Tutorial - The Free TD Software Vega
I recently created a YouTube tutorial for new or aspiring tournament directors using the free tournament direction software, Vega. The tutorial is included at the bottom of this post, and you may also watch it directly via my youtube channel linked in the sidebar. Note that a table of contents is included in the beginning for those with specific questions.
I'm a big fan of Vega. Vega is programmed by Luigi Forlano, an arbiter of the Italian Chess Federation. While Vega is most widely used in the Italian Chess Federation, it is also used across Europe, and it has been adopted in various other countries. Vega first came to my attention because I was in search of a tournament direction software that ran natively on linux. Vega works on both windows and linux; both versions are very stable. Vega is completely free on linux, and Vega is free on windows for tournaments of up to 30 players. For tournaments with more than 30 players, a Vega license is $50.
Pros of Vega
- Free/Cheap - Vega is free on linux and significantly cheaper than SwissSys and WinTD on windows.
- User Friendly - I would argue that most functions are easier to learn and use in Vega. Using the tutorial included at bottom, I believe that the casual director should be fully capabale of running a tournament within 15 minutes of downloading the software.
- Fast Workflow - Most tournament direction softwares have a good workflow. That's also true of Vega. I particularly like reducing the interface to three tabs - a players tab, a round tab, and a reports tab. I believe this system is very sensible and makes tournament management intuitive and quick.
- Supports Multiple Federations - Vega supports a number of federations (including the USCF). It may support yours
Cons of Vega
- Reduced Features - For the most part, Vega has all the features that I require from a tournament direction software. Still, if you are running a large or unorthodox tournament format, you may find that something is lacking. SwissSys and WinTD are far more full featured and likely to have that one feature that you just really need in the moment.
- Some Bugs in USCF Systems - Vega supports USCF rules, ratings databases, and tournament rating reports, but these features are not well tested because there aren't that many US users who can provide feedback. Consequently, there are some bugs that I have come across. The good news is that Luigi is extremely responsive and helpful. If you can identify a bug, it is very likely that he may be able to address it for you and other future users.
- Usership - Lower usership is not a direct fault of the software, but it is a limitation. Tournament directors invariably need to work together. When I lived in NY, I had to learn SwissSys to work with other TDs for major events. Living in SC, I have had to learn WinTD for the same reason. If you are regularly working with other directors, there is something to be said for using their system.
Who will most likely benefit from Vega?
Club Tournament Directors - Most of the touranments run in the United States and worldwide are probably unrated tournaments or small tournaments with at most 10-15 players. For such tournaments, why would you want to pay the licensing fees for SwissSys or WinTD? Vega is more than capable of handling such tournaments. I would even argue that Vega may be better for such tournaments because the simpler workflow makes it easier to use for the casual TD.
Linux Users - Linux may not be as popular as Windows and Mac, but it's usership among chess players is certainly higher than among the general population. For linux users wishing to direct tournaments, Vega is the ideal solution. It is not the only solution - your mileage may vary regarding running alternative programs in wine, but for most tournaments, I see no reason why should need an alternative to Vega. If you are interested in other chess applications for LINUX, check out my blog on "The Best Linux Apps for Chess."