Always left side/right side isn’t something I’m comfortable with, because I don’t feel like a player deserves a free trapped ball for getting the ball stuck at the top of a shooter lane. We actually had a ball stuck in those A-B-C lanes on Fathom at IFPA12, and even though it was on the right side of the playfield, we made our judgement that the ball in the shooter lane would result in getting the ball back into the same A-B-C area without there being a benefit to the player for getting that extra plunge. That player never got control of that ball after the re-plunge, and he would have if we put it on the flipper for him.
I’m equally not comfortable always putting the ball into the plunger lane because of old games where there’s a huge advantage towards getting an additional plunge to the top of the playfield.
Ultimately even the IFPA/PAPA rules have this clause at the end:
“Final authority for any ruling, including rulings that contradict or vacate anything written in this document or in other IFPA/PAPA materials, rests with the Tournament Director.”
So really ANYTHING is up for grabs at any point in time
Hahaha, I wish I’d read your comment prior to the tournament at your location where I actually had to make a stuck ball ruling on Tuesday. Given the portion of the thread I had read, I took the left side of the game = left flipper approach, but apparently we should align our rule interpretations more closely ;).
I would still prefer something concrete but rules that are left to discretion are kind of a pet peeve as they never seem to be interpreted in the same way by any two people. Someone may get an advantage every now and again (like a free trapped ball) but I suspect there would be plenty of situations where the trapped ball ruling resulted in a disadvantage. If it were up to me, and obviously it’s not except when I’m running an event I guess, I would put anything that’s made it into the field of play onto the appropriate side flipper, and anything that hasn’t fully exited a shooter lane into the field of play, back into the shooter lane. Anything that’s on the precipice of a drain, as is in the rules now, is up to the player to attempt to remove via nudging. If a ball is getting stuck frequently enough—more than the occasional “hey you got really lucky” or “hey you got really screwed” situation for example—then it should then be up to the TD to either fix, replace or remove the game. Of course, that is again up to discretion and makes my whole argument against discretion pointless and sounds more like me talking to myself while I waste time at work waiting to go to lunch.