The International Flipper Pinball Association’s (IFPA) Washington State Championships pinball tournament was held on February 11th at the 8-Bit Arcade in Renton with the top 16 players in the state competing for the glory, a trophy, and the opportunity to play in the US National Pinball Championship in Dallas. Players are eligible to play in any state where they got into the top 16. As mentioned in the last issue, Kevin Birrell, who ranked 10th in WA, opted to compete in the Oregon State Champs this year where he was also eligible, and he won! Meanwhile at 8-Bit, the competition was pretty fierce with last year’s champ Raymond Davidson getting knocked out at fourth place, leading to a showdown between Maka Honig and Chris Chinn. Chris ultimately prevailed and went on to represent Washington in the Nationals. Specials!

That same day at 8-Bit there was an open Match Play Tournament. A concurrent side tournament has been a regular and successful feature of the WA State event for the past couple of years as it creates more of an audience for the crowning of the winner of the State Champion (Specials!). This year both tournaments lined up very well, with the match play tourney finishing at nearly the same time as the main tournament, despite its later starting time. The later start is partly so that anyone in the State Championship who gets knocked out in the first round can then compete in Match Play. This worked out well for Alex Tada, who was knocked out of the main tournament and then went on to win the Match Play Tournament instead. Aloha!

On March 16th, the IFPA US National Pinball Championship was held in Dallas and had contestants from most of the 50 states as well as Canada and the District of Columbia. This was held at the same time as the annual IFPA Pin Masters and the 2nd annual IFPA Women’s World Pinball Championship, which included locals Hannah Holmberg, Julie Gray, and last year’s champ Zoe Vrabel from Portland amongst the 16 contestants. The Women’s Championship seems to still be evolving, and now that the IFPA is actively tracking women-only tournaments, it will be interesting to see how the tournament grows. While none of our local players won either championships, this year’s Women’s Champion was Helena Walter, who recently moved to the US from Sweden. Helena, who is highly ranked worldwide (#108), is an interesting addition to the US pinball scene — not only in the women’s divisions but also in Colorado, where she lives and is already ranked 15th in the state. Pow!

Our local pinball scene is also evolving — and growing with even more tournaments and events! Ramsey Sierra recently broke the pinball Sabbath by starting a weekly Friday Night Fights tournament at Bad Jimmy’s, which has been embraced by many and makes us wonder why Fridays were ignored for so long. Thursdays and Sundays have experienced the most growth, with up to seven events on some Sundays, and Thursdays topping off at around five. Some of the recent additions include a new Second Sunday Match Play at Lucky Liquor, The Goat’s Weekly Arcade Decathlon (with pinball and arcade games), and The Triple Knock’s Women’s Tournament (every third Sunday).  Over on Whidbey Island, the Machine Shop arcade co-sponsored a pinball art show with a local gallery. It’s hard to keep up with all of these happenings, but we certainly try, and suggest checking out our calendar on the Skill Shot website for all of the details. Events!

Local locations (aka places with pinball machines) have also experienced an uptick with The Whit’s End, A Pizza Mart University, and A1 Hop Shop all getting one or two pins each, courtesy of Grand Champion Games. GCG also resurrected the 4B’s Alehouse, which didn’t have any pins for years but now has six, and Hellbent Brewery, which grew from two games to seven! 20XX Amusements also recently placed five pins at Fitzgerald’s Sports Bar, which was pin-less for a number of months. While Shorty’s, Marquee Amusements, and SilverAgeSilverBall are all still actively servicing locations, Pinheads Pinball has decided to cease as an active operator and is instead concentrating on home pinball repairs. Pins!

The Northwest Pinball and Arcade Show (NWPAS) is ramping up the excitement for the upcoming show this summer, and a big part of the buzz is the NWPAS Satellite Tournament Series, which began March 27th. Organized by NWPAS Tournament director Dave Stewart, the Satellite Series is 13 different tournaments scattered across local establishments where contestants have the chance to win both passes to NWPAS and entry into any/all of the tournaments they’re eligible for that weekend. These were a popular way to get into the show last year, and even if you don’t win one of the tournaments, you can still get passes just by attending 7 of the 13 events. There are three all-ages tournaments included, and this year’s Powder Puff Tournament is also a “partner event”, so there are plenty of ways to win. Go to the NWPAS website for more details. Winning!

The Northwest Pinball and Arcade Show (June 9-11) is celebrating their 10th annual event this year and it is sure to be a lot of fun. Along with the tournament, there will be over 400 pinball and arcade machines available to play, along with lots of vendors, exhibits, speakers, and more. Some of our favorite things from the last show included an Iron Maiden pinball machine, The Big Lebowski pin, rows of rare EM machines, and Spectrum! Speakers this year include pinball designers and artists of classic games such as Spider-Man, White Water, Congo, Medieval Madness, Taxi, Wizard of Oz, and many more! The show is still a few months away, so keep an eye on their website and Facebook page for more details as they are announced. PAGS!

Monday Night Pinball is well on its way into season 7. So far, the season has been exciting, with plenty of surprises, such as the dominance of Down To Pinball and the rise of Northern Lights into the upper ranks. While there has been some concern about the increasing use of algorithms amongst some teams, most people would still agree that winning = fun. Data-centric strategies, as Michael Adcock reveals on a recent episode of the Skill Shot Pincast, are useful for predicting results and are probably here to stay. Win or lose, pinball is fun, and with 200+ players in the league, it’s a good way to meet new people. Go to the Monday Night Pinball website to find out how to join or become a sub. Fun!

Skill Shot News: Originally, our Folding Party for last issue was going to happen during a Monday Tournament at Ozzie’s, but a delay at our printer ruined that plan. (Nina even brought party hats!) A huge thank you goes out to everyone who helped fold zines at our emergency Folding Party and also later at the MNP scrimmage event! (And every issue for that matter.) Skill Shot Pincast recently released episode 47 and celebrated with a party at Flip Flip Ding Ding on March 31st with a new sticker and buttons! Skill Shot hosted the annual Tommy Tournament on April 2nd and will also host the 11th Powder Puff Tournament on May 28th at Shorty’s. We forgot to mention it before but 2017 begins our 10th anniversary of publishing this zine! Look for more Skill Shot related tournaments and events to be announced soon. Decade!

Pinball Tidbits: After a public vote, both The Vancouver Flip-Out and The NW Pinball Championships have been added to the PAPA Tournament Circuit. Expect to see a higher level of competition (and points) at this year’s events! * Flip Flip Ding Ding celebrated their 100th weekly with extra prize money and surprise competitors Todd MacCulloch and Bowen Kerins. * Congratulations to Germain Mariolle: IFPA’s January Player of the Month! * We recently noticed that Hing Hay Park in Chinatown is doubling its size. Will the Seattle Pinball Museum follow suit when they do their next outdoor event there? * Shorty’s Avout Vander Werf has begun work on a new bar in Pioneer Square and it will not be a pinball bar. * Skill Shot is happy to announce the engagement of Hannah Holmberg and Jason Hatch. We are super happy for them! * More love happened when Jeff Waggoner and Liz Sotack tied the knot and played Stern’s Avengers at their reception.* This year’s Portland Pinbrawl sold out in record time, so the Skill Shot/Slap Save throwdown event will happen at a different date. Stay tuned… * Don’t forget to like us on Facebook. * Support Local Pinball!

Originally published in Skill Shot 47, April 4th 2007