Friday, January 22, 2016

WER: Editing Matches (aka How to Not Repair the Whole Round)

In a tournament where everything goes right, you'll never have to use WER's edit matches function. But, tournaments aren't always perfect. In fact, they rarely are, and the more players you have, the more likely it is that one of them fills out a match result slip incorrectly or marks the wrong drop box. 

As a scorekeeper for any event, I usually have this one primary goal:
Fix the things that break with minimal disruption to the rest of the event.
The important thing here is that my goal isn't for nothing Bad to happen — that's unrealistic. I *try* not to make mistakes, and I'm pretty good at it. But, it's way more important to be able to identify that a Bad Thing has happened and know what to do about it. After all, players are just as prone to making mistakes as I am.

I'm going to go through a couple things: why you want to use partial re-pairs instead of re-pairing the entire round, when to do so, and how to do it.

Editing Matches, or the Partial Re-pair

When Something Bad happens, it's tempting to delete the pairings for the round, fix the problems, and re-pair. This has a couple of distinct disadvantages:

It costs everyone time. While the entire round is being re-paired, players aren't playing Magic. It also means that the tournament end time is pushed back, which can be more or less problematic depending on whether you have venue time constraints and how far your players traveled.

It's confusing for players. Communicating that a round is being re-paired is a sticky thing, especially if matches have already started shuffling and making mulligan decisions. Often, the error that needs to be corrected (the mis-entered result, for example) isn't discovered immediately, and in the time it takes to figure out what's going on and decide on a course of action, players have started doing their thing.

The biggest advantage to only re-pairing the players that are affected by the error is just that: a limited number of players will be affected. The time extension to those matches may cause a delay, but re-pairing everyone in the tournament will definitely cause a delay. Often, a well implemented fix is invisible to the rest of the tournament.

There are a very limited number of situations in which re-pairing the entire round is better.

That's really important, so I'm going to say it again. Most of the time, re-pairing a single match or a few matches is better than re-pairing everyone. If it's going to take you longer to figure out pairings than it would to re-pair entirely and restart the round, go ahead and make new matches. This is likely to be the case in the later rounds of small events, where many of the players have already played each other.

But, in general, you should change the minimum number of matches required.

Before You Do Anything ...

... talk to the Head Judge of the event.

  • You want to make sure they know what's going on.
  • If the error was caused by players (for example, filling their match slip out wrong), the Head Judge should decide whether to correct the error*.

Make sure the Head Judge and/or tournament organizer are on board with what you want to do. They might have concerns that you haven't considered.

(*If you're the Head Judge, and the error is caught at the start of the next round, you should *probably* fix it.)

So, when should you edit matches? There are two common situations, incorrect results and accidental or missed drops. Incorrect results are usually pretty easy to deal with. Accidental and missed drops can be more problematic, so I'm going to cover them in a future post all their own.

Fixing an Incorrect Result

Incorrect results happen one of two ways. Either the scorekeeper messes up, in which case it should always be corrected, or the players mess up, in which case it's up to the Head Judge on whether or not it gets corrected. Regardless, the process is the same, and it's pretty straightforward.

You're going to have the players whose result was incorrect switch seats.

Why does this work?

Let's say that you and I battled in Round 3, and at the beginning of Round 4, we realize that we wrote down that I won when you really did. You have 6 match points (which should be 9), and I have 9 match points (which should be 6). I've been paired against someone with 9 points and you've been paired against someone with 6 points.

If we switch seats, we'll both now be paired against someone with an appropriate number of points. It's even OK if one of us was paired up or paired down, because that pairing would have happened to one player with that number of match points anyway.

What needs to happen?

I'm going to split it into two sets of steps, the real world and the computer. This is an insanely important distinction: the computer has to match reality ... eventually. It's more important to get the players playing Magic than it is to fiddle with the computer pairings. You can do that after they're seated and playing. A judge, or you if you have time, can take their corrected slip out to them after the computer is fixed.

