Online TD notes
(note: someone else will have to wikify -- I don't do wiki's very well)
Several people still feel this is not a valid format to hold serious tournaments, especially if significant money is invloved, because there is no reliable way to validate player identients, etc. Past events required that each player have a "referee" present during the games (some pros may still do this as they may prefer to play on a real board and have their referee replay to moves to the computer)
It might be possible, working in conjunction with server administrators, to at least validate userIDs with home computer IP addresses. But that's not reliable either.
Personally, I trust in the honor system, though I know a more reliable method of verification needs to be found. For the top level players, it becomes more difficult for them to find yet stronger players to play in their stead.
If actual cheating is ever suspected, accused, discovered, it will set back online tournament play for many more years. Most of these top players all know each other. I believe the honor system will carry us forward for the next few years at least. (though, I'd also like to see these serious games accepted into the ratings DB too).
Online servers: KGS, IGS
On either system, players must setup games themselves. TD's have no control. If the server records the game record as finished (timeout, disconnect, etc), then that record can't be changed, even if the TD rules that the game should continue. A new game would have to be setup and continued from there (problematic where only the players themselves can setup games)
For the future, I'd like to see a Tournament Go Server (TGS), where only the TD sets up the game, and can change parameters when necessary. Those games can be easily relayed to the other popular Go Servers.
- IGS: The 'tmatch' command supports ING rules. It must be entered via the telnet command line. There are many clients available for IGS, so some of them may not support some of the necessary commands. And many of the players are not necessarily computer literate, so they often have trouble setting up these matches. I recommend that all players use the official Pandanet glGo client (but can't verify enforcement).
There are some players who will not accept a match if the wrong command is used.
- KGS: Supports AGA rules, but not ING rules. New Zealand rules are often subsistuted for ING rules. I had previously been told that NZ rules with komi 7 is equavalant to ING rules komi 8, but in practice, that has not been true. NZ komi 8 == ING komi 8
Another rules maven would have to delinate the actual differences between KGS' implementation of New Zealand rules verses ING rules and where issues might arise for the TD to deal with.
KGS also supports automatic tournaments. Players merely have to be online and their games start automatically (much like what I envision for "TGS"). But, these must be setup in advance by an administrator. They are not flexible for adding/removing players at the last minute, though an administrator can assign byes. Pairing is random. Nigiri is random.
I've been told in the past that we (the AGA) should equally support both IGS and KGS, but I've found IGS administraton difficult to work with.
Be sure to coordinate with go server admins well in advance of the tournament. It is preferable to coordinate more than two weeks in advance! In event that this is not possible, let KGS/IGS admins know ASAP. This is to help us maintain good relationship with the admins and also enable us to properly advertise upcoming tournaments.
Hopefully, the tournament orginizer (and not the same person as the TD) will have already setup many of the preliminary items (and kept fully communicated with the TD)
- tournament rules: AGA, ING, other. Time limits (main/byo-yomi). Late arrival/no show penalities. Inviational or Open. Type of pairing to be used (slide, knockout, adjacent, fold, random)
- schedule dates: firm date for all rounds, or flexable dates allowing players to schedule themselves (be aware that some players schedules are inflexible, one can only play on weekends while the other only weekdays, one can't play evenings, while the other can't play mornings). Be aware of timezone issues when scheduling rounds.
- know players KGS/IGS userid; email; phone numbers; chat; communicate with players prior to event
- make announcements to fans ahead of time (online server announcements, via admins; ejournal announcements (submit by wed/thur for mon news)
- post to website (authorization?), both the initial event announcment, pairings, and results (intermenant, and final)
- prize distribution: who won, who has the prizes (if any), who will distribute.
- verify elageablity
- tiebreaking: SOS, SODOS, A1, B1, etc (need more info here)
- list of alternate TD's who can be called in an emergency (I had to cancel one round because my daughter got sick, and I couldn't contact my assistant TD)
In my opinion, online TD's need more computer based experience than tournament experience. The difficult part being a technical support person to computer illiterate (yet otherwise very smart) players who sometimes speak hard to understand English over the phone.
If you strictly follow ING rules, pairing is by nigiri, by the players. The winner gets to choose color. Starting 4 or more games at the same time can be difficult -- chatting privately with each player asking them to pick a number, and having the other to choose odd or even
I have so many chat windows open at once and impatient players asking what to do next, and other players taking their time to respond to my questions (probably because they can't find their chat window either).
On KGS one could allow the computer to nigiri for the players, but no additioanl option to choose color.
YKNOT 2 Procedures
Overall, this tournament went smoothly. Good communication with the KGS admins is very important! They can help monitor the player chat and make sure it's not totally inappropriate, they can post announcements about your tournament to the larger KGS community, and they can contact the players directly during a game when the TD can't. KGS admins flameblade and sweety attended the TD preliminary and postmortem meetings and offered suggestions, past experience examples, etc.
Registration was done through Surveymonkey. It's easy to set up, it has a free version, the creator can designate mandatory fields to make sure the registrant doesn't forget to fill in some things, and if you spend $25, you get the version where you can download all participant responses in a spreadsheet. For a tournament with a lot of people in it, I would say this is probably worth it.
Rules: AGA Time limits: 45 minutes for dan players, 30 for kyu players, 10 periods of 30 seconds byoyomi for all. Tiebreaking: SOS, SODOS, Face to Face, Nigiri (only matters for higher place bragging rights - players with ties based on number of wins get the same amount of prize money)
TDs: There were 4 of us, and in between 60 and 70 players each round depending on who was taking byes. We coped with this by assigning each TD a certain number of board numbers and posting that for the players. The pairing software organized the games by board number, so we each took 7-8 boards and monitored those boards, those players asked their board TD questions, etc. This way none of us were completely overwhelmed.
- TD Skype Call! All of 4 of us stayed on a Skype call throughout the tournament. This is recommended from now on. It means fast TD communication (no need to typing to fellow TDs while trying to type to players) and the ability to bounce ideas off of each other, as well as get opinions on player problems and come to a solution together while never having to stop typing to the player. Plus, during the games when there are no issues, we can keep each other entertained.
Pairings: we used Jon Boley's pairing software. Overall, really like it. Some issues were not being able to re-board after manually pairing players. One big plus is the ability for multiple TDs to edit, make changes, and work on pairings together simultaneously since it's client/server. It also chooses color for the players, so we just said the white player makes the game and no worry about nigiri and which player creates the game in KGS. Although, KGS has a nigiri option for players which
In the future, having the pairing software include KGS/IGS Ids would save a lot of time since they wouldn't have to be added (player by player) to the pairings before they're posted. Html output would also be helpful, that way they could be posted to the website and players don't have to download anything.
Skype: There was a Skype requirement, it was announced and posted, and some players were still either surprised that they needed it, or didn't bother to get it anyway. For one player, it didn't come out that he didn't have Skype until round 5 - maybe none of his other opponents minded? Either way it was a rule, and not all players take it seriously. Also, a lot of issues revolved around Skype, and it's difficult for the TD to help players fix what's wrong when it seems like they're doing everything right. Skype will definitely be discussed at the Online TD Workshop and Discussion at the Go Congress. Notes will be taken, and then posted here on the wiki.
At this point, the majority of players in the tournament were familiar enough with KGS that there weren't too many issues!