Pinburgh Preregistration & New PAPA Updates

PrintPreregistration for the largest pinball tournament in the world is coming soon!  Players will have the opportunity to sign up on the front page of the PAPA website, Monday, January 13th, 2014 at Noon EST.

400 players will be permitted to play in the event.  Once all 400 slots in the tournament have filled, we will maintain a waiting list of the next 50 players and release openings as other players drop out and they become available.

If you are planning to attend but are not signing up for the tournament, please keep in mind there will be fewer games available to the general public than during the World Championships in August.  If you are planning on competing, please note that we are making several improvements based on player feedback and are fully committed to running not only the largest, but also the best match-play pinball tournament in history.  The games will be arranged to allow more space for the competitors than ever before as well as several additional improvements that will make your tournament time at PAPA Headquarters more enjoyable.

Where: PAPA Headquarters
Preregistration Opens: Monday, January 13, 2014 – Noon EST
Event Dates: March 28-30, 2014 (PAPA HQ will be open March 27th for the Circuit Final)
Cost: $175 Per Player*
Prize Pool: $60,000

*Changes in the cost structure: $150 goes to the prize pool. $25 fee will offset some of the costs of preparing and maintaining the facility for the event. Please note Pinburgh 2013 did not charge a fee and ran at a loss for the organization. $50 toward each preregistration will be held as a non-refundable deposit. We did not have a non-refundable deposit in 2013 and received over 50 cancellations, forcing us to notify and pull players off of the waiting list at the last minute. Please only sign up for one of the limited openings if you are confidant you can attend the event.


PAPA Rule Updates

PAPA’s competition pinball rules were created and licensed under the Creative Commons to serve as the starting point for new leagues and organizations around the world.  We encourage league, tournament, and organization directors to use our rules and adapt them to their own needs.

If you look closely, you may find our rules were copied at some point and serve as the basis for your own league or event.  If this is the case, all we ask in return is you provide a link to both the Creative Commons and at the footer of your rules so other new organizations can locate the original source and stay up to date.

Our current rules are at version 16.1 and include the following updates:

Section IV – 9: Tiebreaking
New Wording:

Significant ties between players at the end of the quarterfinal, semifinal, or final round will be resolved by one tiebreaking game. Note that a tie is only significant if it affects whether or not a player will advance toward the final round, or occurs in the final round.

In a tiebreaking game, the highest-seeded player can choose the machine to be played from among those games that were not previously selected for that round. The highest-seeded player may instead choose the order of play.  The choice of game, if it has not been chosen, or the choice of order of play, will proceed through all tied players from highest seed to lowest seed until the machine to be played and order of play have been established.

If more than one group of players are tied, the machine is chosen for the group with the highest-ranking tied player first.  The selected machine is not available for selection in lower groups. All tied groups will play their tiebreaking games in parallel.

In the unlikely event of an exact scoring tie on the tiebreaking game, only those affected players will play another tiebreaking game, on another game chosen in similar fashion, under the same rules.

Reason for Update:
The old tiebreaking procedure consisted of a random draw by the tournament director. In some cases, players felt this procedure was not transparent enough, and if true, that situation lessens the integrity of an event.

Due to the large number of organizations that use our rules as a baseline, and when considering the varying capacities and experience of these directors, PAPA, as a rule, attempts to create rules in such a way that it lowers the amount of subjective decisions any tournament director has to make (including our own). By employing this philosophy, we believe it’s more likely for the same situation to be handled the same way in two different events, no matter the event directors’ level of experience, meaning rulings will inherently become more consistent for the players involved.

With regard to tiebreaking, PAPA has removed the director entirely from this decision, and by leaving the initial choice to the higher seed, PAPA has also attempted to further incentivize players to qualify as high as possible.

Section IV – 4 & IV – 5: Advancing Through Rounds
New Wording:

When all games have been completed by a group, each player will have a point total for the round.  The players with the top two point totals from each group of four players will advance.  Significant ties will be resolved using the procedure explained in Section IV – 9.

As in the previous round, the players with the top two point totals from each group of four players will advance to the four-player finals.  Significant ties will be resolved using the procedure explained in Section IV – 9.

Reason for Update:
We polled players, and the heavy majority preferred having two players advance within their own group of four players, rather than comparing the point totals of all players in a particular round.  Two players advancing from each group of four will be standard procedure at all PAPA events moving forward.

