Saigon Pool League

News Report

Fargo Rate Logo

News Report

Project Arrow ➡

17/04/22 | Chris Lee

The SPL Fargo Handicaps have been reviewed and audited. Here is a full report on that audit. We've called it Project Arrow

Overview of the Saigon Pool League: The Saigon Pool League (SPL) was created in February 2014 and has grown in size, and developed in potential, over the last 8 years. What started as a ‘Social Pub League’ has matured into a well organised Sports Organisation that has shaped some of the growth and development of 8-Ball and 9-Ball Pool in Ho Chi Minh City, and particularly its central Districts.

It is still volunteer run, but it works closely with both the players and the venue owners and managers, to develop a solid framework for competitive matches and participation, as well as financial rewards for those venues that have invested in equipment and are providing a hospitable venue to accommodate match nights and other additional Pool related events.

The SPL organisers continue to develop inclusivity within the sport, as well as the opportunity for every player, at every level, to improve their game and to be tested in a competitive, but supportive environment.

The current team of organisers intend to create a long term, legacy organisation and are committed to continue building sustainable and solid foundations for grass-roots Pool, for now and in the future.

What is a Handicap? Handicaps are a levelling device used in many types of sports and competitions at an amateur level. Some players see them as skill badges, some see them as unfair, some have no interest in them at all. From an organiser’s point of view, they widen the pool of potential winners, which in turn widens the interest in registrants for a particular competition. However, the challenges of allocating handicaps and updating handicaps remain a continual process, where the integrity of the handicap system is only as high as the honesty of the individuals that run it and the players that play in it. Handicap Systems are open to manipulation and vigilance will always be required.

Fair Play and Fair Competition: The Saigon Pool League has solidified a common set of values and rules around Pool played in Ho Chi Minh City. They play to the World Pool-Billiard Association (WPA) standard rules, with only a handful of sportsmanship and gamesmanship local rules added in to cater for tolerances within a social and bar environment.

One area in which the SPL has tried to promote fair play and competition, is in the streaming of teams, and players within those teams, based on ability. Prior to September 2020, this was supervised by the League Administrator, who structured, and restructured, the Divisions in the League, to accommodate for a variety of team mixes and balances.

In September 2020, after formal discussions with Cue Sports International (CSI) in the US, as well as investigation of other Pool Handicap systems and tournaments, it was decided to trial a local version of the ‘Fargo Rate’™ handicap system. Leagues planning to join an affiliated Fargo Rate Organisation, or who decide to directly subscribe to Fargo Rate, have access to supportive Fargo Rate software. But as the cost to subscribe to the system was going to be more than $6,000, derived directly from the playing community, the organisers sought an interim solution, to first test its viability, as well as the practicalities of running such a system.

The SPL organisers undertook the task of preparing ‘Starter Ratings’ for all SPL Players, as this was a task required of joining the actual Fargo Rate system. They analysed over 10,000 points of playing data, from previous competition results, and reduced those results down to a single handicap value for each player. This became the starting point of the handicap system that the SPL use today.

The new system allowed the results of matches between teams and players to be measured on the strength of the teams, and particularly on the strength of the players within that team. As the results data poured in, handicaps were changed, depending on the strength of an opponent beaten, or lost against, and from these changes, handicap values were refined and eventually a robustness could be found in the system.

The system was predominantly manual and involved several systems that were not root connected. Over the past two years, this has led to some errors and flaws developing in the database and there was a concern that these errors could have longer term impacts on competition winners and competition integrity.

Project Arrow: Project Arrow was built to audit the database, identify any errors within the database, rectify errors within the database and to produce a more structurally sound system to run the ‘Fargo’ Handicap System going forward.

