PAPA/IFPA Tournament Ruleset

PAPA and IFPA have worked together to create a unified set of rules that we recommend tournament directors use when dealing with malfunctions and other logistics regarding running a tournament (player errors, stuck balls, etc).

While certain formats will need additional rule verbiage to handle specific situations, these rules below should create a nice foundation for which to start with when creating rules for your own tournament.

Updated rules will always be available on both the PAPA and IFPA websites.

We’ve posted the unified rules here on our site:


Thank you for all the hard work writing, refining and unifying these rulesets.

The PAPA site has a section noting the areas where changes were made.

The warmup session prior to each division’s final rounds has been increased from 30 seconds to 1 minute.
I like this. 30 seconds isn’t much time at all, especially if the previous player made a hard move or if you’re stuck in between games / time suck features.

Balls passing through the trough no longer constitute a beneficial malfunction.
Great decision to prevent the occasional “extra ball” from a pass through.

The stuck ball section has been updated to remove player choice as an option. Balls will be placed in a location of the tournament director’s choosing, which in PAPA’s case will almost always be one of the lower flippers.

During the OH SCS, the TD placed my stuck ball on the flipper on the side of the game where the ball was stuck. I recall him saying something about that being the determining factor as to where he chose to place it. Is that standard policy for the TD choosing the location now?

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We’ve personally recommended a deterministic approach with respect to where to place an unstuck ball.

If a ball is plunged and gets stuck at the top part of the gate of the plunger lane, you would put the ball back in the plunger lane.

If a ramp shot is made and gets stuck on it’s path back down towards the flippers, you would put the ball back on the flipper where that ramp shot ultimately exits.

More often than not we’ll simply use the area of the playfield is which the ball is stuck as the determining factor. Split the playfield down in half, left side of the playfield stuck balls will be placed on the left flipper, right side of the playfield stuck balls will be placed on the right flipper.

Is there ever a case where a ball can be placed onto an upper flipper instead?

At Pinburgh a few years ago I got a ball stuck on the mini playfield of Split Second, which has a raisable flipper, but that wasn’t the spot (I don’t remember if a lower flipper or shooter lane was used).

It seems like if you’re going to use judgment of the preceding situation to determine placement, that this could be allowed.

I would see absolutely no problem with that.