Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Long weekend.

Mostly a fun weekend, but the days were definitely not short. We BC types didn't get to see much of Dallas, finding we preferred to use our six or so hours outside the Dallas Convention Center for sleep.

Two sad items from Dallas—the Starbucks at the convention center is closed on weekends and holidays, which was a hardship for officials longing for their quad-shot lattes, and Tournament #3, the BC master computer, expired Sunday evening, leaving no electronic trace of Sunday's events, which will have to be reconstructed from the paper records. (We held a brief private memorial service on the BC platform.)

Monday, November 05, 2007

Yikes!

When I first started working bout committee at national tournaments, we used to have 20 strips. Sometimes, for big events like JOs, we'd have 24. We thought Summer Nationals was huge when we went to 40 strips, though now 60+ is almost routine.

But the numbers for the Dallas NAC coming up this weekend are mind-boggling. Over 1500 fencers comprising nearly 2400 entries makes for a very large tournament indeed, one that not all that long ago would have dwarfed a Summer Nationals. We'll need every one of the 52 strips we'll have.

There are only two events in Dallas whose DEs will fit into a table of 64. There are 11 events whose DEs will be tables of 128, and 5 with tables of 256. Seven of those 128s and all of the 256s will have repechage.

Day by day, it's impressive, too:

Friday: one 64, two 128s, and one 256 with rep.

Saturday: three 128s and two 256s, all with rep.

Sunday: one 64, two 128s (one with rep), and two 256s (both with rep).

Monday: four 128s, three with rep.

What conclusions do I draw from all this?

First, it's going to be noisy and crowded.

Second, the referees, armorers, bout committee, trainers, and most coaches will have gruelingly long days every day. (It may well not be much of a problem that there aren't a lot of restaurants in the venue area.)

Third, we'll be lucky to get through most days (especially Saturday and Sunday) without significant delays—fencers will fence more slowly than we expect or some pool will have equipment problems that will slow an event down.

Fourth, repechage has got to go.

I like running events with repechage—it's a fun puzzle to figure the seeding for the extra tables, and I've always liked racing to see if I can figure it out before the computer prints the round. And it's always a hoot helping fencers unfamiliar with it try to wrap their brains around how all the tables work.

But repechage isn't used internationally and doesn't belong at national events any longer—we should relegate it to the collection of weird formats local and regional events can use to liven things up, like fencing a table of 16 to all places. (There's nothing like quadruple elimination to develop fencers' character—not to mention their stamina!)