Rulings - what to do in these odd scenarios

Preface: This isn’t about determining if I was dealt a bad ruling at a recent tournament. Rather it is to get feedback on two rare scenarios that rulings had to be made on and I didn’t know of a precedent, nor what was best.

Scenario 1:
Bracket elimination format. Players A and B are recorded wrong in the bracket and continue on to play the other player’s matches. Player A wins all the matches before the final match and Player B finally loses one. The error is then identified. What happens?

Result in actual scenario: Player A is deemed out of the tournament because player B lost a match. Player B gets to start at the spot that player would have and replays the matches player A won.

My opinion: This was correct for Player B (who knows what to do for player A) in that none of Player B rightful opponents won any of player B’s matches against Player A, so those opponents got another chance and Player B rightfully played out their matches. Turns out player B went on to take 2nd place overall, as that player deserved the chance to do so.

But…what if player A had lost in a round, as happened to Player B in Player A’s rightful matches. Does player B still get to play against a player that had previously won that match, even though it was against the wrong player? Then you are penalizing a player that won a match already and now they have to replay it again, possibly losing. This one really stumped me.

Scenario 2:
4 player match. Player 3’s ball in progress somehow switches to Player 4 and player 3 scores a very significant amount of points for Player 4 before everyone notices. For this scenario, assume Player 3 didn’t plunge player 4s ball and play it out, the machine malfunctioned.

Does player 4’s game get voided and have to replay (their score at the time was the worst), or does player 4 get an estimated number of points reduced from their score based on a consensus from all players about what player 4 had originally? Player 3 and Player 4 would get another ball on a next game per Loss of Ball rules (unless player 4’s game is voided). But what happens to all those extra points???

The logical thing to do is to void every affected match and reset to the tournament from there. That’s an error on the directors part and should be rectified. This would probably upset a lot of people. (Sorry for the cheap plug but brackelope does support changing outcomes of old matches (elimination brackets only) and will properly void the right matches in proceeding rounds.)

An alternative to that would be to “play it as it lies” and write it off as a player error.

The sucky things about both of these options is it affects every other opponent played, and if the error goes unchecked long enough, that could mean near everyone in the tournament.

In general though, I probably wouldn’t let the outcome of other matches determine the elimination status of uninvolved players (in the case of eliminating Player A because Player B lost a match they weren’t supposed to play in the first place).


As painful as it is, I have to agree with the first proposal: void every affected match and reset the tourney from there.

Scenario 3: Plunger/Launch Button malfunction…
Ball 3 of BSD. Player 1 ends with a score around 40M more than Player 2. Player 2’s 3rd ball is in shooter lane, and pity Mist MB is lit. Launch button malfunctions and no longer launches the ball. The BSD launcher had been very consistent, and both players were familiar with machine and skill shot timing. Player 2 had scored both the 1M and 2M skill shots on balls 1 & 2, so the ball 3 skill shot was worth 3M.

Final ruling was: Player 2 gets ball on flipper and 3M will be added to their score. Player 2 loses the coffin ramp advance from the skill shot and rollover lane + pops hits, but gets ball in control on flipper.
I thought this was fair.

Thoughts? Other better rulings?

It’s not clear from the description how many matches.

If it is after say the first round, I’d void those two specific matches and have them replayed.

But if your anything further then the first round I would play it as it lies. Yea it sucks but they were still valid matches that were played. A player still won and lost and for time I wouldn’t want to have to reset that far back in the tournament.


I’d mark that as a machine malfunction put the ball on the flipper if possible and award no score bonuses. Especially not points for a hypothetical skill shot.

Flip side to that: we had a ball get stuck in the trough on a drain recently. We checked the Status for the total bonus and added that to the score. Then attempted to tilt the machine and shake the ball into place.


How many matches are we talking about here? Shouldn’t the players have noticed they were in the wrong bracket at some point before the final match?

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I agree with Bracket on all scenarios so far. The hypothetical skill shot is bogus.


The bracket that actually occurred wasn’t a normal double elim, rather a custom bracket where losing dropped a player into a B division bracket where players continued towards the finals for that bracket. No portion of the bracket was publicly available for review, but that’s a different story. Basically the error was discovered when the other player finally lost and wanted to know where he finished. Doh!!!

This is a catastrophic malfunction in my book. I would take the game out of the tournament and replay the match on a different game. You can place the ball on the flipper, but how do you know the autoplunger will function in case a multiball is reached?


