The Northwest Pinball Championships, held this year in Marysville WA, were the official beginning of the biggest pinball week in Seattle. The IFPA9 World Pinball Championship later in the week attracted many highly-ranked international players, including Daniele Acciari (Italy), Takashi Ito (Japan), Jörgen Holm (Sweden), Franck Bona (France) and Richard Rhodes (Australia). Highly ranked North Americans also attended, such as Keith Elwin and Lyman Sheets, as well as many others. Many others showed up to watch these masters up close and have a chance at the open spot in IFPA9 (won by Steven Zahler from NJ).
If you couldn’t make it to Marysville you could still catch the action via GeekGamer.TV’s live webcast on the final day of the tournament. The final four match on Jack*Bot was particularly exciting to watch, with incredible scores put up by Daniele and Cayle George, and also the announcing skills of guest commentator Bowen Kerins (you can still watch this great match on www.geekgamer.tv). It was like watching a sports program on TV, and we hope more tournaments will do this in the future. Winners at the event included Franck Bona (Classics), Helena Walter (Women’s), Brendan Trebitts (Novice), and Daniele who eventually triumphed in the Open Division, winning an astounding $2355.00! WOW!
The Ballard Pinball Tournament on Monday June 4th was, as always, played at a variety of locations, but this time there was no Snoose Junction (the traditional starting point) because they suddenly went out of business just days prior! Because so many of the out-of-town champions competed, we saved our entry fee and hung out at Claire and Headley’s since their home was one of the tournament locations. This worked out great because we got to hang out with friends, play free pinball and meet out-of-towners such as Levente Tregova from Switzerland, and Zen and Higgins from Colorado. We later converged at Café Mox to watch the final four match between Daniele, Zen, Helena, and Seattle’s own Sergey Posrednikov. After Daniele once again prevailed as the winner, many went to the 2 Bit Saloon for metal, beer and a mini-tournament on T2. Rockin’!
Shorty’s hosted the first pre-IFPA Tournament on Tuesday June 5th. We thought we would miss it since the tournament started at 1PM, but when we arrived at 9:30 it was still going strong. Hosted by Eden Stamm, this 3-Strikes format lasted so long because the first matches were done as best-two-of-three games. As the night went on everyone began to wonder if the tournament would finish before the 2AM closing time. It eventually did as 10th-ranked Jörgen Holm took the win from 1st-ranked Keith Elwin mere minutes before the Shorty’s staff locked the doors. Whew!
Wednesday June 6th brought the next pre-IFPA Tournament to Full Tilt Ballard, making many players happy as they were impressed by the pins during the Ballard Tournament. Trent Augenstein hosted this head-to-head double elimination tournament. We’re sad to have missed what sounded like an exciting event, with broken playfield glass, a Jamie Beth sighting, and 4 of the top 5 ranked players making it to the end. Bowen Kerins eventually came out on top. Afterwards many of the players headed to Add-a-Ball in Fremont to join their Wednesday Night Tournament and celebrate Helena’s birthday. We wish we’d attended. It sounded like a lot of fun, and Helena drank 14 beers. Happy Happy!
On Thursday June 7th, The Internationals and highest ranking locals took the ferry to Todd MacCulloch’s Bainbridge Island digs where the pre-IFPA9 practice day was underway. The International Flipper Pinball Association’s World Pinball Championship is an annual event that takes place in different locations worldwide each year. This year (June 8 – 10) Seattle was the host. This was the 9th year of the tournament, and 64 of the top players from 12 countries competed to be declared World Champion. The Northwest was represented by local players Julie Gray (who came in 64th), Kyle Seller (61st), Jeff Groper (57th), Todd Mac (50th), Maka (50th), Robert Gagno (47th), Eden Stamm (42th), and Raymond Davidson (35th). Local champ and last year’s World Champion Cayle George almost had a second straight victory, but an unfortunate tilt disqualified him at a crucial moment, making him second place and giving the win to Italy’s Daniele Acciari, who had a great week as we have seen. For more details, check out Kevin Birrell’s coverage of the final day on skill-shot.com. Now!
Meanwhile in Seattle, the newly renamed Northwest Pinball and Arcade Show (NWPAS) returned to Seattle Center, and as usual there were 300+ pinball and arcade games set to free play. This was the event that we didn’t want to miss. There were many past favorites like Swords of Fury, Banzai Run and Spectrum, as well as pins new to the show such as Devil’s Dare, Sorcerer, and Haunted House (although we never saw Haunted House working). Silver Age Silver Ball had a row of EM pins including Grand Prix, Wild Life (with banana flippers!) and Faces, which was the most attractive game of the show (although the Circus Voltaire with chrome side rails was also very nice). Other interesting pins included the cocktail (pinball) table Star Trip, and Spooksville, with flippers controlled by handles and which you had to play while looking into a mirror; very odd. Or spooooky?
The Seattle Pinball Museum had a large presence this year, debuting their recently restored KISS machine (previously fire-damaged) and hosting “family fun” tournaments on TRON and AC/DC (Pro) which kept their section busy all weekend. Bro-Bro and the team of Kevin and Raymond both won countertop touchscreen grand prizes! The other big NWPAS tournament was held Saturday, hosted by Chase Nunes and awarded not only money but also IFPA-ranking points. This was a popular event that should have lasted more than one day since many people who wanted to play couldn’t due to time constraints. Quite a few early-outs from IFPA9 showed up to compete, presenting a twist to the non-ranking players who perhaps expected to advance further since so many champs were out on Bainbridge. Many IFPA visitors did well, as did members of Portland’s CFF gang, local competitor Matt Cohn (who won 2nd place) and winner Dave Stewart from Maryland. Players!
