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  A view from ACF Player's Representative Richard Beckwith : 2009-06-22

New Technology at Our Upcoming U.S. Nationals


Our annual National Tournament is scheduled for the first full week of August in Lebanon, Tennessee. Kim Willis has kindly agreed to substitute for Frank Davis as referee. (We wish Frank all the best and a speedy recovery.) The ACF has purchased a laptop, software pairing program (WinTD from Estima), and printer for referee use. Software-controlled pairings are already commonplace in Europe and were used in the 2005 GAYP qualifier in Prague. In Beijing last fall, we were probably the only draughts section not using software. (This topic is also on the to-do list for WCDF to discuss.) I have heard a few concerns in the past that pairings conducted by humans may be subject to bias and subjectivity. Round pairings and standings can be quickly printed out by a program once all the relevant information is entered. I also add a cautionary note that I am still evaluating the software to make sure it will perform sufficiently for our needs. For example, this program (as well as a number of others I surveyed) is more geared to chess and its one-game rounds and 0-1/2-1 scoring system, but I am hopeful that there are work-arounds for all such details relating to scoring, byes, dropouts, honor point calculations, etc. This article merely serves as a notice of what I would like to see happen if no future problems arise.

The ACF continues to search for a ratings processor. Many internal discussions have occurred on this topic in the past year, but it has been a challenge to find someone with the right expertise. Kim Willis is looking into this role (Kim just does it all!), and J.R. Smith has kindly been researching our options as well. The pairing software I spoke of does have the ability to estimate an updated player rating after a tournament (provided a pre-tournament rating is available), but I fear it will not serve as an efficient processor for all ACF events.
***
As announced on the front page of this ACF site, a film crew will be present in Lebanon, TN. This is not the first time a documentary has being filmed at our U.S. National.
A separate crew took a number of room shots at the 2000 National in Toledo as they followed a minor-level player from Iowa (as recounted in a 2005 Player Rep article).
Several of us had first contact with the Think Media Studios crew at the 2008 Ohio State Tournament and subsequent GAYP world title match between Ron King and Lubabalo Kondlo. Some general shots were taken of the playing room, and many of the players were voluntarily pulled aside into a separate "interview room" for their thoughts. I'm not sure what the film crew plans to do in Lebanon, but perhaps more of the same. I certainly wish them success with their project, and hope this effort will eventually bring much positive exposure to elevate the stature of our game.

Read more articles from your ACF Players Representative in the Rep's Corner Archive.

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