Unexpected multiball on old EM - what to do?

I’d love some insight on how others would have handled a situation we had at a tournament last night.

The player was playing Cover Girl (1962, single player game with manual ball load). They played the first two balls and everything was normal. When they plunged their third ball, it hit and freed a previously unnoticed ball that had apparently been stuck at the top of the playfield, suddenly putting two balls in play. The player stopped playing, let both balls drain, and waited for a ruling.

My main question is what is the correct behavior on the part of the player in that situation. Should they have let the balls go or continued to play? (with these old games, trapping isn’t an option)

Secondary question, how would you have the player proceed afterwards?

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Usually, the proceedings are for the player to stop scoring play and trap up ASAP (to the best of your ability). Once you trap up, call for an official to give the player a ruling, and then have the ruling be applied to the game.

Assuming the situation above was true and the player was able to trap up, I would have let the player drain (since the game isn’t keeping track of the # of balls in play) and awarded an extra ball at the end of the game added on to his score. Letting the player play the balls denotes a beneficial malfunction which is unfair, and draining one ball without the detriment of an end-of-ball is not possible on this era of games if I recall correctly.

I’m no TO, so take my recommendations as you will. :stuck_out_tongue:

So the thing that makes this situation odd is that having two balls in play is not actually a beneficial malfunction (nor is trapping a reasonable option). On games from this period, all balls are available to play as soon as you hit the start button and a player can play as many as they want at a time.

So if a player wanted to plunge out two balls, or five balls, or whatever and play them all at once, they’re totally welcome to do that. In this case, though, the player wasn’t intending to put two balls into play.

Is this a five ball game? If it is, then was this stuck ball one of the five, meaning that the player only had four balls in the trough?

Yes, the stuck ball was one of the five balls the player would have played.

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If the player had trapped up and called for a ruling, my inclination would be to have the player let one of the balls drain, finish the game, and then be awarded another ball. If the player elected to play it out as is, I would also be OK with that since as you pointed out, it is not really a beneficial malfunction. However, since the player chose to let the balls drain before getting a ruling, I would be inclined to rule game over and let the score stand.

They… stopped playing and let the balls drain to call for a ruling, and you don’t give them either ball back? What if they missed their trap-up? (Easy to do on an old EM.)

We ended up restarting the game, which we we all felt fine with.

But there was disagreement about what the player should have done. On a game this old, the only options I see are to let them to go or just play both - the chances of the player successfully trapping even one of the balls was zero.

To me this is a pretty clear “Play on”. Each player gets five balls, they can do what they want. It’s not an improperly earned multiball.

I’ve seen many players plunge multiple balls on those EMs and have done it myself.

If it was going to be considered an improper multiball and a trap up is impossible, the player is supposed to let one ball drain and continue. In this case, playing out the multiball is the right call, since the player “earned” the multiball through plunging.

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Bkerins: what if, as I think is implied by the question, that ball was stuck there from a previous game?

Oh! Sorry, I missed that. In that case the player only received four balls in the trough, right? Or five? If it’s four balls then they’re owed 1 compensation ball on a new game, but they shouldn’t get anything extra for the walkaway.

I wonder how many players unwittingly only played a 4-ball game before the stealthy stuck ball was discovered/freed? In which case, it’s too bad for those players. If they didn’t notice it and call for a ruling or ask to free the stuck ball, then they’re SOL.

I didn’t think that era game worked like that. My understanding is that it doesn’t have a compensation method for missing balls like some modern games-the last ball has to activate the game over/match sequence switches and relays, or the game ends when tilted. I also didn’t think a new game could start if all 5 balls were not in the trough.

So in the case in question, it seems either 1) the ball became stuck and the player tried to use another ball to free it or 2) maybe he thought the ball drained or went through a gobble hole and he launched another ball only to find out a previously launched ball was stuck and had never exited the playfield.

In any case, it would seem those 5 balls were in the player’s control and he should have known the status of balls launched/played. (The apron shows balls already played, and the player should know how many balls he launched)

Unless that game does NOT work that way, I would say there is no further compensation.

If there is some way the game could have started with only 4 balls and one ball was stuck on the playfield from a previous player, then in a best case scenario, he would get 1 ball compensation.

Of course that then raises the question, what happened when the previous player played the game? Did he tilt out? The apron would only show 4 balls in the trough.

I’m not sure about this particular game, but I think most or all of them blindly reset whenever a coin is inserted or credit button pressed without regard to how many balls are in the trough. Kind of like how most SS games will reset if the start button is held down any time after ball 1.

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A friend of mine confirmed that this style of game CAN start with fewer than 5 balls in the trough, but CANNOT end without either 5 balls in the trough or tilting.

So a possible explanation is that the player before tilted the game leaving a stuck ball on the playfield. The next player started a game without checking to see if 5 balls were in the trough. The game would still start.

The stuck ball releases during the game and the game can account for all 5 drained balls to end the game.

I would think it is the player’s responsibility to verify that 5 balls are sitting in the trough at the start of the game, particularly because it is visible to the player.

Is there a rule that covers that?

Depends on the style of EM from that era. Many wedgeheads physically show you the # of balls played so far in the apron cutout, and do not show you how many you have left to play.

Right, I meant the balls played trough. That is the visible information prior to game start (or what is visible when the game is over).

But the more I thought about it, it does not matter if a player getting ready for a new game can see all 5 balls or not since I was wrong earlier assuming all 5 balls needed to be in the balls played trough prior to pressing start.

Always more to learn.