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Civilization, Then Doom

The December and January NACs will be an interesting pair this season, providing first a cozy, civilized tournament (despite its site in Atlanta’s cavernous Georgia World Congress Center) and then a ridiculously, overwhelmingly huge tournament in Dallas.

For December, we’ve got six individual and four (two were cancelled because they had too few entries) team events, with a grand total of 741 individuals and 43 teams. The tournament will use 32 strips and its longest day is projected to end by 6:00 pm. I suspect Ted’s will see quite a bit of business from fencers and officials.

NAC C in January is another matter altogether: 56 strips. Division I Men’s Epee has, as of yesterday, anyway (because apparently a few people are still willing to pay the double triple late fees allowed until January 3), 327 entries. There are (so far) 3,084 entries over the four days: 629 on Friday, 947 on Saturday, 938 on Sunday, and a comparatively leisurely 570 on Monday. (You can see the event breakdown on the USFA event page.)

Just to put that in perspective, we ran 65 strips at this year’s Summer Nationals; the two largest (and longest!) days at SN had 814 individuals/102 teams and 907 individuals/38 teams each, and both ran until well after midnight.

The only non-late night in Dallas will be Monday, projected to end at 6:15 pm, but that doesn’t count, since it’s also teardown day, and it’ll take another hour or two after the fencing to pack up (that’s for the BC; the armorers will be there even longer). Friday’s not too horrible—the projected end time is only 8:30 pm. Sunday looks like 10:15 pm, and Saturday is projected to end at either 1:30 am or 12:15 am, depending on whether we flight the Cadet Women’s Epee or schedule a delay to be able start all the pools at once. (Shouldn’t be hard to guess which alternative I’ll be going for as BC Chair—I always like to keep our days to no more than 18 hours, if I can.)

The scary part, of course, is that these projections are best-case scenarios. It’s not at all uncommon for events (especially the point weapons) to slip by an hour or two over the course of the day. No matter how much we try to keep things moving, how quickly we get the pools out and DEs turned, sometimes fencers just fence more slowly than we expect.

Last month in Milwaukee we started talking about how to manage this one: extended hours (1-8 pm) for the Thursday gear check at the venue, a two-hour window for the Div I ME check-in and gear check on Saturday morning, and restricting general gear check all weekend until after all that day’s events have checked in. And as usual, pretty much all the saber events will be flighted.

One good thing about this tournament is that it’ll be fresh in my memory when I get to the Tournament Committee meeting the next weekend to discuss options for managing our tournament entry numbers. If anybody wants to know why we need to limit the numbers at NACs, I’ll be able to think of a couple of reasons.

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BC Diary: Cuisine, Part 2

Typically, by the end of Monday’s competition and teardown, I was too tired to post. I did take photos of the Monday lunch offerings, though, and since my first food post from Milwaukee was so popular (my 2nd highest hit count ever, aside from one of the July SN posts), I shouldn’t keep you waiting any longer.

The vegetarian option was grilled vegetables on a tomato focaccia roll, with a side of potato salad:

Here’s the chicken version:

Before this fall, I’d never seen so many officials eager to work past 7:00 pm to get meal tickets for the venue concessions; many saved their tickets for hot food for the next day’s lunch. At least we had some decent afternoon munchies, thanks to both the large stash Meredith brought with her and the haul Karen and JR brought in from their local shopping trip. (I’m always amazed at what a morale booster a 3:00 pm cookie break can be—it’s not so much the quality of the snacks as the fact of their appearance that seems to make the difference.)

I’m informed that the officials’ meals will return to their former standard of no more than one cold lunch per 4-day tournament for the rest of the season. I wish I could believe that the promise of proper meals will make it easier to hire officials for future tournaments, but it’s going to take a lot of time and more than a couple of hot meals to rebuild the trust lost by so many unkept promises over the last couple of years.

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November 25, 2010 · 1:04 am

BC Diary: NAC A, Day 4

Last day. Same number of events as yesterday but about 100 fewer fencers.

The largest event today is the Div I MS. It was originally planned for 12 strips for both pools and DEs, but the assigners decide we should send out all 18 pools at the same time, and then put them on only 8 strips for the DEs. Doesn’t change the length of the event much, but reduces the number of referees needed later in the day, always good on the last day when many will be leaving for home before the fencing is done.

We’ve also got 11 pools of Div II ME, 3 pools of Vet50 WF, and 1 pool each in Vet 60 and Vet 70 WF, so there’s plenty of room for everything to start. It’s a pretty easy schedule to assign strips for, but as the day progresses I’ll need to move the fencing in toward the BC stage so I can release strips to the armorers for teardown.

At some point, I hear that sabre coaches are trying to persuade the assigners to use the replay systems for the 32 on for the MS. With as few replay systems as we have, that’s not going to happen today, but maybe someday.

The officials’ lunch today is Domino’s Pizza. Sigh.

I’m always mildly frustrated on the last day. I’ve got my plan for releasing strips all figured out, but the fencing needs to catch up to the plan before I can do anything about it. Once the Div II WS—the largest of the afternoon events—is into DEs, though, we’re on the downhill slope, so the armorers can have pods J and K.

Within another couple of hours, we’re into the 8 for all of the last four events, so fencing is down to just pods D through G, and the armorers are taking down and packing up the scoring machines on all the rest. Looks like they’ll get that pretty well done by the time the hired crew shows up to pack the strips. Now it’s just a race to see which way the gold medal bouts will queue up to use the finals strip.

While those 8s are fencing out, we start to collect our stuff for packing. Somebody retrieves our pushpins from the bulletin boards and others collect abandoned pencils and clipboards from the empty scoring tables. (With the numbering experiment, we don’t need to track down laminated strip numbers this time.)

We end up beating the projected finish time by a few minutes.

Once the fencing’s finished, we get serious about packing up. We’ve reduced the gear we haul around substantially over the last season or two, and labeled all our bins so we pack everything into the same containers they came from. The computers go into their nice padded crate, and the printers into their boxes, and we line up all our bins and boxes and crates ready for our big black shipping crate.

When I first started working BC, we stacked all our boxes on a pallet and wrapped it all up in shrinkwrap. Now it’s a 3-dimensional jigsaw puzzle to place all the assorted crates and bins into the big crate so that the lid will fit. This time we even have a foot or so of room left on the top .

We’re done and out by shortly after 7:00 pm. The armorers will be there for a while longer, but it doesn’t look like it will be a long evening for them, either.

Monday stats:
10 events
387 competitors
End of competition: approximately 6:00 pm

Alarm’s set for 5:45 am, so I won’t miss my shuttle to the airport.

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BC Diary: NAC A, Day 3

Today’s schedule is much like yesterday’s, with two large events starting in the morning, and one fairly large and a bunch of smaller ones coming in around midday. Like yesterday’s ME, today’s Div I WE will have repechage, but it’s only half the size, so it shouldn’t last quite so long—only 9 hours or so, instead of the nearly 12 the ME took yesterday. The larger afternoon event is Div II MS, too, so that will go relatively fast, too.

Lunch is definitely better today—chicken alfredo, pasta with meatballs, veggie alfredo. Good to have the protein.

Nothing much out of the ordinary; fencing just plugs along until we’re done. It’s technically a late night, because we finish after 7:00 pm, but nobody much bothers with eating here, because we’re done early enough to make it to a restaurant for dinner. It’s nice to be awake enough to be able to finish a beer.

Sunday stats:

10 events
493 competitors
End of competition: 8:ooish

Alarm’s set for 6:00 am.

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