Well, since nobody else will admit it, I will.
I sandbagged at Pinburgh this year. And I’ve sandbagged in years past at Pinburgh.
Unless I’m having my best day of pinball ever and Elwin is simultaneously having his worst day of pinball ever, there’s zero chance I’m going to beat him. It’s just not going to happen. And even if it did happen, the chances of Elwin, the Sharpes, Cayle, Henderson and everybody else who you always see at the top of the A division also simultaneously having the worst sustained play of their lives is so small as to be nonexistent. They would all have to take a dive for me to have a shot in A.
When round four rolled around on Thursday, I did the math. If I continued at my current pace I’d for sure make it into A (since I was on track to get a 36 pretty reliably, or worst case a 34), and then get absolutely slaughtered on Friday. That sounds about as much fun as lighting a firework and holding it until it goes off. So midway through round four I simply turned the engine off. I don’t mean I did anything flagrant like the guy some people are mentioning that was playing with one hand; that’s moronic and disrespectful. I gave a good show; deliberately bobbled a post pass, slap saved leading with the wrong hand, deliberately was over aggressive leading to a tilt, lost a ball out the back on scissor flippers, that kind of thing. Nobody suspected a thing, and I wasn’t dumb enough to tell anybody I did it. To everybody else, it simply looked like I had gone ice cold, because that’s what I wanted it to look like.
My end goal was to simply be around and be competitive on Saturday. I knew that if I got stuffed into A that I wouldn’t be playing on Saturday, period. I made the move that was the best for me at the time, and fell in the rankings exactly as planned.
Some people are motivated by qualifying in A. I’m not. I have enough hardware from past wins that qualifying in A and then washing out means nothing to me. By guaranteeing that I was playing in Saturday, I at least covered my entry cost, which is what I was looking to do.
Not having standings published wouldn’t do anything. I can recite exactly how many points I scored from each round, and I can also add in my head. When combined with the historical info on where the break lines are, it’s pretty easy to figure out what division you’re going to wind up in with a reasonable degree of accuracy. Knock off an extra point just to pad it, and you’re virtually guaranteed to land in the division you want to play in.
Boosting the payoff for A would be the worst possible move that could be made. There’s already a $11K difference between A and B finishers. You really think increasing that to a $13K difference is going to do anything? All that would do is give non-A players less motivation to enter. (Right now, even if you aren’t the best guy you have a halfway good shot at getting your entry money back. That’s a good thing!) Pinburgh is an expensive tournament to enter for a casual player, and if there’s no chance at breaking even then why enter at all? I can play for years in local tournaments for the grand it costs to do Pinburgh by the time you factor in everything. Eliminating the reward makes the risk unacceptably high.
Go ahead and crucify me if you must, but that’s what the conditions on the ground are, from someone who’s done it multiple times. Every time the calculus is the same, and I’ve made the same decision. Haven’t regretted it once.