Originally published in Skill Shot 32
As regular followers of the local pinball scene will know, the end of the year is not only a time for holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas, it’s also a time for many annual pinball tournaments. One of the biggest of the year was the 16th Annual Pinball Tournament at Shorty’s (11/10/13) which is also one of the longest continually running tournaments in the nation (and perhaps the world). This was the second year that Skill Shot hosted the event with Jeff Groper. Since last year went so smoothly (thanks in large part to the Brackelope tournament app) we expected a larger crowd, so the bar opened earlier and the tournament started earlier. Players came from all over including Spokane, Vancouver BC, and especially Portland OR which wasn’t too surprising since Groper is a Crazy Flipper Fingers pinball gang. A special surprise was the appearance of Maka, who recently moved to Kansas City! It wasn’t any gang member that caused the biggest disruption of the event, though, as a pair of local bar owners/tournament hosts (who should know better) had to be ejected from the tournament area due to harassing Sagel during his match with ELF. Bummer. Slam Fruit from Portland was a disruption of a more pleasant sort. The eventual outcome seemed preordained as Vancouver’s Eden Stamm was on fire this day and won the tournament by beating fellow Canadian Robert Gagno in the final match. Besides some cash, the grand prize also included a nifty Surf Champ t-shirt donated by Maka to commemorate the fact that almost all final matches, including this year, at Shorty’s tournaments are held on this pin. Nifty!
Other annual and soon-to-be-annual tournaments happened since our last issue, like the 3rd Annual Leftover TurNey (11/30) held at Mitch Anderson’s Bally Cavern, in which participants could have a reduced entry fee by bringing Thanksgiving leftovers to the event. The Seattle Pinball Museum held their annual Halloween Tournament and Costume Party (10/26) with an event that was aimed at newer folks as no IFPA ranked players were eligible to enter. Flip Off Hunger Seattle (12/14) was held at the Cupcake Castle (aka the Cartoon’s house) and was part of a larger national event that raised money and food for needy families during the holidays. Special attention here needs to be directed to Aaron McAbee, who donated the money he made from selling his Tempest arcade game, and Rod Olsen, who came in at the last minute, bought a bunch a raffle tickets and won some prizes (now known as “pulling a Rod”). The first Seattle Pinball Rally (10/19) at Hillard’s Brewery included a tournament organized by Kevin Birrell that drew a sizable number of participants, despite the slim line-up of working pins involved. You have to give props to Rally organizer Terry Wynia for putting this on, as he was mostly unknown to the larger pinball community but had a vision and made it happen. Hillard’s usually only has one pin on premises and he got volunteers to bring in their games for a one-day event and exposed a bunch of new people to pinball. This year’s Rally will be held sometime during the summer in order to take advantage of the brewery’s huge rolling doors and outside patio area which will probably entice more people to bring their pins to it. Vision!
The Seattle Pinball League held their November tournament (11/23) at the new 8-Bit Arcade in Renton, which had just opened the day before. 8-Bit is now one of the largest arcade-bars in the area with a whopping 23 pins available! This was an important SPL event as it determined the top players of the year who would then move onto the 2013 SPL Finals (12/7), as well as the members eligible to compete in the Wild Card tournament the day before. The Wild Card winner was Bobby Conover, who then joined the top 15 in a grueling day-long battle at Rod Olsen’s house, and Cayle George was eventually crowned the 2013 SPL Champion. The SPL has really grown since its 2009 inception; the last season had 99 registered members plus many others who haven’t actually joined but paid per event instead. This makes the SPL one of the largest pinball leagues in the nation. We wonder what would happen if all of the members actually showed up at one event at the same time? Full House!
Besides the SPL, Seattle has quite a few other monthly tournaments and gatherings. Pinheads Pinball held their first Sunday Tournament at Olaf’s (12/22) with a good crowd. They decided to skip a January tournament due to football-mania but will continue on the third Sunday of each month beginning in February. To enter Olaf’s pinball area you must first walk through a hallway that resembles a giant vagina that was created when the space was a biker-bar! Skill Shot has been hosting The First Sunday Tournament @ Shorty’s with a rotating guest host each month. The host gets to determine the tournament style and format, and so far it’s been a great way for people to try out different ways of competing. November’s tournament (11/3) was hosted by Skill Shot’s own Kayla Greet, who decided to do it Cyclops-style by supplying eye patches to contestants to alter the players’ depth perception. Amanda Kotchon hosted a Canadian Round-Robin tournament in January (1/5) in which players had to be polite and gracious to each other, including apologizing to both their opponent and the machine if they happened to tilt during a match. December’s tournament (12/1) was hosted by Geoff Simons and was a prototype for a team-based pinball league that he is organizing, which will be somewhat similar to how bowling leagues run. Geoff has partnered with the Pinball NYC people who already run a league of this sort and Pinball Seattle is planned to begin this spring! Teams will be based from a home-location (aka bars with pinball machines) and then compete against each other as teams, as opposed to individuals. Bars who want to sponsor a team and individuals interested in joining Pinball Seattle are encouraged to contact “geoff at pinball-seattle dot com”. Go Team!