Let me do one: :smile:
I saw this happen recently and wasn’t apart of the match or the decision but was just a player playing in another match watching this unfold.
Four player playoff match on ACDC - player one plays game and anger tilts ball lose tilting the machine.
Player two decides to wait for game to settle but as he does a child walks up out of the nowhere to the machine and plunges the ball.
Everyone in the group sees it happen as well as some other players. Player two franticly runs up and saves his ball and plays it out.
After he plays, he informs the tournament director of what happened. Tournament Director gets group together to discuss and let’s group decide what should be done. Player One does not want to start match over and since Player Two continued with his ball without notifying the tournament director, it was ruled the match continues as it stands.
Was this the right call?

Ideally, of course, this doesn’t happen. My opinion is: play on. Player A, the one who was marked as the loser, accepts the loss by playing in a losers’ bracket. Player B should not have won, but was mistakenly judged to be the winner, and once the tournament continues, that ruling should be final. Player A should be allowed to continue in the losers’ bracket because that is where the tournament placed them.

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(My reading only!) The most relevant PAPA rule for this is the player error rule for playing someone else’s turn. P3 played out of turn due to a major malfunction, so they should not be disqualified, but neither should P4 be punished for nobody noticing P3 is scoring for P4. P4 “may take over the ball in play” which implies that P4 could continue the turn “as is”, and the points count.

I have made this ruling when someone plays out of turn: for example, if P3 played P4’s ball, any points earned count toward P4’s score. For P4, if they took over, the ball counts; if not, it’s a major malfunction. Play on, points count, P3 gets +1 ball for the malfunction, P4 gets +1 ball if they did not take over from P3.

I do not feel this is a beneficial malfunction for P4; it does not fall under any of those criteria.

Hell no. The player should not be credited with any points that were not scored by the game. The stuck ball robs P2 of the skill shot, and that sucks, but there is nothing about compensation in the rules. Should a player get credit for a made ramp shot if the ball gets stuck 2/3 of the way around the ramp, or the inlane that would have been tripped when that ball came all the way around? Legislating this is all sorts of trouble.

This is accidental interference and play continues. If he hadn’t saved the ball it would be a major malfunction.


The biggest no-no here is letting the group decide anything. It opens up for all sorts of group pressure. I would never ever let the affected players decide anything.

We had this exact situation in our league a couple of weeks ago (random player walks past machine and accidentally brushes against the launch button). The affected player got +1 ball to play at the end of the game.


The accidental interference rules from the PAPA/IFPA rulesets are very clear. We give a little more leeway in our league because we have many many newbies who will always run up to a machine without knowing the consequences

This is something I would not have agreed with when I first started running events, because I trusted the reasonableness of others … :wink:

After seeing many incidents of group pressure, I completely agree: the decision should not be made by the affected players, the decision should be made by the rules and the officials.

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Thanks Bowen. That was the ruling and when I talked to the director afterwards he stated had he not saved the ball it would have been treated as a major malfunction.

The funniest thing is this was a monthly tournament and the exact same thing happened the following month to the same player. I couldn’t stop laughing at the irony of the whole situation.

+1 to all of @bkerins’ comments on the rulings. Scenario #1 is especially strange, partially because I guess I just don’t understand the rules of the tournament. (@alwysmooth says that losing the main bracket drops you to a B bracket, but in that bracket, are you eliminated by the next game you lose, or is it X strikes, or win/loss record, or 1 game vs. everyone, or…?) But while voiding all matches after the error and replaying everything may be the “most right” answer, it’s probably impractical due to time constraints, players who left when they thought they were eliminated, etc.

Scenario #2 is relatively straightforward… major malfunction for P3 due to having their ball improperly terminated; P4 gets to keep the points (since it’s impossible to know how many points those were, plus the state of the machine has been irreversibly altered – it’s not fair to take away the points AND take away any consumed multiballs/modes/etc) and gets whatever compensation the event prescribes for being a victim of “someone else played my ball”.

Re: Scenario #2 as well as @Snailman’s Scenario #3… IMHO you pretty much never add or remove points manually, except for very well known situations that are documented in advance. (e.g. Rings => points on NBAFB) You certainly never assume that a shot “would have been made”, because as we all know, it’s under these stressful conditions that you miss that shot you made the last hundred times.