Pool Play Basics

This is also known in various parts of the world as section play, sectional play, block play, group play, league play etc. In Chartroom it's all Pool play.

Play continues for a set number of rounds and teams either win the event, or qualify for the next phase, on some pre-established criteria. Such details are specified in the sheet's Pool Policy.

Here is typical pool play from the 2016–17 New Zealand Open Nationals. New Zealand Open Nationals pool play blank charts

You can have as many pools as necessary on a single sheet.

These charts come fully-configured with all necessary formulas and are are ready for you to start entering scores.

The first column (A) is always a number, either the team number or the team's rank within the pool if this is relevant.

The next 2 columns are for club or organisation, and then player or team. If club is not relevant this column can be hidden.

Next come each round of play across the sheet with 12 columns per round. Looking at the column headers and you'll see that 10 of the 12 columns are hidden from view.

So what are the numbers in the grey columns and where do they come from?

In most cases this is just the rink number, but in general terms it is just a generic game number. Chartroom comes with standard rink tables from bowls (known as Masterdata to determine who plays who in each round (although you can supply your own data).

Important – Don't change the formatting of these round columns, or copy them elsewhere in the sheet.

The purple columns to the right are all about team totals, rankings, and qualifying indicators.

If the pools are to be sorted by team rank the easiest way is to copy the Pos value to column A. In the above chart you would set cell A5 to =BY5 and copy down.

You would enter all results for the round and then sort the pool, either from the Chartroom menu (Pool play > Sort pool by column A), or by entering the shortcode )=.

How are qualifiers determined?

New Zealand Open Nationals pool play with some results

Players require 3 wins from 4 to qualify. Chartroom sums wins (including draws), shot differential (±), and total shots for. Qualifiers have a Q in the Q column.

How would it look if only the top 4 in each pool qualified?

Very similar because in this case the top 4 all have 3 wins.

What about qualification by overall rank?

This event has 232 entries (14 pools of 16 and 1 pool of 8). Let our policy be that the top 100 qualify for lives play. Using the magic of random scores we can quickly enter all 464 game scores. New Zealand Open Nationals pool play with all results

Chartroom automatically changes the Pos column to overall rank and highlights the top 100.

Teams are ranked by:

  1. Wins including draws, then
  2. Shot differential, then
  3. Shots for.

In this example we got exactly 100 qualifiers. By accident the 100th and 101st player were in adjacent pools. Charts showing players in 100th and 101st position

Clearly Lance Tasker (Pos 101) has missed out by 1 shot from Conrad Jagusch (Pos 100). Had they been tied in position 100 there would have been 101 qualifiers, so "Top 100" means "Top 100 including ties".

Do the scores all have to displayed as for–against?

No. Scores are always entered as "for-against", but if you change cell A1 from "ForAg" to "For" only the shots for will be displayed, as in the World Bowls 2016 charts. World Bowls 2016 charts

Customising pool play charts

Pool play is the most flexible part of Chartroom. There is infinite scope for designing your own charts within the Chartroom framework.

Sort by wins, ends, shots

Specify Ends in the Pool Policy, initialise pool play, and the charts will be set up accordingly.

If your pool play was to be followed by lives play you would:

  • specify qualification by overall rank or pool rank, and
  • Run Pool play > Toggle ends to hide the ends columns.

Multiple round-robins

This involves linking 2 or more pool play charts together and carrying forward the totals used to rank teams.

A good example is the Bowls Tawa Winter Triples Series which allows for 45 rounds played over 15 days using 5 inter-linked charts.

To make these charts sortable use the vlookup formula to carry the data forward rather than a direct cell reference (or the index match method if you prefer).


In some events it is convenient to split pools into sub-pools for visual clarity, especially if they are playing a "mini-round-robin". Such an event couldn't use Pool rank as the qualifying criterion, but could use Overall rank.

In the Custom Pool policy set subGroupsOf to the size of your sub-pools.

Sub-pools are common in NZ indoor bowls, where there are typically sub-pools of 5 playing a round-robin over 5 rounds, and pools of 20 or 25 playing on a block of mats.