Women’s pinball got a big bump in November when two different women-only monthlies began. Julie Gray organized the Fabulous Ladies in Pinball (FLIP) which had their first gathering at Full Tilt Ballard (11/7). FLIP is an informal gathering which focuses on camaraderie as much as it does on competition and often meets at private residences. This is a cool way for women who love pinball to meet each other and also for those who don’t have much exposure to pinball to gain more experience. For those women who are feeling more competitive, Kayla Greet hosts Babes in Pinland, an all-girl pinball tournament that happens on the first Thursday of each month at Add-a-Ball Amusements. See Kayla’s article about hosting Babes in this issue! Seattle has a high percentage of women into pinball and since Skill Shot is now hosting regular tournaments at Shorty’s, we have decided that the ladies-only Powder Puff Tournament will now be an annual event. This year’s Powder Puff is scheduled to happen on Sunday May 25th, and we will have more details about it in our next issue. Rad! On the weekly tournament scene, the Full Tilt Ballard Weekly tournaments happen every Monday and are noteworthy for being the only regular tournament open to all ages, and also for giving up-and-coming local champ Raymond Davidson (IFPA #52) a place to hone his skills, as he was under 21 until recently. Alas, Kevin Birrell (IFPA #103) will have to wait a few more months before he can join Raymond the 21+ club and really start terrorizing the seniors around Seattle. (We’re looking at you Steve!) John John’s Game Room Tuesday Flip Off tournaments often seem to be the stomping grounds for Elijah Nelson (IFPA #329), although Maka (IFPA #64) came in to dominate it during the few days he was here in November. MAK almost broke up the Raymond and Kevin reign over at Full Tilt by getting 2nd place. Add-a-Ball’s Wednesday Flip Offs have a more mixed bag of winners, although that doesn’t stop Dave Stewart (IFPA #38) from trying his best as he attended more than half of the Wednesday Flip Offs last year and placed 1st in about half of those he played in. Competition!
As mentioned above, 8-Bit Arcade in Renton opened in November and has a lot of pinball and arcade games, which, according to Pete the owner, are supplied by a variety of collectors including Silverage Silverball. We appreciated the effort they put into offering many pins that we’ve never seen on location before such as Superman, and Rescue 911 alongside pins like Monopoly and Fish Tales. The pizza we ate there was very tasty too! Vidiot is a new bar that opened in the space which previously housed the Shipwreck Tavern in West Seattle. Vidiot has an emphasis on gaming and has an Ultracade system set-up for patrons to use for free and plans to host Magic: The Gathering events. Of particular interest for us is the fact that Junk Squisher, the owner of Vidiot, was once the owner of Piccolo’s Pizza in the U-district. Piccolo’s had a cool little game room in the back with an eclectic variety of pins and we are curious about what they may put in there. So far, Vidiot has four pins, including X’s & O’s and Firepower. Welcome! Another new location is Flip Flip Ding Ding in Georgetown. Occupying the space that also hosts Button Makers, Flip Flip is open with limited hours as they finish their renovations. Levi Dittebrandt is the operator at this space and is trying to bring in some pins not found elsewhere in the neighborhood, like Doctor Who, or in Seattle in general, like Judge Dredd and Viper. February 22nd will bring the first Flip Flip Ding Ding Tournament, which is planned as a new annual event. Levi is also relocating a bunch of his pins to the expanding game room at Another Castle in Edmonds. Another Castle already has arcade games and a few pins, but after the remodel is finished they will have up to 20 pins total and will include such games as Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtles and both Mario Brothers pins. Levi previously had many pins at Replay Café in Everett, but when that space unexpectedly closed last November he was free to move on. Replay closing was unexpected to most, including those who had their machines located there. We’ve heard different stories about unpaid rent, guns drawn, and something about tokens, but let’s not dwell on that. Moving on!
