I expect that I'm a bit behind the curve having only just seen this, however while I am not against the new format, the most important thing to me is the continuing future of the event. I do think that Sav's sanity check it valid
First I'd like to thank all those who ventured an opinion on this thread, by private message or through email and other channels.
I have spoken to the vast majority of committee members and we have all reviewed the comments on here, elsewhere and the feedback that we have received directly.
Whilst this will not satisfy everyone, it would be amazing but also unrealistic to hope for consensus, we feel strongly that there is enough support to apply the format change for the event this year. As with almost all other AEBBA events, the tournament organisers work very hard to format the event to balance a number of factors. They are:
Maximising opportunities for entrants to play the game and offer value for money
Ensuring the event can run smoothly, to time and without excessive risk of delays impacting participant's travel plans
To ensure events maintain a strong element of the social aspect which our game rather uniquely enjoys
Before canvassing opinion the committee had already thoroughly planned the impact of any change in relation to the factors above, as well as the logistical demands of such a change. I am confident therefore that Dave & Nigel have managed to produce something that takes account of everyone's expressed preferences and safeguards some of the unique aspects of this particular event.
As such, the format change will provide far better value with a minimum of four matches for your £5 entry fee (That's about 62.5p per leg which is cheaper than most league games!). But for those who value the social time every bit as much as the Bar Billiards - it only means an additional 80 minutes or less of playing time over the course of what, for many is a 48-54hour weekend. Group games have been condensed to ensure that matches are completed in blocks taking up as little time as is practicable.
We are confident that the event times can be maintained as Group matches are ALWAYS easier to keep to time as the non-playing members of the group can be available to score their opponent's games.
So that attendees may plan their (social) time and meal times as they wish, I have set out below the event timetable:
Saturday 7th March
Plate Last 32
Main Last 32
End of play for Day 1
Sunday 8th March
Plate Last 16
Main Last 16
Whilst we believe that this offers both the best event possible, as well as maximising available time for social interaction etc., the number of entries for this year's event means that there are some important aspects to how the competition has been formatted that you need to know.
There will be 14 groups of 4 Pairs. They will each play a round robin which means 3x two-legged matches for each pair. The top two of each group shall proceed to the next stages of the Main Competition. The third and fourth placed pair shall proceed to the next stages of the Plate competition.
Given that this will mean 28 successful pairs into next stage of both competitions, Groups 13 & 14 have been designated 'Lucky Groups'. As such, the top two of these groups shall get a BYE in the last 32 stage of the main competition and the third and fourth placed pairs shall get a BYE in the last 32 stage of the Plate competition.
Of course, should the entries increase for subsequent years, and this format is retained, then the requirement for BYEs will diminish.
The rationale for this approach is:
it is desirable to be able to map out everyone's route to success as well as ensure the equitable use of tables
it means that no third placed pairing shall be progressed into the KO stages of the main competition
it means that the format for main & plate competition remain consistent
each pairing has an equal chance of being drawn into one of the 'Lucky Groups'
Following the groups, a fixed draw KO in both competitions shall take place with the last 32 stage as follows:
Gr1 Pair 1
Gr3 Pair 1
Gr5 Pair 1
Gr7 Pair 1
Gr9 Pair 1
Gr11 Pair 1
Gr2 Pair 1
Gr4 Pair 1
Gr6 Pair 1
Gr8 Pair 1
Gr10 Pair 1
Gr12 Pair 1
Gr2 Pair 2
Gr4 Pair 2
Gr6 Pair 2
Gr8 Pair 2
Gr10 Pair 2
Gr12 Pair 2
Gr1 Pair 2
Gr3 Pair 2
Gr5 Pair 2
Gr7 Pair 2
Gr9 Pair 2
Gr11 Pair 2
The Last 16 stage shall be as follows:
Winner Match 1
Winner Match 3
Winner Match 5
Gr13 Pair 1
Winner Match 7
Winner Match 9
Winner Match 11
Gr14 Pair 1
Winner Match 2
Winner Match 4
Winner Match 6
Gr14 Pair 2
Winner Match 8
Winner Match 10
Winner Match 12
Gr13 Pair 2
The Plate competition shall replicate this format but with those ranked 3rd & 4th in their groups.
Again, we have considered our many choices and have concluded that this offers the best balance to meet all of the preferences raised whist seeking to improve the competitive aspect of the event. We sincerely hope you work with us during the event as for some this will be very unfamiliar territory, some entrants will need help. Feel free to feed back during or after the event - we want to see what you think, even though, in the grand scheme of things the changes are relatively minor.