Runaway Game Rulings

Does anyone’s league institute a Runaway game rule? We are working on the balance between more skilled players that come for the competition and the lesser skilled players that just want an excuse to get out of the house on a Thursday night.

We’ve had instances in the past where a player in one of the higher groups will completely blow up a game. Meanwhile, you have 28 other players sitting for 30 minutes. I can’t go crazy hard with the game setup, since we have lesser skilled players in the league and the games are also in a bar and aren’t mine.

We’ve figured out how we want to handle the scoring, but what’s the best way to handle what constitutes a Runaway Game? My first thought was something along the lines of a flow chart, with the first section being time based. For example:

  1. Has the second to last group finished more than 20 minutes ago
  2. Was there a delay in the last group (e.g waiting for a ruling, delay for repair, etc)
  3. Are they on at least ball 2
  4. etc, etc

Does anyone do anything like that in their events?

Just my opinion here, but I would never stop a game in progress if there’s any chance that another player can come back and win. That’s part of the game, and those are the best memories when someone completes an epic comeback.

If it’s last player last ball and they have won the game, you could have a rule that the game just stops since further scoring is irrelevant.

The game doesn’t get stopped, just one player. All subsequent players are allowed to finish their games in an attempt to reach the runaway player’s score. If they reach the runaway score, it gets recorded as a win for them as well.

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From the Pinburgh rules:

See also:

I found that thread earlier, but it only seems to discuss the scoring and how it relates to TGP. We’ve already handled the way things should be scored on our end. I’m asking about what triggers a runaway game. Does someone just say “Alright, I’m done waiting, you have to stop”. I’m sure there has to be something that triggers a TD to say “This is now a runaway game”.

“This will generally occur only if the pace of the tournament is at risk due to exceptionally good play.”

I guess I just assumed since everything else relating to tournaments seems to be very well spelled out to remove as much interpretation as possible, that a runway game ruling would be the same.

I was curious as to what other TDs were doing, if anything.

From my experience the IFPA would like to see TD’s use this the least amount possible. For tournaments I will rarely use it but for league nights I will sometime use it on the last group in Group Match-Play. That is what triggers it, the last group holding up the next round from occurring.

"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. "

Use it at your discretion. Never played in a league, so not sure of the exact format, but I’ve used the ruling a few times in some of my tournaments. The ruling is only made when the round is starting to run long because Spider-Man is still on Ball 2 due to player 2 putting up a massive score.

The decision definitely depends on the machine and the type of scoring it has.

3B on BSD? Play on

15M on Swords of Fury? Might be time to call it.




Ah, I was using a different definition of runaway. That’s ok then I guess, if you’re pressed for time or other constraints. I still personally wouldn’t use it.

I’ve specifically used the rule at York and at one-off match play tournaments where there are rounds involved.

Verbiage I’ve used in the rules document, which is basically taken from the Pinburgh ruleset:

Tournament officials may declare a player as a winner of a game in progress; that player will get a record of 1st Place for that game. This will generally occur only if the pace of the tournament is at risk due to exceptionally good play. The affected player must stop play immediately. Any other players reaching the same score in that game will also receive a 1st Place record and have their points adjusted as such in the software.

I don’t have hard and fast rules for what triggers it, but if I’m being forced to articulate what goes into the decision:

  • Has the round been going on for more than X minutes? “X” being subjective based on the machines being played that round. Are they mostly old Solid States? Are they newer Sterns? I presume you have a good feel for how long an average round should take at the venue.
  • How many groups are left? If all other groups have finished, and there’s one, two, three groups left, I start paying attention to the groups still in play and what ball they’re on. Ball 3? I generally say play on. Ball 1 because someone got to Battle with the Genie on TOTAN? I’m more likely to want to call that game.
  • What position is the player with the runaway? If they’re player 1 and on Ball 2, it’s likely they’ll continue doing well on Ball 3 which will go longer. If they’re player 4 and on Ball 2, it’s likely they that their last ball will be a walk-off and doesn’t need to be played out.
  • Do other TDs also think it should be called? It would be good to have a line-up of those you can call upon for a decision so it’s not just you making it.

All of this assumes it’s just position that matters, and not score. I don’t know if you have any special rules where score matters or not for points. In that case, I’m not sure what to recommend and would have to defer to others.

Our league uses software that only groups players once at the beginning of the night, so one group never holds up everyone else. Swiss seeding based on previous weeks performance. New players are seeded as average players. That would be the first change I would recommend. Don’t let one group hold things up for everyone else.

I don’t recall a runaway game ever being called, but of course we’ve had long playing games. We’ve sometimes played 2 ball games on known long playing games. They still can go long, but not as bad.

Link to the software we use below. Guy who wrote says it’s open source. Highly recommend.