originally published in Skill Shot 33
The first IFPA Washington State Pinball Championship happened at Another Castle in Edmonds on February 3rd, to determine who would represent our state in the US National Championship competition later in the year. The contest featured the top 16 players of 2013 who could attend the tournament, and in the event that someone couldn’t make it (or decided to compete in another state’s championship), the next top ranking players were then invited to attend. 28 states and 3 Canadian provinces held their Championship Series events on the same day in order to prevent players who ranked highly in multiple regions from competing in more than one Championship. Locally this made people like Dave Stewart and Tim Tournay, who both have ties to the east coast, make a decision to either play here or in another state. They both chose to play here. Likewise, Vancouver’s Robert Gagno, who was the top-ranked player in both British Columbia and Washington last year, decided to play in the WA Championship. One surprising omission from the tournament was Cayle George, the highest ranking IFPA player in our region, who was out of town visiting a hot babe and didn’t compete in the series at all. D’oh!
The tournament was officiated by Rod Olsen and Amanda Kunzi and held in the adjoining storefront to Another Castle, with machines loaned to the event by a variety of operators and collectors. Some of the pins included popular titles like Spider-man and Twilight Zone as well as lesser known games such as Party Animal and Tri Zone. Seattle’s tournament clique is a friendly group; the beginning of the contest was rather relaxed and pleasant, and you wouldn’t have known it was a serious tournament until people started to lose. Top-seeded Robert was knocked out in the first round in perhaps the biggest upset, but that was overshadowed by Raymond Davidson kicking a machine in a fit of anger. That it wasn’t even the pin he was playing and it was actively in use at that moment in another match caused some to wonder if a new rule needs to be added regarding this kind of behavior. Despite only 16 contestants in the tournament, it was a day-long affair which ultimately led to 20-year-old (and regular Skill Shot contributor) Kevin Birrell claiming the title of Washington State Champion. By winning this tournament, Kevin is now invited to play in the US Championship that will be held a few days before the IFPA World Championship in Colorado at the end of May. It’s rather well known that Kevin loves playing in tournaments, and there will be a lot of them in Colorado at that time, so we are sure he’s very happy. We can only hope that not too many of these tournaments are held in bars. Happy!
The Seattle Pinball League began their 2014 season at Cupcake Castle (aka The Cartoons’ house) in February. It was a pretty packed house and a bunch of fun as usual. It was also rather surprising that some of the younger contestants did so well in the tournament, which we take as proof that pinball’s resurgence is here to stay. Steve Cartoon and Dave Stewart have taken the reigns of the SPL website and Facebook page and have really given a boost to the communication amongst the league members. Meanwhile, Julie Gray has taken over the scheduling tasks for the year, which basically means maneuvering around all the other events (both local and national), a task that is becoming more difficult than it’s been in the past. The March SPL event is at Another Castle Edmonds. As mentioned above, Another Castle has a side storefront, and they are knocking out the wall in between that and their current arcade room. Eventually they plan on creating a gated wall that will allow the arcade to stay open when the store half of the business is closed. This may allow them to serve drinks in the future and have a similar setup to Dorky’s, where they would be all-ages during certain hours and then 21+ at other times. We will have more details about how the project is going in our next issue. Next!
Other monthly events include the 3rd Sunday Tournament at Olaf’s in Ballard, which has a tight and colorful pinball room. Hosted by Pinheads Pinball, this tournament features a movable camera above the pins so contestants can watch the action in the next room, which is pretty cool. Nycole Hyatt hosts the Last Sunday Pinball Tourney at Narwhal, in the lower level of Capitol Hill’s Unicorn bar. At their first tournament in January, bar manager Nick Crowson won and decided that he shouldn’t take the money, instead putting the cash into the prize pool for February’s tournament, much to Geoff Simon’s delight as he was that month’s winner. Babes in Pinland is held at Add-a-Ball Amusements in Fremont on the first Thursday of the month, and is for women only. As mentioned in an article in our last issue, this event is hosted by Skill Shot’s Kayla Greet, and the posters by Bernard Blvd have been pretty snazzy (especially the Feb one). Skill Shot also organizes the First Sunday Tournament @ Shorty’s with rotating hosts who decide on the format. February’s tourney was a double elimination head-to-head hosted by Michael Warfield. Michael made prizes to go along with the regular tournament awards. March’s tournament was a reality TV-themed contest hosted by Tim Tournay, and had different tribes and immunity necklaces like Survivor, an award for The Biggest Loser, and the winners received flowers at the end just like on The Bachelor. Reality!
