Non-Tournament Players in a Tournament

I’m wondering if someone can help me with a request I’ve had? We run monthly group matchplay tournaments. Recently, I’ve fielded requests from people that don’t want to compete in the tournament, but want to play in the tournament, provided that even makes sense. They have no desire to be competitive, but want to hang out and play with everyone else.

I have no problem with that and have done everything I can to accommodate people who want to play. I’ve added random bar patrons half way through a tournament when they say “whoa, what’s this and can I play?”. I feel that turning people away from participating isn’t helping the hobby.

With that said, is there a way to handle that so they can play, but don’t effect the other players?

Suppress them.

I have not had this happen for a tournament. I have had someone arrive late and we add them in with strikes they would have gotten depending on the round.

For league we allow guest players. We have people missing/3 player groups. So we fill it in by allowing guest players. We don’t add their scores to the software and it’s scored as a 3 player group. I encourage people that are interested in playing to start by guesting at league night, they get to have a low key social experience and the competitive level is much lower than a tournament.


Help me out with what you mean by suppressing them?

Suppress was my quick answer, and might not be the right answer. I think I need to understand a little more what the player is trying to accomplish. The verbiage you wrote is tricky “they don’t want to compete, but they want to play”. If they don’t care about an IFPA ranking, or WPPRS, or even winning trophies or cash, then insert this player as a “pacer”. We use “pacers” all the time in bowling. Simply put, the pacer is there bowling along with everyone else to keep things even, for example we like to bowl in pairs. If one set a lanes only has 3 people, we will add a pacer to keep things in sync. The pacers score have no merit and the pacer can’t win anything no matter how good they bowl, nor does the pacer have to pay to “play”. If that is what this person is looking to do, I’m not sure if Matchplay can handle a “pacer” so that might be tricky.

As for a suppressed player. Here are the details on that:

A player can be registered with the IFPA and receive WPPR points when entering sanctioned tournaments, but not have the points earned listed publicly and not participate in the ranking system. I believe if you are suppressed that you don’t pay the $1 IFPA fee either.

If a suppressed player enters a tournament and wins second place, the points awarded for second place will be awarded to that player, but will not be listed with the IFPA because the player’s status is suppressed.

The suppressed status also affects the tournaments in which a suppressed player is involved because the ranking of the suppressed player is not factored in when determining the value of the tournament. As a result, the players in the tournament are playing against and beating or losing to the suppressed player, but the value assigned to the tournament does not factor in the skill level of the suppressed player because he is suppressed.

Suppressed players aren’t allowed any IFPA benefits that we provide the player base. This includes IFPA World Championship qualifying, SCS qualifying, Stern Rewards program eligibility, etc.

Here some reasons why people suppress(from @pinwizj):

  • I don’t want my name on the internet
  • The rankings are bullshit with respect to accuracy (typically the player feels they should be ranked higher then they are)
  • The rankings put too much pressure on the player that it negatively impacts the enjoyment of the event

At Lyman’s we hold occasional “Pinball for the People” events, which were designed as pinball socials. It was often run with our league structure of people playing in groups and picking games, but not keeping score. IAlso an impromptu 2x tournament on a random night that isn’t for WPPRs but maybe a few bucks, might get folks playing. Maybe something like that would work, assuming you have the bandwidth to do such things like that.

We regularly have guest players that don’t get submitted to the IFPA, it’s probably 10% of our playerbase. Here’s what it says in our rules doc:

Any participant can elect to play in one of the following categories:

Guest (free)

  • Cannot participate in finals
  • Does not receive IFPA points
  • Cannot win prizes of any sort

Full participant ($5)

  • Can participate in finals
  • Will receive IFPA points (if meeting minimum participation requirements)
  • Can win door prizes (when available)
  • Can win cash prizes from the event pool

IFPA participant ($1)

  • Can participate in finals
  • Will receive IFPA points (if meeting minimum participation requirements)
  • Cannot win door prizes (when available)
  • Cannot win cash prizes from the event pool

You should not attempt to go and suppress someone because they said they didn’t want to “fully participate”. That’s up to them to do. Just exclude them from the IFPA results entirely.

TD’s are still responsible for paying the $1 fee on suppressed players.

This is incorrect. The value that a suppressed player brings to the event counts towards the value of that event. While not publicly posted we have all the data we need on the suppressed players to pull their appropriate value into the formula for calculation.


Thanks for the clarifications!

I guess i would score the groups as a three player group with the 4th (non-competitive) player just tagging along, comparing their own scores for fun.

It would seem unfair to various participants, sometimes their own group, sometimes other groups, if they end up acting as a spoiler (beating their group) or buoy (providing easy points).


I’m wondering how this works for head to head matchplay. Does the other person actually competing just get a bye? That would seem rather unfair to the rest of the tournament having to play a “real” opponent. Maybe you just add guests in pairs so they are never affecting anyone else?

How do you handle them in the software? We use Match Play and I suspect if they only want to “hang out” and play a few games with everyone, they probably don’t want their scores to be tracked.

If that’s the case. Just put them into a group that’s less than 4 people, then only record or count the scores of the league players.

You can do this manually at random. Don’t need to use matchplay except to decide with group to put them in.

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We put guests in the mix with everyone, they’re in matchplay and they can impact other people’s results. If they want to use a pseudonym, that’s fine too.

No one has ever complained about being beaten by a guest that wasn’t getting IFPA points. If you lose a match, you lost. It shouldn’t matter if your opponent is brand new or IFPA top 100 or going to leave in ten minutes, a game is a game and your score is what you earned. People playing in a ghost position can significantly impact the outcome of the game for the other players even if you don’t write their score down at the end, so I think they should be counted.

I’m confused about this concept of adding “guests” to a tournament and having their games actually impact others. At that point, you’re not a guest, you’re part of the tournament. Feels even weirder to do this after the tournament has begun, although backfilling with strikes based on number of rounds missed is a decent solution.

It’s a bit easier at league, where you can just insert them in groups if you have room to give them a taste, and it’s simple to just ignore their score for league purposes.


Yea, I can’t imagine using guests’ games in actual results, but inserting guest players to fill up a 4P game while only evaluating the competitors positions is a great way to introduce people to competitive pinball. Especially if they win… “Next time join the leage/tournament and your wins will count…” :slight_smile:

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Do whatever works for you and your players, what I posted above is what we do; figure out what works for you guys and is the least confusing for the new people.

What you shouldn’t do is what was alluded to earlier by someone else- start submitting people as IFPA participants when they think they’re “opting out”.

This whole scenario is odd to me. In my experience, most casuals are impatient and don’t want to join events because they have to adhere to a schedule and wait (sometimes a long time) for their turn. Maybe you just have some unique individuals showing up, and there have been some fine suggestions made here, but I’ve never encountered anyone like that.

Help me understand what your group does - you mentioned matchplay, so I’m guessing some sort of head to head/strikes format. If I’m on my last strike and I draw a guest (i.e., non-tournament participant) and they beat me, am I out of the tournament?

Group match play, one game per round, four player groups preferred.

Guests simply don’t win prizes. If I notice they are playing as a guest I’ll move the next highest score into the finals spot but sometimes I don’t notice. Our typical event is five-six rounds with a one game finals.
It works fine as-is for us.