How to Schedule the Rounds at Go Tournaments?

So, you decided to organize a Go tournament. Would you like to have all the rounds at your tournament starting on time? Your answer to this question will determine the scheduling preparations you should make before the tournament.

Small, local tournaments

If you want your tournament look like it’s friendly and relaxed – you can simply write at the page of the tournament at what time the 1st round starts and that the next rounds are going to start just after the previous rounds are over.

This is usually the easiest and the best way to schedule the rounds of small, local tournaments, where everyone knows everyone.
After somebody finishes their own game, there will be only a few other games left, so a player can have a look at the remaining games to more less estimate how long the other games will take and use their break e.g. to go to buy something to drink or to breathe some fresh air. And if the games are over earlier than expected, the organizer can simply call the missing players to tell them to come, to play the next round.

Serious tournaments

However, when you expect a bigger number of participants, you might want that your tournament has all the rounds scheduled. This way the players will be able to manage their breaks in an easier way, because they will know at what time they need to be back at the venue for their next games. In this case it’s very important to start the rounds on time.

Of course majority of participants are going to be at the venue on time, but some players are going to come late anyway.

So, make a rule for yourself about when the referees will start the clocks.
And the best is if they will be starting the clocks immediately at the scheduled time of the round.

As many players in Europe are used to delays at Go tournaments, don’t forget to inform the players at the website of the tournament that the referee will start the clocks at the scheduled time of the rounds.

And as the longest games are usually played by the strongest players, to lower the probability of delays, better to start launching the clocks from the top boards.

How much time each round will take?

Of course it depends on the players (whether they play quickly or not). However, you, as the organizer, have the influence on it too, because you decide about the time control, which is being used at the tournament.

First of all you need to choose which time control will be used.
You can read the article about the most popular time controls in Go.

A round is over only when the last game from that round is over, so it’s better to assume that the longest game from a round will be longer than the average.

The easier for scheduling then are the time controls, which allow smaller deviations.

Definitely the easiest time control for scheduling is the Sudden death, but this time control is hated by majority of players, because the players don’t really know how fast they should play and it also creates an environment for non-fair-play victories by time.

On the other hand, the Japanese byo-yomi is liked by the long-thinking players, because they know how much time they will be able to spend for each of their moves. However, there might be some players who, after entering byo-yomi, would play every time at the very end of their byo-yomi period (even if they knew where they’d play immediately, but they’d be e.g. counting points or thinking about their next endgame moves). And this kind of games might have a big influence over the delays of the next rounds.

A more balanced option is usually the Fischer time control, which is similar to Japanese byo-yomi for the players, but it makes it easier for organizers to schedule the next games.
With the Fischer time the extending of the length of a game is still possible, by playing a game with more moves (extending the length of a game by playing more moves is possible in Japanese byo-yomi too). However, Fischer time control eliminates the possibility of extending the time of the round by those players who would be waiting with playing always till the very last moment of byo-yomi.

So, in Fischer time control, the time for the game is generally based on the number of moves.

It’s still impossible for the organizer to predict how many moves the longest game will have. Most of the games are counted after 200-250 moves, but it’s possible to have more moves.

On most of tournaments the prediction for 300 moves should be fine enough to schedule the next rounds.
At the same time, to lower the chance of bigger deviation by having more moves in a game, it’s recommended to increase the basic time, but lower the increment.

The predicted time for a 300 moves game of 25min per player + 20s increment, would be 2*25min + 300*20s = 2h 30min.

The predicted time for a 300 moves game of 50min per player + 10s increment, would be 2*50min + 300*10s = 2h 30min.

Even though the predicted time is the same, the possible deviation by playing a game with more than 300 moves would make less delays, because each move would be delaying the round only by 10s instead of 20s.

Besides the predicted time for a game it’s also good to add a margin of e.g. 10 minutes for any delays before the start of the game (it’s good to notice that even if the referees start pressing the clocks on time, there might be a bigger number of participants missing) and another 20 minutes for counting points of the longest game, entering the last result into the pairing program, making the new pairing and letting the players take a while to sit for the next round before starting their clocks. And then, according to this information, an organizer can schedule the following rounds of the tournament.

This way, it should be possible to schedule games of 50min per player + 10s increment every 3h.
So, if one round starts e.g. at 10:00, the next can be scheduled for 13:00.

Before the scheduled time of each round make sure that all the clocks are set.
If you don’t know how to set a clock, check our tutorial about setting Go clocks.
If the clocks are set earlier, it’s also possible to check whether there are any low-level batteries at any clock, so that it would be possible to replace them before the next round begins (btw. don’t forget to bring additional batteries with you to the tournament’s venue).