No Mathmatical formulas to break ties please

I’d like to make a plea to all TD’s out there that we do away with the mathematical formulas for breaking meaningful ties, or at min the ties that get a person in or out of finals. I understand the reason for it at events like Pinburg where you may have 10 people in a critical tie and time doesn’t allow for multiple game to be played but in events where you realistically will have less than 4 people on the bubble, please (I beg of you) please let us play a game.

This is in relation to a match play tie situation. Use 1st place finishes and then 2nd place finishes if needed because at least there is a meaningful difference but if the players are still tied at that point, I 100% don’t agree with the use of “earlier round performance” equations. It’s not fair to the player especially when those players didn’t play against each other nor on the same games or even against the same players. I’m going to give an example of what happened to me this weekend to elaborate why I feel this way.

I played in a fairly large event to where there were 52 people in a grouping (4 groups played for qualifying) where you could play in up to 2 groups. Total players were 123 and top 24 made finals. Only 6 rounds could be played for each group due to time so you played a very small pool of those players. I tied with another player at 14.5 points with both of us having 4 1st place finishes, 1 second and 1 third. Both of our 2nd place finishes were in 3 player pairings as well (some people didn’t show so we were short of the 52). Since we had identical scores and finishes the “earlier round performance” was used to break the tie.

Player A went - 1,3 (4 player group),1,1,2 (3 player group),1
Player B went - 1,2 (3 player group),1,1,3 (4 player group),1

Player B was awarded the last spot in qualifying for the tournament. I still don’t understand why doing better at the start and finishing weaker at the end is determined to be better than someone that started weaker and finished stronger. Seems like at worst, you would look at finishing position starting at round 6, then 5, then 4, etc but I know that’s not how it’s done. Since Player B had more points then Player A back in round 2 they go the win.

Here is why I feel using that is an injustice to all players that fall into this situation. Strength of schedule isn’t taken into account, head to head of players they both played isn’t taken into account nor is strength of players they lost to taken into account. In all 3 of these items Player A performed better.

Player A played stronger opponents - 3760 Average IFPA Ranking VS Player B’s 5335 average
Player A and B both played 5 of the same players. Player A beat all 5 of those like opponents where Player B went 4 and 1.
Player A losses were to players with an average IFPA ranking of 816 VS Player B’s 1879
Player A strongest 3 opponents were IFPA ranked 10,108, 273. Player B was 70, 324, 396.

The only possible way Player B would take the tie without a game played is because Player A took a 3rd in round 2 with Player B taking a second.

I know this is a bit of sour grapes right now with me, but my intentions and heart are always with making things as competitive and fair as possible. To me, it just doesn’t seem right to be breaking ties in this fashion thus the plea to allow for a competitive way to break the tie or at min look at the players paths. I still don’t like the paths as neither play chose whom they got to play against but at least it shows who had to play stronger.

Outside of time constraints what would be the reason why this way of breaking ties is even allowed/used?


The TD can decide to break ties anyway they want as far as I know. I think a one ball To one game playoff would’ve been fine in this scenario. I agree that having the tie broken this way sucks.

If time is a concern do one ball or only choose a game from the faster playing games.

I think as long as it’s impartial it’s fine. Aaron Aabertson’s tournament last year had a few people upset there wasn’t some kind of playoff for the last spot in the finals, but really alphabetical order is about as fair as you can get.


From a TD perspective delaying the event for every player and all of the supporting staff is much worse than flipping a coin to break a tie.

This could be solved by recording scores though. Then you could compare scores on the same machine. Scorbit for the win.


Time constraints and trying to keep tourneys on schedule is THE reason for having tie-break procedures based on other metrics of the qualifying beyond total match points. So to say “outside of time constraints” is a non-starter for whatever discussion you’re wanting to have. The event you’re referencing involved four different sessions of ~3 hours of match play, and the organizers couldn’t afford to have one session bleed over by 30+ minutes into the next to facilitate a tie-break game.

Additionally, you didn’t bother to mention in your “plea” that the tie-break procedures were spelled out very clearly in the rules prior to registration for the event. If you (or others) don’t like those procedures or don’t feel they are fair, then vote with your wallet by not attending. I, for one, will still attend fun events even if they have to use these tie-break procedures.

Personally, for ties involving getting into the finals, I don’t like using ANY of the built-in tie-break procedures that compare the # of 1st places, # of 2nd places, strength of opponents, etc. Because the total match points being equal means that you were victorious over an equal # of opponents – I don’t think that a player who has one 1st and one 3rd be given preference over a player with two 2nd’s, because they both defeated a total of 4 opponents. I prefer using an additional one game as tie-breaker. But I also understand that some events can’t tolerate the additional time.

