Pinburgh "Exceptionally Good Play" - TGP Question

“Heads Up, Josh!”

This poses an interesting question. For the Heads Up tournament, 2-minute drill was one option, and each game counted as “1/3” for TGP purposes. At what point does the choice of time become “WPPR abuse”? If you have lots of rounds and games such that your 1/3’s add up to 25 games overall, is there / should there be a “minimum time standard” for which the 1/3 of a game applies? If you had a 30-second drill option in a tournament, you could conceivably have enough games played in an hour to rate at 100%. I doubt we want that, so what’s the standard? Two minutes seems like a good minimum to me, since it’s close to 1/3 the length of a “typical” tournament game.

I’m not too worried about this until I’m given a reason to actually be worried about this.

If someone wants to run a 75-game 30-second tournament, I would probably contact some of the players to see how it went. Look at the results to see if they seemed to reasonably reflect the skill level of the players that participated, etc.

Let’s see if someone actually wants to go through with that first before condemning anything :slight_smile:

Off topic as far as TGP is concerned, but has anyone else used this rule in their own events? Any feedback on it appreciated.

Stolen from @TracyLindy below. I will only use it on the last game of the round if its holding up the event. As the TD i will have a pre-determined score in my head and once hit i will let the participant know they can stop playing. It varies from game to game but usually its 2x+ the next competitors score.

The tournament director reserves the right to make a “runaway game ruling” for the sake of time and may ask a player who has a significant lead to stop playing the game in progress. In the event this occurs, the player who is asked to stop will receive a guaranteed “win” of 7 points for the game. Any player reaching the runaway player’s score as confirmed by the TD at the time of the ruling will also receive a 7 for the game - these points will be added in the adjustments in matchplay and will not be reflected in the placement entered in to matchplay. The runaway player will be listed 1st for the game with any subsequent players achieving their score being listed 2nd, 3rd, 4th as they occur.

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Two main places that I’ve used it:

Monthly Fair Strikes Tournament - We try to limit the how long the event is, and getting to 100% isn’t a priority so we have this rule in our back pocket. Had a player (@PinDaddy) decide to have a run-away game on Dialed In, so we tapped him out (can’t remember if it was Ball 2 or 3), and I made note of the players involved.

York Match Play Event - The event that I started the thread about. We used show-floor games that we tried to vet ahead of time, but we figured we would have issues so we had this ruling available. In round one we had one game that we thought was on three-ball but was on five ball, and they were holding up the round. In that cases, we declared the player currently leading as the winner, and gave the others a chance to catch the score. We pulled the game, and didn’t have the need to use it for the remaining six rounds.

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I used it recently in a matchplay tourney. We had a group running long(banks of 3 games). On a particularly tough set-up Jackbot, player 1 gets 6 billion on ball one. I used that rule and had him plunge off his next two balls. None of the other player even came close to that score.

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The value of a game should not be reduced unless the runaway rule is used AND another player reaches the runaway score.

Consider P1 has 100 billion on AFM going into B3 and P2-P4 all have less than 1 billion. TD invokes the runaway rule and declares P1 the winner, P2-P4 each play out their B3 and don’t reach the 100B score.

Now consider P4 has 100 billion after B2 and each of P1-P3 has less than 100 billion after B3. P4 is the winner before plunging B3.

In both cases the same amount of pinball was played. In the first case the game would have 1/3 value. In the second case full value. It doesn’t make sense.

We don’t reduce the value of a game anytime P4 doesn’t have to play B3.

The value of a game should only be reduced if invoking the runaway rule resulted in a player playing less pinball than would have been required to win (or not receive a strike) had the runaway rule not been invoked.

I find these to be completely different situations.

The biggest issue here is PLAYER CHOICE vs. TD CHOICE.

Once a TD sets a runaway score, they have fundamentally changed the game being played.

In your example:
Player 1

  • The TD has taken away a guarantee that they can win the game outright
  • The TD has taken away the choice of the player if they want to continue to point press in order to make a larger statement in that situation.

Players 2-4

  • The TD has taken away the opportunity for these players to come over the top for the win. These kind of come from behind victories are a big part of what makes pinball great (see IFPA16 final game).
  • The TD has impacted the strategic decisions of the other players by setting a target score to reach. If I only need 10B on AFM, I can get there in one Total Annihilation. If I allow Player 1 to play until 50B or 100B, you almost force those other players to have to attempt to reach Rule the Universe.

