It seems to me that anytime a TD or referee has to fall back on a rule that says a player must play to win it is a sign that the event hasn't been properly setup. If there is an incentive for a player to lose a match to win something within the tournament then this is an incentive problem.
In Pinburgh the incentive problem seems to be one of the following:
- Money. Lower finishers may receive more money than higher finishers.
- Play time. People would rather get the chance to play on day 3 rather than finish as high as they could.
- Prestige. Some people would rather be #1 in a lower tier rather than finishing as high as they could.
Now there are very good reasons that the staff may not want to change these incentives to prevent 'sandbagging'. People may balk at giving all the money to the elite players. Having everyone play on day 3 may be too time consuming. I'm not sure how you'd deal with the prestige problem to be honest.
In the end, these are tradeoffs. Making it a moral issue doesn't change the fact that the incentives are skewed. I for one am not terribly worried about sandbagging. I would police unsportsmanlike conduct. I would make tweaks that lessened the incentives to throw games. But I wouldn't make large changes to the format (no prize money to lower tiers or four separate tournaments) just to prevent a players from optimizing their play for their desired outcomes.
Pinburgh is the most fun I've had at a tourney and I wouldn't mess with it too much.