While your tech-work and repair work have been invaluable to me (and others) at various events, I don’t believe you’ve ever organized or TD’d a large event… so if you have ideas on how to make things better in balancing tie-breaks with schedule, then run some events and try out your ideas. Maybe we can all learn from your new tie-break procedures that still balance the fact that time stops for no one.

I also hope that you’ve already proposed and discussed your solutions (that consider time constraints) directly to the organizers and TD’s prior to taking your “injustice” to a public forum.


This method of tiebreaking makes sense for Pinburgh because you are matched with people doing about as well as you are therefore between the tied players one of them was at a disadvantage by playing better earlier in the tournament and then having to play tougher players. This argument does not stand in the case of a balanced pairing format as the mentioned tournament was. In this format, there is no way to know which tiebreaker games are necessary until all 4 sessions are played because if 2 people are tied for the last qualifying spot but 1 person does better in another session, no tiebreaker is necessary. For this reason, all tiebreakers should be played out immediately after the final session is complete.

1 Like

This is the most important thing to remember.


To be fair, there was plenty of time to break the tie. They could easily be done before finals at the end of the day’s qualifying. The game would have been done before all the people just hanging out in the room had left.

I shouldn’t have to “vote with my wallet” to get fair treatment in tournaments. But I also didn’t mention the event on purpose or the fact that I vocalized two very strong concerns with the format. I thought the event went well and I didn’t want to muck up that thread or the event in general by mentioning it was the Houston Expo. When the format was posted I did mention that I had concerns with the tiebreaker as well as the random seeding. Ironically enough, or maybe karma, both of my concerns happened to me in that same round. I hit the tie breaker rule as well as the, you really wont get in a group with only top players scenario.

I’ve tried a couple of times to put stuff together with Robert B. He and I are still in talks or trying to do something. In the interim my skill set is more around tech type of work so that is how I have chosen to help the community. I also provide my feedback in the best ways I know how to and 9 times out of 10 I’m ignored by this forum and my local community or made out to be an idiot publicly. Ironically enough, I’ve seen several things change as part of my feedback but it was only after one of the chosen ones made the same suggestions later for which everyone cheered the idea. Let’s face the facts. If you aren’t a world renowned player, have a podcast or post a million times in a forum your opinion doesn’t matter most of the time.

I’m pretty sure the TD knows how I felt about that rule before the event and during the event. When I initially thought I won the tie breaker I even vocalized I thought it was dumb, later to find out I lost the tie breaker.

Let me be as frank as possible. This stance/tone against me is exactly why I’m irritated. I tried to do what I could to bring up my concerns with of a format/rule in a forum that states it’s all about growing the competitive nature of pinball. It’s now suggested that I should have had this concersation with the TD and not post it here. I didn’t mention HAAG nor the TD in this on purpose. I was told in the other thread, in rebutatl to my concerns, that other shows use these same rules. I was also told other TD’s are considering this format and rules. My intention here was to let ALL TD’s see how these rules impact players. This wasn’t intended to be a sour grapes thread thus why I left all names out and didn’t mention the events, but since now it’s all focus on me just being a complainer, so be it.


I would like to add one more thing. I publicly showed my appreciation to the TD on here and in person for the event. He did an amazing job running it. My frustration is not with him, it is with the rule in general. My intention of this whole thread was to get people to think about the rule and how it effects people and to see if they really thought it produced the best outcome for finals (the most deserving player getting through).

1 Like

One thing to consider: tiebreakers aren’t “official” tournament games, so you can get creative with them. I’d suggest choosing a machine that gets the ball in play quickly, then giving each tied player 60 seconds to get as many points as they can, restarting the game for each player. Any cellphone can provide the timer and you’re looking at a little over a minute a player if no one screws around.


I will say I personally hate the “choose the fastest playing, s**tiest game for a tie break”. I would rather a coin flip, at least that is unbiased.

For simplicity’s sake, points after the penultimate round (and so on), being the first tie-break makes a lot of sense (and is the way that Pinburgh – the ultimate match play tournament – does it).

I don’t like the first part of the tie break rules which evaluate number of 1st place finishes, then 2nd place finishes, etc. Especially when there are 3 player groups in the mix, since a player with more 3 player rounds would have a de facto advantage.

That tiebreaker only makes sense in a Swiss format. This tournament was balanced

1 Like

[off topic] One other random thing about the 3 player groups here. The TOPL rules for 3 player groups could maybe be a good solution. They have the 4th player in the group as the median score of all players in the event (of course this would need scores reported). If you win, you get 3. Second place get 1 or 2 depending on if they beat the median. Third gets 0 or 1 depending on if they beat the median.

