To be candid, Admissions purportedly does not like the Principal + Alternate system, and the discussion here should make it intuitively obvious why - the MOC's and their interview ing panels, by and large, have little understanding of what the individual SA's are looking for in any given cycle. The competitive slate provides the SA's greater flexibility to ferret out the candidates who fit the current template as derived by the SA. Now to the next point: while the Principal + Alt, approach does favor the Principal nominee, it DOES NOT eliminate the other nominees. I was a 4th Alt the year I got my offer, for various reasons the four nominees above me dropped out or were disqualified. We also have the national pool. Do the math - while the MOC's have the largest share of slots, if you add all the nominations, they do not come up to the 1200 appointees taken in any of the recent years. The best course of action for any candidate, IMHO, is to make the personal commitment to work to become the absolute best candidate he/she can become! Plain and simple; in my aged and feeble mind, we all know when we have done our best and when we have slacked off someplace. If you know you have done your best and still have come up short it would seem you can rest easier than if you know you played the odds, cut some corners, or whatever that took you out of the running. Keep it simple, folks.