More on the Thursday 10pm deadline.

This is just MORE on entering on time by the deadline. 

This is from an email I sent to the mailing list on January 22, 2013. 

There are no tournaments and classes February 8, 9, and 10 as scheduled. On the tournament entry form, you can review the schedule. Just click on the tournament you wish to play in, and you will see all of the dates. Every time there is a “no tournament day” there are people who drive to the PCA for nothing. Also note the dates off in mid-March. 
The next part of this email is a bunch of detailed stuff about entry forms, because this is a real problem and it effects the quality of the tournament. I am writing in so many details so parents are aware that we won’t renew memberships for those who don’t follow the policies and also that I will be delegating some of the registration and entry management to an assistant so I can focus on the chess stuff. 
Thursday 10pm Entry Form Issues: 
Every week for over a year now, some parents forget the Thursday 10pm deadline. This causes a lot of extra work for tournament staff but it also will effect the quality of the tournament because of the large number of players. 
I know some people don't enter because they are taking a break. When a player does not enter by Thursday by 10pm, it is my understanding that they are taking a break for that week. Then I can open space for someone on a waiting list. 
One problem is that parents make the drive to the tournament even if they entered late or forgot to enter. I believe the problem is that parents are expecting us to be flexible, and some think that we are even more likely to be flexible if you ask in person. Others just forget that they didn't enter, so that's why I have email confirmations and I post the list of players online ahead of time. 
When the player shows up to the tournament and can’t find their name on the sign-in list, it causes confusion for the kid, and the staff. When this happens I still go through the list of online entries to see if it was my mistake, but my logs usually show that the player just didn't enter at all, or didn't enter on time.
I try my best to get in contact with parents who enter after the deadline so they don't drive out for nothing. But it is not easy for me to do this because I am busy all day Friday. I usually send out a personal email Thursday night, and then I wake up early Friday hoping to get email responses before I start my day. If I don’t get a response, I try to schedule in phone calls throughout the day if I have moments to take a break. I am doing this not only as a courtesy, but I have to make sure that ther aren’t just parents and kids who show up with no pairing available since it causes confusion. 
At 10pm on Thursdays, I contact parents of children on the waiting list (non-members who wish to play) and let them know if there is room. Parents of non-members usually ask me ahead of time if I have space for them in the Friday tournament. I explain how the entry procedure works and I tell them “I won’t know for sure until Thursday at 10pm.” And when I see that there are 50 players entered by the Thursday 10pm deadline, I don't expect that more people will enter after the deadline. So I tell them "I have space" and then I start doing the pairings. I could have the official pairings up by 11pm, but I don't post them because I know there are kids who get sick and have to withdraw. 
Last week we had 66 players play, and there were a lot of unexpected last minute adjustments I had to do. Usually there are a lot of unexpected adjustments on the first week in the semester, but this was the second week. So I am focusing on this policy to avoid a bad trend from happening. I am happy that so many people are interested in playing, but I have to make sure that I don’t over-crowd the event and I hate asking staff to help me make last minute adjustments. Even if there is space, I can't add people on because I have to redo things, and then if I open up entry for one player, I would have to do it for everyone. 
I will no longer contact the parents who enter late and consistently decline any request for me to let a player enter in after the deadline. I also request that parents no longer even ask me to make an exception. Now if you wish to play in Saturday instead, I would prefer if you request that. 

The online entry form records the time the player is entered. If a parent misses the deadline by even 1 minute, I can’t let you in because there are parents who enter 2 minutes late, etc. This happens on many weeks. I have to draw the line at 10pm sharp. I highly recommend parents enter earlier in the week.

And please note that these rules are mainly done so I can keep things fair, organize things ahead of time, and I am closing the deadline only because of lack of space. Even if I have space, I have to keep the entries closed, or there is an unfairness issue. If there is space for a late entrant, I can’t just plug someone in a tournament easily. I have to redo all of the pairings, but even worse, it looks really bad for me to redo the pairings for someone who didn’t enter on time. I try to only redo the pairings if there are too many withdrawals, or if it is just my own mistake (like I used an incorrect rating or something). 
When a parent asks me to make an exception to the rule, it puts me in an awkward situation. There are some kids that I know very well, and some kids who are brand new to chess who I don’t know yet, and I just have to be fair with the entry procedures just as I am fair in refereeing the tournament games. 

The Saturday tournaments have more space and flexibility so if you can't make it to a Friday event, then I recommend you go there. Lots of people are requesting ahead of time if they can switch to a Friday tournament instead of a Saturday and I might have to decline this more often.
A few Frequently Asked Questions” or scenarios that I I’ll address because they have come up several times:  
1. A parent enters late, and then tells me that the player can’t make it up on the following Saturday, when I only offer the Saturday makeup as an alternative to simply missing the whole week. The Saturday makeup is something I only offer as a courtesy, but I’ve had parents use this against me. I will still try to offer this courtesy to parents who try to follow the procedures. 
2. A parent enters after Thursday 10pm and then explains to me “I didn’t know until after Thursday 10pm that we can actually make it to the event.” That is a common request I hear and I recommend that parents enter tournaments early, and then withdraw the player if plans change. 
3. “Please just enter my child for all tournaments and I'll let you know if my child isn't coming.” I can never do this. There are too many players, and I have to be fair to everyone. 
4. “I didn’t get the reminder email." I understand there are spam filters and things, but the reminder email really is simply a reminder. Some parents incorrectly thought that you can only enter AFTER I send the reminder email. The player can be entered 24 hours and up to a whole week in advance. I recommend just entering the player as early as possible and withdrawing as soon as you know of a change of plans. 
5. "The form wasn't working." I don't know if this happens often, but I've heard this before. Email me right away if this is the case. 
6. "The entry form accepted my registration and I got a confirmation email." The entry form does not close, ever. The confirmation email always states that if you entered after 10pm you won't be paired. I put this on the form, and in the confirmation email a few weeks ago to help clarify this. 
7. "My work schedule doesn't allow me to enter my child." I recommend you ask a friend or someone else to enter the child for you, and let me know that you plan on having someone outside of the family enter your child. 
I will see if things improve over the next few weeks. If parents still bring their child to the tournament, or I feel that the entries are still a distracting problem, then I will have to start revoking memberships (in extreme cases) or at least denying the renewal of memberships for future semesters. 
I am planning to get assistance with memberships, registration, tournament entry, enforcing code of conduct and procedures, and other things that don’t require chess knowledge. Because I will be having assistance, it will be very important for parents to follow the policies and not expect flexibility. I prefer to focus on directing the tournament, and just the chess related stuff in general. I will do a smaller part in the administrative work.
I will continuously try to improve the communication and make it clear to new parents how the tournaments go. I’ve been adding more information to the chesspanda website (links at the bottom and in the entry forms) and I will still be at the events running the tournaments. Also I am still slow at responding to some emails, and I apologize for this. If you don't hear a response from me in 48 hours, please just feel free to forward the email again. Email response has been ok but not great for current members, but I'm not as fast responding to newcomers and I'll work on that next. 

Thanks for everything.