Originally published in Skill Shot issue 13, April 2010

There has been a lot of tournaments since our last issue. The 2nd Annual Georgetown Tournament, hosted by Larry Reid and Mike Poetzel , happened on January 31st. This tournament seems to draw a different crowd than the Belltown tourneys, perhaps because of the earlier starting time? Skill Shot #12 had just come out and our Top 12 List caused a bit of a ruckus because it didn’t have Fathom or many other popular pins, but instead contained the (then latest) Stern game, NBA. Hey Simon, we like playing that goofy pin, thank you.

Meanwhile the tournament proceeded to take place at three bars (Jules Maes, 9LB Hammer and Calamity Jane’s) with the final match up of the day going to Cayle George and Eden Stamm, who played it pat hand style on Fish Tales. Other notables: Slam Tilt acting a bit fruity (show us your tits – Cayle did!), 4th Place Andrew getting a bit loopy, and JJJ and crew were AWOL. These tournaments have stopped having the most drunken contestant award because of liability concerns, so this may be the last time you read the name Timmy Smith in an issue of Skill Shot. Oh, and Cayle won the grand prize, which was a keg of beer. Since he doesn’t drink, we wonder what happened to it… Jeff Groper?

A few weeks later at the Tiger Lounge, Silver Age Silver Ball’s Dominique premiered his hand-built pin, Galactic Girl, with a round robin tournament. He did a great job on Galactic Girl, which is a beautiful hand-painted EM machine. Dominique opened the game up for public inspection at one point and held a question-and-answer session for those curious about what it takes to build a pinball machine. While we loved the pin, we were more curious about the round robin because we had never participated in one before. Just how many kinds of pinball tournaments are there, anyway? Skill Shot also raised a few eye-brows (and accusations of cheating) when we shared a spot in the tournament that was vacated by Dominique’s father. (If we were cheating, we’d be winning!) Ben the bartender was a great host and ELF won the tourney and the prize, which was a traffic cone decorated by Destiny. Snip, snip!

The Seattle Pinball League (SPL) is hosting monthly tournaments at different members’ houses and the tournament in February was at Raymond’s (or rather, Raymond’s parents). Various members pitched in and brought their pins to the event (which had “no excessive drinking” as part of the house rules??). March’s tournament was held at James and Janice’s house and they upped the ante by having a restricted smoking policy that encompassed the whole state! What kind of reputation does Seattle have, anyway? Another round robin tourney, 39 people played and Bernard surprised the assembled pinball community by not getting bumped after the first round and actually making it to 8th! A great time was had by all, including (we hope) the organizers of the events: Julie, Andrew, and the hosts. SPL president Rod Olsen not only found time to play, he won the tournament! Pins were being worked on right up to the time of the event and we’ve heard that pinball repairs are going to be part of SPL meetings, even if it’s on an informal basis.

Some of the members of the SPL are also involved with The 3rd Annual Northwest Pinball and Gameroom Show (PAGS) happening June 11 – 13 at Seattle Center. This should be a fun time as always, with a hundred or so pinball machines, all set to free play. We were approached about including some ads for the event in our zine but they stuck up their noses at our offer to trade ad space for weekend passes (ouch!). Oh well, we love PAGS anyway and will give them a shout out, even if we probably won’t make it for the whole weekend. We’ve been told that the PAGS tournament’s qualifying games are going to be priced differently this year, with single games costing $2.50. Something else that’s different: Beginning six weeks before the show, each time you participate in a Sunday Tournament at Shorty’s you will receive one free qualifying game at PAGS. Since the Sunday tourney fee is only $5, that’s a nice little extra, eh? Sunday Tournaments at Shorty’s begin at 6PM.

The first ever Ballard Pinball Tournament happened on March 8th and was a hoot. Hosted by Shorty’s bartender Jawn Wakefield, 13 players began the tournament at Snoose Junction with the first round of losers heading off to Golden City (where the games are not in good condition, losers!), while the winners played their second round at Snoose Junction. The third round had everyone converging on the Tin Hat where participants had to wait for the machines to free up, then once again the losers had to head for a different location (Sully’s Snow Goose). The final round was held at Ed’s Kort Haus. It was a unique event because the places are fairly far apart and Jawn had commissioned a cab to shuttle players around, so there was actually very little waiting. The machines had no tilt in some places, Headley puffed, Elijah won and another tournament is planned for May. Stay tuned.

The U District would be a good place to hold one of those kinds of tournaments, especially if the Pink Gorilla gets a second (or third) pinball machine. No cabs would be needed because most of the places that have at least 2 pins are within walking distance from each other. We recently noticed that the Baby Pac-man at the Redwood has been removed and we will be really disappointed if we don’t find that game at the U District Full Tilt Ice Cream, since Mark O’Farrell of Space Age Amusements services both of these locations.

Jules Maes changed the layout of their backroom by getting rid of the live stage, adding more table games and moving the pinball into the big new gameroom. At first glance it seems like a good idea, but pinball players have been complaining about having the air hockey and ping pong tables so close to the pins, with ping pong balls often bouncing beneath the machines and the players getting in the way of each other. We also wonder why no one thought about where the pinball players are supposed to put their beers? Maybe they should get rid of the noisy air hockey and put in a few tables, or at least move the ping pong table to the back of the room and away from the pins.

You don’t need to worry about where to put your beer when you go to Beth’s Cafe because it is a diner with a small gameroom. They have a nice Wheel of Fortune that we enjoyed playing but it did make us think that this awesome game is sort of wasted there. Here’s an idea for Shorty’s (who services the location): why not move NBA to Beth’s and bring WoF back to Belltown? NBA would probably be better appreciated by the underage players at Beth’s, and the more seasoned players would once again have easy access to what is arguably Stern’s last good pin. Think about it!

Big Buck Hunter made its Seattle debut at Madison Pub in January and drew the Belltown crew up to Capitol Hill to play it. Opinions were mixed about the pin but everyone seemed to enjoy checking out the new game regardless. Mad Pub keeps their games in good repair and has a nice space allotted for them so hopefully they see the value of having games that are different from Shorty’s. BBH has since arrived at Shorty’s and the Mecca and we expect to see more of these pins in the future because of the popular theme (to non-pinballers anyway). Coming up next from Stern: Iron Man 2!

We will now draw your attention to The One To Beat, which has graced our Pinball List page for the past few issues. The idea with The One To Beat is that we pick a game at random, showcase the high score and then challenge anyone to beat it. If no one beats it by our next issue, we change the game. If someone gets a new high score, we’ll feature it in the next Skill Shot. Last issue, we featured Theatre of Magic at the Zoo Tavern and since then it’s been a three way battle between CIB, MAK and ELF for the title of Master Magician, with eventually ELF coming out on top (for now). Will anyone be able to knock ELF down by next issue? If not, we will change the game a few weeks before the publication of the next Skill Shot (so keep an eye on our Facebook page for further updates).