news & gossip

Seattle Pinball News and Gossip 39

Add-a-Ball Amusement’s Annual 420 Tournament (4/20) kicked the summer off early, with gorgeous weather and a whopping 123 contestants! The tournament began at 4:20 with the ceremonial breaking of the glass …


Flip Flip Ding Ding[one_half last=”no” class=”” id=””] Add-a-Ball Amusement’s Annual 420 Tournament (4/20) kicked the summer off early, with gorgeous weather and a whopping 123 contestants! The tournament began at 4:20 with the ceremonial breaking of the glass, in which a playfield glass is destroyed to appease the pinball gods. (It works!)  A giant joint in a nearby parking lot put many people in a festive mood as this was the first 420 tourney since Washington opened legal marijuana stores last year. Despite the large turn-out (up 50% from last year) this event was a fun one with the weather providing a lot of room to mingle outside. All contestants received a commemorative t-shirt, while some lucky patrons got to experience a surprise: a piñata full of hot dogs! The grand prize was a Gottlieb Surf Champ, which has a long and storied history in the Seattle pinball scene, and Kevin Birrell won it. Hot dogs!

The long-running Annual Powder Puff Pinball Tournament at Shorty’s (5/24) drew in women from around the region as well as those who don’t often attend tournaments. Hosted by Skill Shot, this year’s competitive and fun event had 39 contestants. Seattle and Portland’s friendly rivalry is exciting to watch. It’s very cool that the Portland women make the effort to drive up here, especially since both Zoe Vrabel and Emma Eichhorn are past champions. Unfortunately last year’s winner Kristen Daniels couldn’t attend, but Jodine Hatfield, who usually doesn’t because it’s Memorial Day Weekend, did. Jodine probably won’t miss another one because she won the whole thing! We try to make the awards ceremony as exciting as possible by including lots of prizes for the winners, as well as a raffle. Tournament sponsor PBR supplied cool gifts such as PBR shoes, hats and shirts, and we also had gift passes to the Seattle Pinball Museum and the NW Pinball Show, Shorty’s gift cards and framed Skill Shot posters. Prizes!

Pinball Seattle’s third season ended with a bang at Flip Flip Ding Ding (6/1) when Full Tilt Ballard’s Soda Jerks took the win over Shorty’s Silverball Slayers! While not a true upset when considering the Soda Jerks’ unbeaten record this season, many thought the Slayers might pull out a win after championships in seasons one and two. This season of the bar-based team league was a big success as more people could participate due to larger teams and new rules stipulating that all players each had to play at least twice for bonus points. The season took occasional breaks for various special events also held on Mondays like the aforementioned 420 Tournament. As we noted last issue, the league is still considering a name change as it moves further away from leagues in other cities, so we expect that to take effect before season four begins this fall. If you want join the league, sign-ups are open now on their website: Specials!
The NW Pinball and Arcade Show in Tacoma (6/5 – 6/7) was the biggest and best one yet! This was the 8th annual NWPAS and the third one held at the Tacoma Convention Center, with expanded floor space for both games and the many new vendors. The show also had rooms on other floors for seminars, speakers (Paul Faris, Dennis [/one_half][one_half last=”yes” class=”” id=””]Nordman, Greg Freres), as well as card and board gamers. As usual, the pinball machines were the highlight of the show. This year featured a larger selection of older games, which was very cool since these are the pins usually kept in private homes and not often found on route. Standout EMs included oddball selections like Friendship 7 (1962), Ding Dong (’68), and Big Ben (’75), alongside more typical themes such as Solids N Stripes (’71) and Buck Rogers (’80). There were also plenty of new pins, with Stern’s KISS and Jersey Jack’s The Hobbit both making their NW debut, along with recent releases like Mustang and The Walking Dead. Strangely, Stern’s last release WWE was nowhere to be found, suggesting this pin has already fallen out of favor with both players and Stern itself. Other highlights included a custom Journey (the band) pin, a sneak peek at the controversial Magic Girl, and Tattoo Mystique, which was run on Fast Pinball hardware. We also met Fil Baird from DC, who won the trip to this year’s show after reading about Skill Shot in Maximum Rocknroll, and impressed us with the fact that he also makes a zine. Zines!

