In a melée tournament, individual players enter and are grouped into teams using some random selection method. The teams stay together for the entire tournament.
One traditional method is to have a “sorting bag”. Each player puts one of his boules into the bag. The bag is shaken to mix the boules thoroughly. Then boules are drawn from the bag and assigned to teams in the sequence in which they were drawn. The first two boules go to doubles team A, the second two boules go to doubles team B, and so on.
A variation on the sorting bag technique is for players to draw cards from a deck, where the deck has been set up in advance so that when all cards have been drawn the players will be organized into the desired number and type of teams.
Another traditional technique is to “throw” for teams. Basically, every player simultaneously throws one of his boules toward a jack. Boules are then grouped into teams in order by how close the boules were to the jack. We describe this technique in detail in our discussion of throwing for teams in a melee.
These traditional melee selection methods are quick and easy, and work well for routine club play days. But they are impractical for large tournaments which might involve dozens or even hundreds of players and teams. Instead, large tournaments usually use a method involving random numbers.
- Before the tournament starts, a computer program is used to generate a bunch of lists of random numbers, one list for each occasion when the tournament organizer needs to make a random selection.
- When each player (or team) registers for the tournament, he/she/it is assigned a randomly-generated numeric identifier.
- Then, when it is necessary (say) to create doubles teams, the tournament organizers can simply post two lists — the list of (random) team assignments for shooters and the list of (random) team assignments for pointers.
- Each shooter looks up his team assignment on the appropriate list. The pointers do the same. And voila, we have random team assignments.
The work involved in this technique can be automated by personal computer software programs, which can easily generate and print lists of numbers for assigning players to teams, teams to games, games to pistes, and so on.