Section VII – 9:  Starting the Correct Number of Games
New Wording:

In any multiplayer match on any machine, the first designated player on that machine (player 1) is responsible for ensuring that the correct number of players have been started.  If player 1 does not start the correct number of players prior to the end of his or her first turn, he or she will receive a score of zero for that game, and the game will be terminated and restarted for the remaining players, as soon as the error is discovered.  Player 1 may always ask a scorekeeper or tournament official to instead start the game in any final round.  If the scorekeeper or official makes a mistake, the game will be terminated and restarted, with no penalty to any player. There will be no compensation or adjustment of scores or game state at any time.

Reason for Update:
After review, we felt this specific situation was not clearly addressed and required clarification.  Under previous versions of PAPA rules, all situations where players competed out of turn were handled the same way.  This narrow interpretation has led to previous by-the-book rulings where the outcome did not seem to match the original intent of the written rule.  Specifically, under previous versions of the rules, it was theoretically possible for the first player to not start a multiplayer game, hoping player two would plunge the second ball, and thereby play out of turn.

After conferring with several different players and considering multiple possible outcomes, we felt  the easiest way to resolve this situation is to give additional responsibility of starting the correct number of games to Player 1.  This is a very common and expected responsibility for pinball players around the world when beginning multiplayer games, and so now it is incorporated in PAPA’s official rules as well.

Section VII – 3:  Major Malfunction
New Wording:

When a major malfunction occurs, it is the player’s responsibility to notify the scorekeeper, calmly and promptly. The scorekeeper will request advice from a tournament official. If the official(s) agree that the incident is a major malfunction, one of the following steps will be taken, in order of priority:

If the machine’s software supports adding balls to a game already in progress, a tournament official will add a ball to the game in progress and the affected player will complete their game. All other players will continue to play their game as normal, without skipping a ball.

If the major malfunction cannot be fixed without resetting the machine, the player’s score will be recorded and their game will be terminated and restarted. The affected player will continue their remaining balls on the restarted game and their score from the aborted game will be added to their total.  For example, if such a malfunction occurs on Ball 2 of a 3-ball game, the player will be given two new balls on a restarted game.  In multiplayer games, all players will receive the same compensation.

If the major malfunction can be fixed without resetting the machine, the player will be provided with one additional ball of play at the beginning of a new game, after the current game has been completed. The player’s total score on the additional ball will be added to his or her previous score, and the new game will be terminated.

In all cases, no attempt will be made to re-establish the state of the machine at the time of the major malfunction.

Reason for Update:
In addition to general clarification regarding how the rule is applied, Stern Pinball is now offering the ability to add balls during an ongoing game.  This option will now be the primary method of handling major malfunctions, if available, since it is by far the least intrusive on the action.



PAPA 17 Juniors & Seniors Division

The Juniors and Seniors divisions at PAPA 17 will not be restrictive, meaning a competitor can enter both A / B / or C division as well as Juniors and Seniors.  The Juniors division, however, is scheduled to undergo the following changes:

1.  Juniors Division will function as three separate, single day events, similar to the Classics Division.
2.   The fee for Juniors Division will be dropped to $1 per entry.
3.  The prize pool will be eliminated, but all finalists will receive t-shirts and plaques appropriate to their finishing position.
4.  Each daily tournament will consist of several hours of qualifying, followed by a standard, 8-person bracket.
5.  All eligible competitors are welcome to enter in all three consecutive days, but the machines will remain the same to accommodate the ongoing Seniors Division.

Reason for Update:
After polling parents and receiving feedback, we felt the large price tag and subsequent prize pool in the Juniors division was counterproductive to encouraging younger players.  We also felt the single-day style of event is more likely to attract parents who are not yet used to the multiple-day requirements of high-level pinball competition, as well as offering young players more opportunities to experience the added pressure of a final-round situation.

PAPA 17 Classics Division

The following changes are scheduled to be made to the Classics Division at the PAPA 17 World Championships:
1. 24 qualifiers will now advance to the final rounds, with the top-8 qualifiers receiving a bye.
2. Qualifying will begin each day at 11am instead of 1pm and finish at 6pm instead of 8pm.  The final rounds will begin promptly at 6:30pm instead of 9pm.

Reason for Update:
The Division has become large enough to reasonably accept 24 qualifiers.  The changes in the schedule are included to reflect the additional round of play that will be required.

PAPA 17 Division C

The following changes are scheduled to be made to Division C at the PAPA 17 World Championships:
1. 24 qualifiers will now advance to the final rounds, with the top-8 qualifiers receiving a bye.
2. The schedule on Sunday morning will be adjusted to appropriately handle the additional round of play.

