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Organizing competitions

jazzthief81

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I just read the interview of Ton Dennenbroek in our interview section. Make sure to check it out if you haven't done so already:
http://www.speedsolving.com/forum/showthread.php?t=12223

I respect Ton very much and he's done a tremendous amount of work over the years in organizing dozens of competitions and I think I can speak for everyone if I say his efforts are greatly appreciated.

In his interview he addresses the issue of the growing number of competitors turning up these days and the increased strain that it brings to the organizers. As someone who has organized 0 out of the 50 competitions he's been to and lives in the same area as Ton, I feel very compelled to react to this cry for help.

The way I see it is like this: having more competitors means that there are also more people that are available to help out and having more frequent competitions means people get more experienced and hence more capable of offering help. My experience is that people are always willing to contribute and I've never seen anyone refuse to help when prompted by a person in charge.

Taking these things into consideration, I would think a competition should be able to run itself provided that everyone knows what they're supposed to do. I don't think there's so much a lack of volunteers or goodwill, but more a lack of coordination, communication and probably also a lack of initiative from the competitors. We seem to have grown into this situation but I really don't see any reason anymore why the same 2 persons have to do all the work all the time.

Ton, can you give us a full breakdown of how much time you spend on one competition (preparation done beforehand, work done on the day,...)? That should help us identify some areas that can be delegated to other persons.

I would also like the hear the views of other (big) competition organizers on this. Do they feel the same way and if not what are they doing differently? Maybe we can learn from each other. I'm guessing what we're missing over here is a good team (looking at the US, the Aachen cubers and Poland).

In any case, I'm offering my full cooperation and I'm inviting other regular competition goers to do the same.

Lars
 

MichaelErskine

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I have only attended one competition to date (UK Open 2008) and there were lots of calls for help on the day with scrambling and judging. I felt a bit useless not being experienced enough to judge and not being quick enough to scramble without making mistakes (and thus having to solve the cubes again! Maybe not so bad on a 2x2 or 3x3 but a megaminx or 7x7? I'd be there all day!)

This year I'm helping out with the UK Masters and I hope to gain some experience in competition organisation. I'm aware that there must be some tasks that require no specific cubing skill or some simple training that may be done immediately prior to an event. These jobs might include helping out with registration, meeting and greeting, putting names to faces, being available to answer competitors' questions (or at least being able to find someone who can answer), general housekeeping, etc. These jobs require only a friendly smile and a willingness to help.
 

Dene

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Well I haven't organised anything, but I've helped out at every competition I've been to. The thing that distinguished the East Coast competitions from the West Coast ones, is that at the WC comps there are clubs that work to run them. Everyone is part of a close-knit community and they all help on the day, especially during the first 3x3 round where help is needed the most. On the EC, things were much more scattered, with people doing bits and pieces, but with no particular co-ordination. So I guess it helps with having the clubs, where everyone is prepared to help out with judging all day.
 

Jhong253

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I organized one competition, and it didn't go that well as much as I wanted it to.

I have to say, the lack of workers is a killer for organizers, especially around areas where cubing is not popular. Not having enough workers really puts stress on the organizer(s), and forces him/her to compensate in rather... not exactly preferred way. For instance, I recruited about 7 friends who volunteered to help -- none showed up. So I had to rely on competitors (some of whom were not too enthusiastic about helping) and the delegate a bit too much, and that upset a number of them.

I don't see what you mean by competition running itself. I think having strong organizer is really essential to running a competition. Heck, I think one of the main reasons why mine didn't got screwed was because I had to go out of my "comfort zone" a bit too much.

Now that I'm looking back, I have lots of regrets. No competition is going to be perfect, but there were lots of things that could've been better. Although it was my first time, my lack of experience killed me too because I didn't think through/beforehand as much as I should have.
I happened to be sick on that particular day and didn't exactly look like a strong organizer, I messed up on numerous details because of my sickness. I guess being tired really makes you forget lots of critical details (I did...)
 
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blade740

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Well I haven't organised anything, but I've helped out at every competition I've been to. The thing that distinguished the East Coast competitions from the West Coast ones, is that at the WC comps there are clubs that work to run them. Everyone is part of a close-knit community and they all help on the day, especially during the first 3x3 round where help is needed the most. On the EC, things were much more scattered, with people doing bits and pieces, but with no particular co-ordination. So I guess it helps with having the clubs, where everyone is prepared to help out with judging all day.
I agree with this wholeheartedly. We have a group of "usual suspects" that are willing to work at every competition here on the west coast. It doesn't matter (as much) who's organizing. In our case the organizer doesn't really have to tell too many people what to do the day-of. It gets to a point that we know what problems we run into all the time and we're usually on top of them right away. I'm sure some people in other regions like Ton and Ron and Bob know exactly what they're doing as well, but it helps to have a large group of people that's doing what needs to be done WITHOUT needing direction.
 

