Leading the Paper team

The paper team is in charge of pairings, standings, and match slips. Making sure these are handled efficiently can have a major impact on how smoothly the tournament as a whole flows, so the theme of efficiency should pervade everything you do.

Before the player meeting

  • Pick locations for the pairings to be posted. Ideally, these should be easily visible, in a location with lots of space around, and have clear lanes for traffic. Consult with the head judge and logistics team lead. Reference the Leading the logistics team article for more information on what makes for a good pairings board location.

During the team meeting

  • Stress paper cutter safety: The players won’t notice if the slips are a few seconds earlier or later. They will absolutely notice if there’s blood on the slips, and I guarantee you will too.
  • Ask for break preferences.
  • Identify judges to do the two major special responsibilities of the paper team: Taking down the pairings when there is about 10-15 minutes left in the round, and operating the paper cutter to cut results slips (reference the “Using the Paper Cutter” section for more info). My current preference is to assign one of these tasks to each of two specific people for the whole day. This creates a greater sense of responsibility and stability, in addition from saving you the effort of nominating someone to do it every round. If there is someone new to the paper team, make sure they are exposed to both of these jobs during the day if possible. This is easy to do if you break one at a time (rather than as a team) and pick breaks so that they can cover for the sheet remover and the paper cutter operator during their breaks.
  • Go over the general flow of activities for each round (reference “During the swiss rounds” section for more information).
    • Point out where the pairings boards are to your team.
    • Establish goals for when each task should be completed.
    • Stress efficiency, “Remember, team: We are the most directly responsible for when the round starts, which means we directly affect when the rounds end.”
  • Have your team set up the pairings boards (if applicable). Release any extras to the logistics team to help with other setup.
    • If the pairings boards will use tape, be prepared. First preference is to set up “tape loops” so that individual pieces can be reused. Masking tape works best for tape loops. Packing tape is usually too sticky. I’ve had head judges complain that the practice of preemptively putting strips of tape on the edge of a pairings board looks tacky and is easily disrupted. If they don’t want you doing that, another option is to put tape on the pairings sheets at the printer, although this can lead to bottlenecks as every judge needs to use a single tape dispenser all at the same time.

During the Swiss rounds

  • The paper team’s responsibilities are concentrated at the beginning of the round. Because of this, some head judges will assign responsibility for managing the end of round procedure to the paper team. Others will leave it for the logistics team. Reference Logistics team lead article for more information on running EOR.
  • Coordinate with the person doing EOR so that you are informed as soon as the last slip for each round is turned in. Impress upon your team the importance of taking an “off your feet break” somewhere nearby to the scorekeeper’s area so that you can easily find them all after the last slip is in. To maximize productivity, ask the scorekeeper if you can help sort match results slips during this time.
  • Ideally, you will have one judge for each pairings location and two to cut results slips. As people come back from posting pairings, they can take the slips as they are being cut and hand them out.
  • If your team isn’t big enough for that many people, here are some alternatives:
    • Recruit members from other teams. Because the deck checks team is busy at the beginning of round also, try to stick with the logistics team for conscriptions.
    • Group the pairings boards together. Assign each judge two or three pairings locations rather than just one (It’s very likely that you’ll need to do this if there are more than two or three pairings boards).

In the last round, and usually the round before that, standings are usually posted to let players know if they can draw into the top 8. Consult with the head judge about what to do with these. Oftentimes, they’ll specify that the standings should be posted with the pairings, left up for a certain amount of time, then taken down. Meanwhile, judges standing near the pairings boards will be available to answer any questions players might have about what is or isn’t legal to say to their opponent when negotiating a concession.

Using the paper cutter

Although using a paper cutter is very simple, there is some skill involved. For example, pressing the blade in towards the cutting line while pushing down leads to much cleaner cuts with less resistance from the paper. The skill required as a team lead is much more difficult to master: being able to effectively handle all the resources available to you in order to get results slips ready to distribute as quickly as possible. This is a non-trivial problem. An event with 1000 players will have over 100 pages worth of match slips to cut. The key to completing this efficiently is parallelization. It’s possible to have more than one person working on this job by having each one handle a different aspect. The first step is to establish how many sheets the paper cutter you’re using can handle at a time. This number is usually around 10, but of course it’s best to test this before the tournament starts. Don’t worry about getting an exact number. You probably actually want to go a little conservative anyway.

  • In an ordinary environment, you’ll have one paper cutter. In this case, the fastest way to cut the slips is to have one person stand near the printer and count the pages as they are printed. Once the number that can be effectively cut at once with the paper cutter that person passes them to the cutter, who then cuts those sheets and stacks them next to the cutter face down. This process is repeated until all the slips are cut.
  • A particularly well-prepared TO may have 2 paper cutters to use. This allows a modified version of the above-suggested system with a second judge cutting. The best way I’ve seen to have this work is to have the judge at the printer hand stacks of sheets to the first cutter. This judge cuts off the top and bottom from the stack then passes it along to the second cutter, who cuts apart the slips and piles them face down as before. After a relatively low amount of practice, three judges executing this system should have no problem cutting slips as fast as any printer they’re likely to see can print them out.

Final thoughts

The paper team traditionally has the most number of specific tasks they are in charge of. This is offset by the fact that the paper team also generally has the least number of fires they will need to put out. Once a routine is established, the hardest part of the day has passed, and the rest of the day is typically smooth sailing.