Compensation balls : 4th ball vs. New game ball

Because the option to add a new ball doesn’t exist on all games, therefore you need a rule for when you can (which is preferred) and another for when you can’t.


If I’m ever on the receiving end of player making his own ruling due to “strategic choice,” I hope you’ll forgive me if I say it felt arbitrary.

I don’t think anyone is questioning what the rules state; they’re pretty clear. People are just questioning why they are that way. If someone plays out of turn, the affected player is given the choice to take over or have it treated as a major malfunction. In many cases, this is effectively giving them the choice to play with their current progress or to have a compensation ball on a new game. On new games with the option to add balls to a game in progress, the player is not given a choice to add a ball to a game in progress or start on a fresh game if there is a major malfunction. To me it feels kind of odd and arbitrary to give the player the option in one case, but not in the other.

Edit: nevermind, I don’t have time for this. I’m sure @pinwizj does and will be along soon enough to explain why the rules are the way they are.

IMHO: the key thing here is that you as TD define the rules for your event. Using a solid baseline like the PAPA/IFPA ruleset is a great idea, but if you’ve given good consideration to that ruleset and feel that there are changes that would provide a better experience for you and your players, do it. (And of course I mean do it prior to the event, with proper documentation / player notification. You should pretty much never change or disobey your published rules while an event is in progress.)

And I’d further say: if you make changes like that to an established ruleset… talk about it with other TDs. TiltForums is a great resource for this sort of thing. Explain why you made the change, and if it comes into play for a real ruling, give an honest report of whether the result seemed better, worse, or about the same as the “common” rule. Maybe you’ll find that the change is a terrible idea, or maybe lots of other TDs will agree with you and make the same change, improving tournament play for many people.


Do we need an Decisions Book of rules added the IFPA rules?

Well… I wouldn’t call the following making my own ruling, but rather trying to lobby for a favorable, strategic one. This happened to me at Pinburgh this year:

Playing Twilight Zone in the backup bank, two balls in the lock, and I shoot the hitchhiker loop. Ball gets jammed up in there somewhere, and in the process of waiting for help, the two balls in the lock chase out and then the hitchhiker ball also magically releases itself. I trap them all up, one on the left, two on the right. When the TD arrives, I explain what happened and also that I know I must drain down to one, but I ask if I can choose which one to keep. After some thought, the decision was yes. I opted for the one on the left flipper as the options on what to shoot for are better.

Later in the same game I had exactly the same situation, but this time it was the powerball that airballed and got jammed up on top of a pop bumper. Lost one of the chased balls but managed to trap the other on the right flipper. Same decision - I get to choose which ball to keep. Of course I chose the powerball.

Both of those were calculated decisions on what I wanted to have happen during a ruling. I believe I was told there was no codified response to that specific situation, and it would be brought up for possible clarification at future Pinburghs.


In this instance there is absolute clarity as to what should have happened - according to the IFPA/PAPA rules. A 4th ball should have been added and the scores taken from there.

A decision was made by the TD to veer from that and allow a comp ball on a new game. I understand why this decision may have been made, but it was wrong. Assuming you didn’t have any added clauses or phrases to the tournament, you should have followed IFPA/PAPA rulings. Which it seems you were knowledgeable of - hence the ‘hesitant choice’.

By making the decision to start a new game for Player 1 you benefitted him/her, and in so doing screwed over their opponents.

Being a TD is hard, unless you follow the rules which are outlined rigidly, and then it becomes a whole lot easier.

To paraphrase @pinwizj somewhat. Once you learn that every decision made will benefit at least one player, and hinder at least one player - it helps remove the emotion from any decision made.

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This is exactly how I do things. As long as it is communicated to the player and we are consistent in making the rulings, there is no reason for anyone to complain. If we come across an unusual circumstance, which definitely does happen, we read the rules, determine how it fits with our situation, discuss the options and make a ruling the best we can. Once that decision has been made, it’s written into our rules and does not get changed until the end of an event.

For leagues, that means the decision is final until the end of the 9 week season. Only after the close of the season, will we re-evaluate things and make changes if necessary. Good or bad, the decision stands until the end of the event / season.

Anyone that attends our events will tell you that I am very consistent when ruling, irrespective of the decision being right, or wrong. I’ll be the first to admit, I’ve made some incorrect rulings, but we all have to learn somehow. :smiley:

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If keys are available, turn off Lost Ball Recovery for the tournament if on location (or permanently at someone’s house) and the situation could have been avoided altogether. Mode would have been lost but MB kept and ball would not have ended

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First, on games that support virtual locks - always use them, I’ve been screwed by GOTG, b66, Cirqus and many others on physical locks. And on the games that have it turn off the ball recovery stuff.

Simialir, happened to me whilst TDing at the UK Open but the ball was ball 3 of a two player game so the game ended, player moaned like crazy that he had loads of stuff “ready to go” and was eyeing for a complete new game ! but he only got a single compensation ball on a new game.

Sooo is choosing 3rd instead of 4th going to be the new thing on modern games that can add a ball?

Guys… The player doesn’t get to decide…I am not understanding the existential debate. Josh posted the ruling above…

Is there an easy way to know which games support adding balls mid-game without losing the scores?

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Stern sam system and newer

What’s the first SAM game?

Spider-Man I’m pretty sure

World Poker Tour.

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This may be a decided issue if using IFPA rules, but not all competitions do.