Combining Ranks

Debates and discussions on the various race scheduling methods that can be used and their fairness and accuracy in determining the winners.
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Rukkian
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Combining Ranks

Post by Rukkian » Tue Oct 26, 2010 10:59 am

I am now serving as my 3rd year as Pinewood committee chair for our mid sized pack, and from comments, it has gotten better each year I have been involved (mainly thanks to things I have learned from this board).

Last year we used Corey's PPN xls sheet, and it worked great, we have an old, 4 lane track with a Judge that just shows the finish order via led's.

We now have about 45 in our pack, but have fairly lopsided age groups (19 in one, 10 in another, while we only have 4 in another rank). Historically we have handed out speed award trophies to both rank and then to the pack after the runoffs. Last year I made the decision to run a few of the very small ranks together, to give more cars to race against, and had each of the cars run twice in each lane, with giving weight to keeping heat counts equal. I then took the top 3 points winners from each of the ranks that raced together to determine the racers that went to the finals as well as determining the trophies for ranks.

My question on all this, do any of you guru's see any perceived or actual issues that may arise from how it was run?

Also, any suggestions on a better way to run the race?

I think it went well, but am always looking to improve the experience. We also had another pack that was dwindling join us this year, and want to ensure we are fair, and that all scouts have a good time.

Thanks in advance.



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Stan Pope
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Re: Combining Ranks

Post by Stan Pope » Tue Oct 26, 2010 11:18 am

Rukkian wrote:I then took the top 3 points winners from each of the ranks that raced together to determine the racers that went to the finals as well as determining the trophies for ranks.

My question on all this, do any of you guru's see any perceived or actual issues that may arise from how it was run?
If the number of trophies to award in each rank were 3, then you may be omitting worthy recipients from the finals due to opposition imbalance in some PPN charts. I would take at least 5 of each to finals to give high assurance that the worthy were among the finalists.

Note that "PPN imbalance" is almost always no more than 1 (and exceptions are noted in the PPN webpage output). But this is enough imbalance to ocassionally cause the 3rd fastest car to finish 4th in points, etc, which might happen if the 4th fastest car didn't race the faster cars as many times as the 3rd fastest car did.

The possibility of imbalance is a good reason to randomize racers into the chart in "full light of day". Any predictable algorithm for chart number assignment gives rise to the possibility of manipulation. It is good practice to avoid such opportunities.


Stan
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Rukkian
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Re: Combining Ranks

Post by Rukkian » Tue Oct 26, 2010 12:18 pm

Stan - thanks for the response, I see what you are suggesting, and it makes sense, but that lead me to more questions.

A couple of questions about bringing more to the finals, what about the dens that only have 4? Would you advocate taking all 4 to the finals?

I think we did 4 trophies for pack last year, so that would then mean we would need to bring 5 from each rank, correct, or in the case of combining the smaller age groups, would you just take the top 5 points leaders from the group? I could see this being seen as unfair if no wolves went on that raced about Web2 (which are the smallest dens - only 8 scouts between the 2).

I think 23 people going to the finals would make for quite a long finals.



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Re: Combining Ranks

Post by Stan Pope » Tue Oct 26, 2010 12:40 pm

I would approach "finals" differently. I see a "Tiger den finals", a "Wolf den finals", ... , a "Webelos II den finals", AND a "Pack Finals". The pack finals, having 4 trophies to award, should pull the top 7 or 8 scorers overall.


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Re: Combining Ranks

Post by Stan Pope » Tue Oct 26, 2010 1:00 pm

There is a small complication that you will probably have to deal with: 6 heats on a 2-lane track will produce 7 possible "scores". 6 (6 wins, 0 losses), 5 (5 wins, 1 loss), ..., 0 (0 wins, 6 losses). This means that there will be a lot of ties to deal with, especially among the age group rankings. For instance, if you take 5 racers to the Tiger finals, you could easilly have 3 or more racers vying for the 5th spot in the finals! More preliminary heats helps, but still you will have ties to deal with.


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Re: Combining Ranks

Post by Rukkian » Tue Oct 26, 2010 1:11 pm

Stan,

We are not running on a 2 lane, we have a 4 lane track that we use with a finish line detector. The way we did it last year was 8 runs (2 per lane), and let the generator use byes if neccessary to produce a better spreadsheet, which did occur with one set of racers. This allowed for up to 24 different opponents during the races, and seemed to produce pretty accurate results.



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Re: Combining Ranks

Post by Stan Pope » Tue Oct 26, 2010 3:24 pm

Rukkian wrote:Stan,

We are not running on a 2 lane, we have a 4 lane track that we use with a finish line detector. The way we did it last year was 8 runs (2 per lane), and let the generator use byes if neccessary to produce a better spreadsheet, which did occur with one set of racers. This allowed for up to 24 different opponents during the races, and seemed to produce pretty accurate results.
Oh, sorry! I got you confused with the other current inquiries!

