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View Full Version : The BYE: Should we accept its existence?

PHAT
27-04-2004, 11:24 AM
The question I would like discussed here, and consensus be found, relates to the existence of the BYE in swiss tournaments.

First, the occurence of an odd or even number of players is equal [Yes Barry, I know it isn’t true to 6 decimal places - but that is a trivial irrelevancy :-)].

In half of all chess Swiss rounds played in Australia, someone is left scratching their head or highly disappointed. This results in *8% of players at such events being short changed and considerably inconvenienced.
[*Weekenders = 6 or 7 rounds with 40 players.
6.5 x 0.5 / 40 ]

However, the imposition of the BYE falls almost wholly upon on those players from the bottom quartile. For this group, the rate of BYEs in events is an astonishing **33%. One third of their events are arbitrarily truncated. The other three quartiles are left unscathed. [** Not withstanding the infrequent occurrence of a player requesting the BYE at half a point.]

The nature of the short changing is that a person can pay for 6 rounds of chess and be given only 5 rounds. Further more, a BYE in the first round of the day effectively loses a whole half day opportunity cost from the player , ~9:30 to ~1:00. It is not uncommon for players travelling large distances to go to the added expence ( \$50-100) of a night’s accommodation prior to the event so as not to be driving-stuffed for the first round.

The BYE itself has other consequences for the bottom quartile players. A first round “free” point bumps them into the middle of the top half of the second round draw. Being the lowest rated player in the event, they a hopelessly out of their depth. There, they are smashed by a much superior player who is also up-set at not having a competitive game. This highly undesirable effect is greatest for the first two or three BYE players and their opponents.

This “player-out-of-place” phenominum also has undesirable implications for the M.Buch and therefore the Swiss pairings. I will not be providing details here, suffice to say better players are played down and lesser players are played up.

I submit that the BYE creates:
1. Time costs to players.
2. Financial costs to players.
3. Reduces player enjoyment to many players.
4. Interferes with Swiss Pairings.
... Such is the down side of the BYE.

Many people would say that the BYE is an unfortunate part of any pairing system - that such a scourge is unavoidable. These people are wrong. Here are several ways to eliminate the BYE.
1. Ask for volunteers to take a half point BYE. Sometimes a player may wish to accept such an offer so as to peruse some other competing activity.
2. A non-paying-entry position could be offered so that that person could fill the BYE when it appears.
3. A laptop with a chess playing program, set to a particular playing strength for the whole event, could be used to fill the bye.
4. Personally, I know the BYE is a total piss-off and a rip-off. Both I and Bob Keast never let a BYE occur in our events - we personally step in to fill it.

I have identified four simple strategies by which a DOP can eliminate the BYE. Those DOPs who continue to allow BYEs to occur in events should be held in contempt for their inability to manage the BYE out of existence. The ACF (and my NSWCA) should make it a condition of accepting a DOP position that no player receives a BYE that they do not want.

Oepty
27-04-2004, 11:38 AM
Matthew. You put forward a strong argument. On your solutions, well the first one doesn't really stop there being a bye. It also may lead to some problems,
1. One player might be nice and take a bye a couple times leading to a expectancy that player will take the bye meaning that no one else will volunteer.
2. It would be in the interest of the leader of the tournament to take a bye in the last round.

On the second solution you need some fairly weak, or very weak so that they would not just smash the player who would otherwise have had the bye. If you give the player a half point bye for every round they are not required it might lead them to be paired to high meaning it gives a player an easy game instead of the fairly competitive game they might have got otherwise.

I don't think weaking a computer would really work either. If you weaken them to much they play eratically and are just strange.

I guess in the end getting a game of chess so I support the idea, but you need to be sure it doesn't cause more problems than it is fixes.

Scott

Bill Gletsos
27-04-2004, 12:06 PM
The counter point is that we play chess under FIDE rules.
The FIDE rules for Swiss tournaments dictate how the BYE is allocated.
Therefore your course of action is clear.
Get the FIDE Swiss Tournament Rules Commission to change its rules regarding BYES.