It makes a little less sense due to the “new-ish” pairing on round 10 that breaks away from tiered swiss. Though the alternative of 20 people on quicksilver wasn’t great either :slight_smile: Except for one Canadian out there :wink:

1 Like

That’s great … in hindsight. As a TD, you have to estimate your schedule and write your rules accordingly before the event, with no guarantee on how long each round will take… of a format that had never been used before for that particular event. As a player, you only see things as they’re happening or immediately after they’re happening. Try doing all the organizing, planning, scheduling, estimating, etc. yourself before being critical of how things actually played out.

Everyone should absolutely vote with their wallet on what events they choose to attend. How else would you propose handling things? Players get to dictate ahead-of-time or after-the-fact how organizers should run their events? :wink:

And to say that you received unfair treatment isn’t true – you were treated fairly according to the rules. That’s not to say that the tiebreak rules were ideal. You even recognized and expressed that the tiebreak rules weren’t to your liking prior to the event, and yet, you registered and attended anyway. I’m glad you did – I enjoy playing pinball with you and hanging out with you.

See my previous post: offer your constructive feedback with realistic solutions in private message vs forum posts. If you’re having to offer the caveat of “sour grapes” in what/how your posting, consider editing the content, tone, or mechanism of your feedback.

I don’t believe that my response to you insinuated that at all. But if you perceived it that way, I apologize.

I’m pretty sure he knew how you felt, too. And vocalizing that you think an aspect of an event is “dumb” that someone else has put in countless hours of time and thought isn’t a good way to have a constructive conversation on how something could be done differently or better. Discuss what could be done differently as a solution, and then discuss the ramifications/effects of such an alternate solution.

My stance isn’t against you, my stance is to highlight that events/TD’s don’t always have the luxury of time to use yours and my preferred method of settling tiebreaks on an additional game. Please don’t conflate a debate on the topic you presented, and an opposing viewpoint from yours as a personal attack against you.

I stand by that suggestion. What’s wrong with it? At least at a minimum to have the conversation with them first of what solutions you propose, and then if you’re looking for additional dialogue/debate on a topic, then post it publicly.

Leaving out names and events is certainly better, but it doesn’t completely change how something comes across. Edit posts down to the points you’re trying to make, so that you don’t have to add a “sour grapes” caveat, and avoid words like “injustice.”

That’s good. But there seemed to be a lot more effort (and words) on your part on how you felt slighted vs pointing out the specific things that you think went smoothly or amazing.

Now let’s get back to talking solutions:

  • for this qualifying format, I think a tier Swiss pairing (Pinburgh format) would be better. Or a “strict swiss” pairing algorithm – where in 2nd+ rounds, swiss pairing is used, but you are not allowed to be matched against a prior-faced opponent.
  • If it remains Balanced pairing, then for tiebreaks, if there isn’t time for a tie-breaking game, then use Strength of Schedule as the only tiebreaker (where strength is based on performance during the event and not based on world/state ranking).
  • I agree with @ethanatx that using Pinburgh’s tiebreaker method of match points in most recent rounds doesn’t pair well with a Balanced qualifying system.
  • If it’s determined that tiebreaker games can be squeezed into the schedule, I like @85vett’s suggestion to hold all the tiebreaker games between the last session and beginning of finals – because you could hold multiple session’s tiebreaker matches at the same time in parallel (vs having a tiebreaker after every session). If there are players that are eligible for multiple tiebreakers (because players could play in more than one session), then players must choose – via secret ballot – only one tiebreaker to play in, in order to keep things moving as quickly as possible.

That’s all I can think of right now.

1 Like

Exclude Pinburgh as no other tournament is going to have a potential of 20 people on the bubble. It doesn’t make more sense to me. If the players have the same score and number of 1st and 2nds then you are rewarding the person that started strong and finished slower vs a person that started slower and finished stronger.

I could pose an argument that you would want the person that finished stronger well over the other way as they are more likely to do better in finals (finishing hot vs cold) but there really isn’t any merit to the argument as both players would have the same chance in finals. It’s kind of like the current tie breaker rule.

I just don’t see how someone winning round 2 but losing round 5 is the better player than the person that lost round 5 and won round 2. To me, if you want to go that route, look at strength of the rounds lost and use that.

Finding strength of schedule is easy, so is looking at head to head (record against people they both played). I managed to do it in less than 5 mins without having the raw data at my fingers tips. To me, either of those options is a much better determination of whom is more deserving.

