Tournament ruling question - minor or major malfunction?

We had a succesfull 30 player matchplay tournament yesterday, but we had two situations regarding ruling: one situation that got a bit heated between a player and the tournament directors (me and a couple more) as he thought we did not follow the ifpa/papa rules correctly as we are trying to do and that our ruling was wrong. The other was more related to player order. It would be great to get some input from other professional players and tournament directors here, just for future reference.

First the heated one:
This happened on Flintstones, a four player group and it was ball 2, player 4.
I was called over and the player had cradled a ball on his flipper, and said that he had attempted to build up the jackpot value multiple times in multiball by shooting the balls into the machine, but claimed that the jackpot value did not build ie that the switches in the machine did not register. After reading the rules and discussing with the two other directors, we ruled that he should play on and we would watch the other players on ball 3. If it happened again, we would rule it as a major malfunction. But, the next player got the ball into the machine, the value started building up although maybe a little slower than usual. We let the ruling stand and after the game ended the affected player read up the rules and said that this should have been ruled as a major malfunction, referring to section 2 in the rules " A minor malfunction is any incident without external cause (…) without providing any player a significant advantage over others". He claimed that he not getting the jackpot value built up while other got it, gave the other players who got to build up the jackpot a significant advantage over him".

While I pointed to the section below that rule, which said “A minor malfunction that occurs repeatedly, to the extent that it is markedly affecting play of the machine, may be considered a major malfunction at the sole discretion of tournament officials.” since it only occured once, we treated it as a minor malfunction.

Was this a correct ruling by us directors? Could we have handled it in a better way?

The second: In one group, a player forgot his playing order and asked his group if it was his turn now. Another player in the group said “yes its your turn”, and he started playing but then they discovered it was not his turn after all. Is this alwaus purely the players responsibility to know when he is up and therefore he should be DQ’d, or does the other player who unintentionally give the wrong answer get a punishment, or both?

Thanks for all input, trying to become a better and fair tournament director :slight_smile:



In the first situation, no way would I rule that a major malfunction. Consider it this way: a failed kickback resulting in loss of ball is NOT a major malfunction. Is “my jackpot value didn’t increase” worse than loss of ball in that manner? The disadvantaged player probably could have made up the value difference just by making one extra Jackpot or SJ shot… that’s not excessive.

In the second situation, it’s each player’s responsibility to know their play order, even if they’re given incorrect info by an opponent. Players can always consult with a TD if they’re unsure.

I wouldn’t penalize the player who gave the wrong info UNLESS – and this would be quite unusual in our community – there was evidence of that person repeatedly trying to induce others to play out of order.


Yeah I used the example with our congo kickback to the affected player. Once in a while the kickback fires too early or late so the ball continues into the drain instead of being kicked back. If this happens 1/40 game, its a minor malfunction. If it repeatedly and consequently does not work correctly, that can be deemed a major malfunction since it is a minor malfunction repeating it self, as I understand the rules.


Actually, if the kickback was failing ~100% of the time and couldn’t be fixed, I’d apply the Known Malfunction rule and advise all players before play started that the kickback was just dead, and that failed kickbacks would not be considered a malfunction.


No way that situation one was a major malfunction. That player was grasping at straws. Situation two, it’s always on the player to play their own turn. Even if it is from another players advice or a machine malfunction, it’s still the players responsibility.


I agree with the other replies: 1) is not a major malfunction, and 2) is a score of zero for the player who played out of turn.

I would definitely give a warning to the player who said “yes it’s your turn”, regardless of intent.


Let’s put it this way… If Cliff Jump not working for the last 2.5 players of a game is not a redo, “my jackpot value on this crappy mech on this crappy game not going up” definitely is not. :stuck_out_tongue:

[Note: I’m not arguing about the Cliff Jump ruling. Just arguing that malfunction is way worse.]