Tournament ruling: slam tilt

I played in a tournament tonight, walked up to a machine, 3rd player in a group of 3 in match play. 1st ball I gave the machine a normal nudge as it hit the outlane post, the kind of nudge that would normally not even register a tilt warning, and the machine slam tilted, wiping everyone’s scores. I got the tech to open the machine and the slam mechanism was floating way out from the door swinging around. The TD ruled I was DQ’d for the game. I didn’t agree, arguing it was a catastrophic malfunction and in the end the TD agreed and we replayed the game after fixing the slam tilt, 3 players starting from scratch because we didn’t know the scores. What is the correct ruling here?

At the end of the day, it’s up to the TD.

I would attempt to reproduce the issue and if I found it was a fault with the machine setup (as it seems they concluded), then it’s not a DQ. Otherwise it is.


Ordinarily if you nudge and the game either tilts or slams, you own it. But if the screw(s) holding the slam switch came loose and it was dangling, hell yes I’d argue. TD made the right call in the end.

Maybe, but I won’t argue with rulings anymore. I successfully argued a ruling into my favor when it should have gone against me, and since then, I won’t do it. I have no problem asking for a ruling and/or an explanation, but once the TD rules, I will accept it. Look at it like this - I don’t know how a slam tilt works, so that ruling would have gone against me (even if “wrong”). So you would have different rulings for different people.


Agreed with that completely - once a ruling is made, it stands. I don’t agree with making one ruling and then reversing it, regardless of the reason. People arguing for themselves is a slippery slope as well.

Pinball karma is real.

The rules of pinball aren’t as cut and dried as other sports. Especially when you play in public locations. I’m fine with that. We’re not playing checkers. The other consideration is that just like the players competing, TD’s come in all different shapes and sizes. Some aren’t as technical as others. Sometimes you have to explain what happened to them for them to make the correct ruling.

If it was a dangling slam switch, I would’ve argued for you. Even if I was in the group or if you were the TD. A dangling slam switch is a catastrophic failure. The game couldn’t be used any further unless the switch was either taped off or screwed back into place.

In this case, it sounds like the TD made a ruling before he fully understood the problem. Once the problem was clarified, the correction was made. No harm, no foul IMO.


OK, i found the rule, it is in section 9, player errors:

“Any player who slam tilts a machine, thereby ending play for all players, will receive a score of zero for that game. The slam tilt is treated as a catastrophic malfunction for any other player(s) who have not completed their game(s) in progress. If a tournament official rules that the slam tilt sensor is not functioning properly, the slam tilt will be treated as a catastrophic malfunction for all players.”

Regarding what to do next, section 5 Catastrophic Failures:

“When a catastrophic malfunction occurs, if the scores are able to be recorded, players will be provided the appropriate number of additional ball(s) of play on a new game once the machine has been repaired. If the scores are not retrievable, players will be forced to start their game over. No attempt will be made to estimate scores, or reestablish state, at any time.”


I’ve often heard that the prudent and correct thing for a tournament player to do is have Lefkoff and Associates argue your case. I’ve never hired them myself, but their reviews on Angie’s List are very high.

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