This past weekend we held our 2nd Annual 3-Strikes Bonanza (Seven 3-Strikes tourneys in two days) at The Pinball Asylum. I was questioned as TD for making the following on-the-fly ruling, and I just wanted to get perspective from more seasoned TD’s on whether I was totally off-base.
I was called over to Fish Tales after a player unsuccessfully attempted to trap up after what was reported as a malfunction. It was reported that the machine rapidly spit out three balls as if a multiball had been achieved, though no multi ball was earned, or multiball mode was started. The player said he had attempted to trap one of the three balls, but lost all three in the effort. I was not called over until the player had lost all three balls. I made the ruling that this was a minor malfunction, as it had not occurred previously, and appeared to be an anomaly, and play should continue normally. The malfunction did not reoccur either on that game, or on subsequent games played on Fish Tales after the tournament.
The player position was that he had been honest, and was being penalized for it. He said he had not attempted to play the false multiball, but instead tried to stop and trap one ball, and let the other two go, but had instead lost all three. It was his position that I should have therefore allowed him to play an additional ball after the game was finished to reward his honesty.
My position was that while I applauded the player’s honesty, it was the player first responsibility to preserve the ball(s) in play. His second responsibility was to report the malfunction (false multiball). Losing all the balls was his fault, and not the fault of the malfunction.
I did not doubt that the machine malfunctioned, as I know the player well. What I questioned was when the decision to let two balls go was made, and how that decision should have been made after he trapped the balls. I believe the player should have, if possible, trapped all the balls and then called over the TD. If he lost all the balls in the attempt, then that was a risk he took, and his this should not be rewarded with an extra ball.
Has anyone else encountered a similar situation?