Tournament TD Ruling Question on Fish Tales


Quick: somebody generate a Josh Sharpe and/or Doug Polka meme of “You’re f*cked” that we can all use to post any TD ruling threads to sum up the ruling’s impact on the player. :slight_smile:




Thanks to everyone who replied. I feel vindicated. I spoke to the player again yesterday and he still thinks I screwed him. :slight_smile: If we weren’t such good friends, and I was slightly more of a smartass, I might be tempted to send him a Tilt Forums teeshirt for Christmas.


I am glad I received some clarification on the rules. I always find these discussions helpful. Thanks for posting it.

The irony is that for the player in question, in the grand scheme of the competitive pinball arena, his result in that game and that tourney (even if he won) have absolutely no bearing on his SCS Ranking or World Ranking.

When a person places such high importance on beating everyone, winning every single game and every single tourney, it is easy to miss the forest for the trees. :slight_smile:



TDs should just wear that image on a shirt and have it printed on the back of scorekeepers’ tablets.


But they key here is not the impact of that particular game on someone’s ranking… it’s about maintaining a consistent ruling in competition, regardless of the size or impact of a tournament. Because then you have to draw a line of ‘what makes an event or a game important enough to use the official rules?’


Perhaps I was not expressing myself clearly. I’m all for correct and consistent rulings no matter what is the size or significance of the tourney. That’s why I asked follow up questions. I want to learn.

My point was that according to the TD, the player seemed to be strongly holding on to an “I was screwed” philosophy when it really did not affect him whatsoever in the bigger picture. Some things are simply not worth getting upset over :slight_smile:


This is exactly the point of player in question. I was present and saw the event unfold. The player was putting pressure on the TD stating that if Josh was running the tournament he would get a 1 ball compensation at end of game because he did not cause the malfunction and would be DQ’d if he played the multiball even though he had a opportunity to try and trap up but fumbled it. I thought the TD handled it professionally and made his decision after hearing the facts correctly.

The room did seem to be split 50/50 so it is nice to hear feedback on this and other interesting scenarios.


Sure, the player in question was advocating for consistency in rulings, but the player was dead wrong on how Josh or any other TD (who’s using IFPAPA rules) would have ruled in terms of him receiving a compensation ball.


There is more nuance to this rule than is being implied. BDK AND Avatar come to mind, because as long as it is understood how the mechanism to start multiball is triggered I can activate switches with big shoves and it isn’t a beneficial malfunction? BDK is more troubling because I know we rattle the physical ball, but we can’t see the switch being hit.


Bumping this back up for clarification on a new issue with the same player this past weekend on a different machine:

On Aerosmith, the player was served 2 balls. Because of the previously ruling by the OP, the player cradles one ball and allows the second ball to drain in an attempt to return the machine to a normal state. Draining the second ball causes the flippers to drop and the player’s turn ends. OP ruled it a minor malfunction and player was told tough luck.

I was suggesting that the player should get a consolation ball since the malfunction resulted in his loss of turn.



Yes, a compensation ball should be awarded. It’s the second item under “loss of ball”:


This is incorrect – it is a Major malfunction. The definitions of Major and Minor malfunction should be reviewed, and when in doubt, those definitions should be consulted via the handy quick reference guide or in the rules themselves.


Thanks, gentlemen! That chart is great and I will make sure to have it at my tournaments.


Thanks Dave tktlwyr for posting the question on this. As the TD in this situation, I’d like to clarify a bit. The player yelled out for me to come over in the middle of the malfunction, and by the time I arrived, twenty seconds later, the situation had played out, described by the player to me as follows:

Two balls were ejected during normal play from the toy box. He was able to trap one ball on each flipper, and then called out for me to come over. However, before I could get to him he made the decision to let one ball go, resulting in the flipper holding the second ball dying, the turn ending, and the machine counting up bonus.

My ruling was based on the same theory as the Fishtales ruling above, I.e. that it is the player’s responsibility to maintain the game state, i.e. two balls trapped, until the TD could see the situation and assess it. If the player had followed this course of action, and then at the TD’s direction dropped one ball, resulting in an end of ball, then the player would have been given a consolation ball to play.

I could be placing too much importance on myself in this situation, but my journeyman’s opinion is that without player awareness of the TD’s role, and without this type of TD oversight in place, players will just make decisions on the fly, and the TD will always be left to sort it all out after the fact. I understand sometimes it is inevitable and not practical to wait for a TD to make a ruling in the midst of tournament gameplay, but in this situation where I was ten feet away, and considering the previous tournament decision about maintaining ball state, and the player’s awareness of this, I thought I made the right decision.

I guess the question becomes should a player make a decision during a malfunction without waiting for the TD if he thinks he knows the correct ruling, or should he maintain ball state, and wait for the TD’s ruling?


This situation is pretty cut and dry. The player had a premature lost of ball due to a malfunction. Comp ball awarded.

Had he waited on you with both balls trapped, what would you have told him to do when you got there and determined he was not in fact in a multiball?


As I said, I would have asked him to let one ball go, and if the ball ended, I would have awarded him a consolation ball when the game was over. I don’t know Aerosmith well enough to know whether the dropping of one ball with two balls in normal play will always result in end of ball.


Okay well i don’t think your ruling should change since he did this before you got there. He still lost a ball prematurely due to game malfunction.

I’m surprised the game didn’t have software compensation for this error, but still, comp ball should have been awarded imo.


One thing to consider is that the PAPA/IFPA rules are written with high level tournaments in mind. Tournaments where people know better and there are TDs watching every game.

For local tournaments is not reasonable to expect every player to know exactly how they should behave in every situation. Unless the other players in the group are adamant that the player who drained the second ball is lying I’ll give the benefit of the doubt to the player.

It’s a great teachable moment. Tell the players in the group how they should behave next time this situation happens, but don’t punish the player for not having read the PAPA/IFPA ruleset before showing up for the tournament.

You get the ruling you would’ve made had the player called you over earlier. Everyone learns something and no one is left feeling like they got punished for no reason.