A view from ACF Player's Representative Richard Beckwith : 2009-08-17
My Thoughts on U.S. Nationals and Qualifier
First, my congratulations go to Jim Morrison on winning his third GAYP National. We even had an occurrence of an honoree winning his own tournament! It was an exciting week with a number of contenders vying for the crown. Early in the tournament, it appeared a resurgent Jack Francis (2009 Florida GAYP champ) might run away with the tournament. However, a failed 10-15 opening gambit against John Webster (followed by numerous draws) derailed his chances, with Jack finishing 5th. Following a mid-tournament surge by John Webster, it became a question down the stretch of whether the winner would be Jim or Joe Schwartz, who seemed to rekindle his good play that we saw at the 2005 8th International Match. I believe Richard Hallett was the only Master not to lose a game, but too many draws left him in 4th place. Ron "Suki" King was conspicuous by his absence. Josh Armstrong had a notable week winning the youth tournament and also winning his last round (4 points) to tie Albert Tucker for first in the Majors (even though "Tuck" won on honor points). Frank Davis and his current health situation remained in our thoughts all week.
Many thanks go to the Tennessee folks for their bid, and to Kim Willis, Alan Millhone, and John Acker for their help in running the tournament (all while competing!). There are numerous behind-the-scenes details that go into every national tournament: registration, trophies, ACF dues, printed scoresheets and timeclocks, bottled water for the players, Oldbury interest money for prizes, prize distribution calculations, etc.
This year we introduced a software program to make pairings. I am currently evaluating a number of post-tournament pros and cons, and even different programs. Besides a couple minor software glitches I experienced, the software approach required transporting a laptop and printer to the playing site. I'm not sure how much of a time saver it was overall, as we still kept hard-copy pairing cards for backup for this first time. However, I'm sure it saved time in tying to find pairings in the later rounds when fresh pairs are harder to come by for a 13-round tournament. It was also nice to be able to simply print the current standings whenever anyone wanted a copy to study or take home. The program also kept track of "tentative" honor points during the tournament, so players knew where they stood on tiebreakers. Kim Willis announced plans to certify official ACF referees for any tournament organizer wishing to learn the software approach, as you never know when a backup referee might be needed someday.
John Acker has already been at work securing a bid for 2010 ACF Nationals in Springfield, Illinois to honor the late Richard Fortman. Pledges to the bid are welcomed by John. The Gene Lindsay trust fund (personally designated for Masters division) will also begin in 2010. ACF will accept all national bids through the end of this year.
I will be in Isle of Wight, England for the GAYP World Qualifier on September 1-4. The winner of this tournament earns the right to challenge Ron King for the GAYP world title. The contenders will include many of Ron's recent match challengers: Lubabalo Kondlo (South Africa), Jim Morrison (USA), and Jack Francis (Barbados). The Italians are lesser-known, but are expected to be formidable players as well (Palao Faleo finished 9th in Beijing). In addition to the 17 current entrants, the women's division will feature Wilma Wolverton and Joan Caws.
Think Media Studios was present for ACF Nationals collecting footage for their upcoming documentary. I, and many others, spent time with them answering numerous questions on checkers while on camera. They will also be present at the World Qualifier.
Geoff Yaw suggested the possibility of a movie screening in Springfield, IL (or wherever Nationals will be) in August 2010 for the checker community!
I'm also pleased to report that Eric Strange is currently looking into situation of ACF ratings processor, a position which has been vacant since the start of 2008 when Dave Butler retired. Eric is trying to get up to speed on what is involved, as well as trying to decide on what ratings formula best suits ACF. I also have a report that Igor Keder may have a WCDF ratings update at the end of this month. However, his time table has been hampered by the fact that many non-USA events are being turned into him without player IDs and preferred "T" format. I have already provided Igor with many 2009 USA event cross-tables, including Nationals.
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