Real World

An incorrect result is usually brought to a scorekeeper's attention by a player noticing that his or her match points are wrong. If you're lucky, both players in the match will come up at the same time. If not, you'll have to figure out who the opponent was.

  1. Identify the point of the error. You'll need to know the round, the table number and the players.
  2. Verify that the result is incorrect. If the result was mis-entered, you can do this by looking at the slip. If the slip was filled out wrong, you'll want to verify with both players that the recorded result is incorrect.
  3. Find out where both players are playing this round. They may be able to tell you their current table number, which will save you a little bit of time. Write it down.
  4. Have the players switch seats. For large events, send a judge with them to verify that they haven't already played their new opponent. WER won't let you pair players that have already played when you try to pair them, but that step comes later.
  5. Make sure they get an appropriate time extension.
  6. Commence computer fiddling.


Now for the fun stuff: D

0. Make a backup if you haven't already.

You know. Just in case.

1. Fix the incorrect result.

This is really important. If you forget to do this (like I do ... way more often than I want to admit), you're going to have the same problem at the start of the next round. To change the old result, select the round from the Rounds drop-down on the Matches tab. After you've done that, changing the result works just like entering a result does:

2. Enter the Edit Matches screen.

Once you've done fixed the old result, switch back to the current round. There's an "Edit Matches" button. Click it:

3. Change the pairings for the current round.

The Edit Matches screen looks a little bit like this:

In this screenshot, I've already split the two matches that need to be changed. Normally, you'll see all of the paired players on the left side of the screen, and the unpaired players (which will usually be empty) on the right side.

To unpair a match, select it from the left column by clicking on it, then click the Un-Match button. Both players from that match will be transferred to the right side. You'll want to do this for both of the matches that you need to split. (You did write down those table numbers, right?) Make a note of the original pairings before you do this, because you may need to reference it when you're creating the new pairings.

If you already corrected the result from the previous round, the players' correct match points should show up in the Points column, which makes pairing them correctly pretty easy. To double-check, refer to the note you made when you unpaired the matches.

When all of the players are paired or granted byes, you'll see a blue Done button. Click it to save your changes. You'll jump back to the normal Rounds tab with results entry for the current round.

If Swapping Seats Doesn't Work ...

... you're going to have to make one more change. This happens when one of the players being swapped has already played their new opponent. It's unlikely at large events and in early rounds smaller events, but you might run into it at your PPTQ or IQ.

Let's go back to our illustration from earlier when you and I were playing. The scorekeeper has fixed our result and told us to switch seats. I'm going to table 13 to play against someone else with 6 points, but when I get there, I discover that I'm now paired against the player I played in Round 1. That's no good.

The quickest way to solve this problem is to talk to the players at table 12. Make sure that they also have 6 match points (if they don't, check table 14 too), then switch one of them to the match at table 13. In this case, I would switch places with one of the players at table 12, and that player would move to the seat at table 13, where you were originally seated.

If this happens, it's extra important to write down the names of the players who are actually playing at each table and use that to adjust the computer pairings rather than relying on memory or the number of match points. It's better to get it right now than have to fiddle with it while you're entering results or at the end of the round.

Result Slips

The last thing you need to do is make sure you get accurate result slips to the players. Unfortunately, WER doesn't let you print individual result slips. You can reprint all of the slips for the round after you correct the pairings.If your event is large, it may be more efficient to make your own mock match result slips, or write in the correct names on the old ones.

If you do anything but print entirely new slips, be careful that the order of the players matches the order in WER (the player on the left in pairings is the top player on the slip). Otherwise, you increase the odds that you'll mis-enter the results and have to re-pair at the beginning of the next round too. And that's Bad.

Re-pairing individual matches isn't that scary. It's just a matter of having players switch seats and then doing some computer stuff, which you can do at your own pace once they're playing. It's one of the most versatile tools available to scorekeepers to fix common (and plenty of uncommon) problems, and incorrect results is just the start.

1 comment:

  1. There's a blank match slip template on the Wizards site if anyone finds themself needing it.