2012 BPA Survey Results—GMs
Jan. 12, 2013

GMs are the lifeblood of WBC. Without them, there are no tournaments and no raison d’etre. However, WBC GMs are a special breed. As a group, they have collectively bought into the “less is more” philosophy and “focus” arguments on which WBC was based back in 1999. As such, they’ve sworn off any form of compensation for their services and are dedicated to doing the job right, not to saving a few bucks. Indeed, many of them go above and beyond what is required and finance special prizes, websites, or event accessories out of their own pockets—all in an effort to make their events memorable and worth the trip for their fellow gamers who share their passion for a particular game.

So, could we have more events by reducing our standards and not inflicting extra requirements on our GMs? Probably, but more events doesn’t equate to better events; quite the opposite actually. We’d rather focus on a set number of events run by folks who have planned what they are going to do ahead of time because they take the responsibility seriously. Bottom line, I’d rather you not attend because we didn’t offer an event you liked than have you attend and be disappointed by the turnout and preparation for an announced event that did not give you what you expected in an experience.

What You’d Like to See... What You Want Not to Change How I See It...

GM Perks 4: GM appeciation breakfast or free Pre-Con for GMs volunteering to run an event. / Reduced or free GM admission. / Better incentive for GMs to prevent the same 30 people from running the entire convention each year. Maybe guaranteed rooms at the convention hotel at a reduced price? Without the GMs there is no WBC. Or enforcing the rule that each person can only GM one event and make others pick up the slack.

Volunteer GMs 11: Volunteers work hard to run a great event. / GM’s know the games (usually) and care about the event—not about collecting tickets. / Better way to engage part time volunteers as GMs and assistants. Your current initiative is right on

I’ve been doing this for 40 years and I’ve used both volunteer and compensated GM systems. I am convinced that volunteers produce better results. As a general rule, the folks who are motivated to GM by saving a few dollars do far less than those who do it solely because they want it done right. Our initial core of GMs—many of whom are still with us—voted on this very issue at the outset and chose to refuse any form of compensation. When we tried a free GM breakfast as a token thank you, a third of those who RSVP’d were AWOL and chose to sleep in instead. The gratis grub went uneaten and the response was lukewarm at best. Judging from what I’ve seen elsewhere, volunteers still do the job better than those lured by a discount.

Better Oversight 3: More oversight on the GMs would help. I’ve been in too many events where the GM refuses to adjudicate a game because his buddy is playing. That compromises the integrity of the tournament. / I would like to see the insistence upon competition be lessened. If a schedule conflict prevents a player from attending a Final round, a second-place player should be allowed to move up and replace him. We all play to win, sure, but no one wants to travel any distance only to be DENIED a chance to play. That happened to me at WBC a few years ago, and I will never again play any game or any tournament with that GM. / Some policies appear inconsistent or unclear. Not a major issue, but I would like to see more GM guidelines in writing and more closely adhered to.

Quality GMs 4: GMs are far superior to those at other gaming cons I’ve attended (which frankly is not saying much).

I wish I could be in 150 places at once checking out each GM or had 20 paid assistants to do so, but I don’t. I also wish all our GMs dutifully read and faithfully followed our GM Guidelines each year, but I know that too is wishful thinking. Lastly, I know that for everyone like you who wishes the rules were more strictly enforced there is someone else who wishes I would mind my own business and let them do whatever they like.

That said, obviously a GM should not show favoritism. I prefer to think that GMs shy away from adjudication because they are afraid of being accused of just that by the loser of any adjudication. As for rescheduled Finals to facilitate schedule conflicts, such are allowed ONLY if ALL players involved agree. Otherwise, they should proceed as scheduled with an alternate replacing any missing qualifier. If this does not happen, you should report it immediately. Neither the GM or I can do anything about things that happened “a few years ago".

A GM Training Program 1 Develop GMs 1: Continued encouragement to develop more GMs / AGMs. Our efforts to attract more GMs have met with limited success. The GM seminars we ran usually amounted to preaching to the choir. The best training program is simply to get one’s feet wet by serving a year as an assistant. Covering a heat, running a demo, or authoring a written report are all ways one can ease into the job and lend a hand without being thrown into the deep end of the pool. Sadly, the majority of Assistant GMs are the GMs of other events. By and large, the average attendee is quite content to be served by others.
Accurate & Detailed Event Previews 1: Posting of all event handouts on website before event, especially special rules, errata, etc.   That policy and the means to achieve it has been in place from the outset. Admittedly, not all GMs pay as much attention to it as they should or wait too long to post changes. Bringing a handout to the event is NOT an adequate substitute. Players need to be aware of details before choosing to attend the event. Another GM faux pas is thinking that holding a vote on the spot is a cureall for deciding how to proceed. Those losing the vote have a right to be annoyed. All such decisions need to be made and declared in advance—especially with a playing GM.
Playing GMs 2: I dislike GMs playing in their own events. I do, however, understand that there wouldn’t be enough GMs otherwise. / GMs who interpret rules for themselves to win at all costs—yes, there are a small number of those here.   GMs are not allowed to rule in their own games. To play, they must predesignate two assistants to rule in any game that involves them. We cannot enforce this rule if infractions thereof are not reported by actually naming names.
A.R.E.A 1: I would also like to see greater support for A.R.E.A., from the Board encouraging the GMs, even though it must remain clear that A.R.E.A. and BPA are separate entities.   While we endorse the volunteer efforts of the A.R.E.A. rating system we cannot force GMs to make such reports inasmuch as we already require more from our GMs than is asked elsewhere. That said, making such reports is not difficult and supports a thankless but worthwhile cause.
Electronic Kiosks 1: A way to check standings for an event without having to find the “pillar” for that game in the hallway. (web would be ideal, but that would put more of a burden on GM’s)   A GM interested in doing this could just as easily announce to his players that results would be posted to our folders on BGG or CSW. But such efforts should be in addition to—not instead of—posting the results on the standard event kiosk.
Computerization 1: Computerization speeds things along big-time. Some GMs already do this, but it would be awesome if folks pre-registered, and table pairings were printed + posted before the game start time. A WBC-sponsored rating system for each game may even help balance the pairings.   Long before you played your first game at WBC we had computerized pre-reg lists for each event. We discontinued them because they were wildly inaccurate. People are going to change their minds based on how they are feeling at the moment and how they’ve done in other events. They will not stick to a pre-reg commitment—not without a high-priced entry fee—and I don’t have to tell you how unpopular that would be. And no, we’re not buying everyone a laptop. BPA laurels are already being used to seed some of the older events.
Enforced Time Limits 5: It sucks to not be able to finish your game, but it’s worse to miss a game because another one is dragging on due to slow players. / Starting games on time and keeping them moving at a good pace. / Encourage more GM’s to use chessclocks for those events where slow play is an issue. Should BPA provide clocks? / Prevent player moves taking so long that their opponent is forced to withdraw because they get tired or have other planned events to attend.   Speed of play is indeed an issue in live tournaments—especially ones where experienced and new players are lumped together. Use of chess clocks and similar time keeping devices is an option in some events but troubling in others. Some games require more time to play a particular side than others and should be studied at length before clocks can be fairly implemented. The devices also can be intimidating to those unfamiliar with them. BPA does not provide them because we lack the storage space or the means to transport them in sufficient quantity to make them available to all events—and that in turn would lead to charges of favoritism when doling them out to some events and not to others.
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