Toquinha1977

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I'm co-organizing one, but thankfully we have a relatively viable cubing community in town (we meet every two months or so) consisting of a group of usual suspects that can always help out. I agree - having a viable cubing community is vital to successful organization. Mind you, the bulk of the group members aren't of the age of majority, so certain tasks are left to the grown-ups.

I know a guy who's attempting to organize a competition in Seattle, but from what I can tell, he hasn't been able to network with people in his area (hence, he comes up to Vancouver a lot and has unofficially become one of us). Hence, he's hit a ton of brick walls along the way.
 

JBCM627

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Well I haven't organised anything, but I've helped out at every competition I've been to. The thing that distinguished the East Coast competitions from the West Coast ones, is that at the WC comps there are clubs that work to run them. Everyone is part of a close-knit community and they all help on the day, especially during the first 3x3 round where help is needed the most. On the EC, things were much more scattered, with people doing bits and pieces, but with no particular co-ordination. So I guess it helps with having the clubs, where everyone is prepared to help out with judging all day.
I agree with this wholeheartedly. We have a group of "usual suspects" that are willing to work at every competition here on the west coast. It doesn't matter (as much) who's organizing. In our case the organizer doesn't really have to tell too many people what to do the day-of. It gets to a point that we know what problems we run into all the time and we're usually on top of them right away. I'm sure some people in other regions like Ton and Ron and Bob know exactly what they're doing as well, but it helps to have a large group of people that's doing what needs to be done WITHOUT needing direction.
Yeah, I definitely agree with all of this. Although, Cornell was one east coast club that was doing fairly well, with a good 7 or 8 members dedicated to working at their competitions. Unfortunately this year they have sort of disbanded.

The more initiative people take, club or not, the easier and smoother things tend to go. It is always great to have people try and move things along on their own instead of waiting to be asked.
 

Ton

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Ton, can you give us a full breakdown of how much time you spend on one competition (preparation done beforehand, work done on the day,...)?
1) Arrange venue , 10 min for existing venue, else it will take 8-16 hours making calls. I the worse case you have to check out a venue if it is suitable, can take days. We have now fixed places more or less so no longer much work
2) Make site and registration
2a)Make webpage , 30 min , 2-4 hours for a more complex site
2b)Ron will make WCA registration page 30 min +WCA+speedcubing post 1 hour
2c)Make competition schedule , estimate how many will come 30 min
3) Take registration 1-2 hours spread over months, communicate and coordinate with other organizers/sponsor(s) 1- 8 hours
4) Arrange timers/displays, I only have to check if everything is working, so no work for me
5) Two days before event
5a) Make/Copy score sheets (the paper with the name) 4 hours
5b) Buy stuff , paper +printer inkt 30 min-60min
5c) Print certificate templates 4 hours
5d) Prepare the excel result sheet 2 hours
5e) Print scores sheet with names 2 hours –I prefer only to print the first two events then it is 10 min

6) At the competition
6a) Register people (collect registration fee)
6b) Print score sheets per event 1 hour , spread of the competition days
6c) score taking 4 – 6 hours spread of the competition days
6d) Print certificates 30 -60 min spread of the competitions days
6e) Print scrambles
6f) Check FM 1 hour
Coordinate time schedule per event

7) After competition
Check results 2-3 hours

Times are base on my current experience level
,5a) 6a),6c) en 6f) could be done by others, btw Pim is helping us a lot with 6c) the last years ...
 
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Jhong253

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Well I haven't organised anything, but I've helped out at every competition I've been to. The thing that distinguished the East Coast competitions from the West Coast ones, is that at the WC comps there are clubs that work to run them. Everyone is part of a close-knit community and they all help on the day, especially during the first 3x3 round where help is needed the most. On the EC, things were much more scattered, with people doing bits and pieces, but with no particular co-ordination. So I guess it helps with having the clubs, where everyone is prepared to help out with judging all day.
I agree with this wholeheartedly. We have a group of "usual suspects" that are willing to work at every competition here on the west coast. It doesn't matter (as much) who's organizing. In our case the organizer doesn't really have to tell too many people what to do the day-of. It gets to a point that we know what problems we run into all the time and we're usually on top of them right away. I'm sure some people in other regions like Ton and Ron and Bob know exactly what they're doing as well, but it helps to have a large group of people that's doing what needs to be done WITHOUT needing direction.
Wish I lived in the west coast... :p
 
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