GM Nigel Davies, in a post entitled, 'Last Rounds' on his blog, The Chess Improver, has this to say about the importance of last rounds: "I’m convinced that the later rounds of a tournament carry far more weight than the early ones. How can this be when the same number of points can be scored throughout a tournament? Well in the games leading up to them players are often trying to consolidate their position in the tournament, building hopes and expectations as they pull their punches or abandon their fears. And in this highly charged atmosphere dramatic swings in fortune become much more likely." (http://chessimprover.com/?p=1813)
The GM is writing about the just concluded Bilboa Masters tournament. I have written much the same about the weekend swiss, so it is great to see my position in print, especially by a GM, who because of his numbers, has much more gravitas than I.
When half-point byes first appeared, they were only allowed in the first three rounds. That was to allow a player who had to work to miss the Friday night round; or the Saturday morning round; or even the Saturday night round, if playing to midnight, or later, and then having to be back at the board at ten am was too much. Then the half-point bye was allowed in the fourth round Sunday morning for those who believe in a myth and wish to spend their time among other 'believers'. I have always liked what the Legendary Georgia Ironman had to say about those who missed the fourth round for their 'Sunday go to meeting'. He once said, "Bacon, when I'm at the board for the fourth round Sunday morning, I AM at my church!" Now the half-point bye is even allowed in the last round! It has become a weapon to be used by those who often lose in the last round to higher rated players.
I asked a fellow named Big Jeff why he had quit chess. He was honest enough to admit that, "I am a half-point the better players as I always seem to finish a half-point behind." Too bad half-point byes were not allowed back in Big Jeff's day...