PHAT
27-04-2004, 12:16 PM
The counter point is that we play chess under FIDE rules.
The FIDE rules for Swiss tournaments dictate how the BYE is allocated.
Therefore your course of action is clear.
Get the FIDE Swiss Tournament Rules Commission to change its rules regarding BYES.

No thanks for that unhelpful contribution.

The FIDE is not God, we can do what ever we please. The FIDE is a great lumbering dinosaur. Are you honestly suggesting that we should walk in lock step with the FIDE.

When I want a method to go nowhere and change nothing, I will ask you for advice on how to be sand in the wheels.

jay_vee
27-04-2004, 12:19 PM
imho, by far the best solution is for the tournament organizer to have a local player, who is not too keen on playing, stand by and only participate if there was otherwise an uneven number of players. That way, you never have anyone complaining about the bye. Of course, it may not always be easy to find such a player :-).

PHAT
27-04-2004, 12:29 PM

It also may lead to some problems,
1. One player might be nice and take a bye a couple times leading to a expectancy that player will take the bye meaning that no one else will volunteer.

Yes, I would hope that tahat would be a rare occurence. I think though, that many players would witness the unfairness of it and share the load.

It also may lead to some problems,
It would be in the interest of the leader of the tournament to take a bye in the last round.

That is not granted now by DOPs, I would not expect it to be a problem in the future.

It also may lead to some problems,
On the second solution you need some fairly weak, or very weak so that they would not just smash the player who would otherwise have had the bye. If you give the player a half point bye for every round they are not required it might lead them to be paired to high meaning it gives a player an easy game instead of the fairly competitive game they might have got otherwise.

I envissioned a person to simple stand in for the bye when it occurs and not play at other times - indeed they could not! If the stand-in player was strong, they would have to be a reasonably trustworthy inas much as they would not chuck games.

I don't think weaking a computer would really work either. If you weaken them to much they play eratically and are just strange.

Does that matter? It would be eratic and strange for everyone, yes?

PHAT
27-04-2004, 12:31 PM
imho, by far the best solution is for the tournament organizer to have a local player, ...Of course, it may not always be easy to find such a player :-).

It is my experiance that the DOP is such a player ;)

Oepty
27-04-2004, 12:38 PM
Matthew. I would hope no DOP would award a bye to the player leading the tournament, but what about the play leading the U1500 prize or the junior prize or the womens prize. Should they be able to volunteer to eliminate the bye. It would seem to make a lot of work for the DOP. I think a human player, and preferably not the DOP, should be used if a player is needed.
Scott

jenni
27-04-2004, 12:38 PM
imho, by far the best solution is for the tournament organizer to have a local player, who is not too keen on playing, stand by and only participate if there was otherwise an uneven number of players. That way, you never have anyone complaining about the bye. Of course, it may not always be easy to find such a player :-).

I have the honour to be regularly used as the bye by Charles Zworestine.......

It is an arrangement that suits us, as I don't have to play all the games - I find 3 games in a weekend is about as many as I want.

jay_vee
27-04-2004, 12:42 PM
Maybe I should have read your proposed solutions more closely, then I might have actually noticed you had already suggested this :-). However, in my experience, in most tournaments the DOP is too busy directing and organising to be a player. I do remember a local rapid tournament though, where I was only stopping by as a spectator, and didn't want to play, not even for free to fill in for the bye. I ended up taking the DOPs part and he played instead :-), but this is not a solution likely to be commonly applicable.

Ian Rout
27-04-2004, 01:56 PM
If there is a helpful person willing to play on an as-required basis it largely solves the problem. Though there may be some who would say that if there is a spare body available it is mure urgent to put that person in charge of ensuring an adequate supply of coffee cups.

One point to consider is whether everybody objects to the bye. At the start of the tournament the player due the bye probably wants to play. At a middle or later stage I think if I had sunk to the bottom I would prefer to take the free point and have the afternoon off rather than play a meaningless game.

Bill Gletsos
27-04-2004, 02:16 PM
No thanks for that unhelpful contribution.

The FIDE is not God, we can do what ever we please. The FIDE is a great lumbering dinosaur. Are you honestly suggesting that we should walk in lock step with the FIDE.

