Tournament Director Ethics


I think there is an advantage in cases like these, but they are unavoidable. When you are dealing with machines that cost many thousands (and in some cases tens of thousands), whoever can get those machines together for a tournament is to be thanked more than anything else.

As BMU said though - which I think is a great point - the top ‘A’ players will likely not be affected by the home ground advantage, but the lower tier players will. In the end though I think it all comes out in the wash.


I can see and have dealt with both sides of this issues. There are many valid points to discuss. One thing that I haven’t seen anyone mention in this thread is how difficult it is to play in your own tournaments. Until you’ve done it a few times its hard to fathom the amount of distractions there are. I can’t make it through a game without someone wanting to talk to me regarding mechanical issues, rulings, stuck balls and even suggestions on what type of flipper rubber i should be using. In my opinion the distractions easily balance out the benefits of any insider knowledge of the games. Another factor is that tournament games get “tired” and play very differently after some solid use. This may penalize the home TD more because they don’t behave like he/she expects.


Agree with Chuck

I always have a co TD just for dealing with anything that may personally affect me.

Every week weirher it be a league session or bigger tournament I get people telling me I must know all these games so well at The Sanctum and have a huge advantage.

I play 6 games a week there. 4 league games and maybe 2 test games after fixing something. I get there a few hours before anyone. Set up for league. Tune up a few games maybe. Spend the next hour or so divining everyone in and making scoresheets. Play the 4 leagues games ehile being dragged away constantly for rulings and malfunctions (3 DQs this week alone!) :slight_smile: after those insoend the next 4 hours fixing more games before I get too tired and kick everyone at after midnight. When a new games comes in I hear people say you brought in another one of yours. I’m not picking that! Reality is I bought it. Fixed it. Stripped and shipped it it and when it was finally done it went to the sanctum. Nothing stays in my house for months so I get a huge advantage. After the first night a games it there everyone else has played it way more than I ever have in months and probobably more than I will in the coming months.

People who dedicate time and effort to create events and create spaces for events will never have an advantage. Any slight perceived advantage is completely offset by distractions and being more fatigued for likely long hours of prep. Running the NEPL finals (with help of course) with 140 or so players across 4 divisions I e been pretty consistent over that past years(3 sessions a year) of being eliminated round 1. When events get to a certain magnitude the distractions just get too high.

I’m just the opposite of think TDs have an advantage and I give Karl extra props for winning over everyone else! :slight_smile:


Real quick, big props to @JSwain for handling rulings during league play. Bizarrely, I’ve been the subject of two in the past two weeks, as a “benefactor” of a tilt through AND an adjacent machine tilt (!). Jim was playing a ball as we approached him on both occasions so we waited, but as soon as he was done he assessed the situation and applied the appropriate ruling. Must be terribly distracting, but he handled it with aplomb! These are only my interactions and there must be others interrupting all the time.

IMO, there’s no way that being a playing official is anything except detrimental to that player.


Thanks Erik!


And anyone who believes otherwise is welcome to become a TD and start hosting their own events!


For what its worth- I hosted the MA SCS Tournament this weekend. I was the number one seed, playing on my own machines and got my butt handed to me by a last minute replacement player in the first round. I don’t like to make excuses but in no way did being the TD/host give me an advantage.


Our TD host in NC, Kevin Shamus, was extremely fair and reasonable and solicited advice from others for making rulings.


Isn’t this a no no unless we’re soliciting advice from a TD not playing in the tournament?


No idea. Honestly it didn’t really come up as there were only a couple rulings. Kev made all final decisions. A very drama-free tournament.


I had a situation come up in our SCS where I was the TD and it involved the game I was playing in. We did have an alternate TD designated. After discussing the particulars of the malfunction I was pretty sure the alternate TD was about to make an incorrect ruling. We both agreed to just call Josh and he talked us through it. The ruling was made in my favor and it was the 6th game and I won the match. I didn’t really want to seem like I was trying to influence the decision, but hey, I plead my case just like any other player would do that felt like they were about to get the short end of the stick.:slight_smile:

I’m glad that the correct ruling was eventually made.


I’d like to see a test, just so I know if I’m interpreting things correctly or not. Although I don’t want pinball to be like Magic: The Gathering, I would like to know if I’m a decent judge or not.


Hey man, yelling “JUDGE!” at the top of your lungs is one of the best things about going to a Grand Prix!


Everyone will be shuffling their quarters constantly while waiting for their turn at the machine.


You, I like. The kid that sheepishly says ‘judge’ barely above a whisper and/or won’t hold his damn hand up, he can go jump. (Yes, I’m a Magic judge.)

Magic’s game rules are much more complicated than Pinball’s in that they have to be expressed in words, rather than just working. The tournament-ops side’s rule book (the MTR) is about the same length as the IFPAPA rules. . . .


Hey, I yell at league all the time! Maybe I’d fit into MTG if I played more? :sweat_smile:

“We need an adult!”
“I need a ruling!”
Insert TD here, I broke it again!”
Insert TD here, the ball got stuck on Flash Gordon again. Yes, usual place!”


Between the stress and the exhaustion, I just don’t know how we do it . . .


The practice time being a one-hour period a full day before the tournament actually started, and at midday on a workday was a major issue here from my perspective. That’s really kind of a joke- better to just declare no practice.

At best some players got to practice during Nationals. Everyone else walked in cold or had maybe watched the prior day’s stream live.


Every player gets 30 seconds of practice before every single game they play.


I feel so sorry for you guys… :wink: