# <span class=q>Why will there be playoffs at the 2015 NSC?</span><br />While many players have been happy with the traditional pairing format used in the recent championships, there have been some criticisms of that format. Some have argued that it requires the division leaders to play very strong competitors over and over, while those who have a worse record early in the tournament have the opportunity to employ a “Swiss gambit” to make a late surge and secure a higher place in the tournament having faced less stringent competition. The new pairing format came about in part because of its success at last year’s SCRABBLE Champions Tournament. But a secondary factor in choosing this format was the ability to address the concerns expressed by some of our membership. So, while we didn’t conduct a poll of the membership on the pairing format, the choice of this format was responsive to concerns raised by NASPA members. In the same way that we have committed to allowing our members to play in their preferred lexicon, we want to provide our players who favor this format an opportunity to experience a championship paired in this way.
# <span class=q>Are playoffs unfair?</span><br />Every pairing format has advantages and disadvantages. And every tournament must foreclose the opportunity for some players to win or place highly at some point during the event. For those reasons, any number of pairing formats can be fair to the participants. What is of critical importance is establishing the pairing format in advance, so that the competitors have the ability to know what is required to win or place in the event.<br>Initiating the playoff bracket after round 21 means that the competitors will already have played the equivalent length of 1½ typical weekend tournaments. Some players may be shut out of the championship bracket based on the luck of the draw during one or more games. But, that is simply the nature of SCRABBLE play. Luck is a factor in our game.<br>Those who are excluded from the championship bracket still have the ability to compete for 9th place and lower, and also have the ability to compete on a game by game basis to test their skills against each of their competitors in the final 10 games. At every championship, there are players who are mathematically eliminated from 8th place and above at the end of round 21. Those players have always continued to play and give their best, regardless of their place in the standings. Similarly, with the bracket format, each player will give his or her best in each game, seeking to improve rating or standing in the tournament, and most of all, drawing enjoyment from playing SCRABBLE games at the biggest, most significant NASPA tournament of the year.
== Playing the Game ==