City Champ 9

Free Gold Watch, San Francisco

This page is dedicated to information regarding the Stern Pro Circuit event City Champ. Check in here to read official information from the organizers. If you have questions, please address them to: jared.garvey (at) gmail dot c o m.



The event has been canceled due to Covid-19. All tickets are being refunded.

Tournament location

City Champ 9 will be played at Free Gold Watch in San Francisco. FGW is an arcade combined with a print shop. Due to the nature of this location, there is limited space to place chairs for players to sit in between rounds. Also, be prepared that physical space between machines will be tight. We strive to put on a fair, fun tournament, and we welcome players of all skill levels to participate. Free Gold Watch is located at 1767 Waller St. between Shrader and Stanyan in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood, adjacent to Golden Gate Park.


Tournament Directors
Gene X Hwang & Jared Garvey
Master of Machines
Darren Ensley
Head Official
Eric Wagensonner
Head scorekeeper
Andreas Haugstrup Pedersen

Plus numerous volunteers. Thank you so much for making this event possible!

Tournament format

The qualifying format is group match play. The player limit is 84 players. Qualifying will be 12 rounds in groups of four players. New groups will be drawn for each game/round. Scoring will be 3/2/1/0. Pairings will be random for the first round and tiered Swiss for subsequent rounds (similar to Pinburgh). The Match Play software we utilize to run the tournament picks games. Playing order will be balanced.

The 28 players who earn the most points will qualify for playoffs. Seeds 1-4 get a bye round. We will only play tiebreakers that determine who will make it into the playoffs, and for getting a bye round. Tiebreaker matches will be best of 1 game on a random game chosen from a bank of games deemed to be playing well by the tournament directors with random playing order. For other ties, we will use the built in tiebreaker in Match Play that counts your 1st and 2nd place finishes.

If for example two players have the same point total at seed #8, and also have the same number of 1st and 2nd place finishes, we will use a randomizer to break the tie. This will be used only for the playoff bound players. For example, if three players are tied at seed #48, they will remain tied.

Playoffs format



Doors open 9:15AM. Practice time on tournament machines allowed until 10:00 AM.

Player check in starts at 9:30 AM, and ends at 10:00 AM. If you have not checked in with the tournament director by 10:00 AM, your spot is no longer guaranteed. Players are responsible for finding and checking in with the tournament director. Disasters can happen, so if you are on your way but can’t make it by 10:00 AM, call the tournament director on the number that has been provided to you in an email. (No texts please.) If you do this, you will be allowed to enter the tournament if you are present by 10:15 AM. If, however, at 10:00 AM, you have neither checked in nor contacted the tournament director, you will forfeit your spot to the first person on the waiting list. Bay Area traffic is BAD. Give yourself more than plenty of time to get to Free Gold Watch.

Below are approximate times. If play is quicker than planned, we will start the next round earlier than noted below.


Players must check in with the tournament director no later than 10:30 AM. Players with a bye can sleep in, but must be checked in no later than 11:30 AM. Check in needs to be in person. A call or text message will not suffice. Players who are not present by the time that check in ends will forfeit their spot if an alternate is present.

If play is quicker than planned, we will start rounds sooner than listed below.

Tournament rules

The Nature of Pinball — The unique charm of pinball lies, in large part, in the physical nature of the game. Unfortunately, this means that unusual events and outright malfunctions cannot be prevented, nor can they be perfectly compensated for. PAPA attempts to strike a balance between compensating for malfunctions and accepting the physical nature of the game.
– PAPA/IFPA rules, section 1.1

We will follow PAPA/IFPA rules strictly with a few modifications and amplifications, as follows.

  1. We ask all players to be respectful of the machines and refrain from any game abuse. Although we understand that players in other venues may be in the habit of taking out their frustrations on a machine, we hold a high standard in the Bay Area. Performing a “rage tilt” or otherwise abusing machines may result in immediate disqualification or official warning.
  2. We will ask that players anonymize their description when requesting rulings from judges. Rather than refer to player names when describing an issue, instead refer to Player 1, Player 2, Player 3 and Player 4.
  3. Extra balls will be disabled on machines if possible. If not, players will be allowed to fully play their extra balls. (This is different than the rule normally employed in SFPD League play.) Please make tournament officials aware of games with extra balls if not already noted on the machine, so we can adjust them between rounds if necessary.
  4. Note that we will strictly follow PAPA/IFPA’s out-of-turn rule, even for extra balls. The affected player may choose to take over the ball in play, if possible, or he or she may choose to have the incident treated as a major malfunction.
  5. We will employ the “Good Sportsmanship” exception that if someone shouts “Ball Save” to a player who starts walking away from their machine, neither party will be penalized for providing / receiving coaching.
  6. Judges will not make any scoring adjustments. They have the discretion to void a player’s game score or to void all player’s games, but they will not add or subtract points from anyone’s score. The only time a calculation needs to be done is when a judge awards an extra ball on a new game to compensate a player for a major malfunction.
  7. During sessions, any player whose machine “rolls over” to a zero score is responsible for confirming this with his or her opponents before and after the rollover occurs.
  8. Tournament officials may declare a player as a winner of a game in progress; that player will get 3 points for that game. This will generally occur only if the pace of the tournament is at risk due to exceptionally good play. The affected player must stop play immediately. Any other player reaching the same score in that game will also receive 3 points for that game.
  9. When requesting rulings, players are expected to protect any balls in play by trapping, standing near the machine, preventing passers-by from launching balls, etc.
  10. The tournament officials request that any situation which seems out of the ordinary be brought up to officials. Even if you know what the ruling ought to be, please raise it with a tournament official so we can ratify the decision and so officials can spot chronic problems sooner.

The full PAPA/IFPA rule set can be found here.

Prize money

In a field of 84 players, the prize pot will be $4350 ($240 to top 5 qualifiers and $4110 to the top 28 finishers). $420 will go to PAPA, which charges this fee from all circuit events. $84 will go to the IFPA so that they can distribute it to the National Championship. The rest of the entry fees will go to cover costs for pizza and water/soft drinks for the volunteers, plaques, and other misc. costs associated with running a tournament.

Prize pot distribution (assuming full field of 84 players):


We will publish a list of of games that we expect to use closer to the tournament date. For a list of the games currently at Free Gold Watch (from which most of games will come from) check out Pinball Map.