Tournament etiquette

You opponant is a dick


I think he just echoed it and started a premature congratulations. But man, I shouldn’t have listened to anybody.

I know several people have proposed rules to PAPA/IFPA to cover that situation wherein if an opponent says it then it is a binding statement regardless of the actual outcome. I am in favor of such a rule.


It could be covered under the existing rules for player interference?

I agree with this. Stating to your opponent that they have won is the same as conceding and/or forfeiting.


I would agree in theory, and I think this would be great in a perfect world. However, I think in a lot of cases its impossible to prove someone said it unless the TD was right there. I can imagine a lot of scenarios where it could turn into a he said she said. Given that, I would put the burden on the player to check their own score, and that the scores determine the win.

We already have rules written about interference as mentioned above, and if someone is distracting their opponent, those rules can be used to tackle the situation to a similar degree.

I agree with this. There’s no way I would be able to resolve such an argument fairly without being there firsthand. Perhaps the language could say that if the player concedes to the TD then it’s binding, but otherwise I would not feel comfortable getting in the middle of that.

I’ve had it happen to me (it was a mistake by the opponent, who forgot their own score I guess) and it sucks, but I guess it’s one more thing to learn.

This is the kind of verbiage I mentioned would be going into the IFPAPA combined rules a couple of weeks ago.

Here’s the paragraph that will be added to handle these cases:
“If a player verbally concedes for any reason, the concession will only be considered valid if it is witnessed by a scorekeeper, tournament director, or all members of a four-player group. If a player attempts to use an invalid verbal concession to interfere with an opponent, the issue and resolution will be treated on a case-by-case basis, and the
offending player risks receiving a score of zero for the game in question.”

Tournament and League organizers are encouraged to use these combined IFPAPA rules, but of course you are not obligated to do so.

Perhaps the FSPA rules can work in a bonus point for someone who gets someone to give up their ball early thinking they have it only to lose - psych out point! (j/k of course)


Had this come up, with both (“tired and emotional”) players agreeing that one player had conceded in error. (player 2 forgot he was player 2, conceded when player 1 passed his score…)

As the players agreed on what happened, we treated it as player 2 having conceded. If there was disagreement, I would have had to have player 1 play.

I like to think that players are going to take the more sportsmanlike approach, if given the option. :smirk:


I think they have medication for that.

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I will always tell an opponent about a ball save, but am not a fan of on lookers coaching. If someone i’m playing beats my score, I conceed the match and regardless of the scores after bonus, I have forfeit the game. I can see how this would be an issue if someone did this and then tried to deny doing so after the fact, but in that case i would just knock them out! :wink:


Said in jest, we are a friendly bunch here in the UK!

No matter how many times someone says you got it, don’t stop playing until you confirm for yourself. It may make you look like a jerk, or that you’re rubbing it in, but who cares. I love that feeling of dropping the flippers and shaking hands. I would hate that feeling of, oh, I actually lost.


Someone asked about things that were named for players during the “How to Play” seminar at ReplayFX with me and Andrei. Meanwhile, Andrei had just won our head-to-head match on Full Throttle and was beginning to play out his last ball as last player. I answered the question:

“So there are things like Shatzing the inlane, and getting Belsito’d. Oh, and playing out the last ball, last player when you’ve already won, that’s named after someone, too. Andrei, do you know what that is called?” “No, what do you call it?” “We call it Massenkoffing.”

I think he does it because he likes to play pinball, and there’s a ball of pinball just waiting to be played … why not play it!


Something I noticed, going to and watching these pinball competitions, is how very civil and supportive of each other the players are. There isn’t cutthroat gamesmanship, nor is there any kind of clique of top players interacting only with each other and shutting everyone else out.

Until a couple of years ago, you see, I competed in some collectible card game competitions. The players there, more often than not, were trying to win at any cost, and they played dirty. The first time I competed in such a tournament, my opponent, sitting across the table from me, would tap his fingers rhythmically against the table any time it was my turn in a “hurry up already” kind of gesture, and when it was his turn, he spoke and executed his actions as quickly as possible–I lost the match, which I could’ve won had I actually slowed down and thought about what he was doing. Instead, I rushed to fit his tempo and overlooked so many things. I played into his psychological trap.

