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Running Howell movements with small table numbers

We are a small club running two online club nights a week on BBO. We often have eight or fewer tables and don't really want to play more than 18 boards a session. Mitchell movements with 'revenge' rounds are not liked with so few tables but we are having problems setting up Howell movements. Does anyone have simple and easy to follow instructions on how to do this. Last time we tried we ended up playing 15 one board rounds! Howell's worked a dream when we started and had an EBU TD running our events. I have heard that running a Howell movement is somewhat a 'black' art!


  • From https://blog.bridgebase.com/2020/04/18/how-to-run-howell-for-small-tourneys/

    +howell+ in the tournament description will automatically be converted into a Howell upon tourney start. Set the movement to Clocked and type +howell+ in the tournament description.

    The event will run as a single section Howell, limited to 40 pairs. If you have more than 40 pairs, the event will destroy itself and will not start.

    If you want a partial howell, use +rounds7+ or +rounds12+ etc. Exactly like that. +rounds followed by a number followed by a + sign.

    If you want a break after round X, use +break5+ +break6+ etc.
    Default break duration is one hour.
    You can remove +break6+ from the description at any time to resume the tournament.

    You can have multiple breaks (caution, there are some known bugs there, if you try to edit breaks and break duration during an ongoing tournament).
    You can use +bduration=30+ +bduration=45+ etc to specify the break duration in minutes. Note the slightly different syntax.

    For tournaments of exactly 18 boards +hm18+
    The string +hm18+ in conjunction with +howell+ (i.e. use +howell++hm18+) will automatically use either Howell or Mitchell.

  • You need to tell the movement to restrict the number of rounds. 15 rounds sounds like an 8 table full Howell. If you have specified a Howell and 18 boards, then it will run 15 one board rounds. So, for any number of tables from 6 (5 and 1/2) upwards, just set +howell+ +rounds9+ and select 18 boards. There is another hack for 3,4,5 and 6 tables only. Set +howell+ +hm18+ and this will play 6 three board rounds for 3 and 4 tables and 9 two board rounds for 5 and 6 tables. For 3 tables there will be one revenge round. Of course here you could you can play 5 four board rounds (20 boards) or 4 four board rounds (16 boards) without a revenge round.
    There is the option of reverting to paying an EBU director of course

  • The above comments by Gordon and Triffid are of course correct, but the simple answer is that what you put in the description and what you put in the format must match up. If they don't then the system is likely to revert to one board rounds as it tries to make sense of the mismatch. So +rounds9+ in the description with 18 boards and 2 board rounds in the format is perfect. This will work for anything from 5 tables upwards.

  • My experience is that the "boards per round" setting in the Format tab is not used if there is a mismatch in what you are trying to do. The system gets as close as possible to the total number of boards specified in the Format tab.

    Thus if you set 18-boards; 2-board rounds and use +howell+ +rounds9+ all will be well with 5-20 tables. If you start with 4 tables ... you get 7 x 3-board rounds ... because 21 is closer to 18 than 14 is. Start with 3 tables and the system has to choose between 5, 10, 15, 20, 25 (etc) boards.

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