July 13 Double Header

Foosball Double Header is scheduled for July 13 at California Billiards.

Tables open at 1 pm.
Open Singles at 2 pm.
Shake-n-Bake (aka Open Doubles) at 6 pm ($50 added for top draw team)
$5 table fee

Open Singles
Each match best 2/3.
More than 12 players: double elimination tournament.
12 or fewer: Swiss System for seeding, single elimination play-offs.
Entry fee:
Handicap 0: $5
Handicap 1-2: $10
Handicap 3+: $15

Bring a partner if you’ve got one, draw one if you don’t. $50 added for top draw team.

More than 12 teams: double elimination tournament.
12 or fewer: Swiss System for seeding, single elimination play-offs.

Format may be either Swiss System or Double Elimination. Bring teams will play to 6 against draw teams.
100% payout, plus $50 for top draw team.

Entry fees based on local points:
Draw side:
Handicap 0: $5
Handicap 1+: $10

Bring Side:
Handicap 0: $5
Handicap 1-2: $10
Handicap 3+: $15

Questions? e-mail bayfoos@gmail.com.

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Bayfoos Points Race – May through June

Good news folks! In 2022 we hosted a Mario Kart Style Points Race. It was a ton of fun, and we’re bringing it back. This time has more cash prizes, plus trophies. Every event we host at Cal Billiards from April 29 through June 15 qualifies. Players will accumulate points, and top finishers in each category will win prizes.

Category 3 (open to everyone): $200 in cash

Category 2 (amateur and lower): $100 in cash

Category 1 (rookie and lower): trophy + $30 free entry

You’ll get points based on your overall finish in each tournament, with 1st place and 2nd place getting bonus points. Larger turnouts also means more points.

The finish points formula will be Number of Teams – Team Finish + 1. For example, if there are 12 teams and you place 5th, you’ll receive 8 finish points (just like in Mario Kart). First place will receive 3 bonus points. Second place will receive 1 bonus point. More examples:

1st place in an 8 person event: finish points = (8 – 1 + 1) = 8, bonus points = 3, total = 11 points.

2nd place in an 8 person event: finish points = (8 – 2 + 1) = 7, bonus points = 1, total = 8 points.

3rd place in an 8 person event: finish points = (8 – 3 + 1) = 6, bonus points = 0, total = 6 points.

4th place in an 8 person event: finish points = (8 – 4+ 1) = 5, bonus points = 0, total = 5 points.

8th place in an 8 person event: finish points = (8 – 8 + 1) = 1, bonus points = 0, total = 1 point.

For Monster Draws and Singles events, we’ll be using the Number of Players as the base instead of the Number of Teams. (For example, 1st place in a 16 player monster draw would 16+3 = 19 points total.)

We don’t expect many ties at the end of 9 events, but if they do happen the tied players will split the prize. Players can compete for prizes above their category, so a category 2 player can win the category 3 prize. Players cannot win more than one prize.

More details to come. We’ll announce schedule and player categories later this week. Send us questions in the SF Foos facebook group.

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Better Foosball Refurbishing – Part 2 – Measurement

This is part 2 of our series of blog posts on foosball refurbishing. Part 1 covered why foosball refurbishing is important (cost) and why it’s controversial (inconsistency). Making engineering consistent requires measurement, so in this blog post we’ll talk about what to measure and how to do it.

You can measure Tornado foosballs lots of different ways. Good variables to track are things that are easy to measure, things that change as balls see more play and become worn out, and things that are impacted by refurbishing. Rolling resistance is the best tracking variable.

FactorChanges with PlayChanges with RefurbishingEasy to measure
Rolling Resistanceyesyesyes

People spend a lot of time worrying about the weight and size, but it turns out this is fairly consistent (except when the ITSF 2022 World Cup used a custom ball because of production and shipping problems for standard ball.). Boise FoosWorks checked the consistency of new Tornado balls, and discovered that even factory direct balls have some size and weight variations. Refurbishing does shrink balls a bit, but not by much; we’ll cover this more in Part III of this blog post series.

MeasurementNew Balls
Weight26.32 grams ± 0.16g 
Diameter34.64 mm ± 0.06mm
Measurements from 60 new balls purchased in 2023, table shows average ± one standard deviation.

