Grand Rapids's pinball league tried something new for the summer. They had to try something. The league had grown to the point it was too much. There were too many people for the space available, making for an unmanageably loud mob during Wednesday league nights.
The scheme they tried for summer was to spread out play. Instead of everyone gathering at 7 pm Wednesdays to play in groups of three or four players people could come on Monday or Wednesday night and start between 6 and 8 pm. They couldn't be put in groups of people of approximately similar skill level. Instead we could gather into whatever groups we liked with people ready to play. We'd all play the same six tables, starting games when the tables were free. League rankings would be based on comparing our scores to everyone else's in the league's.
That sort of scoring against everyone else in the league is substantially the same way Lansing Pinball League ranks its players. And being able to form our own groups meant we could be confident who we were playing, and that we were playing people who wouldn't go wandering off to unknown places when their turns were up. It's a maddening problem at league to not be sure who ``Matt R'' is or where he's gone. We have less of that now that we're more familiar with the Grand Rapids scene, and now that we're in the higher tiers of players (the ones who're more serious about playing), but it still happens.
But, must be said, it wasn't as good as a regular league night and I'm not sure why not. Maybe it was that we wouldn't get sometimes matched up with surprising people. And the league and bar apparently found it disappointing too. I suspect diffusing the crowd over two nights and more hours meant the critical mass of people ordering drinks never quite congealed, or didn't get as noticeable. Come fall Grand Rapids would return to basically its previous format, groups of three or four players of roughly equal rank playing one another on games the players choose on the spot.
Trivia: When gold was discovered at Sutter's Mill in California, in January 1848, there were 812 white inhabitants of San Francisco. In the last nine months of 1849 some 540 ships would dock there. Source: The Age Of Capital, 1848 - 1875, Eric Hobsbawm.
Currently Reading: The Man Who Fed The World: Nobel Peace Price Laureate Norman Borlaug And His Battle To End World Hunger, Leon Hesser.