The Eighth Man

Snitching: Keeping Things Fair in Long Matches

Snitches, like Rob Snitch (right), are often forced into the difficult task of making themselves catchable without giving one team an edge. Credit: Deanna Edmunds

The basic rule of a snitch’s job is to not get caught. But sometimes, time constraints necessitate that the snitch goes against that tenet. Due to most quidditch matches being played in tournaments that operate on a tight schedule, it’s not feasible for a snitch to remain uncaught for an indefinite amount of time, since the tournament can’t progress and may end up running too long.

 

This means that sometimes, a snitch has to let themselves be caught. So how can a snitch still do their job and remain fair and impartial to both teams, while still purposely putting themselves in a position to be caught?

 

The Eighth Man is here to help solve that dilemma, with tips to assist any snitch in fairly ending long games. Drawing from both personal experience and tips from top snitches around the league, here is a guide to fairly ending games as a snitch.

 

One of the first keys to allowing the game to end is to stay away from beaters. Usually, beaters are a snitch’s best friend, as each team will often have at least one beater dedicated to beating the opposing team’s seeker once the snitch returns to the pitch. While that certainly makes life easier for the snitch, it is also the biggest factor in drawing out the length of games. If seekers are constantly getting beat and having to run back to their hoops, not only are they spending little time actually engaging the snitch, but they are also running out of energy, making their attempts at a snatch less and less effective.

 

When a game starts to go on for too long, the snitch can help to increase the chances of a catch by purposely running to areas of the pitch away from beater play. While it may seem like a simple solution to implement, it is also one of the most important and balanced.

 

“Moving away from beaters is probably the best way to do [end the game], while keeping it more or less fair,” Texas A&M’s Mason Kuzmich said.

 

Another way to help end the game is by relying more on throws and less on running away from seekers. This tactic still makes the seekers work hard for the grab and delivers quite a beating, but it also allows them to spend more time engaged with the snitch in closer proximity, increasing the chances of a grab. It’s also a great time to use throws that are effective but that may expose you a bit to a grab.

 

“I have four or five throws which involve me exposing my back to the seeker for a small amount of time to hit,” Rochester Institute of Technology’s Brian Herzog said. “Because of this, it’s a higher risk and I wait to attempt them until longer games that need to end.”

 

A snitch can also purposely handicap themselves, decreasing their ability to hold off the seekers. This can come in a variety of forms, from limiting the use of their arms to hold off seekers to creating limits for how quickly and how far they can run away from seekers. Even doing specific moves that open up the snitch to a grab for short periods of time can constitute a handicap.

 

“In the past, I ended up doing a lot of tight spins past seekers, so there are brief moments where they can potentially catch it with my back turned,” Middlebury’s Chris Johnson. “When that’s failed, I’ve put both arms in my shirt and just ran around. And when that has failed, I’ve hopped around on one leg.”

 

It’s important to note that a snitch needs to be cognizant of the events that are going on around them, especially in long games. Deciding what techniques are appropriate to use at any given time requires a good understanding of what the game situation is.

 

“Deciding what to do in a long game really depends on the score,” said former NYU Nundu Conway Cooperson, who has been involved heavily in snitch training in the Northeast. “If it’s been going for 45 minutes and one team is up by 100 points, it might be best to handicap yourself severely. If it’s gone on for 45 minutes but the score is close, I try to limit myself to one region of the pitch and avoid beaters.”

 

The most important thing for a snitch to remember is that when they find themselves needing to allow the game to end, they need to make sure that they treat both teams the same, and give them the same opportunities.

 

At one of my first tournaments, I witnessed a situation that shaped my own snitching strategy. In a close game, the snitch found himself pinned up against the crowd, with a seeker on either side of him. He attempted to get out of that situation by turning and engaging the seeker on his left side, completely opening up his back to the seeker on his right side, leaving him with an almost effortless grab of the wide-open snitch sock.

 

The snitch’s arbitrary decision to engage one seeker while ignoring the other had an unfair influence on the outcome of the game. After witnessing that, I’ve made sure that remaining fair to both teams is always my number one focus as a snitch. When I found myself in a similar situation as that snitch at a later tournament, I chose to attempt to burst through the space between the two seekers, holding each at arm length on either side of me. The result was an equal opportunity for each of them to make the grab.

 

While allowing yourself to be caught may seem like an arbitrary process, there is plenty that can be done to make yourself vulnerable and still keep things even, leaving the result squarely in the hands of the players and keeping you out of any kind of controversy.

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