Ruling: Player says they didn't play their ball

True, but this rule is worded that way to avoid players playing out of turn, and, more importantly, giving extra points to the one that gets his ball played by another one.

There’s no rule saying players not following this rule should have their game voided.

What if Player 4 plunged his ball and is lying about it? That shouldn’t impact all players.

Because there’s no way to tell, you have to trust Player 4.

The more likely scenario is somebody else (external or not) played Player 4’s ball 2 or the game malfunctioned and auto plunged it.

If that person was external to the comp, this rule applies:

Accidental interference is regrettable but can happen. Any player or non-player who accidentally interferes with the play of any tournament game will be warned. If the interference was sufficient to cause the loss of ball, this will be treated as a major malfunction.

If that was another player, nobody witnessed it so you can’t DQ anyone but you can still apply this ruling:

A player who plays out of turn in a multiplayer game will receive a score of zero. The affected player may choose to take over the ball in play, if possible, or he or she may choose to have the incident treated as a major malfunction

The auto-plunge would also be considered a major malfunction.

So, imho, the most logical decision is to give a compensation ball.


An auto plunge isn’t a major malfunction un all the tournaments I’ve seen it happen. Easily happen with a ball search if a major switch phantom triggers (i.e. not a sling shot).

Problem here is nobody was there assuming we don’t have an integrity issue. To me that’s the problem. 4 player game and not one player was there or is willing to say what they saw. Be present through the game and you won’t have this problem in the first place.

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I think you’re underestimating the level of difficulty this presents to some people… :slightly_smiling_face:

You can’t apply an interference rule when no one was watching and thus no one saw any interference.

All we have to go on is player 4’s word, and there’s no “scouts honor” rule that would award any compensation.

In any tourney that I TD, an auto plunge is treated as a major malfunction. UNLESS the player decides to step up and take over the ball, then it is their choice and play on. Even if they are standing there when it happens, they have the choice to do nothing and receive a comp ball.


My takeaway is that this “rule” needs to be rewritten to take away the ambiguity or clarify that it’s simply a “free points” thing and no actual violation has taken place. It’s come up in threads before, and here we are again. We’ve already had it clarified here twice by Josh, but some people are still sticking to P1-3 here committing a violation, stealing P4’s car, and kicking their dog.

Just fix the wording and put this to bed.

Here is the last pieces information I think I can contribute.

I was P3/TD. The player order is the same across all five games for the evening. (I’m not always third to play, but all night I had been following the same player, and am followed by the same player).

As a rule, I nearly always make sure to tell the player after me that it’s their turn. I want to let people be social with each other, but also keep things moving. I had been doing so consistently throughout the night with P4.

What happened between my Ball 2 and my Ball 3:

  • I finish ball 2.
  • (No one is sure what happened)
  • P1, Ball 3: takes their score from 20m -> 40m
  • P2, Ball 3: takes their score from 10m -> 70m
  • P3 (me), Ball 3: takes my score from 15m -> 120m. My ball was played correctly. I’m 100% sure that I followed P2…he was the person who stepped away from the machine right before me. I’ve never played a ball out of turn before, and I’ve never not caught anyone playing out of turn in my group.

These are relatively large scores for Batman Dark Knight…so I’d guess probably 20 minutes have elapsed.

P4 noticed something wrong during my Ball 3, and started talking to P1 about it. It was a long, annoying conversation happening at the machine next to me while I was playing. I eventually told them they needed to move this conversation away from me (and at the time I thought the debate was about a game they had started playing on the side while waiting). Players can play another game while they’re waiting, but need to be ready to drop the ball and move to their machine when it’s their turn.

The league is for WPPRs, and people want to win, but it’s not so serious that I’m constantly called upon to make rulings. Sometimes people in lower groups might accidentally plunge the wrong ball, and the correct player steps up and takes over the machine to play it out. No one comes to me to seek a judgement or wants their groupmate to be DQ’d.

I’ve probably made it sound like no one was in the room and everyone was off doing their own thing. That’s not really true. I was in the room (and it’s a small room). P1 was in/around the room, playing other games. P2 had played correctly and then left.

However, by the time my ball was finished, P4 and P1 had already been in a long, frustrating conversation about what had happened. A lot of time had elapsed between my Ball 2 (when P4 would have followed me), and the end of my Ball 3 (at least 20 minutes, maybe more). I couldn’t definitively say if P4 B2 had been played…and whether or not I had told him it was his turn. Thinking back now, I can definitively remember directly walking up to him on many other balls throughout the evening and telling him it was his turn. I can’t say that about the ball in question though.

The least experienced of us (P1) has played in 29 IFPA events. The others are 33 (P4), 121 (P2), and 202 (P3) events, respectively. There were no noobs. P1 once played the wrong ball in league a few months ago, and refused to let me be gentle in my ruling. He insisted on a DQ when I tried to rule otherwise, so I gave him the DQ. P2 is extremely principled, and knows the rules well. P4 had been having a few drinks but was not drunk in my estimation (and in fact took his ball 3 from 1m -> 80m, so was certainly in control of himself).

Score for P4 was around 1.3m when he stepped up for Ball 3. We all actually remember his Ball 1 was super short, because raised his arms and yelled “Kaaahhhhnnnnn” after draining. 1.3m is pretty low for Batman, and would represent roughly two skill shots and not much else. Possible, yes. But also unlikely for a good player and a normal ball save.

