US Open 2013 – Update #8

It’s gorgeous again today!  Sunny blue skies, warm breeze,  loverly!

In five minutes  —  Jack and Jill prelims!

Jim Tigges’ “Relative Placement” lecture was great! Scorekeeper Lance Shermoen was there too, “Mr. Relative Placement”  himself – We are in the presence of greatness,” as Jim said. (Here’s Lance and Mary Ann at the Open in 1985.)

Jim distributed a hand-out I’m sure you’ve seen – one of the best explanations out there –  which Jim tells us he wrote deliberately as a “dry technical manual” which could be universally understood by anyone at any event in any corner of the planet.

Here is Jim’s and Lance’s answer (with a story about Charlie and Jackie) to this famous question:


“I got three 1st places! Nobody else got three 1st places!


“How did this couple win that’s not fair! They get three 12th places, and not a single 1st place vote, AND YET THEY WON?!?


Here’s the answer.

Yes, you got three 1st places.

But only three.

MOST of the judges (four of them, since there are usually seven judges)  —  MOST of them didn’t put you first.

In fact they put you behind that other couple.

MOST of the judges thought the other couple beat you.

(Pretend you got 1-1-1-3-3-3-3 and they got 12-12-12-2-2-2-2)

So that’s what’s cool about Relative Placement: the word “most” – or “majority.” Did most of the judges think you were better — or worse — than the other couple?

It’s what the majority thought of your dancing.

With seven judges, four is the majority. With nine, five is the majority. Relative Placement pays attention to every vote of every judge.  Every vote is weighted equally. And always  — the majority determines who beats who.  M.  The majority determines who beats who-m.

Also cool – it’s like basketball. Doesn’t matter if you win by a little or by a lot, you still win.  Every point matters (and judges are not allowed to give ties – they have to put you better or worse than everybody else.)

Also cool – last place doesn’t necessarily mean you’re horrible. It just means the other guys beat you this time. Of course it doesn’t mean you’re not horrible, either. You might actually be truly horrible.

Lance’s story about Charlie and Jackie:

“Once upon a time Shag was not yet understood in the swing world, or accepted.  And Charlie and Jackie got three 1st place votes. And 2 dead last. Two 12th places.

If an “Average” had been used those two 12’s would have killed them. They probably would have come in last place.

But with “Relative Placement” they won and lived happily ever after, because the majority of judges put them in 1st place.

And I just checked the time and ooops! JJ’s have started! More about Yvonne’s lecture on judging later …

Running down to see what’s going on in the lobby, pool area, practice rooms, and Prelims in the main ballroom.

If you want to watch you can do it here:   Global Dance TV 

Happy Thanksgiving!


2 responses to “US Open 2013 – Update #8

  1. Incidentally, there is a variant of RP in which judges don’t literally give duplicate placements, but they don’t give a (unique) placement to every contestant. This technique, sometimes referred to as “saturation”, would be reflected on a final placement sheet as either empty placements, or placements with an ordinal number of one greater than the (cardinal) number of contestants the judges were instructed to give (unique) placements to.

    You can see several examples of this in some ASDC (Austin Swing Dance Championships) ProAms, such as . (In this case, the non-unique placements are empty.) As you can see, this can lead to a large number of ties.

  2. Did you get the feeling that the people in the class both understood the Relative Placement (RP) explanations, *and* agreed that RP was the appropriate way to score the examples in the presentation? IMO, there were some pertinent comments made in the recent long discussion about RP in the Westie Discussion of the Day (WDotD) community on Facebook.

    I believe the example given in Jim Tigges’ paper of three first places being beaten by four second places is:

    2 2 2 2 12 12 12
    1 1 1 3 3 3 3

    Under RP, the largest majority is the four second places. However, there is another majority that could be considered. If the two couples’ placements are considered head-to-head on a per-judge basis, the couple with three first places actually had a majority of six (!!) head-to-head better placements (all but the fourth judge’s placements). Some people in the WDotD thread actually noted this. These issues are covered in more detail in the Marquis de Condorcet’s writings on the principles of voting.

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