Rewriting the Rulebook – Section 3j-n

Posted: November 17, 2015 in Uncategorized

This is the latest post in the Rewriting the Rulebook project.

We have a bunch of sections here which are not exactly controversial.

j) Under no circumstances may less than four eligible slam team members perform, either solo or as part of a team piece. If this occurs, the team will be penalized with a 30.0 point deduction from their final team score for the bout in question.

I think I will actually drop this section. It isn’t possible to break this rule without ALREADY breaking the previous rules. It is redundant.

k) At the end of each preliminary bout, teams will receive an overall final score by adding together the scores of their four performances in the bout. The team will then be ranked according to relative placement. The top team in the bout will receive a ranking of 1, second place a 2, and so on.

Nothing exciting here.

l) Each team will participate in two preliminary bouts. At the conclusion of the preliminary round, their rankings from the two bouts will be added together. The eight teams with the lowest combined ranking scores will move on to the semifinal round.

This is also nothing new. The question is, how to we determine ties?

m) Ties in combined rankings are possible and are broken in the following order:

  1. Highest ‘Strength of Schedule’, defined as the combined placement points of all six team faced by the team.
  2. Highest placement (i.e. a team with rankings of 1 and 3 finishes ahead of a team with rankings of 2 and 2);
  3. Overall total score (determined by adding the two overall final scores from both preliminary bouts together);
  4. Highest individual scores.


There it is. Clear as day.


I’ll start by saying that I am a HUGE fan of ‘Strength of Schedule’ as a tie breaker. I have been lobbying for it since at least 2009. It has been in place since 2013 for CFSW. It ensures that the team that actually performs the best, against the toughest competition, is who moves on.

Let me explain it using an example.

Team A has a combined placement score of 4. They came 2nd in both of their bouts. Team B has a combined placement score of 4. They got a 1st and a 3rd.

Under the old system, Team B would have moved on.

But let’s look at the competition each team faced. Team A faced 3 teams who would their other bouts and 3 teams who placed 2nd in their other bouts. Those 6 teams, when all of THEIR placements are added together, have a score of 25.

Team B faced 3 teams who came 3rd in their other bouts. They also faced 3 teams who came 4th in their other bouts. Those 6 teams, when all of THEIR placements are added together, have a score of 37.

It is clear that Team A faced much stiffer competition, therefore they win the tiebreaker.

This year it didn’t come up as it turned out that the top 8 teams had a combined score of 2 or 3, but ONLY the top 8 teams had a score of 2 or 3. There was no tie that needed breaking.

That is rare. This IS the first year where you HAD to win a bout to have any chance to move on, by the way.

n) There will be two semi-final bouts with four teams each. The teams that finish first and second in each semi-final bout move on to the finals.

Section n is also not controversial but…

There will also be a new section added to clarify what happens when there is a tie for 2nd during the semi-finals. This has always BEEN the rule (I can recall talking about in 2010, the first time there WAS a semi-final.

If there is a tie for 2nd place at the end of a semi-final, the tie will be broken by the highest INDIVIDUAL score in the bout from the teams that are tied.

This is the first year it happened, but the rule was already in place, just unwritten.

HOWEVER, there is NO rule in place for a tie for the win at finals

I have been the one who says, ‘what’s wrong with a tie? Let both teams win’, but that is an unpopular choice. Also, there won’t be enough trophies. 🙂

Here is my suggestion:


If there is a tie for FIRST place at the FINALS, it goes to a sudden death round. Each tied team can send up any team member(s) they want, doing any poem they want (even if they already performed it during the festival or previous festivals), with the exception of any of the four poems performed by the team IN the finals.

Judges will not score the poems. Instead they will watch both and then choose which they thought was better. That team will win the event.


So, what do you think about how we decide ties?

  1. […] Costumes & Props Section 3g-i – Discussion – Primary Pen and Performing a poem Section 3j-n – Discussion – Rankings & […]

  2. Dan(AKA Dan Murray(AKA Dan)) says:

    j) Under no circumstances may less than four eligible slam team members perform, either solo or as part of a team piece. If this occurs, the team will be penalized with a 30.0 point deduction from their final team score for the bout in question.

    I may be wrong – but wasn’t Saskatoon only 3-strong at finals? What happened there?

    – Strength of Schedule is the best thing ever.

    – I’m not sure how I feel about the tie-breaker for 2nd at semis. I heard it happened this year, and I felt a little wrong about it. It would mean one huge score can be counted as more valuable than consistently big scores.
    Like, Team A has a 30, a 26, a 26, and a 26
    Team B has a 27, a 27, a 27, and a 27

    Should Team A move on in that case? Because of the strength of one piece? I think semis bouts should make room for sudden-death as well.

    Also – what happens if the teams have matching highest individual scores? Two 30s in a night isn’t too much of a stretch.

    • rpriske says:

      Saskatoon had at least 4 members. If they didn’t, the same poet would have been called more than once.

      I’ll just say here that I really, really dislike sudden death. We have it in the finals because people insist on a single winner. The reason I don’t like it is because people are punished if they put all their energy into the poems lined up for that night. It rewards the people who have lots of poems memorized and ready to go. That doesn’t seem fair to me. (It also wreaks havoc with schedules.)

      Having said THAT, I also didn’t like having a team lose out on a tiebreaker. I would rather see an extra team go to finals, but THAT has real problems as well. The entire rotation gets thrown out the window. There are also new scheduling problems and the event gets dragged out. (Granted this is less of an issue at finals than it is at semi-finals.)

  3. Christopher says:

    I have a fundamental issue with sudden death, I believe that ties can be broken mathematically within the existing structure, with only a slight modification….

    As there are 5 judges, and we drop highest and lowest scores and average the 3 remaining; is it worth considering repeating the process in the case of a tie? Dropping the second highest and lowest would leave the mean score. Only in the case of a ‘strong tie’ i.e. still tied after ‘strength of Schedule’; the mean would trump the average.

    Alternatively, drop the lowest individual score for the round, and average again – if your goal is to reward best piece, or drop the highest, if your goal is to reward team consistency.

    • rpriske says:

      Hmmm… I like both of those. I think I especially like the second one – instead of taking the top one only, dropping the bottom one only. It still makes it about a single poem, but you it feels a little better.

  4. Shawna Dimitry says:

    Maybe I’m missing something, but in terms of ties in the Semi’s and Finals.. why don’t we look at past performance and placement within the earlier bouts? Teams come into Semi’s with a clean slate. What if we looked past that in the case of a tie? I know I’m not articulating this well but I’m not really sure how else to explain this without extensively drafting up and explaining fictional logical scenarios.

    • rpriske says:

      I understand what your are saying. My issue with that is that I prefer to not compare across slams whenever possible.

      If a tie at Finals has us refer to what happened in semi-finals, those two teams might have been in different bouts and we KNOW scoring isn’t consistent across bouts. An 8.7 in bout 1 will EASILY be a 9.3 in bout 2. It isn’t a level playing field. (And this is even worse if in Semis and referring to prelims.)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s