The unstuck - Stuck ball in Multiball conundrum.


Not a problem :wink:


Yeah pretty much.

The “live ruling log” was used in 2014, and might be used again in 2016. We didn’t trust that we would have a quality Internet connection at the convention center, so it wasn’t used in 2015. Judges serve as their own court reporters… which might turn out not to be a viable option with how many fires there are to put out at once…

Based on your “extreme parallel” are you sure you have been ruled against way more than you’ve been ruled for? :slight_smile: (Note: not a directive to dredge up Worst Rulings Ever.)


I’d lean towards this:

"Any beneficial malfunction which provides one or more players with a significant scoring or strategic advantage in a way that is not part of normal gameplay will void the score of the affected player(s), unless all immediately-affected players and tournament officials can agree on a suitable adjustment of the score or other elimination of the advantage. If the beneficial malfunction has been specifically avoided by the player, it is unlikely that a penalty is necessary. If any player score(s) are voided, the affected player(s) may then replay the game after the other players have finished, and the new score(s) are used for the affected player(s).

Examples of beneficial malfunctions would include a jackpot switch that registers when a different target is hit, a valuable switch that scores repeatedly without the ball contacting it, a failed Tilt sensor, or a ball stuck during multiball. See also “Stuck Balls”, below."

This was a beneficial malfunction for the player.

This is where TD discretion comes in. Depending on the situation I would either void the game if that advantage provided a significant scoring advantage, or place the ball in the plunger lane into the drain trough and end the ball if I didn’t deem the impact ‘material’.


I want to say, I really appreciate this question being asked before the game is in the Texas Pinball qualifying bank instead of trying to make decision on the fly.


That would absolutely be the ideal situation. As much as possible, the machine itself should be judge, jury, and executioner. Unfortunately, sometimes malfunctions occur, which is why we have to have rules to deal with them.

However, an airball is not a malfunction, it’s the physical nature of pinball. It says so right in the “major malfunctions” section of the PAPA/IFPA rules:

Note that unrepeated physical failures, such as kickbacks or balls jumping off ramps, balls flying over flippers, or balls moonwalking into the outlane following a successful shot do not qualify as major malfunctions. This is the physical nature of pinball.


Yes Joe, I understand this is exactly why we have rules. Every rule written is only as good as the player/organizers that follow it was my point. Every rule has issues with enforcing them properly (either by the player playing, competitors that may or may not be watching, and any TD’s that may or may not be watching).

To say any rule is “bad” because it’s too difficult to enforce is a cop out.

The PAPA/IFPA rules don’t talk about an airball not being a malfunction, it talks about balls flying over the flippers not being a major malfunction (the assumption of this rule being balls flying over the flippers into the drain).

The PAPA/IFPA rules explicitly talk about this situation in question (so explicitly that even Lefkoff would have a hard time arguing his way out of it):

“Please note specifically that a ball ending up in the plunger lane during multiball on a machine where there is no autoplunger (or where the autoplunger for some reason refuses to fire) counts as a stuck ball. and the ball must be plunged by the player.”

The rule doesn’t care if the ball got to the plunger lane during multiball via an airball, via a made shot, via pinball gremlins grabbing the ball from inside the cabinet and placing it there, etc. Plunge the ball.


Thanks, but again I ask: How would you rule? The situation is that it is unknown how long the ball had been in the shooter lane when it was discovered, thus it cannot be determined whether or not it created a “significant scoring advantage”.


Here’s our scene:

Ball 1:
Player: "Hey, my ball drained out the left outlane, but the lit kickback didn’t work and I lost my turn. Is that a malfunction?"
TD: "Sorry, no. The physical nature of pinball is part of its charm, sometimes switches and kickers don’t work. The machine does what it does and you have to accept that. Move along."
Player: “OK.”

Ball 2:
Player: "Hey, my ball airballed off the Q target into the drain and I lost my turn. Is that a malfunction?"
TD: "Sorry, no. Airballs are part of the game sometimes. You know, Harry Williams once said, ‘the ball is wild’, and I guess yours was a wild one, alright! Ha ha! Move along."
Player: “OK.”

Ball 3:
Player: "Hey, my ball airballed off the Q target into the launcher lane! That will make my multiball a little easier!"
TD: "WHOA now, buddy, let’s not get crazy. That’s obviously a significant problem that we need to rectify. In fact, since you didn’t notice it in the first (mumble mumble) seconds after it happened, I’m going to have to void your entire game! You know all that stuff I said about ‘ball is wild’ and ‘charm of pinball’ is only when the machine is screwing you, right?"
Player: “WTF?!?”

To my eye, this is absurdly inconsistent and hypocritical.


I would be extremely impressed if someone airballed into the launch lane on Next Gen (Since it’s not possible :wink: )


What game were they playing? What’s their score? :slightly_smiling:


Semi hypothetical, but TZ and for player two on ball 3 narrowly surpassing player one’s score.


Hence Colin’s “You’re f*cked” statement being a huge part of the IFPA/PAPA rules :slightly_smiling:

Ball 1 and 2 - No malfunction occurred.

Ball 3 - Stuck Ball, different section of the rules . . . which could lead to a Beneficial Malfunction depending on the situation

3 easy rulings! Next! :slightly_smiling:


That’s just a terrible philosophy.


Scores? What multiball were they in at the time (regular, Powerball Mania)? If it’s Powerball Mania what was their total score for that mode (you can see it in status report).

The point here being, give me as much data as possible on the situation, I’ll get with the other TD’s and talk it out, and make a ruling on whether we thought it was a material advantage.


Before I give you all known specifics, can you comment on how you can deem whether or not it was a material advantage without knowing if the ball was in the shooter lane for 2 minutes or one second?


Well that’s obvious! But there is a method to our madness and it seems to work for us.

The real world difference in your example is that the player in your example doesn’t go “WTF” after Ball 3 . . . they should know the rules we’re using, and should hopefully appreciate that we’re following the rules as written

No compensation without representation :slightly_smiling:


The scoring dictates what that player was able to accomplish with the ball in the shooter lane.

If that player was in Powerball Mania, and I see their Powerball Mania total was 1,500,000, while their total score was 56,000,000, I would deem that not material.

You can throw out any specifics you want, if you want to find the line where we say, “THAT’S TOO MUCH!” the answer is I wouldn’t really know unless I was actually put on the spot in that situation.

All I know is that it wouldn’t be a decision I would make alone, I would grab all the other TD’s, sit down and go through all the data we have on the situation, and make the fairest ruling we could.


(by which you mean the fairest ruling you could make using rules that are, by your admission, based on a horrible philosophy… instead of changing said rules to be more fair and objective)


Yes, exactly! Now you’re getting it Joe :wink:


In case it’s not blatantly obvious, I very strongly disagree with “screw the player” as a fundamental philosophy of any ruleset. It especially bothers me when we’re talking about rulesets that are applied to lower-level competition (which is the MAJORITY of pinball competition: leagues, casual tournaments, etc). Particularly, that attitude does nothing to encourage new players who think they might like to try this “competitive pinball” thing and grow this hobby that we all love.