As the person who is introducing the rule, I’ll speak up with my perspective, but beyond this probably won’t spend the time defending it here on this forum. It’s something I’ve discussed with quite a few of the local folks, and while there is some hesitation, I have a lot of support for it because nobody has better answers given the hard constraints that we have at NWPAS. I’ve even had a couple of local tourney organizers ask if there’s a way to have something similar in knockout tournaments to ensure they get done before closing time. This problem is not unique to me nor to NWPAS. Many tournaments have run past their projected schedule. Some have the luxury to accommodate that. Some don’t and it creates major issues.
Johnny has interpreted the intention of the rule correctly: this rule might get invoked once or twice during the entire tournament, and possibly not at all. It is designed to address the following scenario that happened in one qualifying round last year: we have a 3-hour limit to play five 4-player games, then we need to start the next round to stay on schedule. That’s reasonable … most groups are done in 2 hours. For comparison, Pinburgh budgets 4 games in 2.25 hours. We had one game, however, that had a top-25 world-ranked player who scored umpteen millions on Ball 1, playing against three other players all ranked below 1000 and after ball 1, nobody had 1/100th of that score. By the time that group finished ball 1, every other match play group was already done with that game. So now, we have one game holding up 50 players who are ready to start their next game, but as in many match play events, next round doesn’t start till all groups are done. Even the player who played ball 1 was happy to move on to the next game and not play their game as they didn’t want to tire themselves out unnecessarily, except for the “what-if” scenario: what if they did get passed? They chose to plunge their balls at risk. They were helping the flow of the tournament, yet if someone did pass them, they are the ones who would get screwed for their good deed. By adding this rule, it’s under such a condition, where there’s probably a 1 in 1000 chance of the score being caught by someone else. If that player who played Ball 1 had two other similar balls, then one game would eat up half of the allotted time for the entire round. It would be nice to have the luxury of spare time, or more machines to accommodate more players at once. But we have hard constraints within the tournament, with regards to machine and time. Since many of our players are “B” and “C” players, playing against some A players in match play, we don’t want to setup machines so hard where everyone’s balls are 30-seconds long, just to avoid that possibility of a top player having an amazing game. Rather, we make the games more fair to everyone, at risk of a top player having an amazing game. And we let them have an amazing game. But we provide the opportunity to stop at some point, and be guaranteed their winning number of points. If that 1-in-1000 chance of someone catching them does, then there’s a written rule on how to handle it, and the person who aborted the game in favor of helping the tournament move along doesn’t get screwed with 2nd place points. So my expectation is that the rule gets invoked 1 to 3 times, and that in 0 of those times does the second player catch them, but in the unlikely case they do, we have a rule to cover it. I’d love to have an objective goal for when to use this rule, but that’s difficult to define, as it’s based on multiple factors, including time, not just score. So our choices are (1) support less players, or less games per round, by making rounds longer. (2) setup machines so hard that it is no longer enjoyable for the middle-class player (3) risk running over time, which screws up the next set of players, which eventually means the last set of players to play get the machines turned off on them, because closing times are HARD at this venue. (4) don’t do match play that has this risk, whereas pump-and-dump doesn’t (5) Have a rule that allows the 99% to play pinball the way it is meant to be played, by having the 1% with an amazing game stop when the win seems obvious, without risk of losing any points if by long-shot they get passed. Given these options, We’re going with (5).
There were some comments about “time-proven formats”. PAPA finals of rounds of 3-games is far from time-proven, yet that’s one of the standard formats that was being implied. I’ve seen the final 16 start at 10, finish at 5pm, in one tourney. Then in another tourney, start at 10, finish at 9pm. That is no more time-proven than any other format. If anyone has other ideas for constraining the total time of a tournament without providing so much buffer that machines are idle half the time, I’m all ears. If this is a world champions event, I agree we don’t want this rule; but we also make sure that such an event selects a venue where virtually unlimited time can be afforded. But when the show provides opportunity for tournaments but with constraints, we don’t want to say No. It’s a great venue! Rather, we do the best we can within those constraints. I’ve asked people for other ideas to address this time factor associated with pinball not being a timed game, and so far, I have not gotten better suggestions. We have a growing following who do like the events that we put on and some of the new rules we introduce, and the variety of formats that we offer. We get much more positive feedback than negative feedback with most of the changes that we’ve implemented, and thus we continue with those, and we discontinue the practices for which we get a lot of negative feedback. And yeah, some of the rules I propose are experimental, but you know what, every one of the rules that I proposed in the past that are now standard in various leagues and tournaments were experimental at some point. PAPA changed to 4-2-1-0 from 10-5-1-0 scoring; that was experimental the first time it was used. If you’re not willing to take chances on new ideas, then things will stagnate and we’ll never improve. The pinball revival is thanks to many people willing to try new things. I’ve been willing to take chances in the past with new formats with my share of successes and failures, and I’m willing to continue trying new things today when I see the potential to make an event better, especially with regards to getting more of the “middle rank” players involved. There’s always a risk that something new fails; but if it succeeds at addressing a real issue, then yay, we have a great solution that can then be used over and over. I know some of you won’t like it; I’m not out to get unanimous support on these ideas. Rather, if you don’t like the rules, then just don’t play in those tournaments. The attendance at the tournaments year after year will speak for itself. And quite frankly, most of the players won’t care a single iota that there’s one less top 100 player in the tournament boycotting a rule like this, because that’s one less person they need to beat to get the guaranteed $1000 first place prize or the pinball machine prize.