The pre-qualification argument to reduce entries is not a good one.
It isn't a good argument, or you disagree? There's a difference. The way I see it, the AHA has to implement at least one of three options:
- An entry fee high enough to discourage entries;
- An entry cap so low it reduces the number of entries;
- A qualification requirement that reduces the number of entries.
We can certainly disagree about which option (or which combination of options) is best. Personally, I feel #1 is inherently unfair and that we're already past the point where #2 could help. Since the average number of entries is 4.5 (in 2012), even with a cap of one per brewer the first round would likely fill up. On the other hand, beers that score less than 30 in the first round are ineligible to advance anyway. From the competitions I've judged/stewarded (relatively few, I admit) that's roughly the over-under for all entries. So right off the bat you can eliminate on the order of half the entries without having to reduce the "openness" of the competition. It would *still* probably fill up, but at least we could get back to the registration window being open long enough that most people have a chance.
As a model, I think the GC should look to other fringe sports that have to deal with this same issue (namely, a lot of amateur interest in the sport relative to the governing body's resources). Look at golf, or chess, or poker, or billiards. All have gone through these kind of growing pains, and they've all implemented some sort of qualification requirement for their open national championships. (To be fair, the WSOP also has a high entry fee.) If they didn't, the US Open would last six months and bankrupt the USGA.
Probably not my best choice of words to describe my point, which was that the first round of this competition is already a pre-qualification for the second round. I don't think we need to add another layer that excludes more members from participating. Again work toward the MCAB if you want to enter a competition that includes only pre-qualified entries.
You are too focused on the # of entries and not focused enough on the # of participants. We have shown that we can handle the current number of entries, so why would you want to reduce the number of entries. That number is actually set in stone at 8250. What we need to do is focus on how to include the most number of people.
This could be accomplished by holding a pre-registration in which you find out how many members really want to enter and subsequently how many entries they would like to put forth. After locking those numbers in it's pretty straightforward from there to set a cap on entries. See below how I think we could accomplish this:
A simple pre-registration would help immensely. First it locks in the number of members who are allowed to participate. If the number is more than 8250 then you must randomly pick who is allowed to enter. Assuming the number of entrants will be less than 8250, then you need to ask each entrant how many entries they would like to enter (1-15). Most likely the number of entries from this query will be higher than 8250. Any entries over 8250 are then taken away from those entrants who requested the most number of entries. You simply let each person know how many entries they are allowed at this point. Finally you give each entrant at least a week to get their entries registered and paid for. The few slots that are left over can be opened up to the public or added to the entrants that requested more entries to begin with. This should make registration much less painful and stressful for all.