The tournament scene at NWPAS was bigger than ever with hundreds of players participating. This was perhaps a result of the NWPAS pre-series tournaments, organized by tourney director Dave Stewart, that were held in the months prior to the show. Pre-series winners not only won entries into all eligible NWPAS tournaments but also weekend passes into NWPAS itself. Playing in the tournaments is fun because you not only had a chance to win prizes, but you also got to play games you otherwise wouldn’t since they were only in the tournaments. Some of the cool games in this year’s tournament area included Raven, The Games, and Time Fantasy. Weekend Passes!

There were four main tournaments: Classics PinGolf (with 126 contestants), Babes in Pinland (31 players), Rookie Knockout (61) and the main Match Play Tournament (135) with local pinheads Beneficial Malfunction broadcasting the action on a set of main tournament pins. The Rookie Tournament had a surprising increase of players this year, due to the well-advertised rule that a “rookie” is defined as anyone with an IFPA ranking of 2,000 or higher, opening it to many who may not have otherwise considered themselves a rookie (like us). At the end of the show, it became apparent that the main tournament would not end on time and Dave had to make the decision to change the format from 3- or 5-ball matches to 2-ball play. The Convention Center has a strict load-out time with cost overruns attached to overtime pay, among other factors. Though unsurprisingly an unpopular decision by Dave, his hands were pretty much tied at that point, but the verbal lashing he received on Facebook mere hours later was a surprise. Despite the hours involved to make this a fun event before and during the show, the decision was described as “total horse shit” and “poorly planned”, which was disrespectful at the very least. Anyone who deals with Dave knows he’s a meticulous planner, and the attacks seemed more personal than well-reasoned, especially those by people who weren’t even there. Respect! [/one_half] NW Pinball and Arcade Show
[one_half last=”no” class=”” id=””]The weekly and monthly tournament scene has been bopping along like a well-oiled machine lately with locals finally realizing there’s room for two simultaneous public events, especially when they are located far apart. This was the case when Flip Flip Ding Ding’s Second Annual Awesomefest in Georgetown and Nicky’s Boom Boom Pinball Challenge at Another Castle Arcade Edition in Edmonds were held the same day (4/25). People seem to feel that Edmonds is a distant location, but that may change with restored regular weekend bus service to Edmonds (see Aaron’s article in this issue!). Nicky’s Boom Boom Challenges regularly change locations. We can’t really call them tournaments anymore because July’s challenge was to beat Maka’s score on AC/DC at Add-a-Ball, which reminds us of Skill Shot’s The One To Beat in past issues. Olaf’s added a cool twist this year by announcing Olaf’s Finals Tournament in December, open to those who placed highly during their monthlies. Babes in Pinland had a record 24 players at Add-a-Ball (5/7) with live music on the patio and Seattle’s first appearance of Whoa Nelly! Big Juicy Melons, which may have been an attempt at irony. Or not. It was not included in the women’s tournament. Michael Warfield is hosting a monthly Rookie Tournament at Another Castle, and Josh Bartlett is now hosting a Dorky’s Weekly, which makes us happy because they both got their feet wet by hosting a Skill Shot First Sunday Pinball Tournament @ Shorty’s last year. Besides the Flip Flip Annual, 8-Bit Arcade and Another Castle in Edmonds are also hosting tournaments to celebrate their first year in business. Flip Flip has seen an increase in their weekly attendance, which will probably only get better because of the recently installed air-conditioning. Add-a-Ball’s Wednesday Flip Off is still the king of the weeklies — inching towards an average of 50 players each week. Wow!

The next big annual tournament is the NW Pinball Championships (8/28-30) hosted by Beneficial Malfunction. Billed as the largest tournament in the Pacific Northwest, more out-of-state players attend this one than any other local event. This is BM’s first year running the event, and their first big change was to move the tournament from Marysville to Lucky Strike in Bellevue. The closer location is welcomed by many in Seattle, and accessible by bus, although the dress code mentioned on their website is somewhat troubling. Since BM is often involved with the live streaming of pinball tournaments, we expect this event will be no different. Another big change is the pre-NWPC summer tournament series leading up to the main event. These will be held at locations around Seattle. Find out more on their website or Facebook page, or on the Skill Shot website calendar. It’s more fun to compete!

