Many A players were unhappy with the unbalanced round 10; I had several ask me if I agreed with them that it was a bad thing to do. The only thing I heard more complaints about was the crappy wifi during the Intergalactic that backed up scorekeeping there.
My own experience has been to be near the cut line most years for round 10 and while we kidded about chopping [we all knew where we stood, you can’t help but think “what if” somewhere along the way], none of my groups ever did, we all played hard knowing that anyone who did well enough even in the cut-level groups could rise up to get a single bye, as each time someone did. I had to survive tiebreakers for the A finals the previous two years as a result. I know of other cases where one or two players knocked the others in their round 10 groups out of contention in the first two or three games, but even knowing they were eliminated, the others still played hard games 3 and 4 and knocked those players out, too. [Me, at least once.]
Sorry, Bowen, as a math guy, I have to disagree. Examine the situation where two players have identical records for rounds 1-9, and thus played nearly identical level opponents in each of those rounds, with one being assigned position #64 for round 10 and the other #65. The opportunity to advance is definitely not equal for these two players, despite the fact that they have performed the same up until now. And the nuance that they played slightly different people and thus aren’t “totally identical” actually could be construed as a very small bit of unfairness en route, so I consider that not to be a way out of this.
The “equal treatment” argument fails in that while who gets the harder road is random, it’s the fact that the hardness differs that matters, not that they’re equally likely to have to take the harder road. Sure, if both players were 64th and 65th several years in a row, it would statistically even out, but that’s not going to happen.
My own opinion is that it was a flawed idea [“bad” is too harsh a term], but I understand that it was an honest effort to deal with a real problem for which there is no perfect solution. Come game 4 of round 10, there will be some who know they’re out, some who know they’re in and or have one or more byes, some who know they’re in but can’t improve further to get a bye, and some still not sure if they’ll make it or not. Those whose situations are fixed can choose to play hard or not with no consequences to themselves, only to other players. This will occur whether the round 10 groups are balanced or not; it’s just a little harder for the players to figure it all out when it’s unbalanced. In the unbalanced case, they can’t all be “winners” [i.e. qualify] by colluding, but the potential to not try hard and have that help someone else still exists.
FWIW, I looked at the results for the last few years, and more often than not, agreeing to split amounts to someone giving up a bye opportunity most of the time. The difference between top 16 and top-40-but-above-the-tiebreaker is often exactly 3 points. To do the chop this year in A, for instance, the players would have needed to be 73-72-71-70 going into the final game, so they could all come out the other end at 73. But the person with 73 would have gotten a bye had they won that last game to get to 76 points. Ditto B division with 69 for a bye vs. 66 for safe without tiebreaker and 66 vs. 63 in C. This doesn’t prevent collusion, obviously, but should be noted.
Let me know if you want me to participate in discussion of possible changes to this year’s system; I agree going back to the “all even” plan may be too risky, but I think there may be a variation of this year’s plan that would “feel fairer” to the players involved.