Ruling question (from pinside)


That’s a fair point. Watching hour-long games can get mentally tiresome.


Then the law needs to change. It’s the TD’s job to follow the rules as written, not to decide when and whether to do so.


I’m struggling to think how the law could be changed here without it being subjective. The “no points scored, no harm no foul” scenario requires someone to see that nothing happened, that no switches were hit, that there are no alternate plunges that the player might have done differently, no modes counting down, etc.

It seems a lot simpler to leave things as they are - you play an opponents ball, doesn’t matter, you’re DQ’d. That’s a straightforward situation to rule on.

That being said… it is harsh for P4 here. Sometimes rules are harsh though. At league, we sometimes have players that take matters into their own hands and agree on a resolution without ever getting a league officer involved. Can’t catch all of that, but when it is caught, things get rewound and proper penalties applied (if any).


Well I’m already on record as against some of the ‘extremes’ the IFPA ruleset has gone to.

I think this also shines a light on the topic of being overly harsh in “no harm, no foul” situations, which in more casual locations/leagues is a problem. We’ve seen it time and time again that newer players get discouraged when the rule hammer comes down in a painful way against people with good intentions (and no real harm done… or limited). It discourages them and feeds the belief the rules are complex/unfair/cumbersome/etc. instead of just a learning situation, they get their wrist slapped. Penalties could be avoided, but as said, the the letter of the law they would be required.

This is why the ifpa rules being seen as the universal law of the land instead of a guideline/baseline for lower events is problematic imo.

I get the idea of consistent… but there is a difference between a beer league and ifpa championship. A League organizer should have the leaway within his org without fear of alienating entirely from ifpa.

My .02


This is why I brought it up here. My first reaction would have been to save the ball as well, and that’s not the right response. Hopefully this thread will save a DQ or two, because you really can’t change the rules, and folks aren’t going to be watching their opponents all the time.

flynn: casual leagues let this stuff slide all the time. Strict rule enforcement is for the bigger/payout tournaments. You don’t see any ‘no harm no foul’ stuff in professional sports leagues.


I guess it’s a matter of perspective, because my first reaction would have been “WHOA! I didn’t plunge this ball, I should not be playing it!” If it ends up that it was my ball and now I have to do a compensation ball with a less desired game state, that better than getting DQ’d.


This is also the one rule I call out in my pregame pow wows. Especially if there are new players. I tell everyone to make sure they start the correct number of players, and also never touch the machine unless they are certain it is their turn. Otherwise they will get a zero.

Funny enough, they only DQs from playing out of turn I have ever issued have been to veterans. Never once to a newbie.


Rules should be fair. Only DQing P4 for a situation that was mostly caused by P3’s actions isn’t fair by any smell test you want to apply. But it’s not easy or clear how to change the language in the rules to “fix” this. Nor is it clear that the stakeholders even have an interest in “fixing” this. So it is what it is. Be diligent out there and learn from your mistakes!

I personally would make P3 at least as culpable as P4 here. If a player “abandons” their turn before it is “completed” and in doing so cause the next player in the match to play a ball out of turn, then I would DQ both players, since they are both equally responsible for the action. You already need to make sure its your turn before you begin, but just as importantly, you need to make sure your turn is done before leaving the machine! Same goes for the debated-to-death scenario where a player earns an extra ball in their turn and then “forgets” about it so that the next player, if unaware, ends up playing that EB “out of turn” and get themselves DQed for it. If you must DQ someone for the transgression, then both seem equally responsible to me.


I must disagree. If I’m player 3 here, I can do whatever I want as long as it’s my turn, including plunging and walking away. I don’t think I need to be physically present at the machine for it to be my turn.

Consider strike tournaments where you play in 4 player groups, bottom 2 get strikes on any given game. If I’m player 3 and I’m in first place on ball 3, I can totally walk up and plunge my ball and walk away (or stop playing once I achieve first place), since I can’t do worst than 2nd and therefore cannot take a strike.

As the hypothetical player 3 here, it is completely not my responsibility to make sure that someone else doesn’t commit a foul.


That’s my point. one ruleset… two different expectations of enforcement. As I pointed out, the rules dictate X… but don’t mesh with the expectation… and bowen commented ‘well maybe the rule should be changed’.

My point was illustrating that the rules as written are so focused on the ‘purest competitive pinball game’ that they are not necessarily so suited for other forms of play. So maybe people shouldn’t be blanket using IFPA rules for all event types.


For many leagues, FSPA rules are likely a lot more appropriate. If you don’t disable interlocks, you probably shouldn’t use IFPA/PAPA. Although, even FSPA rules would have DQed the player.


That is fine, but if we’re talking about a ruling situation (topic title), I’m going with what the rules say to do. Perhaps this rule needs to be changed, but until it is, the ruling is very clear.


FSPA rules give discretion to the league officer to rule as they see fit for their location - as long as the rulings are consistent and pre-established. The FSPA rules assume ‘limited access’ to games and what not.

Ironically in doing so the FSPA rules can be more cutthroat than IFPA rules in terms of compensation/replay… but the stand-out there is more about the discretion appropriate to your league… vs the one ruleset trying to decide the world champ… and the neighborhood bar champ.


Um, they don’t. Casual events get casual rules. Many “issues” in our league are sorted out amongst the players without a TD ever being involved, and most of those sort-outs are not compliant with official rules.

That said, I don’t think anyone goes into PAPA or Pinburgh expecting casual interpretation of the rules, because that simply cannot happen in those environments. The rules are there to protect the players and the host of the competition… without specific rules, there could be arguments, fights, lawsuits when a player fails to win money due to a questionable ruling. As Bowen said, the rule is very clear: do not play another players ball. Trying to make exceptions is just opening a huge can of worms…


I think threads like this are a good reminder that there will always be extreme edge cases like this one and the sport of pinball will never have a ‘perfect’ set of rules. I’m ok with that and I actually think it’s a good thing. Don’t look away in pinball because you never know what will happen next.

No other sport has as many variables. There are about 15k different golf courses in the USA. They built more TAF’s than that. And none of those TAF play exactly like the others. Golf courses also don’t have software or moving parts.

With every new game released, there are opportunities for new rules. A recent one might be the GB skill shot cheat. Has IFPA or FSPA addressed that specifically? Should they if software can eliminate it? It’s a moving target, and that’s ok. If you think every potential situation should have a rule written for it, it’s not going to happen. New, sometimes bizarre, situations will always come up. And that’s a good thing. Enjoy the variables because you will never contain them all.

Simple sports, like basketball, have all the edge cases covered.


American football is pretty simple - get the ball over the line, but I’d say the NFL does NOT have all its cases covered…


I knew that was the catch rule before even clicking.


I assume you’re talking about the soft plunge-hard plunge to award the right orbit. IMHO: no, standard rulesets should not address this. It is playing the game as provided. Every player can take advantage of it, or not, as they choose. If the event official wants to make some ruling about this for their specific event, that’s their business; of course, they can also exclude the game from their event if they feel it’s not fair.

Random thing I find interesting: I’ve heard lots of people complain about the GB skill shot cheat, but I don’t recall hearing anyone protest, say, the TZ Powerball Mania jackpot cheat.


Set up the game with a TZ plunger spring and pointed ouchy-palm plunger, would discourage this exploit…


Clearly many do… as the majority of ruling question threads here are not from major tournaments.