The Annual Powder Puff Tournament happened on May 29th at Shorty’s and was once again hosted by Skill Shot. This year’s event had 32 contestants and was also the 10th edition of the once biannual tournament, which probably makes it the longest-running all-women pinball event currently in existence. New to this year’s event was a side tournament on Safe Cracker, where players had a chance to get the high score during four one-hour qualifying rounds with the four winners moving to the finals, which was won by Heather Loudon. Along with the main tournament, a Jackie O/JFK costume contest and a free raffle ticket with their entry, each player had a few different ways to win prizes. The main tournament had strong competition and ended in a Seattle vs Portland showdown, with Hannah Holmberg knocking Mindy Bert into the Losers Bracket only to have her bounce right back into the Finals after defeating last year’s winner Jodine Hatfield. Hannah ultimately got the win in an exciting match on Taxi. Wow!

More photos are on the way..! – ed

Hannah’s win at Powder Puff was followed by a lucky streak of raffle drawings at the event, which gave her an astonishing air of invincibility. Only a week before, Hannah won the 5th Annual PinPin Women Only Pinball Tournament at the Pinball Hall of Fame in Las Vegas, where 27 women from around the country competed for a chance to win a new Stern pinball machine. Then, a few weeks after Powder Puff, Hannah won the Northwest Women’s Pinball Championship at the NW Pinball Show in Tacoma against a field of 48 contestants! Hannah has also won a few monthly Babes in Pinland tournaments and usually places highly in the weekly Add-a-Ball Wednesday Flip Offs (1st place on July 6th). Rad!

It seems as if women-only pinball tournaments and leagues have been gaining popularity outside of Seattle as well. Besides the PinPin event, Oakland’s Belles and Chimes, which began in 2013, now has chapters in 5 other cities (including Portland), a number which we only expect to increase as more women become aware of the league. The International Flipper Pinball Association (IFPA), the organization which created and tracks World Pinball Player Ranking (WPPR) points, has added an annual IFPA Women’s World Pinball Championship to their list of sanctioned events this year and has also begun tracking women’s rankings on a separate list. This isn’t meant to imply that women need or want to always be segregated into their own tournaments — women regularly play and win co-ed events. This fact was highlighted recently when Kansas’ Keri Wing won a PAPA Circuit Tournament in Oklahoma City on May 22. Women!

Despite the increasing number of women attending, playing, and winning pinball events, there’s still room to improve their perception within the greater pinball community at large (as well as society as a whole). This fact was highlighted back in May when a well-known pinball Instagram account reposted a drawing of a distorted woman in skimpy clothes on their site. It didn’t take long for the drawing to make the rounds on social media, much to the disgust and outrage of many. Apparently this backlash got the drawing removed from the site but not before it gained a tongue-in-cheek life of its own as players from Portland and Seattle took photos of each other trying to recreate the drawing as #thisbullshitpose. There were some pretty funny pics taken (especially of the guys) and Terrence Vaccaro definitely got the win with his nude photo! (Sorry, Fruit.) It’s a slow process, but eventually (hopefully) people will learn that how women were depicted in pinball art in the past isn’t necessarily how they like to see themselves depicted in the present. Boys!

As mentioned above, the 9th annual NW Pinball and Arcade Show (NWPAS) was held from June 3-5 at the Tacoma Convention Center. This was the 4th year it has taken place in Tacoma, and we definitely heard a lot less griping about the relocation from Seattle — many folks now treat it as a mini vacation by getting rooms at one of the nearby hotels. It’s a great time to visit our sister city and carouse the area with the local tiki and karaoke bars being particularly popular destinations. The event itself is a lot of fun also with 100’s of both pinball and arcade games set on free play for the weekend. Fun!

Some of the highlights of this year’s show: the NW premiere of The Big Lebowski pinball machine manufactured by the Dutch Pinball Company, an Iron Maiden pinball machine (re-themed from a Stern Rolling Stones), and a big lineup of new Stern pins (although curiously no WrestleMania). We are definitely spoiled here in the NW by having so many good pinball locations so it was easy for us to avoid the more popular 90’s games and concentrate our attention on the many older pins not available around town. Of particular interest was the collection of beautiful Sonic pins (Mars Trek, Faces), the older Bally, Williams and Stern games, and a whole row of early EM’s and woodrail pins. We were particularly happy to see the return of Spectrum and the Caperville pin from the 60’s, which held trapped balls over from game to game in fascinating fashion. The Gottlieb boxing game Title Fight was really interesting, and old favorites such as Pharaoh and Time Fantasy were also a welcome sight. There were tons of cool pins. Tons!

