Skype Tournament Guidelines

Elaborate on the merits of specific tournaments or have general theoretical discussion here.

Skype Tournament Guidelines

Postby Nice hockey Cote d'Azur » Sun Mar 05, 2017 10:55 pm

I’ve played a number of Skype tournaments over the past few years and staffed one, and while I’ve had very positive experiences on the whole there are a few general issues I’ve had with how the tournaments have been run. I’ve seen a few easily fixable problems arise multiple times, as well as some that don’t have an obvious solution. This post is meant to be a set of general guidelines that can help tournaments run more smoothly, set some gameplay rules and clarify everything to new players.

Reasons to Hold or Attend a Skype Tournament:
In general there are three reasons to host a Skype tournament:
1) You’re holding a tournament that is meant to be played regularly on Skype in multiple sessions, such as JAKOB or Kurtis’s lit tournament
2) You’re holding a Skype mirror prior to a tournament’s first in-person mirror that is meant mainly for playtesting purposes
3) You’re holding an open Skype mirror after all the in-person sites have been played

Of course anyone can play the first type, for the latter two there’s a decision to make. I want to emphasize that anyone who is able to play an in-person mirror should absolutely do so, as Skype mirrors are inferior versions of the product. If you are an open player, you should moderate if possible rather than waiting to play a late Skype mirror. If you are in school, you should only play a Skype mirror if you are unable to travel to a physical site and not because it would be more convenient.

Before the Tournament:
As with every tournament, it should be announced well beforehand on the forums and logistics should be sent out several days in advance. The announcement should also request that every player update Skype and add all of the moderators prior to the tournament. The TD should set up a system of Google Docs for scorekeeping, preferably ones that are linked in order to automatically calculate overall stats and team records. I’ve seen a few of these around, but if someone could post a template that everyone can use in the future that would be great.

Logistics:
A full tournament should probably start at 10 or 11 Eastern to accommodate west coast players. Each player and moderator should be go to an IRC room set up specifically for the tournament at least 10 minutes before the tournament, using their own name to avoid confusion. The TD should instruct moderators to start each call exactly at the tournament start time, regardless of whether all players have arrived.

Gameplay:
Games should generally use ACF rules with a few modifications to account for playing online. Before each tossup, the moderator should indicate it by typing the tossup number or something like “TU” into the chat. All players should mute their mikes while the tossup is being read. To buzz, a player should type “buzz” into the chat window and the moderator should verbally recognize the player who buzzed. The player should then unmute and say their answer, or type it out if necessary. On bonuses, teams should feel free to confer verbally before giving their answer. This can be kind of tricky for the moderator since it can be harder to tell when an answer is directed, but in practice I’ve rarely seen this be an issue. Possible ways to ensure this doesn’t happen are to designate one team member as the captain or to have someone specify that they are giving the answer, although this is probably unnecessary.

Additionally, the moderator should be consistent in cutting down on chatter and making sure things run in a timely manner. Games are naturally going to be longer than normal, and it’s important that as little time as possible is wasted and that certain rooms don’t lag behind.

Timing Rules:
This is a tricky issue, since the normal 5 second rules are tough to apply when dealing with Skype. In general, moderators have mostly used their discretion to determine timing and it’s rarely been a problem, and the only issues have been when mods strictly enforce a 5 second limit for answering. Personally I’m in favor of just allowing moderator judgment in determining when to call time, although it may be better to have a concrete rule like 8 seconds to answer (with additional time if answers are being typed).

Other Issues:
• Players should not discuss answers in the IRC at any point during the tournament
• A short lunch break would be good to have around 3 Eastern/12 Pacific. Ideally, each player should have something ready to eat and so the break would only be around 15 minutes or so
• If a player disconnects, they should inform the moderator or their teammates when they are back online and the team should call a timeout between questions so that the moderator can add them back to the call. If someone is repeatedly disconnecting to the point where it is slowing the game down significantly, they should be removed from the game.
• If an entire team disconnects, they should be given 5 minutes or so to get back on before the game is considered a forfeit
• Tournaments should generally be somewhat shorter than a normal, in-person tournament. 10 rounds is a good goal for a regular minus/regular difficulty tournament
• If the answer is being typed out, spelling should not matter as long as it is close enough to the answer phonetically. The moderator should ask for clarification if it’s misspelled badly enough that the answer is unclear

I recognize that much of the above is common sense, but hopefully it will help Skype tournaments run more effectively and ensure clearer rules. I’d appreciate any further comments or suggestions.
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Re: Skype Tournament Guidelines

Postby Cheynem » Mon Mar 06, 2017 3:59 pm

These are good things to compile.

