Ruling: Out of Turn Play

There was an interesting situation that happened at our league last night. On a 4 player group, on ball 1, player 1 and 2 already played. Player 4 played out of turn and played as player 3. Normally this is a normal ruling, the points stay and Player 4 gets DQed. But while this out of turn play was happening, Player 3 was aware that P4 was playing out of turn. Player 3 ended up silently discussing with P2 about how P4 was playing his ball. Both P3 and P2 let that player continue to keep playing out of turn probably hoping to rack up the score.

Player 1 finally overheard their discussion and called an official over. What would you do in this situation? Would you DQ anybody else besides Player 4? P3 intentionally didn’t stop play knowing that the points earned, he would keep.

What the officials ended up ruling was that P4 gets a DQ and Player 3 will play as Player 4 since that game wasn’t started yet.

Given the intentional aspect of P2 and P3 allowing out-of-turn play to continue, I would also give P2 and P3 each yellow cards for violating: “It is the responsibility of all players to ensure the correct player is on the machine at all times.”
“Any collaborative effort between players in an attempt to unfairly affect the outcome of the competition, or to “lock out” a third player, or to otherwise refrain from making the best possible competitive effort on each and every game played, will be looked upon very poorly by tournament officials, and may result in disciplinary action, including disqualification and/or ejection from the tournament.”


I would DQ p3 for trying to cheat. I’m inclined to simply swap player positions on ball one in a league match since that generally has zero effect on the match.


Maybe I don’t know this rule very well, but are you saying in a normal situation that P3 would’ve been given those points that P4 ‘earned’?

In normal situations, the points stand.

Posted about a similar scenario a while ago, but without the additional wrinkle of a player being aware and intentionally taking advantage of the benefit. Similar to a significant ‘Beneficial Malfunction’, I don’t see why the player should get to keep the points. No harm occurs from allowing the affected player to play in the ‘DQ’d’ spot of player 4, starting with a fresh game.

Is this for real? There was actually someone watch another player DQ themselves AND was trying to gain as much benefit from that error?

There are technicalities and there’s karma. I believe in both. Nonsense like that catches up to you.


My very non-sanctioned house rule would be to not DQ anyone, but instead make 'em all play the game over again. Player 2 and 3 cannot reap the benefit of allowing P4 to accidentally help clobber P1’s score.

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As usual, since it wasn’t specified, I have to ask: what rules were in force at this event? Many times there’s an assumption that it’s the standard PAPA/IFPA rules, which is often the case, but not always. Even many events that claim to use PAPA/IFPA rules kinda sorta do, and kinda sorta don’t, which is unfortunate, because this really devalues a good ruleset for everyone else.

Assuming the standard PAPA/IFPA rules… those rules state that a player who plays out of turn receives a score of zero. That’s pretty straightforward… except that it doesn’t say if it’s a machine score of zero, or an event score of zero, which can be significant. Let’s assume event score of zero. There is a clause in those rules stating that “It is the responsibility of all players to ensure the correct player is on the machine at all times.” – but without any action or penalty associated, this clause is pretty much worthless.

So: my ruling in this situation is that P4 is disqualified with a league score of zero by playing out of turn. P3 may choose to gain control of the ball in play and continue play, else let the ball drain and play an additional ball in a new game (major malfunction interpretation)… if P3 is unable to reasonably gain control of the ball, the major malfunction rule applies automatically. There is no impact on anyone else. If any player knew earlier that P4 was playing out of turn, they “should have” more promptly consulted with a TD for a resolution, but since there’s no documented penalty for this, it’s just Too Bad, So Sad for those players.

I think the right call was made. By the book anyway.

Not knowing the characters involved, I can’t make that assumption. If I was player 3 and I noticed too late player 4 was playing my first ball, I would assume I wouldn’t get any points from that ball because it was ball 1. If my group was all league regulars, I might walk over to player 2 and start making fun of player 4 while ‘he’s playing my ball’. “Look at Bob over there racking up points for my game. Sweet!”

Not by the book, I would give player 4 a zero for that game, I would give player 1 the option of completing that game, or starting a new one, and I would tell players 2 and 3 that they are morons (yellow card) and have them play a new game.

I’d be inclined to do this:

  • Player 4 game score of 0 for out-of-turn
  • Players 2 & 3 game score of 0 AND yellow card for collusion
  • Player 1 automatically wins
  • Players 2, 3, 4 play tiebreaker game

Sometimes extra-fucked-up situations call for creative solutions.

There’s no basis for the following in current rules AFAIK, but if you want to argue collusion is worse:

  • Player 1 wins
  • Player 4 gets second
  • Players 2 and 3 playoff for 3rd

Ultimately, I have a VERY dim outlook on P2 & P3 behavior.


Our league is super casual,so I’d probably just switch player 3-4 around for the game. Most folks don’t want to see anyone DQed, especially in league. Player 4 made an honest mistake on the first ball, and switching their order makes sure the player 3 didn’t purposely gain an advantage. If anyone put up a stink about not DQing player 4, they probably would get a lot of folks rolling their eyes at them.

In a tournament, that’s a completely different situation. I have to DQ player 4. As far as player 2 & 3 go, I would not tolerate collusion. If this is one of those rare instances that I could actually be reasonably certain that players 2-3 were colluding, that would be an easy yellow card, and honestly, I might go strait to the red card and just boot out players 2-3. That said, it’s really hard to prove intent, so it would probably be a case where I just give verbal warnings, and no official cards.

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So now we have Suggestion: update player responsibility text which I completely agree with regarding letting the points stand for the affected player… But in this situation there’s 2 other factors at play.

  • Seeming collusion (P2 and P3 discussing)
  • Effectively a back-pocket ruling which has been discussed previously

IIRC back-pocket rulings are typically just not acted upon, but you can’t really apply that here directly because it’s still active.

For a casual situation I completely agree with swapping P3 and P4, since P4 basically loses the advantage of playing last. But P3’s behavior really grinds my gears and my desire to punish is high.


Clearly P3 tried to gain an advantage but is the offense committed by P2 (not saying anything) equivalent to collusion?

Player 3 told player 2 what was going on. Player 2 seemed fine with letting player 3 get a bunch of free points. Player 1 was then at a disadvantage as two players colluded to so one of them, player 3, could exploit an unearned advantage. The fact that it only stopped because Player 1 noticed, kind of tells me what was going on here.

Obviously, collusion will be up to the TD in the end, but in this case, based on the information I have, I think it was pretty clearly collusion. That said, depending on the situation, I might only issue a warning to P2 & P3. It’s not an easy call for sure.

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I kind of like this approach. Just a question: Wouldn’t it matter that P4 made his offense before P2 and P3 did theirs, and therefore P4 gets last, and P2 and P3 playoff for 2nd? Chronology before severity?