The Pokémon Trading Card Game is the worst of the ones I’ve seen. People do that shuffling technique where the cards are always in the same order. They have their friends take the exams to be a judge so that their friends, as judges, can scour tables and see their opponents’ hands and so that they have an official who’s always on their side. (I have, no exaggeration, a guy walk over to behind my opponent and said to him, “This will be an easy one” at normal conversational volume.) Cards have been outright stolen from me when I’m not looking. On top of that gamesmanship I mentioned earlier. Even when they’re not playing, they’re not going to want to speak to you. They’re there to win, and they will win through any means necessary that won’t disqualify them. (Incidentally, when I DO beat these guys, they. Get. Furious.) The top players are friendly to each other, but that’s because they’re a group of friends. They use the same game mats, the same dice, the same jargon, the same deck boxes, albeit with different artwork, sometimes even the same decks. They look down on anybody not part of their group, and if someone breaks in with a winning streak, the entire group turns against them.

Basically, to them, I’m not simply an opponent. I am an enemy.

It’s why I get so very nervous and timid whenever I go to competitions of any sort to compete. I apologize if I ever come off as cold and distant if I ever enter a pinball competition. That’s how I behave every single time I’ve been to a pinball competition, because I have become accustomed to my competitors’ total lack of interest in socialization. It’ll take some time, but I hope I can eventually warm up. It was actually a surprise to me to hear how friendly people at pinball tournaments usually are. It’s the first time I’ve ever heard of such an attitude.

I can imagine those people at those card tournaments being at a pinball tournament. They would never tell their opponent that they can keep playing should that ball saver situation happen. If anything, they’d probably be annoyed being surrounded by people who will notify the player.

Say, does IFPA and PAPA have etiquette guidelines? And if so, are they followed? (The Pokémon Trading Card Game has a rule saying you shake players’ hands in a tournament after a match is done. I offer my hand, but they rarely reciprocate, usually just packing up. I say, “Thank you for the match.” They say, “Yeah yeah whatever.”)

By and large, I’ve been treated well in pinball competition and try to be gracious and kind to other competitors. Personally, I’d love to see something analogous to Ultimate Frisbee’s concept of “Spirit of the Game” be taught and become universal in pinball competition…

“Ultimate [Frisbee] has traditionally relied upon a spirit of sportsmanship which places the responsibility for fair play on the player. Highly competitive play is encouraged, but never at the expense of the bond of mutual respect between players, adherence to the agreed upon rules of the game, or the basic joy of play.”

I just love that last sentence.

I’ve witnessed rare instances of “uncool” behaviors…a player clearly about to let a far less experienced player play out of turn (which would have resulted in the noob’s disqualification), players crowding others for effect, and some stuff that went beyond friendly heckling. But those are rare singular instances amongst 1000s of great interactions.

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I won’t say these players don’t exist, but there is a different overall vibe to the game. I don’t have a reason for it, other than the fact that we all learned how to play from one another.

Most tournament play is single-player qualifying, so there’s less opportunity for gamesmanship or people getting mad at one another. It was interesting to see a little of that at Pinburgh – not much, but enough for me to feel it’s worth addressing.

I haven’t seen any gamesmanship in final rounds at pinball tournaments, nothing substantial that I could point to anyway. Having a wider live audience watching helps, but so does the respect the players have for one another. I think players who act this way get marginalized quickly, or other players may help them change their attitude.

There is no etiquette guideline that I know of, other than general respect. “Be excellent to each other” was the spoken guideline at Pinburgh, but nobody could hear it over the PA :wink:

Yeah, they are definitely out there. Having written down guidelines for expected player conduct and then treating everyone equally definitely helps when dealing with that 1% of players.

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There is no bluffing in pinball, which helps. Head games don’t work*. Play well or you’re out.

The comradery and good sportsmanship is what attracted me to the competitive side of pinball. Part of it is size. There are a lot more other types of ‘gamers’ out there. Still, the good nature of so many of the better players in pinball is awesome. I want to be a part of that and help it continue. Thanks and keep up the good work to all those folks. You guys seriously rock.

  • noobs are more likely to psych themselves out then to be psyched out by an opponent
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Yeah, that’s the most striking thing I noticed about behavior at pinball competitions: There doesn’t seem to be some sort of insular clique that I have seen at every other type of competition I have been to. It’s pretty refreshing, really. (That being said, there is such an insular clique in competitive yo-yoing, but it’s not an unfriendly one.)

And yeah, that’s the power of good behavior: When there’s enough of it around, the rotten eggs get tossed away. When the best players of any competition also behave respectfully and politely even around complete beginners, they also make good role models. I see this happening with most organized sports too–rarely do I see a top athlete NOT behave, well, unsportsmanlike.

Looking back, I pity those people who have to resort to psychological means, cheating, or gaming the system to win. These are people who aren’t truly having fun, and these are also people who feel so insecure, and unsure of themselves, that they see every newcomer as a potential threat. They are clutching the world they’re in like a security blanket and, if given enough power, can doom their hobby to stagnation (as is what happened with fighting video games).