other tournament results

Local Tournament Results October 2012

Results for October Seattle Pinball League Tournament. First Place Cayle George, second goes to Matt Cohn, third place goes to Maka Honig and fourth goes to Bobby Conover. Congrats to all!

news & gossip

IFPA9 World Pinball Championship

The International Flipper Pinball Association World Championship (IFPA9) took place at Todd MacCulloch’s house on Bainbridge Island the weekend of June 8th-10th. Top-ranked pinball players from all around the world converged on MacCulloch’s pinball wonderland to fight it out through some truly grueling matches for a shot at some major cash, a new Stern pin, huge prestige, and WPPR points!

Participants were decided by the IFPA world rankings at the start of this year, and one additional spot was awarded at the NW Pinball Championships held one week prior (won by Steven Zahler.) Seattle regulars representing at the tournament included Cayle George, Maka Honig, Raymond Davidson, Julie Gray, Todd MacCulloch, and Jeff [Groper] Gagnon. In fact, the Pacific Northwest area outside of Seattle had a great showing with Robert Gagno, Eden Stamm, and John Kremmer representing BC in addition to Steve Lampros, Danny “Backglass” Belrose, and Mike “Dialed!” Mahaffey reporting in from Portland.

Although we had a strong local presence in the Pacific Northwest, it was particularly awesome to see the out of town players live in action. All the big names from America were there (such as Lyman Sheats, Bowen Kerins, Andrei Massenkoff, Keith Elwin, and many others) as well as international major players like Helena Walters, Sunao Kono, Franck Bona, and Michael Trepp, who came from Sweden, Japan, France, and Switzerland respectively. Hearing people talking in five languages in one room was certainly an unusual experience for a tournament in Seattle! It seems that the scene in some countries is much larger than in others, despite top players managing to emerge from everywhere. Sunao mentioned that there aren’t many places to play pinball in Japan, but nonetheless there are still some great players. On the other hand, the scene in Sweden is larger and players tend to prefer pinball at co-op style locations where the machines are owned by the players instead of a route operator.

The format of the tournament consisted of two distinct rounds. First, eight sessions of 4 player groups were divided based on seed positions. These groups played three games at random (one EM, one early SS, and one DMD), and players were awarded points depending on their position in each game. This part of the tournament ran from 10am until midnight on Friday, and then from 10am until lunch on Saturday. Brutal!

Based on the rankings from all 8 sessions, the top 32 players advanced into the final rounds which took the form of best 4-out-of-7 head-to-head matches.  The top 8 players from session play got two byes in a 32 player single-elimination bracket seeded from the results of the first round,  while those ranked 9th-16th got one bye. Everyone else had to fight for the chance to play against the 9th-16th seeded players, and then subsequently all those remaining had to fight their way for a chance to upset the top 8 seeds.

I threw on my reporter hat and hit the tournament on Saturday to check out the Final Four matches. After glugging down a good 3 or 4 cups’ worth of Canadian Slurpee from Todd’s machine, I headed down to the DMD room where some matches were going on at the time. First was an extremely close match between Bowen Kerins (winner of multiple previous IFPA and PAPA Championships) and Cayle George (winner of IFPA8 and frequent PAPA finalist), which dragged out into sudden death with Cayle pulling off a clutch 2 mil recovery on the last ball of Banzai Run!

Next came the finals, in which Daniele Acciari from Italy defeated Cayle in a 5 game match played on The Shadow, Medusa, Attack From Mars, Grand Prix (on which Cayle won), and Old Chicago (an SPL “favorite”). Controversy ensued when Cayle tilted out his first ball in the final game on Old Chicago, which somehow managed to tilt through Daniele’s second ball as well, resulting in Cayle automatically losing the game and by extension the whole match and championship title. The rules didn’t require Daniele to allow the game to restart or have the game state (current lights lit, points scored, bonus collected, etc) reset to match the pre-tilt situation and continue playing, but there was some sentiment amongst some spectators that it might have been the right thing to do. Either way, everyone seemed to agree that what happened was certainly not the best way for such an amazing event and battle to end.

