Forum Archive : Tournaments

Calcutta auctions

From:   Roland Scheicher
Date:   2 December 1998
Subject:   How to organize a Calcutta auction

How to organize a Calcutta auction?

I try to organize a backgammon tournament and therfore I want to get
some information about auctions.

Of course the auction pool should become as large as possible, but this
depends very much on the behaviour of the participants. Now for the

(1) Should the players be auctioned with the favourites at the beginning
or at the end? There are disadvantages  for both ways: starting with the
newbies may be boring and thus people will leave the auction early before
the good players are put up and there may be too little competitive
bidding - on the other hand starting with the favourites will limit the
prices for the further players (since if we start with the top favourite
which is sold for a low price no one else will pay much for a less good
player and the auction won't be interesting at all).

(2) Which kind of auction is usually used? I suppose the best choice is
the "Classic auction" as it is used by Sotheby's or Christie`s.

                Greetings Roland Scheicher

Chuck Bower  writes:

At the large tournaments I've attended, the auctions tend along
roughly the same lines.  In fact, it seems like calcutta auctions at
BG tournaments have a lot in common with other kinds of more general
auctions I've attended.  Some comments:

(I assume that you want to get as large of an auction pool as possible....)

a) One "trick" is to start with a "highest bidder gets choice" lot.  The
   advantage can be seen from a simple example:  suppose bidder A wants
   to buy player 1, and bidder B wants player 2.  If they know that they
   are after different players they won't compete against each other.  But
   for a "high bidder's choice" lot, they don't necessarily know that they
   want different players, so they will compete, pushing up the price.
   Typically there will be only a couple of these "choice" lots.  Once
   the baseline price is established they revert to specified lots.

b) You definitely want to establish a HIGH PRICE groundwork first.  That
   is, if your best lots go cheaply, no one will want to pay a high
   price for a weak lot later.  (This is often the reason auctioneers
   start with the "high bidder choice" lot detailed in -a- above.)

c) Group less-than-top-rated players in a lots.  Some auctions will have
   maybe 25% of lots being single (and thus the "best" players) maybe 25%
   of lots being two-player teams (the "near experts") and the remainder of
   lots being 3-4 player teams (the unknowns or dark-horses).  Of course
   here you want to have a good way of knowing the strength of the
   individual players!

d) For bidless lots, you want some kind of provision.  One option is for
   the Club (or promoters) to buy each lot that doesn't start with a
   predetermined minimum bid.  Some auctioneers have a "sack" and all
   lots which don't get a minimum bid go into the sack.  At the end
   the sack is auctioned as a single lot.

e) I've seen auctions where the buyers names get thrown in a hat and there
   is a drawing for some prize.  The idea is that it will encourage more
   bidders.  (I don't know how well this works.  Obviously it is going
   to depend on the drawing prize.)

f) most BG calcuttas have "buy backs" where the individual players have
   the right to buy a portion of the calcutta lot from the actual buyer (up
   to a limit).  The advantage here is that the buyer can usually count on
   his/her total investment to be reduced.  Typical buybacks guarantee that
   the buyer gets at least 25-33%.  (E.g. single player lot buyback max of
   65%.  Two player lot--each can buy back 35% of team.  Three player
   --each player can buy back 25% of team.  Etc.)

     Hope this helps.

         c_ray on FIBS

Roland Scheicher  writes:

Some remarks on the order of auction

In a classic Calcutta auction contestants are put up for auction in random
order. If all participants make optimal bids, the pool size is independent
of the order. (see Sridhar Seshadri, Zur Shapira, Christopher L. Tucci:
Venture capital investing and the "Calcutta Auction",

Of course, "Highest bidder's choice lots" imply that the favourites are
sold first, nevertheless the inverse order is also common:

"One variation that has become more popular as the Calcutta Auction is used
more in conjunction with March Madness (NCAA basket ball) is that the teams
are bid on in reverse order of their seeds instead of random order. This
allows bidders to have a better idea of how the bidding will grow as the
auction proceeds, and ensures that when bidding reaches the favorites to
win, the participants will have a pretty good idea of what the final pot
size will be." (Retrieved from

Kind regards
Did you find the information in this article useful?          

Do you have any comments you'd like to add?     



