Automated Tournaments on BoardGameArena

As part of the MSO Grand Prix we will be holding several tournaments on the BoardGameArena website using their own tournament system.  Using BoardGameArena allows us to hold tournaments that do not require a dedicated arbiter to organise them, allowing us to offer more tournaments for our players to play in than we otherwise could.

For anyone taking the competition seriously it is worth understanding how BoardGameArena will handle the running of the tournaments.  It’s also important for all players to understand how they should behave, particularly in regard to what you can and can’t do if a player in your game runs out of time.

Hereafter BoardGameArena will be shortened to “BGA”.


BGA will determine who will play against who each round using the Swiss pairing system.  In short this means that players will play against an opponent who is on the same score as themselve in the tournament that they have not played against already, so far as is possible.  BGA does not track colour parity like many swiss system software’s do.  Each round it will determine the pairings and then randomly decide who will be the first player.  Some tournaments you might get unlucky and play 2nd a lot, other times you might get lucky.

In multiplayer games BGA will group the leading players onto board 1, the next group onto board 2 and so on.  Repeated opponents are not avoided as this option can produce some very strange pairings in later rounds.  Again the player order is randomised for each game.

Clock and Timeout Procedure

BGA allots each player a share of the total time allowed for each game and players should always play to complete the game before their time runs out.

The way the clocks are programmed on BGA it’s possible for the clock that one player sees to be a few seconds out from what other players or BGA itself considers the timer to say.  Players should therefore consider any amount of time remaining less than 10 seconds to mean they are at risk of being out of time.

BGA will automatically end a game once the total time allowed has expired in order to move on to the next round.  The time allowed is usually the sum of the thinking time given to each player plus 5 minutes grace to allow time for players to join the game at the start.  If a game runs out of time to complete the result will be determined based on who used the least amount of time.

2-Player Games
In 2-Player games players should use the “skip turn of players out of time” option which will present itself if your opponent goes into negative time.  This does not force an instant resignation but gives that player ~20 seconds to make a move before being resigned.  If the player continues to make moves in negative time and the game is completed then the result of the game will stand.  In other words, it is possible to win a game even if you have ran out of time.

If your opponent has used far more than their allotted time, you are allowed to stop making moves and wait for the total time allowed for the game to expire.  If this happens and you still have more time remaining, you will be declared the winner.  Be careful though as it is possible for both players to go into negative time and for the game to continue for a little while longer (as BGA allows 5 minutes plus the time on each players clocks).  Do this at your own risk, if you end up with less time than your opponent it will be you that loses!

Multiplayer Games
In Multiplayer games players must not use the “skip turn of players out of time” option, except for circumstances outlined below.  Any player who mis-uses this option will be scored 0 points for the game (penalty applied retrospectively at the end of the tournament).  This rule is in place because BGA does not allow the game to continue once a player has timed out, spoiling the result for all other players involved in the game.  Players are reminded that they should not be using more than their allocated time and the MSO reserves the right to apply a penalty to players who exceed their time allowance.

Note that manually ran tournaments have a different policy as custom games can be continued after a player timed out.  Please refer to the tournament specific rules in these cases (available from the event page).

Should a player disconnect from a game we ask that players are considerate towards this and give their opponent a chance to re-join and complete the game, even if the disconnect causes them to use more than their allotted time.

In multiplayer games please wait 10 minutes to allow the player a chance to re-connect to the game.  If they have not been able to re-join after 10 minutes the remaining players may “skip turn of players out of time” and force the game to end.  Please do ensure you’ve allowed 10 minutes, otherwise you may be penalised for dropping a player in accordance with the above rules.  You are welcome to check with an administrator via Discord before you drop the player if you are unsure when it’s ok to end the game.