Bounciness and Hardness are both fairly consistent, and don’t change with play or with refurbishing. Players would notice if balls bounced wrong, but bounciness is controlled by the material and original manufacturing process rather than the age of the ball. Hardness can be measured using a durometer. Tornado balls range from 58-62 on the Shore D Hardness Scale. Balls above 62 are probably not genuine Tornado balls.

Roundness is important, and does change with play as balls will pick up nicks and chips and flat spots. As the fuzz on the ball becomes worn down, modest irregularity in roundness or a nick can affect how true the ball rolls. This is difficult to measure, but is noticeable on the table because damaged balls wobble instead of rolling straight. Refurbishing puts new fuzz on the ball and might mask a ball being out of round, but this can’t be fixed with refurbishing. The ball should be discarded once it is out of true.

For checking whether foosball refurbishing is working properly, it turns out the main variable we care about is rolling resistance, which players sometimes call “Ball Speed.” Ball Speed is the critical variable that changes with play. As balls wear out, the fuzz on the balls packs down, they lose rolling resistance, and they tend to move faster. As the fuzz matts down, the grip or “pinch point”, where the ball becomes stuck between the player figure and the table due to static friction, changes as well. Players notice the balls are too hard to control, and this is when they should be replaced or refurbished.

This gives us a goal for a good refurbishing process. Refurbished foosballs should have the same size, weight, and speed as factory direct balls. But how can we be sure we’ve got it right?

Boise FoosWorks designed a calibrated stimpmeter to measure rolling resistance. You can see it in action when we compare a worn out ball to a new ball, as in the video below.

We tested the reliability of the stimpmeter approach by repeated measurements of rolling distance for the same ball. We found that the standard deviation of stimpmeter measurements was about 1.3 inches: not perfectly consistent. However, the difference in rolling distance between a worn out versus a new ball is much larger.

  • A worn out ball will roll the full 47 inches down the table, bounce off the back wall, and keep rolling for another few inches.
  • A new ball will roll 30 to 40 inches, depending on the batch. Most new balls should stop within reach of the 3 bar, and most certainly before the 2 bar.  

Once we’re using a stimpmeter, we can see lots of variation in ball quality. For example, different batches of brand new Tornado balls have different rolling resistance. In the photo below, we can see the balls used at the Colorado State Championships played slower, several stopping within reach of the 5-bar. The World Championships, Michigan State Championships, and Hall of Fame Classic balls rolled to the 3-bar.

Close up of 12 pink foosballs on a green Tornado table surface. The balls are labeled with the tournament where they were used. The balls have clustered on the table, with most of the Colorado State balls having stopped rolling sooner than the balls from other tournaments.

The stimpmeter is a winner for measuring foosball quality. Worn out balls roll faster and farther. A good refurbishing process should restore them to a new ball rolling speed and quality, without impacting size and weight.

Stay tuned for more reports on foosball refurbishing! Our next blog post will compare the Boise FoosWorks refurbishing process with other techniques.

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Bayfoos April Schedule

Good turnout has continued in the lead up to the IFP Hall of Fame Classic Las Vegas foosball tournament that starts on April 17. We had 11 teams for our March 23 Bring-Your-Partner tournament, and our Tuesday night events have had 20+ players. We’ll keep the energy going.

The consistently large turnouts have been a learning experience for our tournament directors. We had one night with 23 players on only four tables. There were always seven people who were waiting to play, and it was a frustrating experience. We’re making some adjustments to minimize downtime:

On large turnout nights, we will call the next round as soon as a table is free. This should let us squeeze in an extra round for everyone.

We’re looking to see if we can get space for a 5th table. This is a long shot, but we’re trying.

We’re looking for volunteers to run a tournament or league on another day of the week. Our current TDs are maxed out, but we can train new people.

On the busy nights we’ve had lots of folks chatting and spectating matches, we’re lucky to have such a friendly player base. Thank you all for welcoming new players. (If you are a new player, come on out! We would love to play with you!)

