It has come to my attention that there are some misunderstandings about WinBoards intrinsic tournament manager, and what it can or cannot do. So perhaps it is a good idea to post a short FAQ here.
* What is the difference between "games per pairing" and "cycles"
The "games per pairing" are played consecutively. "cycles" specifies the number of times the entire tourney schedule is repeated. The number of times two opponents play each other is the product of the two.
* Can a running tourney be stopped, to be resumed later?
Yes, just quit WinBoard.
* How would I resume the tourney?
Double-click the tourney file. If you associated .TRN files with WinBoard during the install, this will automatically invoke WinBoard, and it will resume the tourney
* What is a tourney file?
For each tourney WinBoard will create a file to keep track of the progress. It will propose a name for this at the top of the dialog. It is configured to propose names derived from the date and time, to make sure they are all different, but you can alter the name to something easier to recognize for you.
* What happens to the tourney game in-progress when I quit WinBoard?
It will be lost; there is no way to adjourn games yet. The partial game will not go into the tourney PGN file, however; WinBoard will prompt you to ask if you want to save it elsewhere.
* Is there a way to stop without aborting a game?
Yes, when you click "Machine Match" in the "Mode" menu (which is checkmarked during tourney play), WinBoard will drop out of tourney mode after the game finishes.
* Would there be a way to restart a thus stopped tourney without quitting WinBoard?
Yes, just click the "Machine Match" menu item again. Stopping the tourney will not make WinBoard forget the tourney file it was working on, it just leaves "match mode" where games start automatically. By re-entering match mode it will continue according to that file.
* What happens if I accidentally double-click a file of a tourney that was already running?
A new WinBoard instance will start, which will also play games of that tourney. They will orderly divide the games between them; there would not be any duplicates. If you did not want that, you could immediately quit the newly launched WinBoard. But you could start an extra WinBoard intentionally to speed up completion of the tourney.
* Is there a limit to the number of WinBoard instances that could play on the same tourney this way?
The only limit is that your hardware should be able to meet the engine's demands. With 8 cores you can play 8 1-CPU ponder-off games at once, so you can start 8 WinBoard instances.
* Will the games be played in a particular order this way?
Each WinBoard will grab the first available game from the tourney schedule, as soon as it finishes the game it was working on. So the games do start in the nominal order. But there is no guarantee they finish in that order; some can last long, others short. They are written in the PGN when they finish, so the order there could be different.
* Doesn't this make a mess of intermediate standings?
WinBoard has checkboxes in the Tournament dialog that can be used to enforce correct ordering of rounds or cycles of a tournament, by not allowing games of a new round or cycle to start before all games of the previous round/cycle are finished. This ensures there will be points in the PGN where all engines have an equal number of games, or have each played all opponents equally many times. But waiting of course wastes resources.
* Can I start another tourney when a previous, interrupted one is not yet finished?
Yes, each tourney has its own tournament file. Just create a new (not yet existing) tournament file, specifying new parameters for it, and you will have a new tourney, which knows nothing about any other tourney, and thus also doesn't care if other tourneys aren't finished yet.
* When I stopped a tourney, and want to create a new one, WinBoard shows me all settings of the interrupted tourney in the Tournament dialog. Must I restart WinBoard to get rid of that?
What you see in the tournament dialog when you open it is just a proposal. You can change it to what you want, like in any textedit used for entering data. In particular the "tourney file" entry will show the tournament file of the tourney you just stopped, but you can also alter that, so that on OK you would start a new tourney. Also the "tourney participants" is just a text edit. If you want other participants, you can delete the list of participants there, and selects new ones from the list box with the engine list. But if you wanted the same participants, you could keep them. You could also keep them and add more from the list box. Or delete some, keep some, and add others.
* What if I alter the proposed name of the tourney file, and the file happened to exist?
Mentioning an existing tournament file will overrule all settings in the dialog when you press OK, and thus will resume that tourney. Only a new filename will lead to creation of a new tourney, according to the specified parameters.
What happens if I try to resume a tourney that was already finished, by double-clicking its tourney file or putting its name in the "tourney file" entry of the Tournament dialog and pressing OK?
When you 'resume' a finished tourney, WinBoard will add one more cycle to it. You will get a warning popup and the chance to quit WinBoard for 10 sec, just in case this was not what you intended.
* I play tourneys with the same participants all the time. Can I avoid having to select them again and again from the list box?
You can enter the name of the tourney file of a similar tourney (by browsing to it, if needed), and in stead of pressing OK, press "Clone tourney". This will set all fields of the dialog as the selected tournament had them, but replace the name of the tourney file by a newly proposed one. So that you only have to press OK to start an identical tourney. Of course you can still change whatever you wanted to change, before you press OK.
* I was already halfway specifying the tourney parameters, when I discovered I had forgotten something important (like installing an engine). Must I now leave the Tournament dialog, and redo everything?
No, you can leave the Tournament dialog by pressing the "Continue Later" button, and do what you had to do. When you re-open the dialog, all data you already entered will still be there. It will in general propose a new name for the tournament file, though, but that name is usually just as acceptable as any other.
* I don't want to play a tournament, just an old-fashioned two-player match with the currently loaded engines. Is that still possible?
Yes, just click "Machine Match" in the "Mode" menu without having specified a tourney file file.
* Can I still specify opening lines or positions from the menu for such a two-player match?
Yes, you can still use the Tournament dialog to specify the files with lines or positions, and the number of games (per pairing). As long as you specify no participants, no tourney file will be created (even if a name for it was specified) when you press OK.
* I am halfway a tourney, and one of the participants malfunctions so often I want to replace it. Can that be done?
Yes, but only if it is not currently playing. Just open the Tournament dialog in a WinBoard instance that is playing the tourney. This will show all currently applicable parameters, including the participants list. In that list you are now allowed to replace exactly one name of a participant by another, and then press "Replace Engine". This will erase all results of games of the replaced engine from the tourney file. As always the earliest available game in the schedule will be selected for playing, the new engine will play those games first, to catch up, before the tourney continues where it was before the replacement.
* Will the games of a replaced engine be removed from the PGN file?
No. Data is sort of sacred, and WinBoard never removes anything from a PGN file.
* How can I follow the tournament standings?