Meanwhile non-stop pinball tournaments ran during the whole weekend. Tournament organizer Dave Stewart did a great job of promoting the event in the months leading up to the show, and each competition hosted many players. The tournaments held this year were: Kids (won by Tory Whiting), Classics (Julie Gray), Women’s (Hannah), C Division/Rookies (Emmalyn Smith) and the Main/Match Play (Germain Mariolle). At the very end of the show, there were two different pinball machines up for grabs, which were won by Nick Cline (Galahad) and Zoe Vrabel (Harlem Globetrotters). Congratulations!

Monday Night Pinball finished Season 5 at Add-a-Ball (5/23) with a surprising double upset: First, 8-Bit’s Specials When Lit defeated Shorty’s Silverball Slayers for 3rd, and then Flip Flip Ding Ding’s The Wrecking Crew took the season title from last season’s champs, Full Tilt Ballard’s Soda Jerks! Although MNP is thought of as a casual league, in reality the competition can be pretty fierce at times, mostly due to the competitiveness of local pinball. In a friendly way (of course). Season 6 begins in September, with two new teams added to the roster. Go to their website for more info about how to join. The Wrecking Crew is Here!

As always, there are tons of pinball tournaments happening in the Seattle area. According to IFPA, Washington State has the most tournaments of any region, and that’s not even counting those not for WPPR points such as The First Sunday Tournament @ Shorty’s or the Second Sunday Split Flipper at AAB (Seattle’s most relaxed tournament). Despite the competitive nature of pinball players in general, businesses have been very cooperative towards each other when special events happen: For example, Iron Bull and Flip Flip Ding Ding both cancelled their weeklies (as well as Babes in Pinland monthly) when the other location hosted a NW Pinball Championship pre-series tournament. It’s this kind of friendliness among not only the players, but the business owners themselves, that creates a unique and welcoming atmosphere in Seattle.  Check out the Pinball Calendar on our website for more details! XXOO

Pinball Tidbits: Chris Chinn was the IFPA Player of the Month in June! We are unsure if it was because he won the PinPin One Handed Tournament in Las Vegas the month before. Specials! * 8-Bit Arcade’s new sister location The Triple Knock opened in Tacoma last month: 20 pins, a weekly Wednesday tournament (hosted by Josh Bartlett) and 21+. * If you thought that Another Castle Arcade Edition didn’t have time for another weekly tournament, think again! Split Flipper Football is every Thursday at 7. It’s a trend! * September is going to be a big month for competitive pinball. The NW Pinball Championships will be in Bellevue (Sept 16-18) and then the following weekend the Vancouver Flip Off and Pinball Expo (Sept 22-25) happens just over the Canadian border. Expect to see some high ranking players at the weeklies in between these events! * Skill Shot’s Kayla Greet had her Razorcake article One Punk’s Guide to Pinball turned into a standalone zine! You can order it or download it for free on their website: razorcake.org * Spooky Pinball’s Rob Zombie pinball machine had a Launch Party back in June (in Ohio). Expect to see one locally… soon? * With Duck Island Ale’s removal of their last pin that’s now zero pins on a block that once had 8 or 9 not long ago. Sad news! ^ Sully’s Snowgoose Saloon once again is rumored to be opening an extension to make their collection of classic games available to the public. Stay tuned… * Flip Flip Ding Ding has gotten out of the Button Makers business and has expanded their floor space to include more seating. Nice. * Sleeping Planet had a record release this summer at the Tractor Tavern. They can often be found performing on the Add-a-Ball patio, and you may purchase a copy there. * Seattle has another new quality operator: Brain Headley’s BMH Vending. Yeah! * We hear there is a new large location opening in Belltown. Hmmm…*

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Originally published in Skill Shot 44, August 2016