There are the behind the scenes part of a director/organizer's day that many players never get to see much of. Players show up for a tournament, pay their entry, get their pairings and start playing. A good director/organizer makes the process appear to be seamless. Players will sometimes take for granted how well a tournament is run, and the timeliness of rating report submissions. That's assuming everything goes smoothly. It doesn't matter how good one is at running tournaments, sometimes Murphy can show up.
As my regular readers know I run a chess club on Monday nights. Sometimes I direct and play and on other days I just direct. It all depends on the number of players. As long as there's Internet access I'm content to direct only. However if my playing avoids giving byes I will play. How I structure the sections depends a lot on who shows up and the rating distribution. Sometimes I run quads which are 4 player round robins. Other times I may run 6 player Swiss sections. It's always a delicate balancing act as I try to keep everyone satisfied with their competition.
These Monday night tournaments are not big money events. I charge a $10 entry fee and there's a $40 first prize. The larger sections will usually have a second prize too. Since I pay out the prizes on the spot, I just take cash. I had one player who always wanted to give me a check. That would have been fine since I could have him make the check out to cash and cash it myself. However there would be times he'd post date the check and forget to tell me. After one trip too many to the bank only to have the teller inform me the check was post dated, I told him no more checks. I didn't want to be the guy's personal banker.
Cash works great until I get the occasional player who shows up with a hundred dollar bill and wants $90 back in change. It's hard to pay out a bunch of small prizes when all my cash is in the form of a hundred dollar bill. I know I'm going to get players showing up with twenties so I usually try to show up with some tens in my wallet so I can make change. On Mondays I end out playing various games to get extra change during the course of the day. One of my tricks is to give the parking garage guy a twenty for $4.00 parking. Sometimes he gets a little cranky and asks me if I have something smaller. I apologize and say no even though I may have a five sitting in my wallet.
Last Monday I had a fifty that somebody had given me for some work I did. I figured I would get rid of the fifty at the gas station where the cash price is five cents cheaper then using a credit card. I get gas and it comes out to $33.00. I hand him the $50 thinking to myself "Great I'll get $17.00 in change." He asks me if I have $3.00. I could have be obnoxious and said no, but I was nice and scrounged up two ones and four quarters. He doesn't even say thank you as he hands me back a twenty. That's the second time he's been rude to me. I decided I'm not going back to that station. Although the trip to gas station did allow me to get rid of the fifty, I'm still stuck with a twenty.
I did manage to find $30 worth of tens and ones at home so I would be going to the chess club with $50 in hand. If there's a Murphy Law of handling tournament registration it would be "The first people to enter will not have exact change." Sure enough the first player who shows up comes in with a twenty. I go into my wallet, take out the two tens, put the twenty in my wallet, give the player one ten and put the other 10 in the entry fee kitty. I have to be very precise in the sequence that I use to handle tournament money and making change from my personal money. That's because there have been times where I've shorted myself because I put the twenty in the entry fee kitty and not replaced it my wallet, or I've put everything in my wallet and nothing in the entry kitty. On a bad night I end out handing the two tens back to the player. I would not make a good cashier.
The next player that comes in hands me a fifty. That wipes out any sort of change I might have in my wallet. I hand him my two twenties and put the 10 ones in the entry fee kitty. Eventually as players come in I start accumulating tens. I actually get to a point where I can give change. It looks like my day is going to end the same way it began with me having a fifty dollar bill in my wallet and no other cash.
When I'm taking entries I'm having to multi-task between collecting money, writing down who paid, and entering names on the computer. I always have a couple of players who come in near the end of registration. They're regulars at the club and their ratings are such that it gives me some flexibility in terms of how I'm going to divide up the sections. It appeared that I had 14 players so it looked like the best format would be two quads at the top and a six player Swiss at the bottom. My top quad had four masters in it. The second quad had four experts in it. Those sections were perfect. The 6 player section had an ugly rating distribution starting with a 1990 followed by a 1750 and then going down to 1150. Sometimes you can't make everyone happy. For the most part players at my club would rather play up then down. Some don't really care.
I set up the three sections and then read off the pairings. One of the latecomers asks me "Who am I playing? I didn't hear my name." I realized that I had written his name down and taken his entry fee, but not put him in the computer. That meant I was going to have put myself in the tournament and redo the bottom section. Now having 8 players, I decided to make two more quads. So much for me having an evening where I could catch up on blogging and not have to play. I wanted to analyze a couple of my games from the previous week's lose-a-thon. (0-3 on Monday followed by 0-4 on Thursday.) This would be the third week in a row that I was playing on Monday night, and it would be the third week in a row that I had Alan and Hubert in my quad.
I was concerned that my 7 game losing streak could balloon to 10 games if I had a repeat of last week's results. Once again I was at the bottom of the quad and would start off with Black against the number one player. To make a long story short, I did lose to the number one player rated 1990. However I bounced back and avenged last weeks losses against Alan and Hubert by beating both of them. I will put the games in a separate post as it was interesting to see how I adjusted my play against both of them.
It's time to pay out the prizes, but there's still this matter of the fifty dollar bill in my wallet. Since I had to enter myself into the tournament at the last second I had not put in my $10 entry fee. This meant I would have to take $40 worth of change to put in my $10 from the fifty. I resolved the issue by giving the fifty to one of the winners who I had given change to at the start of the evening, and got the ten back that I had given him earlier.
Perhaps a fitting end to my day was going out to a diner with a few players after the tournament. When it came time to settle the bill, I gave one of the guys a twenty for my $7.00 portion of the bill. Finally I got my change of a twenty that I was trying to get from the snarly gas station attendant. I think next time I'll go to the bank and ask the teller for 5 tens for my fifty.
BTW I have another fifty in my wallet after last night's tournament. Once again I was a reluctant last minute entrant. However it worked out well as I scored 2.5 out of 3 and won my section. I took the fifty and gave back ten. Let's see if I can break it before next Monday without pissing off some merchant.