When must a ruling be made?

Had a situation at a tournament, and figured I would run it up the flagpole for comments. Here’s the setup:

3 player game, no extra balls allowed but turned on in software. Player 2 earns an extra ball on ball 1, plunges it, flips a few times before realizing the mistake after another player noticed it, immediately let it go. By the book, this is a DQ of course, that is not in dispute.

However… A ruling was not sought until player 3 ball 2, by that player, and only after it became clear they were going to lose. So my question is, is there a time period in which a ruling must be made, else the game stands? Could player 3 here have made the comeback and forgotten about it, or could they have gone for the throat on ball 3 knowing that a DQ was likely coming if they sought out a TD?

I’m thinking about how far back in time is allowable to make this ruling.

If it were me, in this situation it would’ve been too late. Honestly, after the group decided to keep playing after P2 played their extra ball, it was too late. Because at that point the group made the ruling. Once that happens, I’m powerless in my tournaments. Always call a TD over if anyone is confused on what to do.


I guess I should add that the ruling here was in fact player 2 DQ.

I also can’t find anything relevant in the various online rulesets to address this.

Yeah I think a P2 DQ needs to happen, but honestly I’ve never encountered something like this. Interested to hear what others think. No matter what the ruling should have been, I wouldn’t have made a ruling if called over after play continued. I would’ve let P2 keep those points and play on.

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Players don’t get to keep rulings in their back pocket to pull out later.

Doesn’t mean a ruling should not be made, but as a TD I’ll weight the situation and sometimes skip a ruling in the scenario described above depending on details.


I’ve seen it in league and done it myself. It typically happens after a player blows up a ball and plays for several minutes. Sometimes you’re cranking so hard on a game you forget you’re at league. It happens.

Often the platyer puts up a big score on the blow up ball (duh). I did, but quickly volunteered to DQ because I’ve been in league long enough to know better. If a less experienced league player does it and it’s obviously a mistake, I won’t protest assuming someone has noticed them playing the EB and they didn’t blow up that ball too. Never want to discourage noobs, no money on the line.

To quote Seinfeld about player three: You bit it (launched ball 1), you bought it (the unofficial play on ruling). Points for initiative on the attempt, but motion denied otherwise.


If play has continued beyond enough time to find a TD, I would rule play on.


If you want a ruling on something, you need to ask for it immediately.


Yeah, rulings have to be made before play continues. It allows the TD to see the state of things at the moment the incident happened. Pulling the TD over to explain things can get sticky, because memories tend to drift from actuality a bit. If a ruling needs to be made, have it made before continuing play.


Absolutely would have not disqualified P2 based on this scenario.

P3 wasted their group’s time by waiting to flag the issue to a TD, now making a cut-and-dry DQ something weird. If P1 & P3 decided “hey, this isn’t a big deal, honest mistake, play through”, then okay, play on. If either player let P2 know immediately they were DQ’d, explained why, alerted a TD, okay.

But what happened is P3 wanted to create a facade of “oh it’s all good lol it happens” thinking they would still win AND still seem all pally with P2. When it became clear they couldn’t have their cake & eat it too, they cry foul? No way. Yellow card P3! (kidding.)

This, by far, all day every day.

Since we’re already off the book, an interesting middle ground might be p2 doesn’t play ball 3. I offer this up only as academic discussion, not that I necessarily endorse it.


I should note that I don’t know if this was intentional action by P3 here. I don’t know the player personally, so I can’t speak to skill or tournament experience. It’s at least possible that the player did not know to seek a ruling immediately, but this player did know that playing extra balls wasn’t allowed.

When I say it was clear they were going to lose, I was referring to the score differential at the time. It was unlikely they would catch up. I don’t think this changes anything though based on what I’m reading.

An interesting idea. Theoretically, playing 2 balls + extra is equivalent to playing 3 balls, modulo skill shots and/or interesting things that happen on last ball only (like double bonus on older games). I’ll mention this as a possible workaround to the TD, since the tournament in question here is just a friendly post-league two-striker and not a world championship or anything like that :slight_smile:

Another option: turn off extra balls, if possible, or allow extra balls to be played. That takes out this particular scenario entirely. Of course, the main question as to when a ruling needs to be made, remains. I would never allow a ruling that is made long after the situation requiring the ruling is over. It should be “now or never.”

Public location in this case, so extra balls could not be turned off. Otherwise I agree, it’s better to just remove the possibility if you can.

As a side note, I generally prefer always playing games as they lie.

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This reminds me of a famous ruling that happened in the Bay Area back in 2014. The TD said there was no practicing on games in between rounds. We were at a tournament with all EMs. In the final round on game 2 of 3, it was head to head between a resident EM expert and another player. EM expert was up 1-0. Before the game started, the EM expert tested the tilt by shaking the game. On some EMs you can test where the tilt is without a game being active. The tilt light will still light up in its “game over” state. Player 2 noticed this before the game started.

The EM expert won the game (and the tournament). It was then that Player 2 brought up the tilt test to the officials. It was ruled that since the TD said no practicing between rounds, that this was considered practice. EM expert got DQed from that game. Player 2 ended up winning the tournament by winning game 3.

Which is total horseshit btw.



Also, never play EM expert on Klondike for money.

Which part?

Pocketing the ruling until he needed to try it.

If there isn’t something in IFPAPA rules to address a situation like that, there should be. In that case, the request for a ruling should’ve been made before a ball was launched, not after the game was over. Again, you bit it, you bought it.