Our events for the next month will be:

Tues, Mar 26, 8-11pm: Monster Draw, Points Race

Tues, Apr 2, 8-11pm: Monster Draw, Doubles Playoffs

Sat, Apr 6: Vegas Warm-Up Double Header. Open Singles from 2-6pm, Shake-n-Bake Doubles from 6-11pm, plus Rookie Singles and Rookie Doubles Playoffs.

Tues, Apr 9, 8-11pm: Monster Draw, Singles Playoffs

Tues, Apr 16, 8-11pm: Monster Draw, Points Race

Tues, Apr 23, 8-11pm: Monster Draw, Doubles Playoffs

Tues, Apr 30, 8-11pm: Monster Draw, Singles Playoffs

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Better Foosball Refurbishing – Part 1

New foosballs are expensive, but cleaning and restoring old balls is tricky. Over the next few weeks Bayfoos will publish a series of blog posts about how Boise FoosWorks compares with other techniques.

Foosballs are Expensive

Foosballs are expensive all over the world. As of March 2024, Bonzini tournament balls are $4, Bonzini cork is $3.50, and Leonhart Pro balls are a whopping $8 a piece. Tornado balls are $4 each right now, but are uniquely tricky because they have a fuzzy texture that picks up oil and dirt easily. As the fuzz wears down the way the balls move changes dramatically. Some players intentionally practice with smooth worn out balls to improve their control, but then switch to new balls before tournaments so they can adjust to the grippier texture. Different players have different thresholds before they consider a ball “worn out.” For some people, a Tornado ball with more than a few hours of play dramatically impacts their game, and they’ll purchase new balls just before big matches. Valley Dynamo even sells two different versions of the Tornado ball, Classic Pink vs Tournament Red, with slightly different playing characteristics.

Using new foosballs for every event is too expensive. For years players and tournament directors have traded notes on how to clean and refurbish used Tornado foosballs. The balls are hard plastic, and a gentle wash removes oil without destroying the fuzzy texture. Restoring the fuzz on a ball that is too smooth is trickier. Players have tried everything from sandpaper in a coffee can to rock tumblers to Bayfoos’ elaborate clothes dryer powered tumbler, but getting the fuzz right is tricky. The standard is to use new balls for major tournaments, but refurbished balls for smaller events.

Thomas Dyke graciously allowed us to use photos of his rock tumbler foosball refurbishing system.

Hand holding 9 foosballs. The balls are greyish pink.
Before tumbling.
Hand holding 9 foosballs. The balls are fuzzy and a bright pink color.
After tumbling.
An open rock tumbler canister, several inches wide and tall, lined with bright red sandpaper. The tumbler is positioned over a green tornado foosball playing field.
Rock tumbler lined with 26 grit sandpaper.

Another look at refurbishing

2023 was a bad year for foosballs, and things reached a breaking point. First, the foosball parts supply chain suffered due to inflation and manufacturing problems. Prices shot up from $4 per ball to $6, and there was a several month stretch in 2023 where Valley Dynamo simply stopped selling new balls. Difficulty in sourcing new balls reignited interest in refurbishing techniques.

That led people to finally confront the major problems with refurbished balls: no one knows what “good” refurbished balls really means. Rumors abound about balls being smaller, or too grippy, or the wrong weight, or wearing out more quickly. How many foosballs can be refurbished in a single batch before the tumbler is too crowded? What sandpaper grit should be used? How long can the sandpaper be used before it’s too worn out to restore balls? How many times can a ball be refurbished before it is too small or the wrong weight?

There was no way to compare new balls to refurbished to understand the quality of the refurbished balls. People didn’t even agree about what to measure, much less have the equipment to measure it accurately.

Introducing Boise FoosWorks

Enter Michael Veit and Boise FoosWorks. Michael is a tournament foosball player from Idaho who also has experience with data-driven quality assurance processes. He started a multi-month journey to design and build a foosball measurement and refurbishment system. He made some surprising discoveries about Valley Dynamo’s own balls: even new balls have large differences between batches!

We’ve come a long way from sandpaper lined coffee cans. Michael has been gracious enough to share his findings with the foosball community. Over the next few weeks we’ll publish more blog posts about how Boise FoosWorks refurbishes Tornado foosballs.

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