Newswink 29 – Seedy Seedings Mar Marvelous Match, by Dave Lockwood

A marvelous tournament was held in November (1995) at Cambridge in Queens’ College. Eighteen pairs played in the 24th annual English Pairs Championship. However, stupidity by the tournament seeding committee created a seeding which allowed the most critical game of the match to be played in the penultimate round as opposed to the final one. Utilizing the most recent ratings would have produced a far better seeding… and a far more accurate one.

Perhaps the primary purpose of seeding a Championship tournament such as this is to optimize the chance that the top two pairs will play in the final round. It is at that point that both pairs have the most information on the overall tournament situation. Game strategies and particularly, end-game strategies can differ markedly under varying point differential scenarios. In this all-play-all format, each pair will play all the other pairs in the tournament. If the tournament organizers had desired a random format, fine, but don’t subvert the advantages of a seeded tournament through pettiness or idiocy.

The defending champions were Dave Lockwood and Larry Kahn with the 1993 winners, Patrick Barrie and Richard Moore, also expected to contend (note 1). The game between these two pairs should have been scheduled for the final round. Inept seeding left it to the penultimate round where Patrick & Richard beat Dave & Larry 4½ – 2½ to create a tie between the two pairs for the lead. Dave & Larry won the tournament by winning 7-0 in the final round while Patrick & Richard only won 6-1.

Note 1: Larry had just lost the World Singles to Geoff Myers the previous day by a score of 28-7. This match would undoubtedly have caused Larry’s rating to drop and Geoff’s would have risen. This match could not be incorporated into Nick Inglis’ ratings by the Saturday start of the Pairs. However, given the most up-to-date ratings available on Saturday morning, the seedings would have been far more accurate if those ratings were used for the Championship.

Pair Rating Finish/Score Seeding
Dave & Larry First/5168 First/95 Third
Patrick & Richard Second/4848 Second/94 First
Geoff & Ed Third/4769 Third/79 Second