Tournament formats – an overview

There are many, MANY different systems for organizing tournaments, each with its own advantages and drawbacks. Here, we will try to provide only the most basic introduction to the subject. If you are hungry for more, the Wikipedia article on tournament systems is a good place to start.

It can be quite a task to organize a tournament when there are many teams, or the format is complex (see double-elimination and Swiss system, below). That’s why, in this the Age of the Computer, we now have tournament software for PCs.

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One way to think about tournaments is to divide them into three different categories based on how the teams and scoring are set up.

  1. 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.
     
  2. In a select tournament, teams of two (or three) players enter, stay together, and compete as a team for the entire tournament.
     
  3. A panache tournament (sometimes called an “individual melée) is a sort of super-melee. As with a melee, individual players enter and are grouped into teams using some random selection method. But the teams don’t stay together for the entire tournament. For each game, the teams are re-formed by some random selection method. Individual players change teams in each round, and carry their own individual scores forward with them.
     
    Panache tournaments can be played in a variety of formats. One typical way is for games to be played to a fixed time limit (say 30 minutes). After each game, each player reports (or records) (a) whether his team won or lost or had a draw, (b) the winning and losing score, and (c) the difference between the winning and losing score. At the end of the competition, players are ranked by their total number of wins. Within that, they are ranked based on total number of wins+draws, then on total points difference, and then on total points scored. Tournament winners are declared based on those rankings.

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League play

A “league” is a group of individual teams (typically from the same town or community) that play each other in a prearranged order and on a prearranged schedule during a period of time called a “season”.

  • Pre-season activities involve registering teams and setting up the schedule of games.
  • The competition includes all of the games played during the season.
  • At the end of the season, the results of the individual games are totaled and used to determine an overall champion for the season.

The warm southern parts of the USA get many winter visitors from the cold northern states and from Canada. Many of these “snowbirds” stay in RV parks, and you will often find petanque leagues organized in RV parks in January and February.

For more information, see the Wikipedia article on sports league.

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Single-elimination tournaments

Perhaps the simplest and most obvious way to organize a tournament is as a single elimination. In a single-elimination tournament the loser of each game is immediately knocked out of competition.

In many cases, at least in the United States, players travel to tournaments simply for the pleasure of playing new opponents. Their interest is simply in playing, rather than competing and winning. So it is not especially desirable to have a tournament format in which half of the participants are knocked out in the first round, and three-quarters have been knocked out by the end of the second round. So let’s look at some alternatives to a single-elimination tournament.

Double-elimination tournaments

Some tournaments (such as the Petanque America Open) include a “consolation” competition. In such tournaments, the winners of the first-round games go on to play in the main competition. The losers become the first-round teams in a “consolation” (consolante, or repechage) tournament. Thereafter, the main competition and the consolante are played, as it were, in separate and parallel universes. As teams are knocked out of the main competition, they move over and join the consolante. In the final game of the tournament, the winner of the main competition and the winner of the consolante compete for the tournament championship.

Here is a diagram of game structure of a tournament with a consolante contest. It is from the Redwood Empire Boules Club Ledford House Bastille Day 2012 tournament. I’ve marked it with red arrows to show how the losers of games in the main competition move over to the consolante and play the winners of previous games in the consolante. After both sides of the tournament have been played, the winner of the main competition plays the winner of the consolante for the tournament championship. Click HERE to view a larger version.how_a_consolante_works

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The Swiss System

For information on the Swiss System, see our Swiss System page.

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The FPUSA Partner Finder web site has a great web page (developed by Bruce Marcus, of the Los Angeles Petanque Club) defining the terms for the different types of tournaments.

Here is a copy of that information, in case their site is down for some reason (captured May 28, 2013).

SINGLES — teams of one person

Tête-à-tête:
One against one. Usually separate competitions for men and women held simultaneously.

DOUBLES — teams of two persons

Select Doublette:
Players generally enter as a pre-arranged team. Individuals wishing to participate can be paired up at the time of play by the tournament organizers. Teams can be two men, two women or mixed. Teams stay together for the entire tournament.

Mêlée Doublette or Triplette
Teams are formed at the start of the tournament by drawing, choosing a player from the list of pointers to match with one or two players from a list of shooters. In a Mixed Doublette Mêlée, teams consist of one man and one woman. If not specified, teams can be two men, two women or mixed. Teams stay together for the entire tournament.

Panache Doublette
Individuals are placed in groups of pointers and shooters and assigned numbers by lottery. Teams are formed at the start of each game according to an officially sanctioned number sequence, pairing a shooter and a pointer. In a Mixed Panache Doublette, teams consist of one man and one woman. If not specified, teams can be two men, two women or mixed. Each player plays with a different partner for each game. Individual scores are maintained to establish tournament winners.

TRIPLES — teams of three persons

Two Select + One Melee Triplette
Two players enter as a pre-arranged team and a third player is added at the start of the tournament by lottery. Teams stay together for the entire tournament.

Select Doublette + One Panache Triplette
Two players enter as a pre-arranged Doublette team and a different third player is added at the start of each game by lottery from a group of Panache players according to an officially sanctioned number sequence. Panache and Select winners are determined independently. Individual score cards are maintained for the group of Panache players whereas the Doublette Select players are scored as a team. First, second and third place winners are determined for both the individual Panache players and the Doublette Select teams.

Select Triplette:
Players generally enter as a pre-arranged team. Individuals wishing to participate can be teamed up at the time of play by the tournament organizers. Teams can be any combination of men and women. Teams stay together for the entire tournament.

Melee Triplette
Teams are formed at the start of the tournament by lottery, drawing players from lists of pointers, shooters and intermediates. Teams can be any combination of men and women. Teams stay together for the entire tournament.

Panache Triplette
Individuals are placed in groups of pointers, shooters and intermediates and assigned numbers by lottery. Teams are formed at the start of each game according to an officially sanctioned number sequence, each containing a shooter, pointer and intermediate. Each player plays with different partners for each game. Individual scores are maintained to establish tournament winners.


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One thought on “Tournament formats – an overview

  1. In England the melee is quite popular and differs slightly from your description. Any number of players can be accommodated (except 7) and the draw is made usually with numbered cards. No. 1 plays with No. 2 against No. 3 and No. 4 and so on. If there are odd numbers there may be a triple but never more than 3 triples. So every who turns up gets a game. A spreadsheet can be developed (or downloaded from our website) which lists each combination of players. You can also allocate a piste for each team to play on (1,2,3,4 play on piste 1 then 5,6,7,8 on piste 2 etc) which helps players find their partners.

    The crucial difference is that at the beginning of the next round teams are re-drawn so it’s unlikely you will play with the same player again. Individuals record their own score with the organiser and after a number of rounds a winner emerges. If a player arrives late or leaves early the system still works. With a small number of rounds there is often a surprise winner. Over 3 rounds and the cream rises to the top.

    There are also systems which guarantee that a player will never play with or against the same player over a number of rounds.

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