Adjusting to face-to-face play  (Paul Epstein+, Feb 2006) 
Adjusting to face-to-face play  (Daniel Murphy, June 1999) 
Avoiding disputes  (Kit Woolsey+, Oct 2007)  [GammOnLine forum] [Long message] [Recommended reading]
Baffle box to roll dice  (Ken Bame, Mar 2012) 
Calcutta auctions  (David Moeser, Nov 2001) 
Calcutta auctions  (Roland Scheicher+, Dec 1998) 
Calcutta auctions  (Anthony R Wuersch, Oct 1994) 
Calcutta problems  (Marty Storer, Dec 2002)  [GammOnLine forum]
Clock ethics  (Patrick Gibson+, Mar 2009) 
Clock rules--Digital clocks  (Chuck Bower+, Oct 2003)  [GammOnLine forum]
Clock rules--End of turn  (Carlo Melzi+, July 2001) 
Clock rules--How do they work?  (Gregg Cattanach, Oct 2002) 
Clock rules--Illegal move  (Brendan Burgess+, Feb 2000) 
Clock rules--Why forfeit instead of penalty points?  (neilkaz, Sept 2010) 
Clocks and older players  (Stick+, July 2010)  [Long message]
Clocks--Arguments against them  (Timothy Chow, Jan 2011) 
Clocks--Common arguments against  (Chuck Bower, Feb 2006)  [GammOnLine forum]
Clocks--Losing on time  (Jason Lee+, Mar 2004) 
Clocks--Pros and cons  (Michael Strato+, Jan 2004)  [GammOnLine forum]
Clocks--Should they be part of the game?  (Kit Woolsey, June 1995) 
Clocks--Why use them  (Stick, Jan 2011) 
Compensating for byes  (Hank Youngerman+, Dec 1998) 
Factors that affect attendance  (Stick, Oct 2009) 
"Fighter's bracket"  (Chuck Bower+, Sept 2010) 
First backgammon tournament  (Mislav Radica+, May 2007)  [GammOnLine forum]
First backgammon tournament  (Ed Collins+, Dec 2006) 
Hedging  (Jason Lee+, Apr 2009) 
Hedging  (Marv Porten+, Feb 2009)  [Long message]
Hedging  (Tad Bright+, Jan 2003)  [GammOnLine forum]
Hitting clock instead of rolling  (Bob Glass+, Mar 2010) 
Keeping score during a match  (Gregg Cattanach, June 2007) 
Links to tournament rules  (Daniel Murphy, Oct 2009) 
Major tournament attendance 1998-2008  (Daniel Murphy, July 2008) 
Making notes during play  (Randy Pals+, Aug 2008) 
Manually recording a match  (Kevin P+, Apr 2007)  [GammOnLine forum]
Manually recording a match  (gammonus+, Feb 2006) 
Manually recording a match  (Daniel Murphy, Aug 1999) 
New U.S. Rules  (Gregg Cattanach+, Dec 2007)  [GammOnLine forum]
Newbie questions  (Donald Kahn, Oct 1999) 
Playing at Monte Carlo  (Achim, July 2007)  [GammOnLine forum]
Playing-off 3 remaining players  (Gregg Cattanach+, Apr 2007)  [GammOnLine forum]
Recording matches  (Robert Maier, May 2009) 
Recording matches  (Chuck Bower+, Sept 2003)  [GammOnLine forum] [Long message]
Recording matches  (Sean Dakin+, Aug 1999) 
Round robins  (Hank Youngerman, Nov 2001) 
Rules for doubles play (with a partner)  (steve+, May 2012) 
Seeding  (Roland Scheicher+, Dec 1998) 
Skill level  (Kirk J. Rupnik+, Nov 1998) 
Skill levels  (Leonardo Jerkovic, Aug 2012) 
"Stop pots"  (Chuck Bower+, Sept 2010) 
Swiss format  (Osman Guner+, May 2001) 
Swiss format  (Osman Guner, Oct 1998) 
Swiss format  (Hank Youngerman+, Mar 1998) 
Tournament formats  (MikeMadMonk+, May 2003) 
Tournament rules  (Daniel Murphy, Apr 2001) 
Tournament rules links  (Daniel Murphy, Oct 2009) 
Types of events  (Daniel Murphy, Nov 1997) 
Uniform rules and procedures?  (Michael Crane+, Mar 2003) 
Variable side pools  (Art Grater+, July 2011) 
Vegas trip report (fall 2004)  (Gregg Cattanach, Nov 2004)  [Long message]
Vegas trip report (spring 2005)  (Gregg Cattanach, May 2005)  [Long message]
Videotaping matches  (André Nicoulin+, Nov 2000)  [Long message]
What is a "Monrad format"?  (Daniel Murphy, Sept 2000) 
What is a "side pool"?  (Daniel Murphy, Nov 1997) 

[GammOnLine forum]  From GammOnLine       [Long message]  Long message       [Recommended reading]  Recommended reading       [Recent addition]  Recent addition

  Book Suggestions
Computer Dice
Cube Handling
Cube Handling in Races
Extreme Gammon
Fun and frustration
GNU Backgammon
Luck versus Skill
Magazines & E-zines
Match Archives
Match Equities
Match Play
Match Play at 2-away/2-away
Opening Rolls
Pip Counting
Play Sites
Probability and Statistics
Source Code
Strategy--Bearing Off
Strategy--Checker play


Return to:  Backgammon Galore : Forum Archive Main Page