Was this a death save?

At the (excellent btw) second-annual Tilt Pinball Open in Oslo this weekend, the following “death save” happened in the semi finals on the stream. Is it a Lazarus or a death save?


After reviewing the footage, the tournament director ruled that it was not a death save and for JG to play on. There was some heated discussion afterward!

Here is the full video:

on its own the video is inconclusive. But looking at the speed of the ball versus the movement of the machine I’d have gone with the TD’s view also but from that you could potentially call it either way.

From the video camera’s perspective, it seems to show the whole pin being moved slightly as the ball hits the apron, suggesting that the player moved the pin while it was below the flippers after it outlane drained. It wasn’t much of a move, nor do I think that the move was needed in order for the ball to bounce back in play based on its high speed. But if the player nudged the machine when the ball hit the apron, I’d rule it a Death Save. Or perhaps at a minimum, drain the ball.


As a player I would 100% trap up and ask the TD before making a shot. Because he made a shot I might give a warning in that spot but not a dq since it wasn’t an aggressive move. Whether or not that jives with ifpapa rules I’m not certain. I feel like we’ve discussed this before and it created some debate.

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Agreed. The player’s left shoulder also moves at the same moment, suggesting manipulation of the machine rather than a true Lazarus.


Not a death save imo. He didn’t lift the left flipper and any tiny amount of movement just seemed to be a reaction to the ball draining. I’d say play on playa.


Another discussion relevant to scenarios like this: http://www.tiltforums.com/t/when-if-ever-should-a-tournament-official-check-video-when-making-a-ruling/4691

This occurred in the semifinals. I’m curious if all groups had their play recorded for potential use in making rulings. If not, what would the ruling have been if there was no footage?

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This falls under ‘video replay’ to me… and we aren’t scrutinizing everything in slow mo after the fact.

Did the player contribute? Maybe? But it seems more lazurus than player… and I would have gone with the real-time view. Play on


I’m conflicted. There’s a definite move by the player, but with the speed of that ball, it could just be a late attempt at an outlane save. That combined with NOT lifting the left flipper leads me to think Lazarus.

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I’d rule that play on. I don’t think his movement was conscious of the fast moving ball’s current position, or strong enough to have been the result of it bouncing back into play.


Imo, not a death save.


end thread


Good point. Viewed live, in the moment, I doubt any TD noticed the slight move from the player — that as I mentioned, probably didn’t matter in having the speed to bounce back in play. And we shouldn’t be going to video replay.

TD: ask the player if they induced the ball coming back into play.
If player says, “No.” And TD didn’t see a death save move, then play on.
If player says, “Yes, I gave a slight knee-jerk reaction upward nudge.” Drain the ball.
If player says, “yeah, I Death Saved.” Zero for the game.


As I’ve stated in the past it isnt neccessary to lift the left flipper for a death save. I’d go with Josh’s approach and ask him if he moved the machine. If he says yes I would have him drain and if no it’d be a play on. The funny part is that I think he’s okay to lift the flipper and not nudge, but not okay to leave it down and nudge.

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As usual, since it wasn’t specified here, I have to ask: what rules were in force at this event? Many times there’s an assumption that an event is using the standard PAPA/IFPA rules, which is often the case, but not always. I don’t speak Norwegian, so hopefully this detail was covered as part of the event’s rules.

Assuming the standard PAPA/IFPA rules… if I’m following these rules, I have to follow these sites’ definitions of “Death Save”. If IFPA specifically defines “Death Save”, I couldn’t find it, and would welcome a link from anyone educating me. PAPA does specifically define “Death Save” https://papa.org/learning-center/players-guide/#1522695882169-f1e0fd96-e0cc, and their definition specifically mentions raising the left flipper. In this situation, clearly the player did not raise their left flipper as part of the save, so this is not a Death Save by those rules… it’s just a fortunate bounce-back due to the craziness of pinball; play on.


I was playing in the other semifinals group, so I just heard of this in my remote right ear, and also when rewatching the finals on stream yesterday I could hear the bickering in the background about it while the finals were playing :stuck_out_tongue:

It looks more like at best, he was annoyed by the drain and rattled the machine microscopically because “f*ck it” and it bounced back due to the speed of the ball. ie it does not look like a very intentionally move. I am not hundred percent sure what rules they were following exactly, or how nazi they were following the IFPAPA rules. But I believe it was one of the other players who did not advance who complained about it, and not the TD’s who brought it up themselves.

Overall a great tournament though, very fun and nerve wrecking!

This is how they are defined in the rules:

  1. Death Saves, Bangbacks, etc
    Techniques known as “Death Saves” and “Bangbacks” are sometimes employed by certain advanced players. Because the effectiveness of these techniques varies from machine to machine, and because of the risk of injury to either player or machine, these techniques are banned from tournament play. In the event that a drained ball bounces back into play without deliberate player action, such as in the case of a “lazarus”, this is considered the mechanical nature of pinball and the ball may be played. If this situation occurs repeatedly, and there is question as to whether the lazarus ball was naturally occurring or induced by the player, tournament directors may end the game in progress and award a score of zero.

As a TD I would simply ask the player if they shoved the machine and be done with it.

This passage does not define “Death Save”. I do not see a definition of “Death Save” on IFPA’s site, though I may be overlooking it. I do see a definition of “Death Save” on PAPA’s site, which specifically mentions raising the left flipper. The left flipper was clearly not raised in this particular instance, so this was not a Death Save per PAPA definition, so it seems this situation was either a “Lazarus” or just the pinball being wild; in either case, it’s Play On, IMHO.

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And such it was ruled on sunday.
I guess this thread is more to get a sense of what other TDs would have judged if a situation like this occured, for the sake of learning, and curiousity :slight_smile:

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I just want to add that I think the ruling made was correct, but there is some gray here. After all, the player probably wouldn’t have trapped up otherwise. In addition, there was player movement of the machine around the time of (slightly after?) the bounce off the apron.

Of course, if this wasn’t on the stream, it would have been play on without discussion.

As Morten mentions, I was merely curious what others thought of the situation. How would this have been ruled in a Pinburgh or IFPA semi under cameras, for example?

Cameras add an interesting dimension and this was the second time I was commentating and the TD consulted the replay. The other time, at a different tournament, EBD switched players mid ball without anyone noticing and confusion arose. Without the replay that time, the player would have taken a zero on the machine for playing out of turn.

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