The basic learning we have gotten from our forays into e-ballots with a tournament spread over great distance is simple: USE YOUR PHONE! That’s why God invented it. As a matter of fact, use all the communications tools at your disposal. If you throw enough linguini against the wall, some of it will stick.
First, you blast the pairing. Everyone gets a notification of where they need to go, when. That’s pretty straightforward. I give a strong recommendation that, regardless of circumstances (you could be holding the entire tournament in the gym and this would still be true), that you allow exactly one half hour from posting to start time. It’s going to take that long anyhow; make it official, so that no one has any excuses.
Send a ten-minute warning to everyone, via tabroom blast, literally at the ten-to mark.
At start time, blast everyone to Start Now or I’ll forfeit/fine your sorry butt from here to Argentina.
At five minutes past, pick up the phone and start either texting or calling judges. Here’s my theory on this: the last thing a judge wants is the tab room calling them and asking them what the hell is going on. As the fact that such calls are possible starts entering into the ethos of the activity, judges are going to start getting the message that they need to do their jobs in a professional fashion or else get challenged on it. Who needs that annoyance? If I’m wrong on this, so be it. I will still talk to the judge and find out what the hell is going on, and either replace the judge or set a forfeit time for the students. Works for me.
At ten minutes past, send the tab room meat-eater (your nastiest colleague) into the room to bang heads together. Have the meat-eater bring a device that can forfeit and fine.
The key here is, start calling people when things go awry. You have all their numbers in tabroom. If you’re using a system that enables long-distance tournaments, use the device that eliminates long distances. Do you really care if you annoy a judge too dumb/obdurate/befuddled to click the start button or call you up when a student doesn’t show (after you’ve given out your number a hundred times)? Tab’s job includes keeping the trains running on time. Feel free to put on your police hat to make it so, if that’s what it takes.