Perhaps the biggest new space since our last issue was the opening of Point Break, the back area in Add-a-Ball Amusements on October 25th. Point Break increased the floor space in Add-a-Ball by more than double and looks stunning. Large booths, a second bar, and fabulous art (including a giant Patrick Swayze portrait and a mural of Return of the Jedi speeder bikes) really makes the space pop. The addition of more pins included a Bally wide-body collection, Attack From Mars, and Orbitor 1. The opening night was a huge affair and the place was packed with supporters there to show their love to what is fast becoming one of the don’t-miss locations in Seattle. A few days later Add-a-Ball hosted their Annual Halloween Party, which was also a lot of fun and included a Bram Stoker’s Dracula pin Rod brought in just for the weekend. Point Break has increased the popularity of Add-a-Ball with the non-pinball playing locals though, which Dave Stewart discovered one night when a patron placed her drink on the playfield glass of the game he was playing! Travis and Brad have done a really good job with Add-a-Ball and with their other location John John’s Game Room, which celebrated its one year anniversary on November 8th. Good job, boys!
The new Stern Star Trek pinball machine made its first appearance at Dorky’s with a Launch Party and Tournament on October 18th. A new Star Trek pin was a big deal to a lot of people and the event was very well attended. Unfortunately, only one of the games was working during the party, so pretty much everyone had only one opportunity to play the game, which cost $5 to enter and had a very difficult tilt setting. Many thought that having the machine set that way didn’t seem like the best way to introduce people to a new pin, and having the game placed in the middle of the busiest part of the arcade also made things a little confusing. As soon as the tournament part of the party was over, the loud DJ music made moving to the upper pinball room a no-brainer. Luckily, Daryl was greeting Star Trek fans with organic party favors, and we personally had a great time. Since then, Star Trek has arrived at many locations, including Madison Pub (who got the first one in Seattle proper), Olaf’s, Seattle Pinball Museum, and Shorty’s. It’s a beautiful game and as the code updates happen, it is fast becoming one of the most appreciated of the new Sterns. Fascinating.
Skill Shot News: Our last issue was supposed to be a full-color special until the printer almost ran out of yellow ink just 200 copies into the printing. Luckily we were able to convert the files to black and white without losing readability. If you got one of the color issues (like all of our subscribers and Folding Party attendees did), you have a collector’s item! Our last Folding Party at The Lookout was a great success and we thank everyone who came to help, especially musical guest Blue Star Creeper. We are excited about the next one because the Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein pin has returned to The Lookout. Our Skill Shot Pinball List is now available as an app for Android. It’s very handy for finding out what machines are close to your location. You can find a link to it on our website! (See the ad on this page!)We recently attended the Short Run Small Press Festival and created a bunch of Skill Shot Collections to sell there, complete with all issues of Skill Shot plus some extra surprises! We’re selling them for $10 (plus postage) or you can buy one at Fantagraphics in Georgetown. Also at Short Run, we were happy to meet Alec Longstreth, co-creator of Drop Target, the pinball zine from New England. Drop Target’s other creator Jon Chad recently illustrated a conceptualized Skill Shot pinball machine for a Lighter of the Month sticker that is pretty sweet. Ask us if you haven’t received one yet. Skill Shot!
Pinball Tidbits: Starting in January, the Narwhal is having monthly tournaments on the last Sunday of each month, organized by Nycole Hyatt. Check out the Skill Shot Calendar on our website for more details. ✪ Mike Sander is the new general manager at Dorky’s and has told us that they will soon be hosting regular tournaments. Stay tuned for more details. ✪ Did you see the Seattle Pinball Museum on Evening Magazine last month? They were also mentioned recently on Yahoo! News and Wired. ✪ High Score Burgers in Redmond closed for the Christmas holiday and then unexpectedly announced they had sold the business. ✪ Replay Café announced that they will be relocating to Lynnwood. Look for their grand-opening sometime this spring! ✪ The wide-body collection at Add-a-Ball was short-lived and Headley’s two pins have been replaced with a two-player Sega Rally racing game. Nicholas’s idea for a wide-body tournament is indefinitely on hold. ✪ When Dave Stewart posted a question about PAPA on Facebook, it started a large debate about women in pinball and the merits (or not) of separate women’s tournaments and divisions. We like them. Uffa Duffa! Support Local Pinball