Project Arrow has run all Fargo based competition results from the past two years, through an interconnected simulation model. This has included 8-Ball results from the 2020 Season 2 Fargo Handicapped League, the 2021 SPL Season, the Sunday Buddha Bar Fargo Handicapped Tournaments, as well as the Evita Handicapped Team and Singles Tournaments. All Fargo Handicap data, that has been used to shape, regulate, amend and update a player’s ‘Fargo’ Handicap, has been re-run through the model, picking up any errors in the previous system, from continuity flaws, to handicap transfer errors, to result entry errors, to spreadsheet glitches and operator error.

The Saigon Pool League has been privileged to have a professional, lead Project Arrow, and the organisers are grateful of every effort Alex Storer has undertaken, to produce this clinical audit model. The central team is endeavouring to retain his expertise and knowledge for future growth and development, and hope that his enthusiasm for his own Pool game continues long into the future.

Project Arrow – Balanced and Fair: What does Project Arrow mean to me? It means that if you enter an accredited SPL Fargo Handicapped Tournament, you have a fair chance of winning that tournament under Fargo Handicap Calculations. This can be in a ‘Race Series’ where the winner reaches a number of winning frames, before their opponent reaches their Fargo assigned number of required winning frames. Or it could mean that the tournament is fairly grouped, so that like skilled Pool Players are playing against each other within the competition rounds. It could mean that Team Competitions are measured by either the team’s haul of Fargo Team Points, or the skill level of that team is capped by their cumulative Fargo Handicap Rate. In all cases, Fargo Handicaps have been scrutinised by the SPL and the competition has a chance of being ‘balanced and fair’.

Project Arrow Updates and Amendments: All Project Arrow updates and amendments should be on the system by the restart of the SPL Season after the current mid-season break.

Fargo handicaps have the ultimate ‘Butterfly Effect’ when they come to influencing other player’s Fargo Results, as well as other player’s Fargo Handicap Updates. If you lose to a player with a much lower handicap than yourself, your handicap will drop and theirs will jump up. But subsequent players that play that opponent, who now has a higher handicap, will have their Fargo Handicap affected by the result of their match, either positive or negative. Each handicap change, ripples through the player community, so nearly all active players may see a point or two change in their own handicap, even without any error being introduced by the organiser.

The audit allowed us to review ‘Starter Handicap levels’, particularly of those players that started in Divisions which were either higher or lower than their actual ability, which can happen to any new players entering the SPL with no previous form or assessment being done prior to registration. In these cases, we have to rely on the ‘Division Average’ as the Starter Rating. The Fargo Handicap System will eventually move a player’s handicap level, over the course of 100 or 200 match results, to the correct level, but sometimes these Starter Ratings are so far off, it would take years for them to become ‘robust’. The audit has been able to look at the data in the model and reassess, as well as restart, an individual player’s Fargo history, if deemed necessary. The team is looking for a more structured system of reassessment in the future and we will keep players updated about those developments.

For players involved in the Monday Night 9-Ball Division, which is this season being measured on Fargo results, you’ll be pleased to know that the audit has not changed any of the final outcomes, although it has changed some of the team’s final scores and some of the player’s own stats. These changes WILL impact the mid-season Fargo Update of 9-Ball players, so some large player handicap changes should be expected among dominant teams in that variant.

For players involved in the Evita Fargo Handicapped Singles League, it HAS changed some of the early results and further detailed information will be supplied to members of that League, although none of the changes should prove decisive to the final standings of that League, this early in the season.

All updates and amendments will filter into the mid-season 8-Ball and 9-Ball Player Fargo Updates, which will take effect from the 27th March 2022. This means that the 9-Ball results from Monday 28th March 2022 will be recalculated and the results from 8-Ball matches from the 31st March 2022 onwards, will be using the mid-season updates as well.

We hope that players will find this news positive, and that it demonstrates that the SPL continues to work towards being better, is better prepared, and is prepared to be scrutinised on all their systems and structures

The Project Arrow Team: Alex Storer (Lead Auditor). Paul Rispin (System Designer). Chris Lee (SPL Chairman)

17 Views - Last updated: 02/04/23