By the time I entered the discussion, it was pretty heated…and it had turned into a witch-hunt to determine which of the four players had played that ball. P4 says he didn’t play his ball. P1-P3 say they didn’t plunge it, but none could say definitively that the ball was played. So, I ruled that it was 3 vs 1, and “sorry, no compensation ball”.

(Yes, I realize it’s not great for me to make the ruling since I’m a member of this group and it “affects” me. Backup TD #1, and backup TD #2 were both in this group, and there wasn’t anyone else qualified to help. I believe I can be impartial here, in my local league that I run, on my machines, etc. And again, this isn’t a life or death event that I would been to have 5 TDs available in a 12 person league just in case 1-4 are all in the same group.)

If I had to do it over again, I would give a compensation ball. Stick to the facts, and take everyone at their word. (As discussed, there is no reason that it had to have been plunged by one of the four of us).

Instead if felt as if I was put in a position to determine which side was wrong, and I figured that P4 had played a ball but it was so short and unmemorable that he didn’t remember 20 minutes later. This has certainly happened to me once or twice in my life (“Wait a minute, this is Ball 3 already? Why is my score so low then?”).

So…I can see going either way with this. I wish things had been less emotional at the time, as I’d like to think that would have helped me stick to the facts and focus on making the correct judgement, rather than trying to determine “which side is likely wrong”. It was incorrect of me to make my ruling based off “which side is likely wrong”.

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My objective opinion is that rulings should be made on what you know, not what you think happened. If no one owned up to plunging the ball and no one saw it happen, then you have nothing to go on, and I’m with @chesh that this should be “tough cheese.” It might have been an auto-plunge, it might have been a random patron plunging it off, but unless you know one of those things happened, you’re speculating.

I’ll note that the dead simple solution to avoiding situations like this is “stop disappearing when it’s not your turn.” IMO, P4 has no leg to stand on here. If you can’t be bothered to pay attention to a live game in progress, then you have no standing to make conjectures about other people playing your ball.



My interpretation of this is: I thought my judgement at the time was based on what I thought happened. What I thought happened was P4 forgot they had played their ball.

If I take all players words for it: then what is known is that P4 didn’t play it and P1-P3 didn’t touch the machine when it wasn’t their turn.

To say I have “nothing to go on”, means that I would have to disregard each players account of what happened.

For me, that’s not enough to reasonably know what happened. All players can be correct and there are multiple plausible explanations that don’t directly involve a player. Absent some sort of positive declaration that something happened, I would shrug my shoulders and say I don’t have enough information to make a ruling.

As an aside, if you were P3 in this game, you should not have been involved in the ruling.

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Ryan if you’re not on the slack channel yet for rulings, it’s highly recommended. I’ve used it before when I was involved in a ruling with other TDs

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You absolutely made the right ruling. In the absence of witnesses, all you can go on is what the machine is telling you. The machine says “player 4 has already played 2 balls.” There are two scenarios under which a compensation ball would be warranted:

  • If you know someone else plunged the ball.
  • If the machine plunged the ball.

You are 100% certain there is no auto launch on this game, so the game could not have decided it was tired of waiting and plunged the ball.

It is possible that player 1 plunged the ball, but he’s adamant he didn’t, and I assume you asked him if he had a weird ball save or anything like that.

Some rando could have stepped up and plunged the ball, at which point I would assume someone told them there’s a game in progress, and that someone should have told you or any other player “that rando over there plunged the ball.”

You have no evidence to support that player 1 or some rando plunged that ball. Those might be likely, but it could be just as likely (to me, an outside observer who doesn’t know the people involved) that player 4 forgot about ball 2. Or what if it’s malicious? What if player 4 is a jerk, didn’t like his ball 2, realized no one was watching and thought he could get a compensation ball? What if player 4 hates player 1, realizes no one is watching, and sees a chance at forcing them to take a 0 for playing out of turn?


Player - “I went to play my qualifying game and there were no credits left in the machine.”

TD - “Can you prove you didn’t already play the last credit on the machine?”

Player - “Well … Not really. I just stepped up to the game and tried.”

TD - “unfortunately nobody here can corroborate that you didn’t already play so sorry but there’s nothing we can do.”

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Additionally, the right time for P4 to make an argument about this is long gone. Already two more players have played their turns!

This comes up often at Pinburgh where a player asks for a ruling long after it is appropriate, and then nothing happens. Rulings need to be made at the time of the issue.


You wouldn’t think pinball would be so hard, yet here we are with the guy who writes the rules and the organizers of the world’s largest tournament making opposite rulings. :slight_smile:

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I’m with Bowen here 100%. If this wasn’t brought up until after the game was over it’s “too bad so sad”.

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P4 having their B2 skipped was first discussed during P3 B3.

I’d say if the person after you is already playing, that’s still appropriate, but if it has moved onto the second player after you, then it’s too late?


@Ryanwanger, did you end ball 2 with any kind of move? Even if not, how was the tilt on this game? Proximity to other games? Any chance P4B2 got tilted out and no one noticed?

Games are tightly spaced. Tilts are extremely loose. In 5 years of continuous leagues and tourneys, anyone who had their ball tilted was at the helm, and fully deserved it.

I don’t remember if I made a move while draining Ball 2, but it wasn’t a tilt.

“I didn’t tilt! I hardly touched it! I certainly didn’t tilt through the next players ball! I just breathed on it!”

This would be a moot point if the player had stayed at his game.