When I want a method to go nowhere and change nothing, I will ask you for advice on how to be sand in the wheels.
As usual you miss the point.
Who gets the bye is determined by the rules.
If you want to change that then get the FIDE rules changed.

However once the bye is allocated in the correct manner then how you can arrange for this person to actually play a game is a different matter.

Players should not be allowed to detremine who gets a full point bye.
Half point byes should not be allowed in the last part of the tournament.
The NSWCA generally does not permit half point byes in the rounds comprising the final 1/3 of a tournament.

Kevin Bonham
27-04-2004, 04:14 PM
The BYE itself has other consequences for the bottom quartile players. A first round “free” point bumps them into the middle of the top half of the second round draw. Being the lowest rated player in the event, they a hopelessly out of their depth. There, they are smashed by a much superior player who is also up-set at not having a competitive game. This highly undesirable effect is greatest for the first two or three BYE players and their opponents.

Correct. I've dealt with this before and I've long thought that the treatment of the bye in the Swiss system is irrational. Why should the weakest player in the field be playing someone a quarter of the way down who won in round 1, as early as round 2, without any opportunity to demonstrate their actual skill? It's just plain silly.

Fortunately, as previously discussed, there's a way around this. In Tas we have a regulation that allows the organisers to pair the players who have received the bye, as if they had scored zero in that round, for the first half of the tournament. In SP you can do this easily by scoring the bye as zero:zero then editing it back to 1:0 after half the event has been completed.

I have identified four simple strategies by which a DOP can eliminate the BYE.

It's not quite so easy in a small state where the convention is that you need all the players you can get and therefore the DOP always plays. But at least we have the solution mentioned above to the mismatch problems caused by the bye.

ursogr8
27-04-2004, 04:21 PM
The question I would like discussed here, and consensus be found, relates to the existence of the BYE in swiss tournaments.

hi Matt,

Good thread you have started. When you forewarned on 'reason for this BB' thread I posted #10 and #18 in response. Did you overlook?

starter

PHAT
27-04-2004, 04:53 PM
hi Matt,

Good thread you have started. When you forewarned on 'reason for this BB' thread I posted #10 and #18 in response. Did you overlook?

starter

"I had a quick look at unpaired players in round 1. Were you able to have a coffee with player 64 in the Premier Division?"

I was as I said, cordially ropable. Went and had a coffee down the road and returned with a letter of complaint. It fell on deaf ears or should I say unmoved minds. Nevertheless I have beencailing against the BYE fr a few years now, and am making it a priorty to fix.

Brian_Jones
27-04-2004, 05:18 PM
Bye Bye Love. Bye Bye Happiness. I think I'm gonna cry!

Trent Parker
27-04-2004, 05:51 PM

"Byes" are given in sets of 3.
These 3 players should be the lowest 3 players on the lowest score, and wo have not already had the bye, as per existing system.
These 3 players play a series of shorter games between themselves each game being worth half a point.
I.E A v B is worth half a point
B v C is worth half a point
etc. so the amount on offer to any one person is still the one point.

The time limit for these games would be about one third of the time control. eg for a 90/30 time control 30/10 could be used, for a 60/10 20/3 could be used. This would shorten the amount of time bye recipients have to wait for the next round.
The interesting thing would be when draws occur.

PHAT
27-04-2004, 06:06 PM
As for getting the allocation of who gets the bye I think you have Buckleys of getting it changed. After all we play under the FIDE laws not the Sweeney laws.
As for what happens to the player who gets the bye, that is surely up to each individual/arbiter.

when you are not part of the solution you are part of the problem. Australians can run their events in whatever way they like. You may think that Great God FIDE has to be obeyed - except when they recommend Elo - but I hope we are smarter than that.

Now, unless you have something positive, something good, something novel to say, piss-off from this thread.

PHAT
27-04-2004, 06:13 PM

"Byes" are given in sets of 3.
These 3 players should be the lowest 3 players on the lowest score, and wo have not already had the bye, as per existing system.
These 3 players play a series of shorter games between themselves each game being worth half a point.
I.E A v B is worth half a point
B v C is worth half a point

What a great idea! :clap: Swiss perfect can handle 0.25 of a point, I think.

