Rules for Running an Icehouse Tournament

After years of running Icehouse tournaments, the following rules were gradually developed:

1.) The standard rules of Icehouse, along with the additional rules of Timer Icehouse, will be in force for all games. Referees will oversee all games and make official rulings whenever they are required. The timer duration will be 15 minutes, and the referees will run the timers. The results of all official games will be recorded in a logbook by the Referees.

2.) The tournament will consist of two phases: The Ice-Offs, and the Finals. All players will compete in the Ice-Offs; of these, only four will advance to the Finals.

3.) During the Ice-Offs, each competitor will play in five games. Of these five games, their three best games will be picked, provided that these three games were played against the minimum number of opponents (defined below). A rating based on the scores from these games [scoresum * (#wins+1)] will be given to each player. The finalists will be the four players with the highest ratings.

4.) If there are 16 or more players in the tournament, then the minimum number of opponents shall be 7. If there are fewer than 16 players, but still more than 10, then the minimum number of opponents shall be 6. If there are 10 or fewer players, then the minimum number of opponents shall be 5.

5.) In the event of tie games, winning bonuses will be shared by all players involved. In a two way tie, each player will be credited with half a win. In a three way tie, each player will receive a third of a win. Four way wins will be scratched and replayed.

6.) During the Ice-Offs, a player may play more than five games in order to allow other players to reach the five game limit. However, scores from all games beyond the first five that a player competes in will be ignored for that player.

7.) In the event that two players have the same rating at the end of the Ice-Offs, and that they cannot both be advanced to the Finals, a revised rating for these players will be calculated based on their best four Ice-Off games. If this also fails to produce a clear winner, a rating based on all five Ice-Off games will be calculated.

8.) The Ice-Offs will be conducted in a loose, "restaurant-style" format. Players are responsible for scheduling their own matches, by challenging three other players and asking a referee to officiate. It is up to each player to make sure that the games they play in meet the requirements of the Ice-Offs.

9.) During the Finals, the finalists will play a five game match. However, in the finals, no scores may be dropped. Instead, the scores from all five games will be used to calculate each player's rating. The player with the highest overall rating will be the winner.

10.) In the event of a tie for first place at the end of the Finals, all finalists will play in another round, and the scores from that round will be added to the scores from all previous rounds when calculating a revised rating. Alternatively, if time does not permit another match, then a new rating will be calculated for the tying players, based on the combined scores from all finals and Ice-off games.

11.) Team play is strongly discouraged. The purpose of the tournament is to determine who is the best single player of Icehouse. Small groups of players that work together from one match to the next undermine this purpose. Alliances that endure for a single game are perfectly acceptable. Alliances that endure from one game to another are frowned upon.

12.) Since players are not allowed to know how much time remains in their game, all players must remove any watches they may have, and store them out of sight. Clocks in the room will be covered.

Notes for Referees of Icehouse Tournaments

1.) Watch for "drops" (player accidentally drops a piece while placing it). If it didn't cause a crash, a dropped piece must be treated as an actual placement. Once the hand leaves the piece, it has been played. Also watch for players trying to make "last minute adjustments." They aren't allowed to move a piece after they've stopped touching it, even for an instant (unless they are over-iced).

2.) Look out for two-handed playing, especially for players forgetting that they have a piece in one hand while the other is placing pieces. Have the player return one of the pieces in his hand to its stash. Also, two fisting should be avoided even in the case where only one player has pieces and they're setting them all out defensively.

3.) Do not make a judgment on where a piece is pointing until after the player has taken his hand off the piece. If you do, you are basically giving a player free advice, which is unfair to everyone else. Relate this rule to players who need it. Some questions that players ask referees cannot be answered until after the game is over -- for instance, "is this piece blocked from an attack?" Explain that the answer to this sort of question must wait.

4.) Try not to touch the pieces while scoring the game or explaining a judgment. Nobody likes a referee who crashes. Also keep this in mind when you're using the thread system to make a judgment. If you get too close to the table, it's real easy to crash.

5.) When someone calls "Icehouse" make sure the game pauses, and that pieces in hands are put back on stash pads. Double check every player's pieces and stash limit. Sometimes an unsuspected player is in the Icehouse.

6.) Also, any time someone says the single word "Icehouse" it counts as an icehouse call. Sometimes players will make an Icehouse call without intending to, like when a stranger walks into the tournament room and says "Hey, what's this?" If a player answers such a question by simply saying "Icehouse!" you should take them at their word. If it sounds like an Icehouse call, then other players may assume it was an Icehouse call, even it the statement was made within a different context.

7.) Be ruthless with crashes! But don't call a "jiggle" a crash. Watch for crashes especially at the beginning of the game, when players are typically trying to quickly build fortresses. Watch for the occasional meltdown at this point, as well. It can be more interesting to allow a meltdown situation to drag on as long as possible, but since this is a tournament, you should point out a meltdown as soon as you notice it.

8.) Remember that the stash pads are not to be moved after the game starts. If a player moves a stash pad, particularly in order to clear space, you should instruct them to move it back to its original location.

9.) Since we aren't using walls, be aware that some players may try to point at a piece through a ridiculously tiny gap between 2 obstructing pieces. Remember that if the gap is too small to "shoot" through, they'll end up attacking one or the other of the obstructing pieces. Hopefully, players who attempt unreasonable attacks such as this will be discouraged after a few unfavorable rulings.

10.) Don't hesitate to scratch a game if the situation calls for it. If someone bumps into the table and all of the pieces move, then the only fair thing to do is to throw the game out and start it over. Obviously, this will be unpleasant for all concerned, but if it happens, it happens.

11.) Call for another referee's opinion if you have doubts about anything during a game. Try to make judgments swiftly, because the clock is ticking. Get one of the main judges if you need a rules clarification. If too much time is spent pausing a game, the clock can be adjusted accordingly, but the main judges will have to OK that.

12.) Realize that when you are judging a game, you are the referee, and your judgment is what finally counts, even over the opinions of other referees or players. If players want, they may request a particular referee before a game starts. Once the game has started, they are stuck with that chosen referee. At times, a referee will have to leave the game in progress. In this case, the referee should appoint another to take his place before he leaves. During the final match, each game will have two refs on duty. No referee is allowed to play in the Tournament.


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