Another exhibition at the show was the premiere of AC/DC Limited Edition hosted by Marco Specialties. We were beginning to wonder if this pin would ever be released, as the regular (Pro) version had been out for many months. A large video screen above the game let you check it out while you waited in long lines, and while that was neat, it was easier for us to just hit Shorty’s later to play theirs, which (finally) arrived that same weekend. Raffles were also a big part of the show and Friday’s most anticipated prize was the Terminator 2 machine, ultimately won by Rod Olsen who phoned in a purchase of 100 tickets mere minutes before the drawing. What?
The highlight of this year’s show was Jersey Jack’s presentation of the upcoming Wizard of Oz pin that people were invited to try out. Although there was no scoring or software and you were only allowed one ball per turn, it was both fun and interesting to check out the new game firsthand. It’s beautiful, with many interesting toys and features that were a bit difficult to figure out in such brief time. A drawing was held for the grand prize Wizard of Oz machine which was won by Jeremy Edwards of Seattle. It was another great show and we can’t wait until next year when NWPAS moves into a new location, with the current spot becoming the new KEXP broadcasting station. Dorothy!
Gay Pride Weekend (June 23 – 24) gave us an opportunity to check out many pins on Capitol Hill that were either broken (CC Attle’s), unreliable (The Elite), or too crowded to play (The Cuff). Madison Pub was a bright spot as we discovered someone finally cleaned the Family Guy playfield that had been gathering grime for a long time. Good job fellas! The weekend concluded when Skill Shot hosted a pinball tournament at Andy and Alyson’s Rock N Roll Wedding in Georgetown. This provided us with an important insight: Complex rules can be hard for newbies to follow. Hah!
Later that week Capitol Hill’s Unicorn opened their basement bar (Narwhal) after months of anticipation in the pinball community. It’s a beautiful space decorated with parts of an old carousel and numerous taxidermy heads. The highlight is the pinball and arcade selection operated by Shorty’s and featuring 8 pins mostly from the mid-90’s. It looks really sweet, except for when it gets crowded and the arcade game players are right along the backsides of the pinball players. It’s not anything that a little tweaking of the game setup couldn’t fix. A bigger concern is that Narwhal doesn’t open until 6:30 PM (4:30 on weekends.) This problem is temporarily resolved by Vermillion, around the corner, where the current Flash Arcade exhibit has playable pinball and opens at 4 . The pins, mostly supplied by George Lally, include a few selections you don’t often see, like Demolition Man. Flash Arcade runs until August 4th. Nice.
Rod Olsen’s new T2 made its debut at his annual Fourth of July Party, but it wasn’t alone. There were a number of games we hadn’t seen there before such as Circus Voltaire and Transformers. What a great party! The coolest part was Rod’s rock-n-roll wall that had Elvis, Rolling Stones, Tommy, AC/DC Let There Be Rock and Guns N Roses all in chronological order (of the artists, not the machines.) We felt sorry for Shrek which was moved to the garage after having prime living room space for years. Rod also moved other pins to Add-a-Ball, including WWF Royal Rumble and Champion Pub. We still can’t believe he sold Wheel of Fortune without asking us first. Terrible!
On July 14th the Seattle Pinball League held their yearly Pin-Golf tournament at Mitch Anderson’s house, unofficially known as The Bally Open as all games played are Ballys. This is a nice change from other tournaments because you don’t play against the person you’re teamed up with, but rather you are both trying to hit par. It was a very nice day and some of the pins were outside which made hanging out really nice since you could sit on the grass and watch people play. Kevin took the win! As the day ended, Skill Shot organized a Seattle Side Saddle tournament partly as research, partly to introduce the game to others, but mostly because it’s a fun way to play! (See the article below.) Later, team Skill Shot went on to win a Half and Half mini-tournament earning ourselves a whopping $10. Booyah!
Seattle Pinball Museum put pins outside the same weekend during the International District’s Dragon Fest. For this two-day event SPM moved a few of their games down the street and under the pagoda at Hing Hay Park, letting festival-goers try them out. It was so cute to see photos of little old people smiling and having fun playing pinball. The SPM’s proprietors are true ambassadors of pinball and their next cultural exchange is to team up with The Pacific Science Center’s King Tut Exhibit. For this the SPM will be holding monthly high-score tournaments on their 1969 Bally King Tut machine, with the winner receiving passes to the exhibit. Funky Tut!
As always we want to thank everyone who came to our last Skill Shot Folding Party at The Lookout and all of our distributors! If you haven’t been to a Folding Party before, you should come. Besides the usual fun and free beer, last issue’s party also premiered our new Skill Shot t-shirts, which were sold at a discount. The t-shirts are still available (see the ad in this issue!). Have you been to our website lately? We’ve been posting web-only articles, news, and local tournament results on a regular basis. We also update the Seattle Pinball List as we learn about changes and our King County Pinball List is back by popular demand. www.skill-shot.com This issue is not only our 25th issue, it’s also our fifth year of publishing Skill Shot! In honor of this occasion we will host a Skill Shot 5 Year Anniversary Party at Shorty’s on August 5th! Beer, tournaments, prizes, surprises and (of course) pinball! Hope to see you there.
Pinball Tidbits: Add-a-Ball Amusements is expanding in the near future in the old Faire Gallery space. • Full Tilt is also considering a new location within the next year. Possibly near the Space Needle • Wizard was stolen from out front of Sure Shot in broad daylight. Some frat guys returned it a few days later • There’s a new score with The One To Beat this issue; RAY beat his own score! • Stern’s new X-Men pin has been released this month. Let’s hope Shorty’s gets their Wolverine LE faster than they got their AC/DC LE. • Partly as a result of all the wins Daniele Acciari had while visiting Seattle he is now the top ranked pinball player in the world. Congratulazioni !
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