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In 2010 Des Moines Kubb borrowed a tournament format from Chess called the “Swiss System”, which is best described as a hybrid between a round robin and an elimination bracket. We were generally pleased with it (and the players reported enjoying it), but we were still using software designed to handle the subtleties of a different game, and it didn’t QUITE do exactly what we were hoping for. So, we took it upon ourselves to design a Kubb-specific tournament system, and built an Excel program to help us execute it. We debuted this new system at the 2011 Fall Klassic and it was received enthusiastically by players of all skill levels.
The concept is that the field of teams starts randomly ordered, and "sorts itself out" throughout several rounds. As play progresses, teams will naturally be paired against others teams of similar skill levels, ensuring a competitive (and in our opinion more fun) environment. Due to this, the system has been billed as "The game of your life, every match, all day" (Josh Feathers) and "a Kubb meat grinder" (Eric Anderson). Nate Olsen of the Wolfpack likes it because "If you want to BE the best, you have to BEAT the best" and in this format you are guaranteed to meet them.
How the format works:
In the first round all teams are randomly matched (it is currently random, but we have been studying the theory behind accelerated pairings and may incorporate that if possible. Accelerated pairings are much easier to accomplish in a game like Chess where competitive players earn an FIDE ranking which is used to seed the first round.)
In subsequent rounds teams will be paired in descending order of rank. The highest ranked team will be paired with the next highest ranked team (that they have not played yet) on pitch one, the highest ranked team remaining will play with the next highest ranked available team (that they have not played yet) on pitch two, etc.
After a set number of rounds (we are currently using 6 rounds – if the tournament ever grows beyond 64 teams we may need to incorporate a 7th) the top 8 ranked teams will advance to a seeded elimination bracket. These matches will be best of three games, will not have a time limit and cannot end in a tie. The 4 teams losing in the Quarterfinal round will tie for 5th place, the two teams losing in the semi-final round will have a playoff to determine 3rd and 4th place.
Teams are ranked based on the following criteria:
This is simply a count of the number of matches a team has won. Matches ending in ties (more on ties below) will award each team half of a Match Point. All matches will be best-of-three games, but due to the nature of the system all teams must be ready to play at the start of the next round so a time limit must be enforced. Matches will start each hour, on the hour, and must be completed within 50 minutes. This will give the event staff ten minutes to record the match outcomes, create the pairings for the next round, and communicate the next round’s schedule to the players. Ties among teams with the same number of Match Points are broken by Game Points.
This is a count of individual games won, with a wrinkle; games that are called due to time (DNF or Did Not Finish) will be adjudicated thusly:
The referee will announce when there are 5 minutes remaining. At one minute remaining the referee will announce “Final Round”, and play will continue until the team that threw second completes their baton phase for the round, at which point play immediately halts and the game pieces remain as they are (toppled or standing). If the king was not toppled then the game is recorded as DNF. DNF games are not counted while determining the outcome of a match. If the 2nd game of a match is recorded as DNF then the winner of game one is the winner of the match, if the 1st or 3rd game is DNF then the match is a tie and each team is awarded half a Match Point.
Game Points are still awarded for DNF games. After the last baton is thrown the referee will compare the number of base kubbs remaining standing on each base line. The team that has toppled more base kubbs will be judged to have been “leading” and will be awarded 2/3 of a Game Point, and the team “trailing” will be awarded 1/3 of a Game Point.
If the number of standing base kubbs is equal, the referee will compare the number of field kubbs left standing by each team. The team that has fewer field kubbs remaining will be judged to have been “leading” and will be awarded 2/3 of a Game Point, and the team “trailing” will be awarded 1/3 of a Game Point.
If the number of standing base kubbs for each team are equal, AND the number of remaining field kubbs are equal, then each team will be awarded half of a Game Point.
Ties among teams with the same number of Match Points AND the same number of Game Points are broken by Opponent Points
This is the sum of the Game Point scores for all opponents a team has played, MINUS the Game Points scored by those opponents against that team. It is a metric of how well the teams you have played against are doing against the rest of the field (essentially, your Strength of Schedule). For the purposes of pairing teams in the group rounds, teams that have the same Match, Game, and Opponent scores will be ranked randomly. In the incredibly unlikely scenario that two or more teams have the same Match, Game, and Opponent scores after the group rounds are completed, ties will be broken by a single throw at the king, similar to the opening toss to determine side or order.
Additional Rules Regarding Timing
Due to time restrictions the need to make sure all teams are available to play at the start of each round is important:
- There is a 5 minute "Grace" Period
- 6-9 minutes late: If your match goes past the time limit (DNF), the last game will be assessed as a loss for the team that was late.
- 10-29 minutes late: The late team is assessed a loss for the first game.
- 30+ minutes late: The late team is assessed a forfeit (2-0 loss)
The nature of this scoring system may create an incentive to “play slowly” to turn a potential loss into a tie, or to try to hold onto a lead as time runs out. This will be considered poor sportsmanship, and the referee may warn a team to cease delaying. If the referee determines the warning was not sufficiently heeded the referee may award the DNF game to the opposing team as a “Win”. (This rule is not intended to force teams to rush as time runs out, but unnecessary delays of game will not be tolerated.)