Becoming a better Tournament Director / League Officer

When I have a little more time, I’ll post some ideas around what are good formats given X number of players. (And other suggestions like: if you always have people arriving late, do a self-serve round robin where you just write out the grid and people self organize…it’s easy to add another player without impacting anything).


I assume you are talking about non WPPR IFPA events?
A TD shouldn’t change the format of a WPPR event based on the number of people showing up.

I do it all the time just like Ryan. I always say format is subject to change and evaluate once people show up.

It’s the reason the ifpa lets you change the tournament description when submitting the tournament results. Things change, no reason to be so strict to not allow things to adapt for time constraints or for fun potential.

Obviously not for big tournaments but for small local stuff it’s a perfect way to deal with random attendance.


Thanks for all your help Joe. Without you to guide me, I’d still be floundering under a mountain of paperwork not knowing which way is up. Your help has been invaluable. Someone should give you medal or something for everything you do! :grinning:

That would really help. I’d like to shake things up and make it a little more interesting this month. I found some formats on the IFPA website that I’m going to review, but I’m sure there are a ton that might not be “Approved”.


My recommendation is to put this in your initial IFPA submission:

4-8 Players the format will be X
9-12 Players the format will be Y
13-16 Players the format will be Z

This way everyone knows 30 days in advance what the format would be depending on how many players show up.

Is that important to the IFPA, or are you saying that’s a just a nice thing to do for potential players so they know what to expect? If I did that, it would be a complicated list:

4 players: X
5-7 players: Y
8-11 players: Y with 2 groups
12 players: X with 3 groups
13-15: Z
16: J


It’s important in cases where the TGP that was advertised varies greatly from the TGP submitted with results.

Example - Tournament advertised with a format likely to grade out to 20% TGP, organizers decide the night of to run a tournament worth 100% TGP. We then get an email from a player that wasn’t planning on participating in a tournament for so few points, but they would have had they known it was going to be worth 5X the advertised value.

This mostly happens when a tournament advertises best of 3 matches, and then based on the feeling that night they run best of 7 matches instead. In those cases regardless of the fact they ran best of 7 matches, we kept their TGP at the lower ‘advertised’ rate.

The safest way to making sure we don’t lay the hammer down is to be as explicit as possible in your calendar submission with the various options of formats, and then if you do make some audibles on tournament night, that the TGP doesn’t stray too far from the advertised level of TGP.


Never heard of pin-bowling, it sounds really cool, how does it work?

I’ve been wanting to run both herb style and ticket qualifying formats. What software is recommended for these?

See threads


I just finished running my event last weekend. I will be updating my thread with my experiences.


And just to clarify for those that wonder, “WTH is _duck_pinbowling?”

Duckpin bowling is three balls per frame instead of 2, so it matches up better with modern pinball # balls/game settings. Same bonus for a strike on ball 1 (add next 2 balls), and a spare on ball 2 (add next ball). While ball 3 simply gives you one more chance to score a 10 (all pins), but with no bonus ball(s) added to that frame’s score.

If you already have a Match Play Events account the “best game” format there is the same as “herb” style tournaments. You can also ask Karl to use his DTM software for your tournament. Contact info here:

If you want to play ticket qualifying go talk to Karl. It’s the only software I know of that can handle ticket qualifying.

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Thanks for the reply. I had a read of the ruleset for pin bowling, my interpretation of it is that all players must play their 10th frame at the end of qualifying, all on the same machine. Doesn’t this create a big bottleneck and add lots of time to the tournament?

I ran mine slightly different and had everyone start on machine 1 and end on ten. This meant there was a bottle neck at at all machines. We had a few people arriving late so this worked. Having groups not finish at different time helped by giving some time to get the scores entered. I also served lunch after the qualifying, so as groups finished they could eat.

You could allow people to play out of order, but that reducing the fun and pressure of working on a strike from the previous frame. I think it works better as a small tournament than trying to put 50 or 100 people through it.

