We Need to Fix Registration Procedures

There is a problem that there are some tournaments that are very popular, and more people want to go to them than the tournaments can handle. We presently have a fine system of electronic registration that opens at a given published moment. Most people have learned that, if they want to get into a particularly desirable tournament, they must register within seconds of that opening. As I help manage the registrations for Yale, I see dozens and dozens of people who got in at exactly the opening time, which means that tabroom.com can handle quite a few virtually simultaneous registration transactions. I can clear off well over a hundred teams in a division before getting from 9:00 am to 9:02 am.


Given that it’s a tournament with a national draw, while it is 9:00 am in New Haven, it is 6:00 am in Los Angeles. Quite a few people got up awfully early in the morning last Friday. When you’re talking about the NYC Invitational, on the other hand, it’s midnight in the Bronx and 9:00 pm in Palo Alto, so in this case it's a bit of a vigil for the creakier-boned types on the East Coast. People accommodate the starting point, however, whenever it is. I’ve got a feeling that if we made registration for a tournament open at 4 in the morning for every time zone simultaneously, and only accepted registrations from the Clavius Moon Base, we’d still fill up all the divisions within the first couple of minutes.


We “handle” this, maybe, by setting all registrations as waitlist, or putting in an artificial cap somewhere, or maybe just hoping the real cap based on available space does the job. With Yale, it’s all waitlist. Then a couple of us go in and (tediously) take people off the waitlist, starting with those who might need plane tickets. Then it’s pretty much first come, first served. Today people who signed up within 3 minutes of registration opening are wondering why they have not gotten in.


Is there a better way to do this?


I wish I was about to propose a solution to the problem which, simply put, is that success in getting into tournaments ought not necessarily be to the swift. Those swifties, for one thing, are primarily TBA slots. Then again, if the tournament is months away from now, who really knows who’s going if it’s a big squad? Meanwhile, as often as not, some kid on the team does the registrations and grabs all the potential slots available, regardless of need. Should we insist on real names? Should people who live far away get preference simply because it’s harder for them to make arrangements to get there? And worst of all, do I want someone like me personally looking at every registration and saying, oh, I never liked that school, so you’re not in, one school at a time? (Which I don’t do, by the way, but people apparently think I do, going by my emails.)


Where is Solomon when you really need him?


I’m curious about what other people think about this issue. For that matter, I wonder how much of an issue it is to other people. Probably if you always go where you want to go, you have little interest in what I’m talking about. And if you’ve been excluded from where you want to go, you’ve already got your torch and pitchfork ready to storm the battlements. And especially if you run tournaments, you may have faced this problem (or, sadly, only wished you faced it), and thought about better ways of doing it. What, conceivably, could those better ways be?


Any thoughts?