In the San Francisco Bay Area, we’ve been having some discussions about coaching. We’re a little confused by the PAPA/IFPA rules. Section 9 “Player Errors” reads…
Because the tournament divisions consist solely of singles play, coaching of any player during a game, in any round, is not allowed. An exception is provided for Juniors play; Juniors players may have no more than one coach during their qualifying and final rounds of play. If a non-Junior player specifically requests advice on a game feature during play, his or her question may be addressed only by a tournament official, and answered only in terms of whether or not the machine is functioning correctly. Non-Junior players are not to seek assistance from other players or spectators. Informing player 1 too many or too few games have been entered into the machine will not be penalized as coaching.
No player may use a camera or visual aid of any kind, other than the instructions provided by the machine, while standing at the machine. A player may review electronic or written notes in between turns of a multiplayer game or between games, but not during their own turn or between balls of a single-player game. While not actively playing, players are of course free to discuss features and strategies as much as they like, including between balls during a game, but no spectator or other player is compelled to answer, nor are they responsible for incorrect advice or answers to questions.
The first paragraph seems pretty clear that coaching is not allowed during a game. But the second paragraph seems to say the opposite – players are free to discuss features and strategies as much as they like.
Is the distinction just that coaching is not allowed while the player is on the machine, but is allowed between balls? (Heyrocker suggested as much in the “Tournament Etiquette” thread.) If so, could the ruleset be amended to clarify that?
Or is there some distinction between who is doing the coaching (an opponent, an official, a friend)?
Or maybe the distinction is in coaching one player instead of all players? Of course, best practice is to coach all players on a machine at once, so everyone can learn. But is private coaching (while not playing a ball) expressly disallowed?
Or maybe I am missing something else altogether?
To put this into context, in the San Francisco Bay Area, we place a heavy emphasis on players teaching one another how to play a game they are unfamiliar with (though not while a ball is in play). However, we acknowledge that other areas have different approaches, so want to make sure we don’t drift too far out of line with other viewpoints in the pinball community.
A second point of confusion is the camera / visual aid reference. I think it means you can’t read a rulesheet while you’re playing. But it’s not completely clear. Specific questions,…
- Is it permissible to use a camera to take a photo of a game’s instruction card or playfield to read later (or to read between balls in the same game while your opponent is playing)?
- Is it permissible to use a smartphone’s light to read a dimly lit instruction card or playfield, as long as the light doesn’t distract players on nearby machines?
(I know that the use of headlamps during play was addressed in a separate discussion some months ago. I’m not attempting to reopen that discussion.)