Ruling question: when is a game actually over?

The following happend in Borås Pinball Open during the deciding game on White Water, in a play off match between Helena and Mikael Telerud.

Helena, as player two, drains her last ball without catching up Mikael´s score. After some seconds of cursing they shake hands, she congratulates him on the win and they start discussing the game.
After about a minute a third person observes that Helena has a ball in the plunger, and that it is still her third ball.
(The machine obviously had roms with ball save.)

So, the question is: does Helena get to play that “extra ball”, since her last ball isn´t actually over yet, or is the match over when they shake hands and both players agree that the match is over?

EDIT: I didn´t see the incident myself, but as far as I know Helena got to play the saved ball, but didn´t manage to catch Mikael´s score.



I don’t know if there is an official ruling, but I will say that I have been in that exact situation.

Finals of the UK Pinball Classics last year I was player 1 on Harlem Globetrotters and had a slim lead ahead of player 2 when my ball 3 ended. 2nd player plunged a house ball, turned round shook my hand gave congrats… Then I noticed the ball was still in the shooter lane (I guess he missed all switches). Couldn’t see a TD available, so I advised him to play that ball. I have to admit it was a crushing feeling to go from a win to a loss like that, but it felt the correct thing to do


This was the correct ruling. Unless the player conceded to a tournament director, the game is still on.

A similar but horrifying incident happened in the Pinburgh D final rounds: P3 playing final ball of last game needs to catch P4. Ball drains, passes through to shooter lane but nobody notices. P3 shakes hands. P4 plunges what they think is their ball but isn’t, and is disqualified for playing out of turn. P3’s handshake did not signal that the game was over.


Can you elaborate on this? Do you mean there was a ball saver or did something happen where the ball was put into the shooter lane and the game kept it on the same player?

Sure. It was a pass through, where the ball ends up going through the drain completely into the shooter lane. Rules say in this case the game is opened and the ball is drained again. But, P3’s turn was still in progress when P4 took over.

To be more clear in this, it usually happens on older games. The ball hits the apron with a lot of speed or some spin. This causes it to jump through the trough and pop back out the othe side to the shooter lane.


Do people ever do that on purpose as a hail mary if player 4 has a monster score that player 3 knows they couldn’t possibly catch up to?

I personally haven’t seen that before, but if so, it would be a shame. This is a rare enough situational instance that I don’t think someone devious enough to try it could effectively plan ahead for it.


I’ve been in a similar position before – drained as P2 on Ball 3 with a rather pitiful score (I can’t remember the game), was shaking my opponents hand when I looked over to see an unexpected ball save had kicked in, and the ball was up in the pops. I managed to jump back on it for a win, bit felt like a complete dick after.

It’s not 100% relevant, but be careful on old games where getting an extra ball isn’t super obvious. It’s really easy to play out of turn. DMD era games make it sound like you won the lottery.