Undoubtedly due to the situation at IFPA9, the IFPA rules regarding tilt-throughs have now been changed for future events so that “any player who tilts the ball of another player, either through interference or by tilting through his or her ball so roughly that the next player’s ball is affected before play continues, will receive a one ball penalty for the offending player. Should this happen on the last ball in play, the offending player’s score will be adjusted to 80% of the total score for a 5 ball game, or 66% of the total score for a  3 ball game.” Additionally, “tournament officials may grant an exception based on the behavior of the machine in question.”

It’s not exactly an everyday opportunity to meet up with the best players from around the world in our collective backyard, and yet during this June’s “Week of Pinball”, it happened. It was pretty surreal to hear Bowen talk about games in the same voice I’ve heard in so many tutorial videos, or to spectate a match standing right next to Lyman Sheats, Steve Epstein (founder of the original IFPA and the infamous Broadway Arcade), and Gary Stern. The machine selection for the tournament was equally awesome, featuring some of the greatest EM, SS, and DMD games ever produced. Combining these two elements with great hosting by the MacCulloch family and the lovely relaxing environment of their residence, everything came together just right to create arguably the finest and most memorable pinball event ever to grace Seattle.

After the tournament had finished and the players I met over the last pre-IFPA week started leaving, I almost found myself in tears knowing that something this global and unityng wouldn’t come back to Seattle for a long time. Still, Seattle was at least partially chosen for IFPA9 because of its incredible active community, and with the rate that we are growing I wouldn’t be too surprised if some international players come back in the future to our major events like the NW Championships. Thanks to IFPA, my belief was reaffirmed that pinball is a positive activity that brings together people from all corners of the world under the spell of the silver ball.

-Kevin Birrell

news & gossip other tournament results

Local Tournament Results June 4, 2012

NW Pinball Championship winners (left to right): Cayle, Daniele, Robert, Lyman

Northwest Pinball Championships (6/1 – 6/3): Open Division:  ‎1. Daniele Celestino Acciari (Italy), 2. Cayle George (USA), 3. Lyman Sheats (USA), 4. Robert Gagno (Canada). Classics Division: 1. Franck Bona (France), 2. John Kremmer (Canada), 3. Cayle George (USA), 4. Daniele Celestino Acciari (Italy). Women’s Finalists: 1. Helena Walter (Sweden), 2. Julie Gray (USA), 3. Penni Epstein (USA), 4. Bonnie Bedford (Canada).  Novice Division: 1. Brendan Trebitts.

We didn’t make it to the event but it was broadcast live on GeekGamer.TV and it was great. Especially the match on Jackbot when both Cayle and Daniele had awesome scores: over 6 billion points on ball one!

Wednesday Round Robin Tournament at Add-a-ball (May 30): 1. Sergey 2. Hayden “The Surf Champ” McCabe, 3. Mark W.

news & gossip

Pinball News And Gossip 21

Originally published in Skill Shot 21, October 2011

The Monday Night Football Pinball Showdown at Rod Olsen’s happened on the same night as the first Monday Night Football game on TV on September 12th. It was originally going to be two player match-ups, double elimination head-to-head on two Monday Night Football pins that were next to each other. Just like in a real football game, the winner was determined by the number of touchdowns, and points only mattered if there was a tie. This was a cool idea except that over 40 contestants turned out for the event and (then) one of the pins broke down. It was a work night and players were dropping like flies as the night wore on. Eventually sometime after 2AM Cayle George became the winner of what will hopefully become an annual event. Night Owls!

Another fun tournament was the September 17th Seattle Pinball League (SPL) Tournament. This was an all Bally tournament hosted by Mitch Anderson and the format was PinGolf! As we have never played golf before, it was a bit confusing when people talked about pars, strokes, tops and bottoms, but once we started playing, it made more sense. Martin Ayub from was visiting for the event and showed why he is the #1 player in the UK. His final match on Paragon against Raymond Davidson was one of the most exciting we had seen in a while. With a par of 90,000, Martin was quite a ways behind when he totally choked on the final ball but then received a rare “ball saved”  that he didn’t even notice until the crowd gasped aloud in unison. Martin went on to score 91,800, making the par and winning the tournament! 2nd Place Raymond was second place again!