The MSO uses different tiebreaks for BGA automated tournaments to what is shown on the BGA tournament page, due to the limitations of the BGA system.  These have changed for 2024 and are as follows:

  • Ties will initially be broken by players with the fewest number of ‘timeouts’.  A player is adjudged to have incurred a timeout if a red clock icon is shown next their username in the end game results page.  You are able to track a particular player’s timeouts by clicking on the ‘Reputation’ tab of their profile, for example here.  (Note this lists all of a player’s timeouts from the last 60 days and is not limited to games from the most recent/current tournament).
  • Further ties are settled using Buchholz (also known as Sum of Opponents Scores).  BGA will display a sum of opponents score tiebreak however in some instances this will not be correct as BGA currently doesn’t account for byes and players who have withdrawn from the tournament.  We shall calculate the correct Buchholz tiebreak and adjust as necessary, the precise details of the calculation depends on if the tournament is 2-player or multiplayer.  The purpose of these adjustments is to fairly adjust for players who were given a bye or played against players who did not play the entire tournament.

2-Player Tournament Buchholz Recalculation Details

  • If a player receives a bye then they are considered to have played against a dummy opponent who’s score was the same as the bye players score in the round of the bye, plus 1/2 a point for each remaining round including the current round.  Eg If you receive a round 1 bye in an 8 round tournament, this is worth 0+(8×1/2) = 4.0 towards the buchholz tiebreak.
  • If an opponent of a given player later withdraws from the tournament the buchholz for playing against that opponent will be increased by 0.5 per round that the opponent missed.
  • If a player plays against an opponent who has received a bye (before or after playing the player), the opponents score for the bye round will be considered to be 0.5 (regardless of whether the bye was scored as 0 or 1 to that player).
  • If the players opponent misses the match this will be considered a bye, not a win against the player who missed the match.

Multiplayer Tournament Buchholz Recalculation Details

  • If a player plays on a table with fewer players than the standard table size for the tournament the empty position(s) will award points to the buchholz tiebreak as a bye would.  This is treated as a dummy opponent who’s score was the same as the players score going into the round, plus the average points per player for each remaining round including the current round.  Eg In a 4-player, 8 round tournament, if you play on a 3-player board in round 1 you’ll also score tiebreak for a dummy player worth 0+(8×3) = 24.0 towards the buchholz tiebreak.
  • If you get a bye round you’ll be scored a bye for each opponent you should have played against (eg in a 4-player tournament, the 3 bye scores would be given).
  • If an opponent of a given player later withdraws from the tournament the buchholz for playing against that opponent will be increased by the average points per round multiplied by the number of rounds that the opponent missed.
  • If the players opponent misses the match this will be considered a bye, not a win against the player who missed the match.

Other Points to Note

  • BGA automatically advances the tournament to the next round once all games in the previous round have been completed.  Once this happens players are invited to join their next match and are given 5 minutes to do so.  If you do not join your game within 5 minutes BGA will start the game without you and you will be removed from the tournament.  We have no control over this so always keep an eye on the tournament and make sure you don’t miss it when the next round starts!  If you can’t see your invite to the new table try refreshing the page and make sure you’re scrolled to the top.  If you still can’t see it you can join by navigating to the table from the tournament page.
  • Simultaneous Play – BGA will not let you join a live tournament game if you are already participating in another live game at the same time.  If you do decide to play two tournaments simultaneously use two different BGA accounts and play each from different web browsers or devices.
  • If you wish to withdraw from the tournament please do so using the withdraw option from the tournament page and complete your current game.  This ensures that you are not assigned an opponent for the next round so no player who wants to play is left without a game.  MSO reserve the right to penalise any players who make a habit of no-showing for tournament matches.
  • To join a tournament on BGA you need to be a member of the MSO Grand Prix group on BGA.  Registration for each tournament opens 24 hours before its start time.  If you do not have 100 ELO you will not be able to register for the tournament until we post the private tournament link either on the tournament list page or on discord.  This may only become available 1 hour before the start time.  Players are encouraged to gain the 100 ELO as this will give you some practice at the game and help you get used to the BGA interface.
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