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There was a bit of a bottleneck, but it was staggered enough that it was mostly just fun having a crowd standing around watching everyone play their most important frame.

I agree that the format is conducive to smaller groups, unless you’re bored and really like setting stuff up. Our ruleset is probably a little bit more complex than necessary, but complexities in the rules are what make an event of any range in attendance perform as smoothly and efficiently as possible. Mostly we just don’t want to be the TD who is stumped on a tough call during a high pressure match because something stupid happens that we hadn’t considered.

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As someone who just started running a league and tournaments in September, I really appreciate this thread and all the insight! I’m feeling super lucky that we’ve had increasing numbers of people each week showing up and find that I’m in a state of continuous improvement thanks to some great ideas from league members. has been amazing and makes my job very easy by controlling all the group, game and tie-breaking decisions.

A question I have for this group is about whether anyone allows late starts for 4-player match play. We start at 6:30pm for 4 rounds. We have a couple people who get off work at 6:30 and they asked if they could join in for round 2. The software allows me to add someone in round 2 - they would be down in points so unlikely to win the week, but with 3 first place finishes, they could still do really well. I made the decision not to allow late starts this season because I was concerned that it would lead to others showing up late because they no longer feel they need to arrive by the start time, and I didn’t want people to be disgruntled if they are beaten in a round by someone who wasn’t there at the start. At the same time, we lost several players one week due to a freeway closure with huge commute delays and allowing the late start could help in a situation like that. I’m not certain if IFPA has a stance on someone missing a round in a match play event. Do any other match play leagues allow late starts or missed rounds? I still lean toward not allowing a late start but I do want to be able to understand all the thoughts around it to better communicate my decision to others.

Our site is: - I went the free route since we don’t have an entry fee for our league, just coin drop. :slight_smile:

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Congratulations on your league!

At the San Francisco Pinball Department we let players show up late, mostly for the reasons you state. Traffic can be bad or life can just happen. One important thing for our league: You have to let the league organizer know you’ll be late ahead of time.

At SFPD we create groups first thing and you play 5 games with the same group. So we much know if you’ll be late (so that you can be included in a group).

Generally speaking it happens pretty rarely that people are late so it’s not a big deal for the organizers and players really like that they can still participate even if they happen to run a bit late one night.

We don’t start play until 7:30 though! Even with terrible Bay Area traffic everyone can make it to the location after work.

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We run FSPA rules which means we will delay starting the first match up to 15 minutes but the player must let someone know they are running late. Beyond that, if no player has plunged ball 2 and the game allows it, we will add the 4th player in where possible. We have had a very few instances where everybody in the group agreed to let the late player play a single game by themselves.

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From experience I would recommend against letting the players make decisions. It’s a sure way to introduce unhealthy peer pressure. A loud (or just whiny) player can gain unfair advantages that other players cannot get by pressuring/guilting other players until they get their way. In my opinion only a league official should make this decision.


I’m the new guy here, but hopefully I can still offer some help. You indicated that you had some players that didn’t leave work until 6:30pm. Any reason not to push back the start time to 7:00? I ask everyone to be there at 7pm and we start at 7:15pm

Here is what we decided to do for league incidentals. We have what we call a Kitty. I keep an empty beer pitcher on the table where I enter scores. If you walk up to play a machine that already has a credit from a match or high score, someone from that group drops their money in the pitcher. We track that separately from registration fees on our book. That money goes to pay for email & website hosting, domain registration, photo paper (for those really cool placards everyone loves), software fees, etc.

I agree with haugstrup completely. I almost fell into this hole a few seasons ago trying to be as amicable to everyone as possible. I learned pretty quick that some people will attempt to take advantage of the situation. It’s best to lay down the law and tell them how things are going to be. Don’t get me wrong, I’m as transparent as possible and am open to suggestions, but when the decision is made, that’s it.