Other tournaments since our last issue: The First Sunday Tournament at Shorty’s (8/7) which was won by Paul Sonier; The SPL Tournament at Randy Pouley’s (8/20) won by Robert Gagno (with great Thai food!); The First Sunday Tournament at Shorty’s (9/4) won by Jeff Groper; The quarterly Seattle Pinball Museum (SPM) Tournament (9/19) won by Maka Honig; and The Ballard Pinball Tournament (9/19) won by Bobby Conover. It’s more fun to compete!

National tournaments also drew local players, including PAPA in Pennsylvania and The Pacific Pinball Expo in California. There is a lot of determination among some local players because the 2012 IFPA World Pinball Championship is happening in Seattle next year.  The players with the highest IFPA Rankings are invited first for the limited 64 spots in the tournament, and people in Seattle have a good chance to attend, as some higher ranking players will choose to opt out.  Cayle George won last year’s Championship, which was held in Sweden and almost cancelled when a controversy developed after government officials discovered that the tournament had a cash prize. The Seattle tournament is reportedly being held at Todd MacCulloch’s and we will have more details later. Stay Tuned…

Stern Pinball’s Transformers is set for release later in October and will be a very public affair with four different release parties planned in the area. Events are planned for the Seattle Waterfront Arcade (10/21), Seattle Pinball Museum (10/22), Dorky’s in Tacoma (10/28), and the soon to be open Full Tilt in Ballard (10/28). The new Full Tilt has been anxiously anticipated since it was first announced at the beginning of the summer. Conveniently located in the heart of Ballard, their new location will have 15 pinball machines!  Look for our report on their grand opening next issue. Sweet!

The Seattle area is experiencing a pinball renaissance with a multitude of new venues and machines. Both Dorky’s (22 pins) and the Seattle Pinball Museum (40+ pins) have opened in the last year, along with the new Full Tilt (15). The Unicorn on Capitol Hill is in the midst of constructing their long awaited pinball room with space for 19 pinball machines. Meanwhile, Shorty’s has been expanding locations by picking up The Iron Bull and the Comet Tavern, as well as adding popular pins to places like the Fun House (Funhouse) and Jabu’s (The Shadow). Even Space Age Amusements has serviced their games more often lately and moved things around, so we’re definitely expecting to see a Wheel of Fortune at a downtown location any day now. Right!??

Don’t forget: The 14th Annual Shorty’s Pinball Tournament on November 5th and 6th!

The Lookout has been expecting a Fish Tales for a while now and chances are it will arrive right around the same time our new Seattle Pinball List is printed. The Lookout is the location of our Skill Shot Folding Parties, and last issue we had a great turn out. We want to give a BIG shout out to everyone who helped us fold every single copy in just 3 hours! Speaking of the Pinball List, this issue premieres our new color coded all-ages system to help people under 21 find pinball machines. Check it out!

Another change in this issue is The One To Beat, which has now moved to The Rolling Stones pin at the SPM. Since no one could beat MAK’s Grand Champ score on either of the last two games, we’ve decided to pick one that he hasn’t dominated (yet). Have you been to lately? Along with an archive of past articles, we have a calendar of Seattle pinball events, including a bunch of Halloween-themed pinball tournaments! You don’t have to go to Facebook to find out what’s happening. Wow!

A link to our Calendar is located at the top of this web page!

Pinball Tidbits: If you noticed that The Addams Family at Shorty’s looks and plays differently that’s because it is a new machine; the old one went to the Comet • By the time you read this the SPM’s Upper Playfield should be open with even more pins and a view of the main room • We had an awesome time at the Summer Tilt Birthday Bash in Redmond this summer. Thanks to Birthday Boys Byron, Dave and Keith • Gunfire and a SWAT team heralded the closing of the Tiger Lounge for good. Rumor has it certain employees plan to relocate a similar business downtown • We lost the Skill Shot camera at the last Ballard Tournament • With Xenon still broken, the Redwood has now become Skill Shot Office East. Gofer Trouble!


Special thanks to Cathy Cartoon for providing many of the above photos!

For photos of the pins currently at the Seattle Pinball Museum at press time please check out this gallery.

news & gossip

SEVEN Questions with PAUL SONIER

Originally published in Skill Shot 21, October 2011

When/how did you first get into pinball?

