In this article series, I would be covering the basics and advanced techniques that you need to know when you are tackling a game-based/sport-based/tournament-based DI sets. While it is an extremely incorrect way to segregate sets into this type as was said in this article, we would try to figure out the various logical traps that could be set into questions involving tournaments.

Question prototype

For the uninitiated, the basic premise for all types of tournament-based DI sets, essentially remains the same. As the purpose of any event is to figure out which individual or team is the best, there has to be a certain format that needs to be adopted to find the same. The question statement would encompass these details regarding the teams, the format, the gradation/elimination (if any) and some additional information in the form of a few results. This is followed by 3-4 questions which ask us about the data that has not been mentioned explicitly in the question set.

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The question types are as follows:

1) Only the outcomes/results are important (the objective of this article)

2) We have to find the different possibilities (the maximum number of games required to qualify and the like) which I will be covering in the second part of the series

3) It could be a simple arrangement-based question with matching the event to the venue and the players/officials and so on which will be covered in the third part of the series

Starting with the first question type under tournament-based DI sets, theoretically, it is a mix of a data interpretation in the form of a missing table and a logical reasoning set in which the combinations are unknown. As is true with any question type when it comes to competitive exams, if you have a basic outline of what you want to do with the data, you can at least reach a point where you would understand if you want to go ahead with solving the set or not.

Read the other parts of the tournaments series here:

  1. Cracking knockout tournaments
  2. Cracking round-robin tournaments

Data Representation

The first thing that you need to understand is the fact that the questions might not necessarily have an accompanying table or chart. Most of the time, the questions are text-based and you would have to put the data into a usable tabular form. There are a few tricks/basic layouts to help you with this:

(i) Draw the basic format of the tournament: If the question says that there are 5 teams competing with each other only once, you have to understand that there will be 10 matches in total. You can do it using either of 5C2 or, 4+3+2+1 whichever suits you. Represent the teams using some team-specific letters and jot down the 10 matches that would be possible.

(ii) Complete the table layout: You can now complete the entire format using the details in the given data. The questions generally involve either the points gained by the teams according to the result of the individual matches put together or the number of wins, losses and draws that have occurred or the results of individual matches. You will have to insert columns as is expected of you from the question.

(iii) Fill in the given data: You will have at least a few data points pertaining to the results of individual matches or of the team in the entire tournament and so on. Use these to fill the table as much as you can. You should keep a track of the statements that you have already used. So, if there are say, 7 statements in total, you can write down 1-7 on your rough sheet and strike-through the data points already taken care of.

Once you have followed these three steps, you would have represented the data in the manner that would be useful to you to solve the accompanying questions. The questions could be primarily of these types:

(a) Identifying the result of a particular match

(b) Identifying the standing of the team/s depending on the overall results

(c) Difference between the points/wins/losses/draws of two teams

(d) Scenario based questions

Dealing with multiple scenarios

This is a common concern when it comes to DI-LR sets. When you have questions starting with an ‘If’, you can be rest assured that it will be a scenario based set. This essentially means that the table that you draw right at the start should be incomplete. So, if you have filled in all the data in the table and then see a scenario based question, it would be a good idea to check the table again and see if you have inadvertently assumed something outside the purview of the question.

The data in the question can either complete the table, providing you with THE vital link or it can reduce the number of possibilities but you would still left with at least a couple of scenarios.

Many candidates shy away from these questions as they are not comfortable dealing with multiple values at once. The thing to remember here is that, there need not be multiple tables that should be made on the sheet. Eliminating options would be sufficient in most cases. So, you have to simply figure out one possibility that eliminates an option. If making all the possible scenarios (generally, not more than two) is inevitable, you can use the following techniques:

(i) You can make distinct tables to accommodate the multiple scenarios. Learning ‘how to count’ is extremely important when it comes to representing data and so, you can make identical tables first, fulfilling all the given data and then put in the additional data from the question in both the tables. You have to keep on following the ‘The MECE’ approach and you should have all the cases on hand. It is extremely simple and does not require much ‘thinking’ which can get you marks without putting in additional prep and so, is recommended.

(ii) The other way you can do it is by representing the data in a single table. You can go the ‘Su-Do-Ku’ way and proceed with a single line of though and eliminate the options one at a time. In this, you would assume a data point in the table and then proceed to fill the table using this new data. If it violates the existing data, you can eliminate this case and if it fulfills the existing data, you have got your scenario. You can then start from the assumption step again and put in another data point and get the multiple scenarios. Use your eraser judiciously and keep a format ready for the ‘already given’ and ‘assumed’ data points (I use a circled denotation to demarcate the fresh assumptions from the existing data points so that clearing them out in case of redundancy is easier).

Once you have followed these steps, you can get the table/s ready so that you can solve the questions. Regular practice will ensure that the bottlenecks are eliminated and you reduce the time taken considerably.

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Commonly laid traps

As is the case with any DI-LR set, you might be led to assume data that isn’t there in the first place due to incorrect comprehension of the language

  • If it is mentioned that a team won at most 3 matches out of 5 it does not necessarily mean that the team has won at least one match
  • If team A did not win against team B, it does not necessarily mean that team B won (in case a draw is a possible conclusion)
  • Home matches are those that are played on the said team’s home ground while away matches are those which are played at the opponent’s home ground
  • Standings are the relative positions of the teams after a round/part of the tournament is complete
  • Round-robin tournament is one wherein each team plays a fixed number of matches before getting eliminated from/winning the tournament
  • Knock-out matches are those in which, the loser exits the tournament
  • D lost to A but won against C and F would mean that D won against C and F
  • D lost to A who in turn won against C and F would mean that A won against C and F
  • Options can be neatly manipulated to mislead the candidate; keep an eye on the ‘More than one of the above’ option and the ‘None of the above’ option. If A, C and F is your answer and the options are A and C, A and F, C and F and None of the above, you should mark None of the above

When to leave the set?

If you figure out that there are more than 3 possibilities and that all of these would be required, most probably, you have missed some information. Just because it is ‘The CAT’ doesn’t mean that the questions will be incredibly difficult. So, it would be better if you go back and check again if you have used all the given data correctly or not. If you still feel that it would be extremely time-consuming/counting scenarios is not your forte/other sets are easier, you can quit the set. It should not take more than 5 minutes to read and represent the data if you have a fixed format ready and that is a fair investment of time even if there is no return. If you are in the same position at (t+5) minutes as you were at t minutes, it is better that you let go the set for the moment. Most of the time, overlooking a superficial data point results into getting stuck in these sets and it would be a wise idea to take a break by doing a different set and then approach the tournament-based set again afresh.

With this information, you can look at tournament-based DI sets in a more technical manner and even leave the difficult ones effortlessly.

I have solved a set from CAT 2008 here to help you understand the approach in a more practical manner.

Read the other parts of the tournaments series here:

  1. Cracking knockout tournaments
  2. Cracking round-robin tournaments

Boost your CAT 2016 preparation by joining this group (for serious aspirants only)

All the best!

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