Originally published in Skill Shot 43, May 2016
Add-a-Ball Amusements’ 5th Annual 420 Tournament was yet again the social event of the spring. This tourney sure has evolved from its humble beginnings as the Greenwood Open, and this year the AAB guys went all out! Besides the chance to win the grand prize of a High Speed pinball machine, everyone who registered got a commemorative five-color t-shirt inspired by the art of Louis Wain that alone was well worth the price of registration. Along with the ceremonial breaking of the playfield glass and the dropping of dozens of colorful paper airplanes at 4:20 (of course) there were also free smokes and fireworks! The festivities continued inside with the long-awaited grand unveiling of their second floor addition, The Green Room. Open and breezy with an outdoor theme, the new space looks great! The tournament itself seemed to run smoothly considering the 119 players, and Brian Headley ultimately prevailed, adding another pin to his growing collection. Festive!
Add-a-Ball was also the location of the first AARP Pinball Tournament (4/23) held in honor of Claire Sutcliffe’s 40th birthday. As you might assume, this tourney was only open to players 40 and over (although there was a “kids” table/tourney for those who didn’t make the age minimum) and was for tongue-in-cheek AARP points. This event was originally supposed to be held at The Iron Bull, but it was moved at the last minute because of a big televised UFC event shown there. We don’t think anyone minded too much because it gave Claire a chance to break in The Green Room with a piñata party! The tournament was a lot of fun, and this will probably become an annual event. AARP!
The Seattle Pinball Super League has had a burst of expansion lately with the addition of three locations. This league has a unique format where locations and pins are chosen and contestants then have a week to go there and put up some high scores. Initially the Super League was running at monthly three week intervals, until April when Olaf’s was included, adding another week and pushing the April finals into May. We were wondering how this would work in the long run until two more locations were added to the mix. Now the league is back to a three week rotation, but players have two locations to choose from each week. League organizer Germain Mariolle wants to make it clear that players don’t have to play all six locations each month (three will do). More details about the league can be found either on their Facebook page or via links on the Skill Shot Calendar on our website. Super!
Speaking of Olaf’s, this Ballard bar is taking a serious stab at becoming an even bigger pinball hotspot by removing some seating in their back room and adding more pinball tables. Pinheads Pinball now have twelve games there, and one is a re-themed Rollergames pin based on Seattle’s Rat City Roller Girls roller derby team! While the playfield and cabinet are the same as Rollergames, the backglass has all new team-based art by Saren Suture as well as new vocal tracks recorded by actual team members and music by Warning: Danger!, a local band. There may be other game additions, but when we recently went to Olaf’s on a Friday night the back room was closed for a private party. This was a surprise not only for us but for other players who were there to practice for the next day’s tournament (it was also a Super League location) and we hope there will be better communication in the future concerning when the room is closed. D’oh!
Another expanding location is the 8-Bit Arcade, with the announcement of new location The Triple Knock in Tacoma. Although the opening is highly unlikely to happen in time for this year’s NW Pinball Show, people are still excited about a new Tacoma location. The 8-Bit has been setting the bar high with fun events and well-maintained games. They recently hosted the Stern Ghostbusters Launch Party that lasted all weekend, similar to the Super League mechanics. It was a neat launch party format that gave people a chance to play multiple times, compared to how some launch events have been run in the past. They also have all of the latest pins including our area’s only Full Throttle, which is a pin manufactured by the UK’s Heighway Pinball Company. Neat!
8-Bit was also the location for the Beginner’s Pinball Workshop (4/26) where “beginners” were teamed up with more seasoned players to learn more about how to play. Organized by Chelsey Oedewaldt, the workshop was conceived for those interested in learning more about pinball and how to not just throw away quarters watching balls drain. There were nine teachers and ten students for this first workshop covering tournament etiquette, basic flipper skills, and how to play specific machines. A handy handout created by Chelsey and Michael Adcock was also included. Apparently the students enjoyed the one-on-one approach and found the workshop useful, even if they have no intention of ever competing. Look for another workshop in the future. Skills!
