Tournament TD Ruling Question on Fish Tales


You are correct. Players don’t get to make official rulings. In my opinion, now knowing all the details, you made the correct ruling.

That being said, if all the players in the group discussed without a consulting a TD, and told the player “Hey, we’ll give you a comp ball if it drains both,” there’s no way for you to stop something like that without your knowledge as a TD. And they may have all been good sports and followed through on what they told the player. However, if one of them decided to renege on what they said and once the natural 3-ball game was over, told the player that they don’t get a comp ball, then as a TD, you must take the scores as reported on the display, and no comp ball – because the TD wasn’t involved in awarding the comp ball. This is similar to the player concession rule – it’s only valid and official if the concession is communicated to a TD.

Given the context, I also agree that Andreas’ solution is quite compassionate and not inappropriate. But… it creates an undesirable slippery slope of inconsistency, where all your rulings as a TD based on IFPAPA ruleset get now be questioned by players asking for leniency/loopholes.

Ramifications of going by the rules: 1 pissed off player, and 4 (or more) players realizing that the rules are the rules, and officiated by the TD (not them).

Ramifications of granting leniency: unlimited # of players that will be pissed off because you don’t grant them leniency on their future misstep, or pissed off players that you are bending the rules.


Hey wait. Adam Ant was there? Lol


The player in question is ranked top 250. At least two of the other players in his group were also ranked in the top 250. I also observed the malfunction. A call for Doghouse was requested for an official ruling.


Any game going to end of ball in this situation would result in a major malfunction and a compensation ball.


Put another way, if a player said “Hey multiball ended and it killed my flippers and ended my turn” how would you act? Because that’s what happened here.


One theme I have seen here and in several other threads is that players ranked 250 and above somehow should know more about rulings in every scenario.

The ranking is only a reflection of tourney performance. Sure they have more experience and may have run into certain situations, but there are just way too many “what if” scenarios.

I don’t think it is a fair expectation, nor should it be inferred, that just because someone is ranked highly, or has been playing longer, that they must know the rules better than the newer, or lower ranked players or the TD.

Conversely, just because someone is the TD, doesn’t automatically mean they know everything, but they have to make decisions by which the competitors must abide. If repeated bad calls are made, then players simply won’t participate in events run by that TD.

These threads are great chances for us players and TDs to learn.


This is very true.

Somehow Trent and Rosa are both excellent players . . . have been playing for 20+ years . . . and most of the time I feel like my 6 year old son knows more about the IFPAPA rules than they do :stuck_out_tongue:


Addam’s Family. Player 3 plunges player four’s ball but does not validate the playfield. Ball drains and is served back into the shooter lane.

Player 3 given a warning or awarded a zero for the game?


Zero for player 3


Probably best in a thread about playing out of turn… but P3 got lucky by not having any impact on the game and shouldn’t be DQ’d, at least according to Pinburgh TD’s:


As long as the playfield isn’t validated, I plan on having Cayle play for me as long as possible every ball whenever I get the chance :slight_smile:


Thanks, though it seems like many others here disagree. I’ll certainly bow to a greater knowledge of the rules in giving a comp ball to any early ending turn with a ball still in play.

On that I guess I made a bad call. That said, I would still like to get TD opinion on players making decisions when they know the rules, versus waiting for consultation with the TD. Have you had players make the wrong call on the fly, continue a game with a wrong assumption, and then had to go back and restart a game or ball?

Granted, if all players on a machine witness a malfunction, and describe the situation exactly the same, then yes, I agree that the TD should just step back and accept the call. But what if the players don’t all describe the malfunction the same way? This has occurred several times in my short tenure as a TD. In most of the cases I believed it was just a difference in perspective and not the case of someone fudging the facts in order to influence an outcome.

In this case with Aerosmith, the player in question described the situation to me, and only one other player spoke up after the fact. In retrospect I perhaps should have asked the other players, or just trusted the player who this happened to. In fact, I did trust that the malfunction occurred as he described it. I just didn’t understand at the time that the rule is that any malfunction which ends a turn prematurely calls for a comp ball.

In the end it seems as though these two different situations highlight that controlling the balls on the playfield is key before (the TD or player) makes a decision of what to do next-- i.e. trying during a malfunction on Fishtales to trap-up three balls, and ultimately losing all of them, vs. letting one ball go voluntarily on Aerosmith during a malfunction, and then losing both. In other words, without the player maintaining ball state, is there any case where a comp ball should be given?

Apologies in advance if I seem to beating this question to death. Anyway, I appreciate everyone’s wisdom on this, and especially appreciate the availability of this forum to discuss these topics!


Yep. Any time a malfunction results in them losing their ball in play and ending their turn. You are not required to keep game state and get the TD over. Most cases where the game malfunctions and a loss of ball occurs, the game state is the next player is up and ball is in the shooter lane.

If you walk up to a game and the group has made a decision before you got there, right or wrong that stands. (Assuming we’re not talking about collusion/cheating).

So in this case, had you walked up and the game was over, but they said, “yeah his multiball ended weird and he lost his ball in play because of it, so we just said that’s pinball and played on.” No compensation ball. If they wanted your ruling they should’ve asked for it when the situation occurred.


Players are not obligated to call for a ruling. If they don’t, there is no reason for the TD to intervene. ANY player in the tournament may call for a ruling IMO, since scores of the overall tournament can be affected by every game.


I don’t agree with this 100%. For example, the “you must concede to a tournament official” case that came up at pinburgh. If no one asked for a ruling, you probably shouldn’t make one. But if you observe a playing doing something like taking advantage of a stuck ball in multiball you certainly can and should rule. Even if the players decided it was play on.


Right. I doubt there ever a situation where all four players don’t know that you cannot play Multiball with a ball stuck though. That’s the only way I can think of that sliding through. And should all four people be unaware of the rule, the TD won’t ever be called, hence the play would stand.


Players should never make decisions even if they know the rules. Experienced players applying peer pressure on less experienced players is real and happens all the time. Absolutely try to create a culture where players call over officials for everything and anything.

This is the hardest problem to solve when officiating and I don’t have great answers on how to create that kind of culture. Five years into a league with many players, but low churn and it’s still a problem despite it being the officials’ biggest focus.


Thank you, haugstrup. This continues to be my opinion, though there seems to still be disagreement on the topic.

I’ve been playing in tournaments since 2011, but only a TD for about a year here at The Pinball Asylum. I guess because a high level of player respect for TD’s is a big part of our culture at The Asylum, I’ve been lucky.


To be clear. I agree with this 100%. My point I was trying to make was that it’s common (especially at my events) that players agree to a ruling and never call me over. Then they are talking to me about it the next round or something and it’s completely the wrong call. So I always tell them, “stop and call me over!! If you have a question that relates to the game you are playing and the players you are playing, ask me, don’t figure it out amongst yourselves!”

It’s funny, I’ve had players bitch to me about a call the group made that they didn’t agree with way after the game was over. I’m like, “why didn’t you get me to make the call?” Their answer, “ I don’t know”. Haha.

I try to drill this in for two reasons. One, the call will be correct from me making it (hopefully), it is also a teachable moment for the players as they now know some more tournament rules and how to apply them should they be the TD at some other event.