Here's a few that always seem to pop up:

-Have a quiet, reliable Internet connection place ready to go. I know this is both obvious and sometimes unavoidable (sometimes your home Internet just won't work), but I'm always stunned by people who think they can play a Skype tournament in a very public setting or like a school library or something, or using wifi networks that they're very unfamiliar with. This is especially important for moderators who will be reading the questions, as they need to be clearly heard. If a player cannot find a truly quiet place, they can always put on headphones (which they should have anyway) and type out their answers.

-I have sometimes found that on bonuses, having the team type out an answer can avoid some of the confusion.

-I agree that moderators should give a little more slack on bonus timing. I have played Skype tournaments where it seems like you only have time for one person who knows the answer to say it as opposed to any conferring. I think tossup timing is generally okay, with the caveat that a little more time can be given if you're typing out answers.

-There is no way around it--Skype tournaments are SLOWWWW. Part of the problems I think are just not being able to see your teammates or peers--you can't really confer on bonuses until the entire part is read, for example.


Another reason that I think Skype tournaments could be used is not a full on tournament but like the equivalent of exhibition, intramural games. For example, a couple teams could opt to play on blind-to-both packets (or some form of guerrilla packets), provided they get an unbiased moderator.
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Re: Skype Tournament Guidelines

Postby Mike Bentley » Thu Mar 09, 2017 5:06 pm

One suggestion for keeping Skype tournaments moving is to schedule any repeat games back-to-back. For instance, if you're doing a triple round robin just play the same opponent three times in a row in the same room. This minimizes the number of times you need to reconnect.
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Re: Skype Tournament Guidelines

Postby Mike Bentley » Sat Mar 18, 2017 4:51 pm

I'm getting more of the opinion that a headset should be a requirement for all participants in Skype tournaments. Yes you can technically play while typing but it slows everything down considerably and also contributes to making the tournaments less lifelike.
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Re: Skype Tournament Guidelines

Postby sephirothrr » Sat Mar 18, 2017 9:48 pm

I think that hosts of an online tournament should definitely use something like Google Docs for their scoresheets - they're backed up so stats don't go missing, there's no need to get packets to the stats person, and most importantly, they can be filled ahead of time with the teams and players, saving a significant amount of time each round.
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Re: Skype Tournament Guidelines

Postby kyamakawa » Wed May 31, 2017 12:23 am

Hello,
I was wondering if anyone has come up with a good way to prevent players from just looking things up online while the question set was being read other than just relying on the integrity of the players.
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Re: Skype Tournament Guidelines

Postby Mike Bentley » Wed May 31, 2017 6:52 pm

kyamakawa wrote:Hello,
I was wondering if anyone has come up with a good way to prevent players from just looking things up online while the question set was being read other than just relying on the integrity of the players.


There is no reliable way to prevent people from cheating, which is a major disadvantage to any online tournament. I guess you could potentially do something involved like video chat + screen sharing + a separate judge looking at what people are doing, but that's really complicated and there will still probably be ways to cheat.
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Re: Skype Tournament Guidelines

Postby romeokar » Sat Jul 22, 2017 9:05 pm

It seems that the team/player with the fastest internet connection has a huge advantage over the others, no?
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Re: Skype Tournament Guidelines

Postby An Economic Ignoramus » Mon Jul 24, 2017 2:11 pm

romeokar wrote:It seems that the team/player with the fastest internet connection has a huge advantage over the others, no?

In my experience, not really. The only time internet speed has really affected my play is when I tried to skype while on a bus and cut out every couple minutes before quitting about 5 tossups in. Otherwise, the player with the fastest reflexes and/or best knowledge will almost always win a buzzer race, which sounds like it's your main area of concern.
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