Winning all games in a tournament, but not getting the 1st place?

This looks like a bug. The FSTS Silver Monkey Tournament just ended:

And it looks like winning or losing a game didn’t change the relative ranking at all, at neither round. Nor did it matter for the final ranking…

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The ranks seem pretty OK, to me…

That’s a McMahon tournament, and your final ranking depends also on your initial McMahon ranking. To me, it seems that adhalanay, the winner, started with an overall McMahon ranking of 0, while you started with an overall of -3.
Thus, you won all of your games (a total of +6), with a final scoring of 3.
Adhalanay, on the other hand, won 4 out of 6 games, his final scoring being 0+4 = 4.

This might be due to the fact that when the tournament started, more than 1 year ago, your ranking was lower than adhalanay’s one, so you got that “-3” handicap.

This is how McMahon tourneys work, unfortunately. But it’s not a bug:

I don’t like McMahons for corr tourneys as well, because it might end up with situation like yours: you eventually managed to score better than those above you, because you improved during this year, but since the tournament started when your ranking was lower, your final score is lower than expected due to your initial handicap.

I usually avoid McMahon for this same reason… I prefer Round Robins and Swiss tourneys.

EDIT: I checked your ranking at the beginning of the tourney. You were 8k, while adhalanay was 5k. This explains your “-3” handicap in the McMahon scoring.

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Ah, I see. Thanks for the explanation!
I was confused because I tried to check on previous rounds, and there the ranking and the sum scores were always the same. But apparently, they just show the final values, not intermediate values for the clicked round.
Is it possible to directly see the intermediate values, or at least the initial values (like that “-3”) somewhere?

Not that I recall… well, that might actually be a bug, indeed.

Or at least, it could be a possible improvement for the next releases, if any of the developers notices this thread. :wink:

@trohde, @matburt, @VincentCB, etc…

That’s the price of improvement :slight_smile:

Please leave me out of this — I’m a print media guy and know almost nothing of coding :wink: and on OGS I’m just a plain (and mostly absent) moderator.

OGS developers are anoek and matburt, with anoek working full time on getting the next version out, thanks to all our supporting users. (And those who just bear with the ads on OGS are also supporting OGS :slight_smile: )

Lies! =]

LOL, very friendly, thanks :slight_smile:

And you’re right: given access to the manpages, I would actually “know” how to output “hello world” in perhaps a dozen languages :wink:

I just experienced the same thing in this McMahon tournament. I also beat the person that eventually won it. I was assigned a bye in one of the rounds, so perhaps that also worked against me. :disappointed:

Don’t let this get to you too much. :wink:
I know one would rather win a tourney than be in second place, especially if one’s performance is better than the winner’s.
But this is how McMahon works… so, if you feel this is not the format for you, just avoid it. :smiley:

Moreover, this usually happens when one improves very much before the tournament ends, so it’s kinda rewarding anyway: it means that you managed to get stronger quickly.

And eventually, given your new strength, you will probably be able to win other tournaments. :wink:

If you really don’t like McMahon, I think you should try other formats:

  • Round Robin is of course the most “fair” format, but there will be at most 10 players in a single tournament;
  • Swiss is quite fair as well, but its main issues are the first pairings: if you are unlucky, in the first 1-2 rounds you can play against very strong players (thus giving away a full point, since you’ll probably lose), or very weak players (thus easy wins but with worse tie-breakers in the end if your opponents’ performances are poor throughout the tourney);
  • Single or Double Elimination tournaments can be fair depending on the pairing: “massacre” and “slide” tend to take strong players easily to the final rounds, so if you are a bit weaker you really have few chances to get a prize; on the other end, “random” and “strength” pairings give weaker players a chance to reach the final, at the cost of “sacrificing” some of the stronger players in the early rounds. So the first 2 methods are “fair”, but then you know at the moment you join that you’ll probably will or will not be able to get to the semi-finals, according to the players board. The last 2 methods are less fair though, so if you are in the top-tier you’ll probably get disappointed, especially if you see a player much weaker than you reach the final round.
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Thanks for the advice. I think I’m most disappointed by McMahon because it appears to give a negative handicap. Not only are weaker players disadvantaged because they are weaker, but the scoring appears to give stronger players an additional literal handicap as well. Oh well, I think I will avoid McMahon from now on. Thanks again.

The “negative handicap” is meant to avoid a “lucky beginner” winning the tournament instead of a really strong player. This can happen in a Swiss tournament if the first pairings are lucky for the beginner and awful for the stronger player.

