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Crown Tourney was this weekend. It was an interesting, and I think largely successful experiment.

Crown is usually a double-elimination tournament: if you get killed twice, you're out. After your first loss, you get placed in a separate bracket, so that the people with no losses are fighting each other, and those with one loss are fighting each other; a side-effect of this is that those in the "loser's list" wind up having to fight more bouts. This system is traditional, but has some interesting pathologies: in particular, there's a small but real element of luck -- you advance through the tree fast enough that a particularly good or bad draw of an opponent (a newbie fighter or a duke) can significantly affect your odds of advancement. This doesn't often have a huge impact on the end result, but means that the middle rounds are slightly unpredictable. (Also, double-elims really want the number of entrants to be a power of 2; if that's not the case, there will be bye fights, which introduce another element of luck.)

This time, the combatants were initially divided into four pools -- as it happens, of exactly 12 fighters each. The dukes were divided out amongst the pools; other than that, I believe they were assigned randomly. Each group fought a round-robin, with everybody in the pool fighting against everybody else; the top four from each pool then move on to the round of 16, and it's fought as a normal double-elimination from there.

My impression is that this format removes much of the luck-of-the-draw normally present in Crown: indeed, the only thing that was surprising was how completely *un*surprising the round of 16 was, comprised mainly of Chivalry, plus a few particularly prominent up-and-comers. Since everyone was fighting 11 bouts in the first round, a lucky shot didn't matter nearly as much as skill and stamina. (A nice side-benefit that was mentioned to me is that the level of courtesy in the first round seemed particularly high -- presumably, since one bad shot was less likely to end your day, it was easier for everyone to be well-behaved.)

The end result was Lucan defeating Gregor in the finals, which was pretty much what I'd suspected when I saw the lineup in the morning: both are top-flight fighters, and both were reputed to particularly want it this time, but Lucan had by all accounts been practicing exceptionally hard of late. It was a good finals, although only interesting if you like the mental chess match: neither are the sort to hastily overcommit, so there was a lot of samurai-style action, of both of them mostly standing there, making lots of tiny one-inch adjustments before actually moving. None of this was surprising, but I did find myself wishing Sebastian was still active: I'd love to see how his eggbeater style of two-sword would work against the slow-and-thoughtful way they were both doing it.

I was amused at the number of people who clearly think I'm still Vox Regis -- I suspect it'll be a couple of months before folks stop coming up to me with scrolls. (ETA: And it's still going -- I just got an email asking about the Court Report from this weekend.) I did wind up heralding the procession this time: due to timing, the cards had to be hand-written (msmemory spent the morning writing very fast), and everyone deferred to me to deal with that. (It did demonstrate that I still need to learn how to pronounce some of the names, especially the Gaelic ones.)

I managed to avoid the stomach flu that apparently went around the event like wildfire, but seem to instead be coming down with a sinus infection today, judging from the logy headache I'm dealing with. Bleah, but at least it waiting until after we got home...

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I had a reserved opinion of the round-robin experiment when it was first announced, but as an observer, I really enjoyed watching it. The fighters I spoke to all seemed pleased as well, for just the reasons you mentioned. Had I still been fighting, it would have been awesome, since I could almost always be counted on to fight my two bouts (three if I was having an exceptionally lucky day) and doff my armor.

I understand the two counts (Valgard and Thorson) were in the fourth pool, and the chivalry was evenly seeded. It was rather well-designed.

I've come to expect that chess match in Crown finals generally, but, yes, Lucan and Gregor are masters of it. It's quite understandable when you consider that the whole kabloona can ride on that one shot. But I find it rather enjoyable to watch in its own right. Kind of like the special attraction of a pitchers' duel in baseball. And Gregor has the most remarkably classic stance: he looks like the illustration on the cover of a fechtbuch.

As for the Vox Regis thing...Don't fret the Gaelic. I largely gave up trying years ago, except for some rules of thumb:
* Roll it around in your mouth until a familiar name comes out: so Maighread u'i Donnchabhaigheainn (or whatever) comes out Mary O'Donovan.
* Second vowels in a cluster drop out, since they're only there as buffers.
* Slurring, mumbling, and lisping are highly prized by the Irish.
* When you put all that together, it makes sense that Caitlin is pronounced Kathleen, and Caitriona is Katrina.
* It ain't just Gaelic. The same principles explain why Merry Christmas is Mele Kalikimaka in Hawaii, and why you and your garufurendo have eisukurimi for dessert after your bisuteki in Tokyo.

(Oh, and before I forget, if I could get the tabard back at your convenience, that'd be cool).

Sher -- the tabard is simply hanging with the rest in the bag. Let's find something that we're both at, and I can give it back.

Slurring, mumbling, and lisping are highly prized by the Irish.

Heh. That's a *delightful* excuse; I'll have to remember it. (Heaven knows, I wind up mumbling my way through some of the more impressive collections of vowels anyway.)

That sounds like a neat format, and way more fun for the bottom half of the field.

Gaelic, and other languages I was unfamiliar with (German, Finnish), are why I tried to get hold of the scrolls ASAP to find out who was getting what, and who I couldn't pronounce, and then, on some pretext or other ("We're making up the tourney list cards. How do you pronounce your name?") get the person to tell me how THEY pronounce their name. Then I wrote it down phonetically on my Court List.

(Not that I was over-anal, or anything.)

Most of the time, I can make my way through it. But the Crown Tourney Procession is particularly intense: we usually have very little time before it starts, and it's 70-100 names. So it's generally impractical to deal with it beforehand.

(Indeed, the main thing that helped me was while I was lining *up* the procession -- several people corrected me at that point. The one saving grace is that I don't have to be coy in this circumstance: everyone knows who I am going to be calling, and why...)

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