So, I guess my recommendation would be to not use the current rule and change it to be the following if a tie breaker game can’t be played:

  • number 1st
  • number 2nd
  • number 3rd
  • record against like players
  • strength of players played against

After those steps, you will not have a tie anymore unless everyone plays everyone.

I would even use those ahead of # of 1sts

I can’t figure out how to pull out just the quote of what I want in these quotes of quotes so trying it this way :frowning:

  • That’s great … in hindsight. As a TD, you have to estimate your schedule and write your rules accordingly before the event, with no guarantee on how long each round will take…

  • Everyone should absolutely vote with their wallet on what events they choose to attend. How else would you propose handling things?

This is going to sound like a dig and I’ve rewritten it a million times to not make it sound that way, so no ill intention meant at all. But, for the people, in Austin, that don’t win almost every event they go to we can’t pick and choose what events we play in if we care anything about SCS. If you miss TPF, Bat City and/or Houston you stand nearly no chance of making top 24. I had already decided that if I didn’t qualify for TPL I wasn’t going as I was already on the SCS boardline and knew that not qualifying there and Houston meant I wasn’t making it. Since I did qualify for TPL I joined Houston since I had to come to Houston anyway.

This wont be an issue next year though as I already made the decision that I’m done chasing WPR points and fighting for SCS. I will only travel for events I’m not A restricted to but will still probably come to Bat City since it is local. Outside of that I’m done. This was a decision I made months ago so it’s not because of what happened this weekend (I.E. thus why you don’t see me on TPF which was an event I’ve looked forward to every year for the past 6 years). More than happy to discuss this more offline if you ever wanted to. Fact is, that even if I TDed 100 events next year and won all 100 of them it still wouldn’t improve the situation where we are. Nobody comes anymore to events in Austin and unless something happens soon league is almost dead. The venue has killed it as well as the new Bells and Chimes league. No women come anymore (really miss seeing them) and people despise pinballz :frowning: All we have is Buffalo monthlys which sometimes get 10 people or 30 people. But then, if you, Steve, Robert, Mark, etc show up it’s a blind squirrel finding a nut to finish even 2nd.

  • See my previous post: offer your constructive feedback with realistic solutions in private message vs forum posts.

Not worth while for several reason. The main reason is because I wanted to discuss the rule as it’s in place, not that the TD thought it was a good rule. If he and I talked this out via IM or in person and he basically said, “you’re right, dumb rule, I wont use it again” (I don’t think he would agree with that anyways) it wouldn’t have accomplished what I wanted to get accomplished. I wanted visibility to how this rule impacts people but more importantly how it, may not be getting the better performing player into the spot. Which to me, should be the goal. Whether I got the spot or the other person did, I still would have made this post. You know me good enough to believe that but I think I just heard a lot of people say, “bull &^%$” out loud :slight_smile:

  • I don’t believe that my response to you insinuated that at all. But if you perceived it that way, I apologize.

That wasn’t really meant to be directed at you. I feel this way about the community in general. I know I’m of a different breed than most on this forum and in pinball in general but when I speak up, I’m rarely met with understanding, acceptance or respect. It’s normally condescension. You’d be surprised how many others feel this way but don’t speak up publicly. Sometimes I feel as though I’m representing that whole group as I constantly get messages with agreement or people coming up to me in person supporting my thoughts but nothing posted in the threads in fear of becoming part of my club, an outsider. I’m just to old to care anymore. I used to go along with things but now I know that I need to speak up and fight for what I feel is right and what I want otherwise it may be taken away from me. That’s pinball. I loved it and over the last couple years, that love is being taken away from me and thus I speak up when I’m not happy.

But honestly, I do feel there are a lot of people making rules that have forgotten what it’s like to have to fight to qualify for an event, much less win something. Either because they are super good or they aren’t competitive anymore. A lot of the changes going on now really effect those of us that fight for the bubble each and every event.

And if I payed closer attention I would have debated the rule much more than I did previously. I know it’s pretty clear especially for people that are familiar with this but I, for some reason, interpreted this as your score AFTER round 5.

I.E. - we both got 3 in round 6. Player A got 1.5 (2nd) in round 5 and player B got 1 (3rd) in round 5. Player A wins because they had 4.5 points AFTER round 5. That is the letter of the rules as written, but not having Lefkoff and Associates present, I wasn’t going to win that argument :wink:

The rule as written -
"Qualifying ties will be broken by the number of first place finishes, then the number of second place finishes, then score after round 5, score after round 4, etc. If players are still tied, the tie will be broken via random number generator. "