While I remember some pinball machines from childhood (my first was a Big Chief at a convenience store, and I remember playing Royal Flush while on vacation at some point), I only really got into pinball after graduating high school.  I remember an Earthshaker machine that was my first real experience with hitting “the zone”, and after that, I was hooked.

When/why did you start participating in tournaments?

I actually started playing in a league in college, at a bar called Doc’s Place, in Pittsburgh; it wasn’t very far from my school, and a fellow CMU student named Dave Stewart would come in and play the games a lot.  We got to be friends, and when he started a pinball league, I was in!  After graduating from college, I moved around a bit, and with work and whatnot, I didn’t have much time to play regularly, until I saw a flyer for a Sunday tournament at Shorty’s, then run by Kevin Lessig.  I went, and won every single game (against some seriously good opponents, including Jason Hatch) to win the tournament, and ever since, I’ve been playing in tournaments in Seattle.

How would you explain your role at the Sunday Tournaments at Shorty’s?

I run the tournaments.  Simple, eh?  I gather entrants, gather entrance fees, take down names, create brackets, create matches, and (randomly) choose the initial machines to play on.  The process is a little mechanical and a little annoying, as anyone who’s tried to set up a tournament can attest to.

How long have you been involved with the Sunday Tournament?

I’ve been involved with it for about 3 or 4 years now; initially as a participant, but when Kevin decided to bow out as tournament organizer, I decided to step up and take on the task myself.  I’ve been running them myself now (with assistance at times from Jawn Wakefield and Jeff Gagnon) for about 3 years, I guess; it’s kind of surprising to realize it’s been that long!

What advice do you have for someone competing in the Sunday Tournament for the first time?

Have fun!  The tournaments are all about having fun, and playing pinball with different people.  Competitive play is very different from normal friendly play; you can expect to do worse than you normally do when playing someone else.  Stick with it and enjoy playing with someone else; I’ve probably learned more about good pinball play from watching my competitors play than I have from tons and tons of solo practice.

We heard that you are working on a pinball related web project, can you give us any details?

There is definitely a web project in the works, but that’s under wraps right now.  However, as a lead-in to the web project, I’ve been putting together an Android app that runs on phones that will help Tournament Organizers create and manage their tournaments; it lets you keep track of entrants and their registration status, track tournament results, etc.  It’s going to be published on the Android Market soon, and will be free to download for anyone who wants a little bit of help running a tournament!  In fact, it’s not pinball-specific, but can be used for all sorts of tournaments, from pinball to darts to billiards to board games!  I’ll be using it to help me with the tournament this Sunday, and that will be a good debugging run, so if you want to see it in action, come on out to the tournament!

What is your favorite pinball machine?

Ooh, the trickiest question.  While I’m fond of Tron recently, and I really have a soft spot for some of the older machines such as Surf Champ and other EMs, I’m just a total fan of Pat Lawlor machines. Earthshaker, Whirlwind, Addams Family, Road Trip… even Family Guy shows that brilliant Pat Lawlor design.  But my favorite of all of his machines, and the one that I’d just love to have and play constantly, would be Twilight Zone.  From the the excellent music (Golden Earring! Yeah!) to the fantastic theme (Rod Serling = the epitome of cool) to the fantastic toys / gimmicks (Powerball!) to the wizard mode (nothing like getting Lost in the Zone!), it’s just a constant joyous experience.  So much about that machine just sticks with you… anyone who’s played it for any amount of time can recognize the sounds, from the rocket launch to the Hitchhiker chime to the excellent voice work (“Don’t touch the door!”).  The playfield design is marvelous; it SHOULD feel cramped, from the looks of it, but it’s really very expansive, with tons of “hidden” shots that are a joy to discover (Town Square, or the left-flipper shot off the left side of the slot machine to a Camera shot, or any of the seemingly random but surprisingly repeatable ways to hit the piano from the right flipper).

The Sunday Tournament at Shorty’s is the first Sunday of every month. A potluck brunch begins at 1 and the tournament starts at 3. Shorty’s is at 2222 2nd Avenue.