And also notice that McMahon pairings are usually by “strength” (i.e. actual ranking in the table): a player that starts at 0 will face stronger opponents throughout the tournament than those who starts at -3, -5 or less. So, the “negative handicap” is not really an handicap, but a way to give players balanced games from the start of the tourney.
A 7/7 win by a -5 player could have been easier to achieve than a 5/7 win by a 0 “top-tier” player. And that’s why McMahon tournaments usually pick the latter as winner, despite the performance.

This format was designed to avoid the “unpredictability” of Swiss tourneys due to the initial pairings, while taking care of many participants without resorting to knock-out rounds (that can be unpleasant, especially if the tournament is long and you are knocked-out in the first rounds), so that everyone can play the same number of games.

McMahon has its advantages. :slight_smile:
I still don’t like the format, especially for correspondence games. But for live tournaments it’s perfectly fine, I think.


Great post! Thank you for all that information. I can certainly see what it’s trying to do in theory now, although I obviously think it’s imperfect. I can see the rationale behind it at least.

Also, you should put information into the tournament FAQs! It’s very thorough and easy to understand for newcomers to the different formats.

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Hehe, au contraire, it is perfect. Teaches zen thinking and all


Well, there’s a lot of information that should be displayed somewhere, for newcomers… I mean, it’s really difficult for a beginner to grasp all the different mechanics of tourney formats, all the different rulesets, all the time controls, and the like… but I suppose that OGS is not the right place to put all those informations. :slight_smile:
Still I agree, maybe a light summary placed somewhere visible could be an idea.
The first time I started a McMahon tourney I actually googled what “McMahon” was, but I suppose that’s not something you can expect from anybody. And in fact, when the tourney starts, noticing one’s score being “-12” while other’s being “0” could be upsetting if you don’t know the format…

maybe a light summary placed somewhere visible could be an idea

I think no newbie on OGS will ever be able to see those links… :wink:

Moreover, they seem to be accessible only from the home page, but there should be a link also in the “Games”, “Create Game” and “Tournament” views…


I personally find @ema’s explanation more lucid and thorough than the official FAQ. I probably read the linked FAQ early on, but it’s not clear there that McMahon is a format where you might never be able to win, no matter how well you play.

I think we need to distinguish between McMahon format, in which you can only play one game in each round, versus the Simultaneous McMahon format (example), in which you can play multiple opponents in each round, and thus moving up and down much faster than McMahon across the rounds. (But of course, it’s only possible when you’re playing correspondence games.)

Also, I think it’s much better to use a reduced-version of McMahon, i.e., the initial scores vary by 1 for every two ranks instead of every one rank.

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Just to be clear, McMahon is not really “a format where you might never be able to win, no matter how well you play.”

It simply puts the matter this way: “only the stronger players could really win a big tournament, so all the players that have a chance to win will start at 0, and the other at negative scores. All the stronger players will play each other, while those who starts at a negative score will face them only if they perform really well.”

This is why in my previous post I said that a 5 on 7 score by a top-tier player is usually much more difficult to achieve than a 7 on 7 score by a mid-tier, in a McMahon.
The top-tier player will play only against other top-tier players. A mid-tier player that scores perfect will probably face low or mid-tier players in the first 3-4 rounds, and face top-tier players only at the end of the tourney: his wins are “easier” than the top-tier players’ wins.

Sure, this is difficult to understand for a beginner. And I must repeat that it’s a format I don’t like myself.
However, it has its merits, and even a mid-tier player could win, but only if top players perform really badly. And a low-tier player will probably have no chance to win anyway.
But isn’t this true for every tournament format?

As I said, McMahon is designed to avoid “lucky pairings” at the beginning: let’s say that a top player faces mid-tier players in the first rounds, and another faces only top players throughout the tourney. Of course it would be easier for the first player to score perfect, but maybe it’s the second player who would have deserved to win, despite one or two losses. In this case the outcome of the tourney would have depended only on the initial pairing… that’s to say, a tournament is decided by a coin toss.

That’s not fair, you’d agree… unless you want to add a “luck element” to the game.

But we are playing go, and I think it’s OK to have no “luck” in go. Otherwise we would play MTG or Hearthstone, or some other “strategic” card game which have “luck” embedded in their mechanics (i.e. drawing cards from a deck).

So please, don’t be to harsh on McMahon tournaments. :wink: I understand you may not like them, but they are designed to be fair… even if it seems just the opposite. :sweat_smile: