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Directing SOWPODS tournaments

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This page contains information for NASPA directors about directing SOWPODS tournaments, specifically about the differences and commonalities between Collins (SOWPODS) and regular (OTCWL) tournaments. The information also applies to separate Collins events within larger regular tournaments.


All tournaments must be sanctioned by the Tournament Committee ahead of time as described on the page about tournaments. The fees, deadlines, requirements and restrictions are the same. Time/distance separation requirements apply separately between tournaments that use different lexicons.

All parameters specific to the tournament should be specified at this time, including:

  • that the NASPA Collins rating system will be used,
  • if WESPA rating will also be sought (and, if so, including the additional required information)
  • which variation of the challenge penalty will be in effect (see Rule VI.B.).

The director must also pay the WESPA ratings levy directly after ratings data is submitted to WESPA. If you indicate that the tournament will be WESPA rated when seeking sanctioning, NASPA ratings officer John Chew will submit your ratings data to WESPA upon receipt of the NASPA ratings data.


The SOWPODS lexicon (also known as CSW or Collins Scrabble Words) is defined by WESPA Dictionary Committee and published in print by HarperCollins Publishers Ltd.

For software self-lookups, the CSW lexicon in Zyzzyva can be used. When events with different lexicons take place in the same venue, each should use a different set of computers, clearly marked.


The Official Tournament Rules should be used with the changes noted in Section VI - Play Using the International Lexicon.

Typically in international tournaments, the penalty for an unsuccessful challenge is 10 or 5 points per challenged word but no loss of turn. The choice should be indicated in all tournament announcements.

On a case-by-case basis, the adoption of certain other WESPA rules may be approved.


NASPA ratings

The results submission process is the same.

WESPA ratings

When you request sanctioning for the tournament, indicate if you want the tournament to be WESPA ratd.

The Tournament Committee will forward this information to the WESPA liaison for further action by WESPA.

WESPA rating requires the submission of a ratings file and the payment of a ratings levy.

  • The results must be submitted to the WESPA ratings officer (currently Jason Broersma) by email as a .TOU file.
    • If you indicate that your tournament will be WESPA rated when you submit it for sanctioning, NASPA ratings officer John Chew will prepare and submit the .TOU file for you, upon receipt of the NASPA ratings data.
  • The director (or his/her designate) must pay the WESPA ratings levy directly to the WESPA treasurer (currently Jason Broersma).
    • The ratings levy is $1 per player ($10 minimum).
    • The ratings levy is a flat $10 for 1-day Early/Late/Night Birds if the Main Event is also WESPA-rated.

If you are using TSH, note that the 'event_name' configuration parameter will be passed onto the WESPA rating officer instead of the default city and state/province.

If you do not provide notice of WESPA rating when seeking tournament sanctioning, the following methods may be used to generate a .TOU file:

  • Create the file manually in a plain text editor such as Notepad (do not use formatting text editors such as Word). The file format is explained in the next section.
  • Use an Australian tournament management software named AUPAIR. AUPAIR is an older program and it is not designed to run on newer 64-bit computers.
  • Use tsh as the tournament management software and execute the AUPAIR command to create the .TOU file.
  • Use tsh to convert an existing NASPA tournament results submission file (as specified on the page about submitting tournament results) into a .TOU file as follows (for a single division):
    1. Create a config.tsh file that defines a simple manually paired tournament with one division.
    2. Create your .t file as a copy of the player-specific lines of the NASPA tournament result file. Do not include the file header.
    3. Start tsh and verify that it loads the .t file without errors.
    4. Execute the AUPAIR command to create the .TOU file.
  • Ask John Chew to create the .TOU file for you while processing your NASPA ratings.

Regardless of the method, you should verify the spellings of the names of all participants. A number of players have spelling differences between their NASPA and WESPA rating records. tsh can convert certain player names, but not all possible current and future player names.

Explanation of .TOU file format

Here is a sample result file in the format submitted to NASPA (including optional information on first and second turns):

#division A
#ratingcheck off
Wiegand, Dave    2000 2 0 3; 400  50 444; p12 1 0 2
Kantimathi, Sam  1800 1 3 0; 300 502  50; p12 2 1 0
Goldman, Stuart  1600 0 2 1;  50 502 333; p12 0 2 1

Here is the corresponding .TOU file, named A.TOU (note the variation in certain names):

*M2010-12-31 Your Tournament Name
David Wiegand        2400  +2 1350   1 2444   3
Sam Kantimathi        300   1 1502  +3 1350   2
Stu Goldman          1350   3 1502   2  333  +1
*** END OF FILE ***

The first line consists of an asterisk, a capital letter M, a date in ISO 8601 format, a blank and the name of your tournament.

The second line consists of an asterisk and a capital letter that corresponds to the name of the division (and also the name of the file).

The third line consists of 39 blanks and the digit zero.

Subsequent lines, one line per player, consist of the following elements, separated by any number of blanks:

  1. The player’s first and last names, separated by a blank, as they appear in WESPA ratings.
  2. The player’s score for the first round, with 2000 added in case the player won the game, 1000 added in case the game was a tie, and 1300 added (in addition to the usual 50 spread points) in case the player received a bye.
  3. The number of the player’s opponent on the first round, with an optional plus sign prefixed in case the player had the first turn, or the player’s own number in case the player received a bye. Players are numbered sequentially starting from one, in the order in which they appear in the file.
  4. The scores and opponent numbers for each remaining round of the tournament, two columns per round, as above.

The last line consists of the string “*** END OF FILE ***”.