The NW Pinball and Arcade Show will be held June 3rd-5th at the Tacoma Convention Center. We’ve been surprised by how many comments we’ve recently heard from people who have never been before, and we highly recommend attending. Last year’s event was the biggest yet with over 170 pinball machines and a similar number of arcade games. The Convention Center is a huge space, and besides all the games there are also lots of vendors, seminars, speakers, displays and tournaments! Guest speakers this year include sound designer David Thiel, software & game designer Dwight Sullivan, Atari founder Nolan Bushnell, and Jersey Jack himself. There’s a lot more info on the NWPAS website: nwpinballshow.com. We will also have bus tips at skill-shot.com for those who want them. Show time!
As always, a big part of the NWPAS are the pinball tournaments held all weekend. Tournament organizer Dave Stewart does a great job promoting these by hosting the NWPAS Satellite Series in the months leading up to the show. Contestants have opportunities to win both weekend passes into the event and entries into the tournaments. The Satellite Series began in March with a Monday Night Pinball team event at Flip Flip Ding Ding, and has been ongoing ever since. Unique formats are often used, making them interesting and fun (especially if you win passes!), and there are still a few more coming up, so check out the Skill Shot Calendar for dates and locations. Passes!
Skill Shot hosted the 5th Annual Tommy Tournament at Shorty’s (4/3) where teams of two played blindfolded pinball for fun and prizes. Blindfolded pinball means one player is blindfolded while their teammate instructs them when to flip. It’s harder than it sounds and ultimately the teams that practiced ahead of time made it the farthest. The top four teams were then entered into our version of Let’s Make a Deal where they could win prizes ranging from a PBR skateboard, passes into NW Pinball Show and a framed photo of a butt (zing!). The next tournament hosted by Skill Shot will be the Annual Powder Puff Tournament at Shorty’s on May 29th. The Powder Puff Tournament began in 2001 as a biennial event until we took over the hosting duties in 2013, which makes this the 10th edition and probably the longest running all-women pinball tournament on earth. So we want to make this one as special as possible and hope you will join us. Women!
We have a lot more photos on our Facebook page!
In other Skill Shot news: Our last Skill Shot Folding Party was the first we held at The Iron Bull and was a big success. Around 30 people joined us to celebrate the new issue, fold it, drink beer, and even join in on the concurrent trivia. We love The Iron Bull and hope you can join us there in the future. The Skill Shot Pincast celebrated a milestone with episode 26 and our first full year of podcasting! Recent guests have included Jordan Semrow, 2nd Place Andy (Burton) and Bowen Kerins. Check it out on: https://soundcloud.com/skillshotseattle. Have you ever noticed a mistake on our Pinball List? If you do, please let us know by contacting us on Facebook or email – it’s never too late! You can also access our Pinball List via an app found at: http://sksh.net/. Skill Shot now has a Patreon account. If you enjoy the things we do, please consider donating. Every little bit helps! www.patreon.com/SkillShot
Pinball Tidbits: The Seattle Pinball League held its May event at Jeff Groper’s house, and it was powerball mania with ceramic balls in almost every game, even the Shrek/Family Guy mash-up en Español. ¡Ay, caramba! * The Seattle Pinball Museum recently removed their Hercules machine and added a bunch more pins in its place, including Hobbit LE and Silverball Mania. * Chase Lounge is new seafood restaurant in Ballard with a curated game room supplied by Bobby Conover’s 20XX. Fancy! * Shorty’s recently removed their games from Beth’s Café because they were broken into again. We believe that was the third time it happened. Thieves are aboot! * Canada’s Robert Gagno is having a good year so far: he is PAPA’s 2016 World Champion and a movie about him, Wizard Mode, has just been released. Hooray! (You can watch it on Vimeo) * There was a large Seattle presence at this year’s Portland Pinbrawl. Chris Chinn took 2nd and Kevin Birrell 3rd. Portland’s John Gimera won the whole thing. * Add-a-Ball pulled a great April Fool’s prank this year, replacing all of the games in the neon room with 5 Surf Champs. * So long, Tim “Tilt” Tournay. He’s got a job and is moving back to Pittsburgh.* Support Local Pinball!