Rodstock (7/2-7/3) was the first ever pinball-themed multi-day concert festival we’ve ever heard of. While there were no pinball machines at the event, almost all the bands involved included members of the local pinball scene! Sleeping Planet, Beverly Crusher, and Mitch America and the Quasymodro and other bands played during the event on Rod “the Godfather of Seattle Pinball” Olsen’s property. Rodstock was followed the next day by Rod’s annual 4th of July party, which did include pinball and the very popular Spank Your Tank competition, with fireworks taped onto mini tanks. Rod is very involved with the Seattle Pinball League, which often takes a break in the early summer as many members are involved in NWPAS. The SPL resumed in July with the annual Bally Masters PinGolf event at Mitch’s. BANG!

New locations are always welcome news. Bellingham is now home to The Racket, with 14 sweet pins, next door to The Shakedown. Closer to home, John John’s Game Room recently closed for what was first[/one_half][one_half last=”yes” class=”” id=””] announced as a two week remodeling closure. Now closed over a month, JJ regulars are understandably anxious, but our hot summer helps explain the pace. We expect it to open really soon though, and have included their pins on the Seattle Pinball List with hopes that they’ll be open when this issue comes out. Another unexpected opening delay is Silverball Saloon in Wallingford. Owner Chris Johnson has assured everyone that the business will open once the city gives its approval. This has been a common delay for new pinball businesses in the area. In worse news, Lucky Liquor in Tukwila recently had a fire on their new deck that burned the backside of the bar and damaged all 4 pinball machines operated by Silverage Silverball. Over in Port Townsend, Middletown Dreams recently closed their doors for good. Apparently the pin-bar wasn’t much appreciated by other downtown businesses, and owner Paul Rice is now running for city council there. Hah!

Have you listened to the Skill Shot Pincast yet? Hosted by Skill Shot’s own Graham Klym and Kayla Greet, we give a decidedly Seattle slant to the world of pinball podcasts. Each Pincast features local pinball scenesters or focuses on local pinball culture. We are already into our 5th episode and have had Kevin Birrell, Aaron McAbee, Brad and Gordon, and Bobby Conover as guests discussing topics like NWPAS and operating pins in Seattle. New Pincasts are released every two weeks, and upcoming guests include Alexa Philbeck and a crossover show with the Sidekicks Podcast. You can find the Skill Shot Pincast on iTunes and Soundcloud: Cool!

In other Skill Shot news: With this issue we have reached our 8th year of publishing the zine. To celebrate this milestone, the First Sunday Tournament @ Shorty’s in September will also be a Skill Shot party! We’ll be hosting the tournament, premiering a new Skill Shot t-shirt, holding a raffle, and more! It’s sure to be fun and we hope you can make it. As you may already know, Skill Shot has presented the First Sunday Tournaments for a while now, and each month has a different guest host who determines the format. Michael Warfield rescued us at the last minute in July with a Game of Thrones-themed tourney, and in August birthday boy Steve Ackley will be the host with format TBA. Due to popular opinion, we moved last issue’s Skill Shot Folding Party from Wednesdays to Tuesdays. Thanks to everyone who came out to help us fold the zine and made the day change a big success! Go to for more News and Gossip and for our local pinball calendar. Party!

Pinball Tidbits: Capitol Hill’s Raygun Lounge is a geek and gaming bar so it’s only natural that they now have a Dungeon and Dragons pin! * Hellbent Brewing on Lake City Way and Nine Yards Brewing in Kenmore are two more new locations on the north side of the city, with two pins each. * Further north in Bellingham, Reset Games is adding a pin-bar to their business, similar to their sister business Another Castle in Edmonds. * Another Castle is also expanding to Bremerton once their liquor license is approved. Hopefully Bremerton moves more quickly than Seattle. * Capitol Hill Family Arcade on 15th is run by the owner of Uncle Ike’s Pot Shop. Eventually this location will also be a pot shop, but they’re looking for pins to add to their video game selection in the meantime. * Our friend Shannon Betts created a website for a school project which focuses on Skill Shot and this year’s Powder Puff Tournament. Check it out: * 3rd Place Andy celebrated his birthday with a Theatre of Magic PinGolf tournament at Shorty’s. It was a unique twist on the format, and a lot of fun! * Congratulations to Raymond Davidson for winning this year’s Pinbrawl in Portland. Go Seattle! * Support Local Pinball! [/one_half]Skill Shot Pincast w/ Kevin Birrell

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