Eight heats for each racer with possible scores of 1, 2, 3, or 4 for each heat means that an individual's score may range from 8 (all 4th place finishes) through 32 (all 1st place finishes), so there are 25 possible scores. There may be some ties, usually toward the middle scores, but they should not be really bad to deal with. Note that if you were taking 5 from each age group (total of 25) and you had 30 racers total, the finals would involve 5/6 of the boys. That is not (to my taste, at least) a good arrangement. Better that about 1/3 to maybe 1/2 go to finals so those not in the finals don't feel so "singled out."

Time to play with the numbers! Just keep in mind that trophy accuracy for CPN >> for PN >> for PPN. (">>" means "Much greater than"). Screening accuracy holds up well for PPN, though, if about twice as many are selected to finals as there are trophies (places) to award.


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Re: Combining Ranks

Post by Rukkian » Wed Oct 27, 2010 7:21 am

Stan,

Thanks for the replies, that is kindof what I figured. Like I said, it seemed to go good last year, but since I now have 2 kids (one web1 and one tiger), and my older son has been either one or two in the pack every year, I want to ensure that we do not have people thinking things are not fair.



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Re: Combining Ranks

Post by Stan Pope » Wed Oct 27, 2010 8:47 am

Yes! Since PWD organizers almost always "have a dog in the fight," he must bend over backwards to assure that fairness is obvious, whether to the most casual observer or the most thorough.


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Re: Combining Ranks

Post by Nitro Dan » Wed Oct 27, 2010 3:30 pm

We sort of had the same problem for the past few years. We have one den that is double the size of all the other dens. Our race takes the top three racers from each den and then races them in a Championship race to get our top three pack champions. We run our races using GPRM on a point based system (PPN method - 6 lane track). After the race was over, I would generate some statitics based on speed rather than points. What I was finding were cubs in the large den that had cars that were faster than those that made it to the Championship finals, but didn't get the chance to be in the finals because they were with a very large den. Had these racers been in any other den, they would have made it to the finals.

This went on for two years before we came up with a way to compensate for it. Now the top three from each den advance to the Championship round AND the top 15 fastest cars in the Pack advance to the Championship round (computations are made after all dens have raced and we simply add the extra racers to the Championship finals in GPRM). With us having 5 dens, this has the possibility of producing 28 racers in the Championship race; however, the odds of this being the outcome would be phenomenal. In the last 3 years it has yielded no more than 2 extra racers being in the Championship race (between 15 and 17 racers) because many of the top three racers in each den are the fastest cars as well. The extra racers have always come from the extra large den.

We felt this was the simplest way to make the race fair for everyone.

-Nitro Dan


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Re: Combining Ranks

Post by Stan Pope » Wed Oct 27, 2010 5:22 pm

Nitro Dan wrote:Now the top three from each den advance to the Championship round AND the top 15 fastest cars in the Pack advance to the Championship round

-Nitro Dan
Excellent solution! Congratulations.


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Re: Combining Ranks

Post by Rukkian » Thu Oct 28, 2010 11:31 am

That sounds like a good solution, unfortunately, we do not have a timer, and do not have GPRM.



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Re: Combining Ranks

Post by Stan Pope » Thu Oct 28, 2010 11:40 am

Rukkian wrote:That sounds like a good solution, unfortunately, we do not have a timer, and do not have GPRM.
Interpret "fastest" as "'highest scoring". Advance to finals the 3 highest scoring racers in each rank AND the 15 highest scoring racers overall. Some may qualify under both criteria, so the number in the finals will vary from year to year. So, you would have to be able to adapt quickly to formulate the field for finals.


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Re: Combining Ranks

Post by Rukkian » Thu Oct 28, 2010 1:53 pm

I understand the benefit of the fastest, but if you are doing the most points, that is relative to the competition, whereas time is not.

You could have the 4th place in one den that has 5 very slow cars that, and was fairly slow getting advanced, while a car in a very competitive den not making it, even though it was faster.

I think from that perspective, if you are going by points, and do not have a timeer, it would be best to just advance more from the bigger dens (maybe 1 for every 4 in the den?, while doing a minimum of 3 per den.



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Re: Combining Ranks

Post by Stan Pope » Thu Oct 28, 2010 3:08 pm

I understood that you were combining groups, assigning points according to their heat finish against all racers in the heat, totalling points, and then separating out by age group.

What you describe here is clearly true if all of the age groups are run separately, but I understood that a lot of group combining was to be done. Combining groups will greatly reduce the points distorion from different competition. For instance, if your group sizes broke 15, 13, 10, 7, 4 (total of 49 racers), two groups of 23 and 26 makes sense, or three groups of 15, 17, and 17.

The underlying theory of "screening" is that you allow some who are undeserving of a trophy to participate to assure that ALL of the deserving are included. Near the cutoff threshold, accuracy wanes.


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