recommend certain places to go to teams that will help reduce the time it takes for them to find food, order, and eat. You also want to make sure regardless of what time you choose that you tell moderators before beginning the final round before lunch so that they can communicate the time-to-be-back to all teams.
- Not adjusting moderators/scorekeepers within the tournament
- If you discover that you have a very slow moderator who cannot speed up adequately, pull the trigger and replace him/her if at all possible as soon as possible. Same with scorekeepers who are consistently making mistakes. You should be asking for feedback throughout the tournament from teams and moderators/scorekeepers and respond to it as needed during the tournament rather than waiting until the end of the tournament.
- Trying to enter stats and TD at the same time for large tournaments
- Beyond 9 rooms (18 teams) or so, it gets really hard to enter stats and TD at the same time. Ideally, you'll have a separate scorekeeper who can be dedicated to entering stats while you as the TD walk around to monitor the rooms and think about rebracketing or finals scenarios.
- Unclear or overly lengthy protest resolution procedures
- Be clear about how you will resolve protests upfront. Ideally, make sure that you are in contact with the tournament editors or producers in case there is a potential error in a question (this is especially an issue with new housewrites).