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How to organize a Calcutta auction

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Elisabeth Scheicher

Dec 2, 1998, 3:00:00 AM12/2/98
How to organize a Calcutta auction?

I try to organize a backgammon tournament and therfore I want to get
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

Should the players be auctioned with the favourites at the beginning or
the end? There are disadvantages for both ways: starting with the
may be boring and thus people will leave the auction early before the
players are put up and there may be too little competitive bidding - on
other hand starting with the favourites will limit the prices for the
players (since if we start with the top favourite which is sold for a
price no one else will pay much for a less good player and the auction
be interesting at all).

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

Dec 2, 1998, 3:00:00 AM12/2/98
In article <>,

Elisabeth (alias 'Roland') Scheicher <> wrote:

>How to organize a Calcutta auction?


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

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