Reason for Update:
The Division has become large enough to reasonably accept 24 qualifiers.

Please note that guidelines for which players are eligible for Divisions B & C at PAPA 17 will be undergoing changes but are not yet ready to be released.

PAPA 17 Womens Division

We are openly seeking feedback on the potential for a Womens division.  Do you have an opinion on this possibility?  If so, please contact us.

The Womens Division, if implemented, would function similarly to the Seniors Division, would be held on the same set of games, would not be required of any eligible player, and would not prohibit any eligible player from participating in Divisions A / B or C.



  1. Andy rosa
    December 28, 2013 at 9:00 pm

    Ahna says yes to a woman’s division .

  2. Michelle McCleester
    December 28, 2013 at 9:15 pm

    A women’s division is ok, But what is more needed is a B division for Classics.

  3. December 28, 2013 at 9:26 pm

    I think the change to the Junior division is a great idea that will promote growth among younger players and I think adding a Womens’ division is a similar move in the right direction. Women are certainly as capable (or in many cases more so) as men in requisite skills for pinball, but the competitive pinball population is dominated by males and this may be intimidating to new female players. Having a division restricted to female players may ease the entry of women into the sport at this level. Hopefully it will not turn into the nightmare that major women-only poker tournaments have experienced over the last decade with male competitors threatening legal action and being allowed to play. Pinball players are classier than poker players, right? Only 90 days to Pinburgh!

  4. DHS
    December 29, 2013 at 10:26 am

    Is there any consideration to instead adding another division at the bottom? There seems to be some concern amongst the masses that C is too hard for many: is there enough growth in numbers to support another division?

    Another minor concern: if there’s less than four players in a game it seems unduly harsh to ding player one for accidentally starting too many games. On some machines the display effects are terrible at indicating how many games have been started: Elvis comes to mind. For a four-player match it’s easy enough to just hammer on the start button….

    An outlandish thought: would finals at PAPA be better served with a slightly smaller bank of games? It seems that every year some of the games aren’t played, and with fewer games a wider diversity of pinball skills must be demonstrated to win (assuming reasonable game choices are made). What’s the reason for the current choice? Note that the fewer games are in the bank the less advantage game choice provides, of course.

  5. Ron Hallett
    December 29, 2013 at 11:02 am

    C Division is too hard because a good portion of the players in it should be playing in B. I was under the impression that C was supposed to be for novice players. I’ve seen guys playing in C that I know have won tournaments before!!

    I’m curious as to what the B,C Division eligibility requirement changes are going to be..

  6. Robert Sovatsky
    December 29, 2013 at 2:46 pm

    I feel a separate womens division in pinball is both sexist and patronizing.

    1. PER
      January 1, 2014 at 5:57 pm

      I fully agree with Robert. The implication is that a woman inherently is not as good at playing pinball as a man, which of course has no basis in reality. Fewer special interest group divisions would get my vote.

  7. Stu
    December 30, 2013 at 3:39 pm

    the only tournament I want to go to.. but dang its getting steeeeep$, I understand the fee etc. just gonna have to save a bit more and only eat ramen when I get there! 🙂

  8. Bob Matthews
    December 31, 2013 at 5:35 pm

    Will Seniors still have the schedule conflict with Classics 3 so that a player can only participate in the playoffs in one of them?

    1. MHS
      December 31, 2013 at 5:40 pm

      It’s on my list of things to address.

  9. January 6, 2014 at 2:20 pm

    I know a lot of women who play pinball and they really enjoy having a women’s only league to compete with other women (and these leagues seem to be growing). Many of them also play in co-ed leagues but having something just for women is a great way to open pinball up to more people. As a guy, I wouldn’t mind at all that there was a separate division.

  10. JOE
    January 13, 2014 at 2:10 pm

    Regarding the rule that makes player 1 responsible for starting the correct number of games. Under the new rules i wouldnt touch the start button on any game all weekend. The reason being that a lot of games do not display this information properly. I know i have done this mistake several times over the last 10 years or so. (never intentionally though)

    If a lot of players feel like i do, you’ll need many bodies to press start buttons.

    (Im not a big supporter of penalizing players for incorrectly functioning slam tilts/game over tilts either)

    1. Steve
      January 30, 2014 at 4:09 pm

      I’m thinking a better solution to starting the correct number of players is to not put Player 1 responsible for interpreting the backglass or DMD. Every player should push start themselves in order after inserting their token. Then even on games that improperly or poorly display the only way there can be too few or two many players is a malfunction. Every player puts in a coin, and presses start.

Comments are closed.