tournament(redirected from tourney)
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See studies by F. H. Cripps-Day (1918) and R. W. Barber and J. Barker (1989, repr. 2000).
(1) A military contest between knights, popular in Western Europe during the Middle Ages. Tournaments were held to allow the knights, who were the mainstay of feudal armies, to demonstrate their martial skills. They were public events, usually arranged by the king himself or by some other seigneur of the realm to mark an important occasion. The conduct of tournaments was governed by special rules, whose observance was ensured by heralds. Knights, mounted and in full armor, competed with each other either individually or in pairs or groups; they also fought duels on foot. The victor won not only glory but a pecuniary reward as well. Tournaments were regarded as a legitimized form of feudal warfare; as such, they sometimes resulted in the serious wounding, or even the death, of combatants. After the 16th century, they ceased to be held in most countries.
(2) A type of sports competition involving more than two participants and consisting of a series of face-to-face contests either between individuals or between teams, as in wrestling, boxing, various team sports, and checkers and chess matches. Among the principal types of tournaments are the round robin, in which every contestant meets every other contestant at least once, and the elimination tournament, in which losers are eliminated at every stage until a single winner remains. A third type is the Swiss tournament, in which the number of contestants is greater than the number of rounds. In the first round of the Swiss tournament, opposing players are chosen by lot; in subsequent rounds, however, they are chosen by the number of points already won, those having the same number being matched against each other by lot. Different systems may be used at various stages of a single competition.