So the actual tournament playing ... how did that go? I should point out that up to this point in all the four strikes tournaments I'd played (admittedly, a small set) I had never won more than two games. This time around I would win ... two games. One of them I honestly should have lost; it was your classic race-to-the-bottom on World Cup Soccer and I just got lucky. Another I won honestly, but it was a pair of bad games on Monster Bash. I would end up, for this tournament, part of a three-way tie for 18th place, out of 26. One of those tied with me was MJS, the person just ahead of bunny_hugger in the contest for the last of the state finals invitational slots.
The side tournament was based on Iron Man, one of the newer pinball machines at the hipster bar, and the one that breaks down the least. This is why bunny_hugger picked it for the side tournament. Qualifying for the tournament would be done by playing, with the top eight scores recorded before 10 pm qualifying. The finalists would then compete in the ``ladder'' tournament format: the person who finished eighth would play the person who finished seventh. The winner of that plays the person who finishes sixth. The winner of that plays whoever finished fifth, and so on. It's a tournament format that's very simple to organize and requires very few machines for the number of tournament points awarded. (Tournament points are awarded by the International Flipper Pinball Association according to a scheme I haven't studied, but which grows with the maximum number of games you might need to play to win. Doing a bracket final, #1 playing #8, #2 playing #7, and so on, has the weakness that you can take the tournament championship with only three wins. The ladder can require eight wins.)
I did get one game in. But to get another game in I'd have to take time when I wasn't playing, and when I wasn't filling out cards for the next round of games. And when there wasn't someone already on Iron Man trying to better his or her score. So I ended up putting in a second game at all. And my first game wasn't much; I'd put one in just to make sure I was in the side tournament at all. I ended up in 20th, out of 22 participating, and would only watch from afar as people competed in the finals. That's all right. The table I appropriated for tournament paperwork --- the one where tickets and and merchandise are sold for shows, so that I made some people worry there was a cover charge --- was right in the path of the heating vent. (This did mean I had to chase down result slips that went flying off in the breeze. I'm pretty sure I got them all.)
One flaw that we didn't anticipate was that come 10:00, and the end of qualification for the side tournament, is that many of the players hadn't yet been eliminated from the main tournament. We had figured that by about that hour most of the players would have nothing much to do and a series of one-on-one matches would be a good break. Instead, there were a lot of main games going on. And this produced some deadlocking, as a side tournament match would have to wait for one (or both) players to finish their main tournament contest. Or the next round of the main tournament would be held up by waiting for the side tournament match's to finish.
The four strikes of the main tournament took a lot longer to happen than we had guessed. Probably the stacking issue, that we had fewer games than we had matches to play, for the first several rounds was the critical flaw here. We had figured to start out that the whole tournament would be done, probably, around 11:00 or 11:30. We started hoping that it would take only to about midnight instead.
I mention that I didn't do well in the main or the side tournament. But bunny_hugger? Or her, for the moment, rival of MJS?
bunny_hugger did worse in the main tournament than I did. She only had one win in play, and four losses, so she ended up in the three-way tie for 21st place. She did do better than me, and did better than MJS, in the side tournament. But not by much. As point rankings go, she would end the night with a slightly greater gap to overcome than she'd had going in. We would not know this, or by how much the gap had grown, until after the year was over and it was too late to do anything about it.
bunny_hugger sensed the doom, or at least the non-helping, of her tournament finals chances at this. But she wasn't thinking very much about that because she was getting increasingly worried about how late it was getting and how we weren't near the finals of the main tournament yet.
Trivia: Nearly 1,000 students attended Rutgers College between 1825 and 1862, of whom 726 graduated. 234 entered the Dutch Reformed ministry (the school's original purpose) and 97 other ministries; 248 went into law; another 97 into medicine; 93 into business; and thirty into teaching (apart from clergy). Data is lacking for the remainder. Source: Rutgers: A Bicentennial History, Richard P McCormick.
Currently Reading: The Utopia of Rules: On Technology, Stupidity, and the Secret Joys of Bureaucracy, David Graeber.
PS: Spaghetti Mathematics, a fine puzzle inspired by the kitchen.