The 1/3rd TGP adjustment is the “PENALTY” for TD’s interfering with the integrity of the game being played. I completely understand when asking a player to stop is the best solution, especially in smaller local events. I’ve done this in our local monthly events here in Chicago. However, this does come with a consequence 'value wise". It’s our hope that this limits the use to extreme cases.

Comparing this to a game where P4 has already won the match going into their ball 3 is ridiculous. At no time in that match did the TD interfere with the integrity of that game. Every player in the match was offered the opportunity to play their best, optimizing their strategic choices to the situations brought on by only the play from the other players.

I can only imagine if we told Daniele he was “good” at his 2 billion, and we’ll simply call it a tie if Johannes happens to come back in his game.


I saw it implemented once ever outside of the Pinburgh WPT game, and I was actually a player in this game. A known high score grinder type of player had a relatively safe and relatively slow strategy on a game that’s usually considered pretty brutal. Nothing like bouncing up an inlane off a flipper stutter, but something they could potentially reliably continue for hours given their skill level. Decision was made between the other players and TD to mercy rule them on ball two and allow everyone else to attempt to catch their score for a shared first place. It was more than double my all time high and if my memory of the conversation I had with the other players is accurate, more than double theirs as well. Everyone in the game agreed that we were never going to catch up anyway. Tournament rolled on and everyone was happy. I believe their mercy rule score was around 7x what 2nd place got, and 2nd place would have won any other round I saw played on that game that day.

Sooo what was the game and the strat?


I’ve actually seen something similar twice in games I was playing in now that I think about it, both times it was the player decision to call a mercy rule.

One was Fathom. Left flipper catch, right lock, right drop target with 100% safe catch on held up right flipper, tap pass to left, repeat 2x, multiball cradle separation, play multiball with just right flipper, repeat. This game was super easy to tap pass on. After a flipper rebuild the strategy was no longer effective. Also I am terrible at tap passing so I couldn’t duplicate the success even after the clinic the other player put on for me.

Second was Grand Lizard. Start multiball. Trap left. Play multiball with right. Once multiball ends, lock with your left flipper trapped ball. Hold up upper right flipper on plunge . Safe trap on upper left flipper. Hit spot target to the right of the upper playfield drops to start a new multiball. Trap locked ball with left flipper. Play multiball with right. Both very grindy ways to play but very safe considering the skill levels of the players involved, both strategies to some extent utilized the exact geometry / set up of that particular table and the strategy might not work as cleanly on another instance of that table.

I don’t know about the specific geometry part. This is pretty much exactly how to play both games. Grand lizard has easily stageable flippers too, so you can play up top with a ball trapped below.

Not on the one we use. No way to trap out of the lock feed. You’ll be lucky to get the left flipper on the ball. No way to trap up top either.

I’ve played TAF’s where the feed are perfect so that you can always backhand bear, trap up on right, post pass, backhand chair, dead bounce to trap on right for the next bear shot. If someone way better than me got a hold of that TAF, they’d never drain I’d imagine.

Not at all surprising to see Grand Lizard mentioned. Seeing that game (or Solar Fire) just gives me instant dread of hour plus endurance-test matches. Never ever ever pick these vs. Eric Stone.

…and now the music is in my head. :unamused:


The tap pass part of the Fathom loop is now nearly impossible on that game after the flipper rebuild. The Grand Lizard was easier than usual to hit the left lock, the eject was soft and possible to catch, and certain other elements lined up to where the overall combination was perhaps easier than most.

Usually when everyone is waiting for a game to finish it isn’t on Grand Lizard or Fathom in my experience. LoTR or certain White Waters maybe.

All options from right to left are on the table on Fathom. Tap pass, alley pass and post pass. So, if the tap pass is out, I’ll just find one that works. What makes the game harder is if the feed from the inline drops doesn’t easily come to the right flipper. Then you might have to play with the upper flipper to get the feed you want. I prefer if the game is set up this way, rather than a hands off snooze fest to the right flipper.

Buuu, Bu De Doo Doo Doo, Bu de doo doo doo, Bu de doo doo doo… LOL


Agreed. No respectable tournament should ever invoke this rule in the finals.


what about if they are in danger of being kicked out due to time over runs?

I’ve done it once, and it was Fil Baird blowing up Star Trek one ball one in the first round of a week night tournament. I talked to all the players involved in the match-up and everyone was on board with it. So I think if you just talk to everyone before hand, and explain your reasoning, folks will mostly be agreeable.

I didn’t even think about this aspect of it. Now I know…