Reducing Tiebreakers in PAPA-style Playoffs

We’ve started adding verbiage to our local event docs that tiebreakers will be played on a sub-set of known shorter playing games. Quicksilver and Fathom hold that distinction right now at our local venue.


No, I’m not sure how you come to that conclusion?

Let’s say the results are:

A, 4, 4, 0 = 8
B, 2, 1, 2 = 5
C, 1, 0, 4 = 5
D, 0, 2, 1 = 3

A finishes in 1st with 8pts
D finishes last with 3 pts

B & C are tied with 5 pts
Over the 3 games B beat C twice therefore progresses. Regardless of the order they scored their pts.

I will say that I would ALWAYS prefer to have a playoff between B & C on a separate game, but in situations when time constraints don’t allow this this seems, to me at least,to be a perfectly fair way of splitting the players, as it’s based solely on their performance in that round.


that’s some good stuff! so about 3x less potential total ties between the 2 scoring system?

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Yep, that’s what I got, too, only 1/3 as many ties with 16-9-4-0. Think of it as “in between” the 4-2-1-0 and 3-2-1-0 systems, which it numerically is. It gets rid of the “different 3-game records but same overall points” ties that those other two systems produce.

Re jdelz’s comments, yes, there are other ways to cut down event times. I wanted to add this to the TDs’ toolbox for when they would prefer not to use one of those other methods.


Not a fan

4-2-1-0 works really well, and is way better than the crappy 3-2-1-0

I’d also go as far to say that the meta for high caliber 4 player finals is pretty entrenched in the 4-2-1-0 system. Tiebreakers under 4-2-1-0 do not feel bad to the players in the event.

The situations(s) in which you could or could not advance or be eliminated in a tournament are the most important. I’d hate to see it reduced or actual play data points reduced.

If time is a concern, i’d suggest TD’s look elsewhere for time savings.


16-9-4-0 is equivalent to 4-2.01-1-0, from the overall scoring perspective – you could also say “it’s 4-2-1-0, but the first tiebreaker is number of second place finishes”.

I guess these things all come down to scaling, and answering questions such as …

  • Which is better, going 1st-3rd-3rd or 2nd-2nd-2nd?
  • Which is better, going 1st-3rd-4th or 2nd-2nd-3rd?
  • Which is better, going 1st-4th-4th or 4th-2nd-2nd?

The “who won 2 out of 3, heads-up” tiebreak would award all of these to the second player.

In the end, gimme 4-2-1-0 and tiebreaking games :slight_smile:


Just keep a High Hand available for all tiebreaks and you’ll likely see less than five minutes of ball time … for both players combined! :wink:

I’m sure we would all like to see the FSPA bonus point system and how that impacts the chances for ties :slight_smile:

Ah, you’ve reminded me of my favorite scoring system (never implemented) 3.1/2.01/1.001/0.

Dude they had an even wackier one for that Fairfax tournament they used to have. Now I’m going to have to try and look it up, I remember it even blowing my mind.

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Yes, this is effectively what Matchplay Events uses for its tiebreaks by listing the number of first- and then second-place finishes. You also don’t need the 1.001 because only those first two checks are needed … if there’s the same number of first, second, and third-place finishes, the number of fourth-place finishes must also be equal.

Also I’m excited for the player who can get 10 second place finishes and catch up

A bit more logic added to this if we just convert them to straight W/L. I’m curious on what people think from a logic and skill perspective.

1-3-3: 5W 4L
2-2-2: 6W 3L

1-3-4: 4W 5L
2-2-3: 5W 4L

1-4-4: 3W 6L
4-2-2: 4W 5L

Is the player who defeated the most opponents higher skilled than the one who was able to win a whole match? I’d argue the one who defeated the most would be the better player from a numbers perspective. But I could also argue the one who was able to win a match outright could be as well. Consistency vs “luck”.

On topic, keep tiebreakers. If time is an issue I’m sure there are other solutions. But if we could solve this issue here I’d be curious.

Olympic Curling Spoilers Below

The Olympic Curling Round Robin just finished up. 10 Teams, and you play each team once (9 Matches). Top 4 move on to Single-Elimination Medal Bracket.

Before each match starts, each team throws a single rock. Whoever is closer gets the “hammer” and goes last in the first end. The match proceeds from there.

On the women’s side, there were three teams tied for the final two spots based on record.

First tiebreaker is head-to-head performance among tied teams. All three were 1-1. The second tiebreaker is average distance from the center for those single-rock shots at the start of the game. The three teams were 35cm, 36cm, and 46cm. A team plays for something like 24+ combined hours throwing hundreds of shots a total distance of something like 15+ miles, only to be eliminated because the average of the nine coin-flip shots was 3 inches further than the other team’s.

The Olympics used to do a play-in game if needed, but moved to automatic tiebreaking.

I know we have a more nuanced discussion here because it’s a group match play scenario with different scoring schemes, but I did want to share what happened in curling today.

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I had to look this up…

For four-player games, the winner is awarded three (3) points, the second-place player two (2) points, and the third-place player one (1) point. One bonus point is allocated to either the first- or third-place player, as in a three-player match. Another bonus point is given to the second-place player if his score exceeds the sum of the third- and fourth-place players. Otherwise, the second bonus point is given to the fourth-place player.


We have this in our league as well! :smiley:

When I was in FSPA (longer ago than their website has archived), we had the bonus points. I don’t use them myself, nor recommend them often, since not all games have similar propensity for the scores to lend themselves to bonus points being won by the higher-scoring player. Some games tend to have relatively flat scores, others a much wider range (e.g. recent Sterns). Also, you can get a bonus point for making that one shot to start the wizard mode while another player lights it but doesn’t get a shot to start it; I find the bonus point a bit harsh in that case.

Besides, it’s more work to handle bonus points.

It appears to me that time is an issue because large tournaments are running the formats the players are demanding, and the formats the players are demanding are ones that have time issues. At some point one or the other will have to be compromised. The players either get less qualifying/playing time before finals or finals goes to fewer rounds with fewer tiebreakers.

I anticipate the argument from A tier players that shorter qualifying times are fine but these longer qualifying times have been instrumental in helping increase the prize pool for larger events, which in turn increases the draw to them and as would follow, feeds their growth.

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Wild idea that I’m sure everyone will hate, but serves the function of keeping tiebreakers and reducing overall playtime:

Reduce the number of games per round from the standard three to two. This then increases the likelihood of ties. (54% for 4210 and 71% for 3210). The time that was once reserved for game 3 then becomes the time reserved for the tie breaker game.

Some thoughts on this:

  • Functionally, this is pretty similar to what already happens in a 3 game round. Often the results are fairly well settled after two games or one player leads and two or more are tied.
  • I went through INDISC finals and most of the time the result would have been the same using this method. I found only 4 cases where someone else would have advanced. (though critically, Colin U would have won after Game 2 in the final round.)
  • Tiebreaker games are always pretty exciting to watch, so increasing the probability that they happen could be good for that.
  • Probably the biggest argument against is that the results of 3 games feels more meaningful/stable than 2 and theres probably truth to that. My kneejerk response is that the information gained from the third game is not as practically significant as it is psychological. There’s always the option too to increase the games per round on later rounds too.

Feature request for matchplay. Allow the TD to change the number of game per round in a matchplay elimination bracket before each round.

this sums up very well the difficult situation TD have to balance when looking at schedule, format and prize pool for tournaments… like everything in life, you can’t have 100% people happy/