Tournament ruling: EM stuck scoring motor

Playing Kingpin. Ball 1 played and drained. Scoring motor get’s stuck and doesn’t advance to ball 2, but ball ejects. Player plays ball, drops many drop targets, leaving just 1 and drains. However, scores 0 points due to stuck scoring motor.

We spin the scoring motor and it advances to ball 2. Do they get 3 more balls or 4? Do they get to continue from in this state of targets or record score and restart game? Do they start a fresh game?

I did the wrong thing and told the player to play 3 more balls from the current state and I would rule if they get a compensation ball after that. I was pretty sure the ruling was irrelevant because they were going to catch the other player’s score. I kind of ruled it was ball 3 and tough luck for no points on ball 2, but at least you keep progress to lighting 5K drop, but I didn’t commit.

I would argue the worst part of your ruling is the “We’ll decide after you play” part, because whatever happens later should be irrelevant. Decide one way or the other at the time.

I would probably rule the same as you did. Game state stands, but its loss of ball and points. Realistically, this is a situation that any reasonably experienced player (or their opponent) should have noticed almost immediately. The fact that they didn’t, and also their opponent didn’t, is on them.


PAPA rule.

“If a score reel is not operating properly, players must notify officials immediately. No ruling will be made unless the score reel in question is the highest, or next-to-highest value reel. Tournament directors reserve the right to adjust scores on electromechanical machines if an obvious error has been made and the integrity of the match in question can be maintained. If the error in question was not witnessed by a tournament director, or it did not occur in a way such that an obvious correction can be made, no adjustment will be made and the score shown will stand. In the case of a continuously malfunctioning score reel, tournament directors reserve the right to declare a game invalid for the affected player, or for all players involved in the match.”

If it’s a one-off thing, then no adjustment, play on. If it’s happening frequently, void that player’s score and have them restart.

I don’t agree with your ruling that there were no points scored on ball 2. At the time, it was still ball 1.

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Just to be clear, it was the score motor in the lower cabinet, not a score reel that was stuck. The malfunction was machine getting stuck while advancing to ball 2. It is most comparable to

“For situations where a ball goes through the drain trough area without triggering the trough switch, and is spit out into the plunger lane as the same ‘ball in play’ will be immediately placed in the drain. This mostly occurs in EM machines, and early Williams Solid State machines. For situations where the playfield isn’t yet valid (typically this is a minimum switch count or some sort of scoring having been made), players will be allowed to continue play as normal. Please contact a tournament director immediately should this situation arise”

If a player had played two ball 1 and didn’t notice it didn’t advance until second drain, I would have corrected the machine stack to ball 3. As written this would be a “suitable adjustment of the score or other elimination of the advantage.” Assuming the player agrees.

Looking back at it this way, if I thought the drop target progress by playing the ball that passed through was significant advantage, I should void the game. If it is not, then play on and it is ball 2.

I am coming around to what I think you are implying, which is from a rulings standpoint it is not ball 2 until the machine advances to ball 2. Which BTW is why I hate EMs with extra balls because often you can’t distinguish an EB from a drain through.

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I can think of at least one example for EMs showing the difference between a trough switch error and an extra ball: the playfield state. Bonus would be collected, if applicable, (even on tilt you can hear the bonus reel counting down on some games) and targets and lights reset. When there’s a distinct lack of any of that occuring, I just open up the game and drain the ball in the plunger lane. Game advances, carry on. If on the possibility I’ve made the wrong call, they’ll get a consolation ball on a new game. I’ve never had to do that though.

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True. But a large category of EM’s (many wedge heads) don’t have end-of-ball bonus, typically accompanied by a tilt-ends-game logic.

Are there any examples of a game that comes to mind when you say this? I have experience with many Gottlieb add-a-balls, and those are a little obvious about the state of the game. There’s an audio cue, some of them have the manual ball feeds… It’s easy to see how many balls are left in play. That’s mostly single player games though. If you’re talking about 2-4 player games I have next to no play on those.