[Warning:Retorical question so don't reply] Hey Bill, can you top this idea or do you just want to put **** on it like you put **** on everything else?

Bill Gletsos
27-04-2004, 07:26 PM
when you are not part of the solution you are part of the problem.
Well yes, you are most certainly the problem.

Australians can run their events in whatever way they like. You may think that Great God FIDE has to be obeyed - except when they recommend Elo - but I hope we are smarter than that.
No, it is just another case of Sweeney does not like it so it must be changed.
Tournaments have had byes for 100 years.
Get over it.
FIDE dont dictate what rating system federations must use.
They do dictate Swiss rules and the laws of chess.

Now, unless you have something positive, something good, something novel to say, piss-off from this thread.
Based on this advice since you and the DOC have no clue about ratings you should stay off the rating threads.

Bill Gletsos
27-04-2004, 07:29 PM
What a great idea! :clap: Swiss perfect can handle 0.25 of a point, I think.
Think again.

Kevin Bonham
27-04-2004, 09:28 PM

"Byes" are given in sets of 3.
These 3 players should be the lowest 3 players on the lowest score, and wo have not already had the bye, as per existing system.
These 3 players play a series of shorter games between themselves each game being worth half a point.
I.E A v B is worth half a point
B v C is worth half a point
etc. so the amount on offer is still the one point.

Actually your maths is a bit out there. The maximum each player can get is one point, but the total value on offer is 1.5 points.

It's an interesting idea. One possible problem with it is that the number of players getting the bye substitute trebles - which means that if you have say 36 players and 7 rounds, then the byes start to get into the top half of the field. Also, do you bar the players who have played these Bye games vs each other from playing each other again? If so the bottom half of your field is going to become hard to find legal draws for rather more quickly than normal.

shaun
27-04-2004, 09:44 PM
There is already an approach which is similar to what Trent suggests. Instead of having 3 players play a RR over 1 round, they play over 2 rounds. Again slightly faster time limits etc, but each player gets 2 games, which exactly matches the two rounds they are "missing from". Of course there is nothing that can be done with this system for the last (or first round) of a tournament with an odd number of rounds.

shaun
27-04-2004, 10:02 PM
OK. OK. Enough of the fun.
Like just about everything in the world, someone else has thought of it before. The topic of Byes and how to avoid them has been addressed previously, which is hardly surprising given the number of tournaments organised in the pre-Sweeney era of chess.
What follows are suggestions from "USCF Official Rules of Chess" 4th Edition published by David McKay (1994). (BTW This is an excellent book for tournament organisers, with 366 pages of rules and advice. Highly recommended).

Alternatives to Byes
1. The Houseman.
This has already been discussed. The additional suggestion is that the players rating should match the lower score group.

2. Cross Round Pairings
The player who has the bye waits until one of the games in the lowest score group has finished. The loser of that game is asked to play the next round early, after a brief rest. The two players are paired. The score for the player who would have recieved the bye is entered for this round, for the other player the score is recorded for the next round. This also eliminates the bye in the following round. This all depends on a quick finish on one of the lower boards.

3. Cross Section Pairings
In multiple section tournaments, if two sections have players who have a bye, they get paired in a rated game. For the player in the lower section the game only counts for rating, as they recieve the full point regardless of the result. This can also be done for the player from the higher section, or you can have the game count for rating and result.

4. Extra rated games
Directors may accomodate players who wish to play a rated game without giving up a full point bye by recording the results on an "extra rated games" result sheet. The opponent will usually come from a rated spectator who is happy to play a one-off game.

ursogr8
27-04-2004, 10:20 PM
OK. OK. Enough of the fun.
Like just about everything in the world, someone else has thought of it before. The topic of Byes and how to avoid them has been addressed previously, which is hardly surprising given the number of tournaments organised in the pre-Sweeney era of chess.
What follows are suggestions from "USCF Official Rules of Chess" 4th Edition published by David McKay (1994). (BTW This is an excellent book for tournament organisers, with 366 pages of rules and advice. Highly recommended).

