HORSESHOE PITCHING ---- HOW TO PLAY THE GAME 51

TOURNAMENT

By D. D. COTTRELL, Secretary The National Horseshoe

Pitchers Association

This is written from experience with five National and numerous state, county and other tournaments. Nearly every tournament has so many different conditions as to time for playing, number of contestants, number of courts, score keepers available, and last, but not least, weather, that it is generally impossible to decide exactly what to do until about time for the tournament to begin.

There are certain principles that should apply to every tournament. The first is that it should be so planned and conducted that any player will have exactly the same chance to win as every other contestant, and skill should be the only deciding factor. Whether the winner of the tournament is to be decided on the greatest number of games won, the most points scored, the largest percentage of ringers made to the shoes pitched, the points scored by pitching a certain number of shoes, or in any other way, the skill of the player should always decide the winner after each player has had an equal chance to win.

It is always more satisfactory in a tournament when single players compete with each other instead of two placers competing as a team against other teams of two players each. When two players play as a team, they, as a rule, are not evenly matched, and one player is likely to feel that the other player did not do his best every time his team loses a game.

Sometimes players are grouped by drawing to decide in which group each contestant is to be placed. Then the players in each group play a series of games and the winners in each group then play each other the final games. This is manifestly unfair, and is somewhat of a gamble, for if three or four good players happen to be drawn in the same group, then in playing off the preliminaries some of these good players lose out, while poorer players in other groups with poorer players win a place in the finals. Luck should never have any place in deciding who should play in any tournament which is to select the best pitcher. Only merit should control.

Sometimes tournaments have been held where all players draw numbers and number one plays number two, and so on, each odd number playing the next even number. Then the winners drawing numbers again, and the odd numbers playing the evens and continuing this way until two men are left to play against each other to decide who is the best player. This is also manifestly unfair, as by chance, the two best players might be drawn to play each other to begin with and one of them must be eliminated in his first game and have no chance for the first, second, or even third place. From this it seems necessary that some method of elimination must be used in which every player has an equal chance to show his skill.

The rules of the National Horseshoe Pitchers Association require that the Rotation Plan, sometimes called the Round Robin Plan, in which each player pitches every other contestant one 50-point game, shall be used where there are 40 or less contestants in a National Tournament.

Where time for tournament, number of entries, limited number of courts, or limited number of score keepers and assistants, or any other limiting factor has seemed to make some kind of elimination necessary, I have used the following plan to the entire satisfaction of all players.

Explain the condition to the players, and lead them to decide on the number of shoes each player should pitch as a preliminary test. Count all points made by each contestant pitching the number of shoes decided upon, counting all shoes within six inches of the peg one point each, and all ringers three points each. Two players may pitch against each other if so decided, counting all points and ringers made by each player. This means three points for each players if each has a ringer, and one point for each player for every shoe which he has within six inches of the peg.

After each player has pitched 30, 50 or 100 shoes, or any number previously decided upon, eliminate all from the finals except the six, eight, ten or twelve, or any other number of players previously agreed upon for the finals, who have made the greatest total number of points. Then have each player in the finals play each other player one game of 25 or 50 points. The decision of who wins