It happens at every Grand Prix. Players run out of time, and since a Draw would keep both of them out of Day 2, they decide that they might as well flip a coin to see who gets the win. We all know that this is Improperly Determining a Winner, and we all hate to see players make this mistake. If the opponent accepts the offer of a random method, or even if they fail to report the offer, they too are disqualified. Nobody wants this, either.
Or do they?
Over the years, I’ve heard the notion come up here and there that we shouldn’t jump in right away when hearing an offer for a coin flip, so that we can see if the opponent will accept the offer or not.
Please don’t do this.
In fact, let’s go out of our way to help as many players as we can from making these mistakes. There’s a reason I try to give reminders that flipping a coin or rolling a die is one of those “very bad things” in the morning, at the start of round 7, and sometimes even when I call time! I want the judge program to be proactive in educating people about the dangers of Improperly Determining a Winner.
Proactivity in Practice
So how do we proactively help stop these errors in practice?
- If you hear a player make such an offer, stop the match immediately. Do not wait for the opponent to contemplate the offer. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.
But we can do better than that…
- If you’re watching a match, and hear someone start to make something that sounds like the familiar offer, stop them. “Well, a draw isn’t…” “Dang, we’re out of time…” “What’s your record?” These are all great indications that you might be able to throw someone a lifeline.
But we can probably do even better than that…
- When you’re sitting on a match that’s in Extra Turns, and the players move that die to the number 5, why not toss them a quick: “Alright, turn 5, and just remember that you can’t offer anything to determine the match, including flipping a coin.”
I dream of an event where I don’t have to issue a disqualification for Improperly Determining a Winner. Will you help me realize that dream?