Sent by Glen Boyd, Spreadsheet whiz and scoremaster at recent USPPA Competitions

One day after a prolonged wait in, appropriately enough, a waiting-room, the magazines strewn across the table took on an undeserved appeal. Don’t misunderstand, the wall-mounted fish tank was very interesting also – for the first hour, but our local PPG squadron was having a lobster boil that evening. It just seemed hypocritical to be friendly with crustacean’s finny little relatives. Anyway, the magazines: greasy, well-thumbed pages with many gaps where strange ads had been ripped or snipped by past waiters. Oh, there’s one with the cover still attached! Cricket, by Jove!

Why, yes, it’s a British ball game, sticky wickets and all, and it only “takes five days to determine the winner¹. This looks interesting: “You have two sides, one out in the field and one in. Each man that’s in the side that’s in, goes out and when he’s out, he comes in and the next man goes in, until he’s out. . .”²

“Next!” Uh-oh; guess the waiting’s over. What I’m about to face won’t be pleasant, but it might be a welcome respite.

I recently had the privilege of attending a USPPA competition. The Director expressed concerns about “the unbalanced emphasis of fewer landing steps over the first touchdown spot” in the Spot Landing task. Say pilot “A” makes initial contact 200 (two hundred) feet from the target, and pilot “B” touches down 20 (twenty) feet from the target. “A” taxis an additional 10 feet before coming to a complete stop, but B’s binders don’t take effect until 15 feet.

Cynics may claim that life in general is unfair, and the points awarded by the previous scoring criteria silence the Pollyanna’s claims to the contrary. Pilot “A”, who touched-down 10-times farther from the target than did “B”, scores more points (100) than does “B” (88 points) because the latter traveled 1.5-times as far.

At that time, the Touch Distance (TD) was squared, cubed, folded, spindled, and mutilated in the scoring formula by three factors: 0.012218045 (f1), -0.585526316 (f2), & 15.57330827 (f3). In effect, the points decreased at a rate of 90 points/foot in the first foot, then decreased at approximately 8.4 points/foot until TD was 20 feet or greater (where the score is zero). On the other hand, Traveled Distance points decreased at an approximate rate of 3.5 points/foot.

That’s all straightforward enough, right?

Cricket, anyone?

Sorry, “’ang on ‘alf-a-mo’.” Check-out the latest USPPA “Task Rules & Scoring” pdf – brilliant! Someone has expended considerable time and effort to ensure that the scoring is now, most definitely not cricket – old boy.

Oh, on the off-chance that there may be PPG judges contemplating a sport with more cerebrally-challenging rules, the titillating “… the next man goes in until he’s out. . .” was a deliberate cliff-hanger. What happens then? Elementary, My Dear Watson: “When they are all out, the side that’s out comes in and the side that’s been in goes out and tries to get those coming in, out. Sometimes you get men still in and not out. When both sides have been in and out, including the not outs, that’s the end of the game.”³

¹ British Heritage, February/March 1980, pp. 59
² Ibid
³ Ibid