On the weekly tournament scene, Full Tilt Ballard (Monday), John John’s Game Room (Tuesday) and Add-a-Ball (Wednesday) are all moving along and getting decent crowds. The Full Tilt tourney got a big boost in attendance (with almost 30 players) when Cathy Cartoon held her birthday celebration there on Feb 3rd. There would have been one more if 4-year-old Colin Carlson had played; he’s really good but doesn’t like some of the pins with scary images! Add-a-Ball has been adding some interesting games to their lineup, such as Party Animal and The (Roy Clark) Entertainer, along with their collection of wide-bodies. We think their tournaments are still worth points, but there haven’t been any submissions to the IFPA website in some time. John John’s recently got a Congo, which is featured in this issue, although they may need a few more game changes if the number of turned-off pins is any indication. Flip Flip Ding Ding in Georgetown is going to begin bi-weekly tournaments on the second and fourth Thursdays of the month. Flip Flip is part of the Button Makers shop and they are just beginning to expand their hours this month. The listed hours for Thursdays say 9PM but we expect that to change on tournament nights. Change!
Flip Flip Ding Ding had their soft opening the same day as the State Championship on February 8th. We went to check it out, but a rare Seattle snowstorm seemed to keep most other non-Georgetown residents away that night. This spacious location is operated by Levi Dittebrandt and has some unique games like Judge Dredd and Police Force. While it looks like they can fit more than the 14 pins they currently have, perhaps more seating might also be a good idea. On Feb 22nd, Flip Flip had their official grand opening with the First Annual Flip Flip Ding Ding Tournament. This was a full points IFPA tournament, drawing 30+ contestants and lasting longer than the optimistic 4 hours listed on their event page. While there were some glitches with games and a disgruntled contestant, it seemed to go well for the brand new location, especially for SF’s TJ Beyer, who won. A similar tournament scenario occurred at Dorky’s Annual Valentine’s Couples Tournament, as they were convinced to make the tournament worth IFPA points this year. We’re not sure how a team tournament breaks down into points (and in fact, no points have been submitted to the IFPA to date) but it was an added incentive for potential players. Dorky’s tournament officials became a bit overwhelmed by the number of contestants and some of the games breaking down, but hopefully this won’t discourage them from having more events in the future. The future!
In other local tournament news: the Barry Oursler/Python Anghelo Fundraiser Doubleheader Tournament happened on March 9th. Hosted by Bobby Conover/20XX at Full Tilt Ballard, this event was basically back-to-back tournaments and part of a nationwide drive to help these two pinball pioneers with various medical bills. Also on March 9th was the first of the new 2nd Sunday tournaments at 8-Bit Arcade in Renton. This first tourney had as the grand prize a vacation package for two which was won by Nicholas Polimenakos ! Upcoming tournaments include the 3rd Annual Tommy Tournament at Shorty’s on April 6th. This is a blindfolded tournament hosted by Skill Shot and part of the First Sunday events we’ve been presenting there. Bring a partner! The Annual 420 Tournament at Add-a-Ball is on Easter Sunday this year, which seems to cause some people to wonder if they should have changed the day of the event. We’re not sure a 420 tournament would have the same sense of celebration if it didn’t happen on 4/20, and we are sure that Brad and Travis would balk if anyone asks them to change it. Balk!
Other Skill Shot news: Since we’re running most of the tournaments at Shorty’s lately, we have talked Avout into making the Powder Puff Tournament an annual event! Like last year, this year’s Powder Puff will take place on the Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend, May 25th. We’ve been debating removing The One To Beat feature from the List page of the zine. Is this something that you, the readers, like and want us to continue? We would appreciate any comments or suggestions you may have. Have you Android users checked out our Skill Shot App yet? This app links directly to our online Pinball List and will help you find the closest pinball machines in the city! Unlike this zine, our online list also has locations in King County and possibly soon Snohomish County as well. There’s an iPhone version on the way. We still have t-shirts and Skill Shot Collections available so please check out our website for more info: www.skill-shot.com
Pinball Tidbits: This year’s Northwest Pinball and Arcade Show will happen on June 6 – 8 at the Tacoma Convention Center. Expect more details next issue! * The Seattle Pinball Museum recently got a neon sign with their logo on it for the front of their building. It is very nifty! * Add-a-Ball recently had all the keys for their business and machines stolen. They are rightfully very mad about this. * Marquee Amusements finally took the last pin out of Golden City. No one can puke under it anymore. * The Hurricane is closing at the end of the year. This is part of Amazon reinventing the neighborhood. * Jeffrey Neumann is contemplating a move to Seattle. He is Skill Shot’s first subscriber. * Maka is moving back to Seattle. * Support Local Pinball!