Did I make the right call?

It was the finals of our League last night. The format is 4 4-player games with 4,2,1,0 scoring.

It got to the last game on TAF and while the final player was playing his final ball the right flipper stuck up. This wasn’t mechanical as in a the flipper was caught, rather that the machine thought the flipper button was being pressed, all kinds of suggestions were made from onlookers as to what the fault was, but it was unanimous that it couldn’t be fixed on the night.
My ruling was that it was a “catastrophic failure” and that as the machine was completely inoperable a new game had to be started from scratch on a different machine.

I am confident that was the right decision, as I had made a similar ruling earlier in the night on GoT, although only 3 players had actually played a ball.

However, the state of play now needs to be taken in to context.
With the way the previous games had been played Player 1 needed to win the match and hope that Player 2 finished last to win the overall final. P4 needed to beat P3 to ensure 3rd place in the final
The score were P1 350mil - P2 54mil - P3 98mil & P4 34 mil with a ball in the shooter lane having just made the first lock.
Effectively P4 needed to score 20mil more to ensure P1 won the final. If he didn’t P2 would win the final, and score 64mil to ensure he got 3rd place overall (and a trophy)

I still feel that my ruling was the correct one, although P4 was considering trying to play on with just the right flippers functional in the hope that he could start MB and then manage a jackpot.

What makes matters even worse is that I was P2!

Could I have taken any other decision?

I think the right decision was made. However, when you are the TD and you are actually playing in the game that needs a ruling, you should designate someone other than yourself beforehand to make that ruling.


This is actually a pretty bad situation to find yourself in. With the worst case scenario (you finish last, player one finish first) a real possibility, the game has a catastrophic malfunction. Everyone will be feeling like this is a terrible time for the game to go down and nobody will want the game to be ruled out. Seems like, luckily, no other ruling could be made here?

I have a couple questions for the more experienced TDs out there -

  1. What if he had already passed player 2, but not player 3?

  2. What if player 2 had already locked it up, but player 4 was still playing for something?

  3. What if player 4 would have no effect on the outcome (but a restart could)?

Rules regarding malfunctions don’t take current score into consideration, nor should they (unless further scoring by the player(s) playing or remaining to play would have no impact on the CURRENT GAME’s outcome). Even if the match outcome is decided for some of the players, but not all of them, and the current game outcome is still meaningful to any players, you enforce the rules. End of story.

If you are acting as a TD/participant, as @LOTR_breath said, you MUST have a back-up TD (or two) to handle decisions that impact you as a participant. Further, have your rules explicitly stated and referenced, so that whichever TD is making the “decision,” they are really just more of a mouthpiece for the rules.

And if your situation had no foreseeable fix for the malfunction in a timely fashion to continue the competition, then catastrophic malfunction seems like the right decision.


Paragraph 8: Disabled Machines

“In the event that any players completed their game before the machine became disabled, and their finishing position on that game has been determined, that finishing position will stand and that player will not participate on the substitute machine. The remaining players will then play off on the substitute machine to determine the remaining finishing positions that were not able to be determined on the original machine.”


Unfortunately the backup TD was Player 1!
Realistically we were the only 2 players with enough tournament experience to be able to make any informed rulings.

In this instance no one’s final position had been decided because technically Player 4 could still have finished on any position from top to bottom, depending on how their final ball had gone.

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Time to train more officials! We’re up to 8 officials in our league. That way we’re certain to always have 5 or 6 present to handle issues (for 65-75 players; adjust accordingly!)

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don’t look at the overall results in making your decision or not… look only at that game.

I assume the IFPA rule about ‘positions already determined’ is about expediency not fairness… because like in your situation, only if impacted players have already beat the other people… will it kick in any value.

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I feel it is about fairness.

If a player has already taken last place and there is no way there could be any other outcome, anything after that point is inconsequential to their performance - including a catastrophic malfunction. Players who positions are “locked” are the only cut a dry part of who is and is not affected by a malfunction like this.


As Josh noted, if he passed P2 but not P3, P2 is locked in 4th but the other players restart. The situation in a multi-game match is not taken into consideration, only any players’ positions that are locked in. In particular, a player who receives a DQ does not earn a restart in a replacement game.

This was the correct decision.

Man would I love to see someone who tilts through and is DQ’d, go “accidentally” spill a cup of water into the outlet where the game is, then be able to play in the replacement game and win :slight_smile:


The way the rules used to be, that was the case. I forget when this new rule about Disabled came about, but it wasn’t that long.