Alternatives to Byes
3. Cross Section Pairings
In multiple section tournaments, if two sections have players who have a bye, they get paired in a rated game. For the player in the lower section the game only counts for rating, as they recieve the full point regardless of the result. This can also be done for the player from the higher section, or you can have the game count for rating and result.

I wonder if it is too late for the USCF to have a 3B. for Cross Section pairings? >> The previously described Box Hill method of having two Divisions in the one SWISS.
The BH method would have solved Matt's Doeberl problem too if Doeberl did a Box Hill. (There was semi-suitable player on a bye in the higher division).

starter

ursogr8
27-04-2004, 10:33 PM
"I had a quick look at unpaired players in round 1. Were you able to have a coffee with player 64 in the Premier Division?"

I was as I said, cordially ropable. Went and had a coffee down the road and returned with a letter of complaint. It fell on deaf ears or should I say unmoved minds. Nevertheless I have beencailing against the BYE fr a few years now, and am making it a priorty to fix.

Matt
Cordially ropable; I like that phrase.
Keep going with your campaign against the BYE.
But don't overlook the Box Hill solution that almost automatically manages to avoid byes in multiple divisions with odd player numbers in both divisions.

starter

ps
BTW........did you notice who had the bye in the higher division in round 1?

shaun
27-04-2004, 10:40 PM
BTW........did you notice who had the bye in the higher division in round 1?

No one had the bye in the Premier in Rd 1.
Alek Safarian was running late and was unpaired. Adrian Flitney was due to play Guy West, but due to a break down in communication between organisers, the message that Guy wasn't coming wasn't forwarded to the arbiters (no fault of Guy's btw). When Alek arrived he and Adrian were both happy to be paired against each other.

Trent Parker
27-04-2004, 11:35 PM
Actually your maths is a bit out there. The maximum each player can get is one point, but the total value on offer is 1.5 points.
it is no different to having a result in one game and giving another person a half point bye.

.....then the byes start to get into the top half of the field.

AND THIS IS A PROBLEM????????????????????????????????????????? :doh:
WOULDN'T THIS BE SHARING THE LOAD AROUND AND NOT JUST OFFLOADING THE BYE TO THE LOWER RATED PEOPLE?????? AND IT WOULD BE BETTER THAN MATTS RANDOM SELECTION.

Kevin Bonham
28-04-2004, 12:56 AM
it is no different to having a result in one game and giving another person a half point bye.

Correct. I wasn't making a point against it when I noticed that; in some ways 1.5 points between 3 is "better" than 2 points between 3, which (effectively) happens with a 1-point bye.

WOULDN'T THIS BE SHARING THE LOAD AROUND AND NOT JUST OFFLOADING THE BYE TO THE LOWER RATED PEOPLE??????

It would. But when a lot of the field, including those seriously in contention for ratings prizes if not outright prizes, are getting a "bye" that involves testing your skill at a time limit very much faster than the tournament's main time limit, is the impact on the fairness of prize distributions worth it? Also some (especially older) weaker players hate playing rapids and would possibly avoid tournaments where they had to play some games at fast time limits. For a tournament that was not too serious and where people didn't mind the time limit shift, I think it would work rather well. I wouldn't recommend it for a really serious event though.

Curiously enough, I know lots of weaker players who like to get the bye. Go figure.

shaun - in the Houseman system one of the players is likely to go 2/2, this seems to lead to even worse pairing problems than the normal bye.

ursogr8
28-04-2004, 08:18 AM
No one had the bye in the Premier in Rd 1.
Alek Safarian was running late and was unpaired. Adrian Flitney was due to play Guy West, but due to a break down in communication between organisers, the message that Guy wasn't coming wasn't forwarded to the arbiters (no fault of Guy's btw). When Alek arrived he and Adrian were both happy to be paired against each other.

Shaun

Thanks for the explanation.

I had noticed the unpaired name in the cross-table and twice had asked in posts here whether this was a bye. There had been no response so I then presumed (inaccurately as you point out) that there had been a BYE.

Your tournament is a great event BTW. Congratulations.

starter

starter