Date: 21st & 22nd May, 2016
The NFV (the Nederlandse Flipper Vereniging, or Dutch Pinball Association) has been
Those machines are housed in the NFV's clubhouse where they are restored and made available for members to play on select dates. The location of that clubhouse has changed a few times over the years, but is currently located on a light industrial estate in the city of Veenendaal in the centre of the country.
The NFV clubhouse building is about as nondescript as you could find.
There are very few clues that this is the NFV building. For the Dutch Pinball Masters there was an advisory sign regarding parking arrangements which, other than the sound of flippers flipping and some familiar faces in the 'smoking area' by the door, was the only indication.
Once you opened the door though, there were no more doubts.
Then it's into the main building which is a large unit with a high ceiling and a mass of pinballs.
For this event, the machines were split into three distinct groups. Those on the left of the picture above were used in the Dutch Pinball Masters (DPM). The machines on the right were free play machines for practice and casual play, while those on the back wall were either part of the Classics tournament or reserve machines for the DPM.
At the front of the room was a kitchen and bar area which served freshly-cooked food through out the weekend as well as tea, coffee, soft drinks, wine and Heineken beer.
Although there was a reasonably captive audience, prices were very reasonable. A hamburger cost €2 ($2.24/£1.55), as did other kinds of meat-in-a-bread-roll snacks. Sandwiches were €1.50, while €6.50 would get you a big meal with fries and salad. Non-alcoholic drinks were all €1, with beer and wine costing double that. We especially enjoyed the homemade chicken soup which cost just €1.50 for a bowl and tasted delicious.
For those enjoying the refreshments or just needing a place to sit and rest, several sets of tables and chairs were set up next to the kitchen/bar.
At the very front of the building were several small rooms, one of which was the repair centre for any tournament games which couldn't be quickly fixed in the tournament area.
So that's the setting, now on to the tournaments themselves.
The first competitive event was the Team Tournament which began at 6:30pm on Friday. Unfortunately we were negotiating the Antwerp ring road on our way to our hotel in Ede, so missed the Team Tournament.
However, there were eight teams taking part.
The teams were divided into two groups of four, and played a match against each of the other three teams in their group.
A match was a mix of pairs games where one member of a team plays another member of the opposing team to win one match point, and split-flipper games in which two members of the team take one flipper button each and play against their opponents doing the same to win two match points.
When all matches were over, the two teams with the most match points from each group went into the two semi-final matches, with the winner of the first group playing the runner-up in the second group, and vice-versa.
The semi-final matches were played in the same way as the first round, and the winners of the semi-finals then played another such match for the final.
When all the games had been played, the winners were Team Switzerland who beat the Dutch Pinball Team into second place, with Spain in third.
While the Team Tournament was taking place, the remaining non-tournament machines in the NFV clubhouse were available for practice in preparation for the start of the main DPM on Saturday.
Entry to the DPM was limited to 144 competitors. This was an increase from the 104 permitted in 2015 and resulted in qualifying being split into three sessions rather than the previous two.
In each session, four groups of twelve players competed in a match-play format, where everyone played a single three-ball game against every other member of their group. Machines for the qualifying round were preassigned from the 24 used for the DPM. They were:
If a DPM machine developed a fault which couldn't be quickly fixed, the machine was wheeled out of the area to the repair centre and one of the nominated reserve machines took its place. So the list of machines above would change from time to time.
The first qualifying groups (A-D) began at 10am on Saturday, with the second session (E-H) at 1:45pm and the third (J-M)at 5:30pm. All were allocated 3.5 hours to play their 11 matches, and although there were a few which took longer, the timings were about right.
Every player was given a score card which showed the machines and opponents they would play in each round, and whether they would be player one or player two in each game.
The score cards also had space to record whether you won or lost a round, but the winner of each round also recorded their win at the main tournament desk.
These results were shown on a projector screen using a spreadsheet created by tournaments maestro, Ad Jonker.
At the end of each qualifying session competitors could see if they were amongst the top four players with the most wins and so needed to come back the next day for the start of play-offs at 10am, or if they could have a lazy Sunday.
While the DPM was underway, the Classics Tournament was also running at the back of the hall.
Eight machines were used and players had ten qualifying games which they could spread across any or all of the eight, with the restriction that they couldn't play any one machine more than twice.
The machines were:
Scores were recorded on tablets and fed into a central scoring system which ranked all the scores and showed the results on a terminal.
Players had until 8pm to complete their ten games, at which time the qualifying round ended and the sixteen top-ranked qualified for the play-offs which were scheduled for 9pm that night but actually ended up starting nearer 9:45pm. Those sixteen qualifiers were:
The top four qualifiers received two byes to get straight into the quarter-finals, while the next four got a single bye. All play-off matches were best-of-three games on machines drawn at random.
The four semi-finalists were Kevin Roelants, Robert Sutter, Jorian Engelbrektsson and Carlos Javier Parra. Jorian played Kevin in one semi-final, while Robert played Carlos in the other.
Robert and Jorian then played the final, in which Robert was triumphant. Kevin and Carlos played for third place, with Kevin taking the win. Albert Nomden presented the awards.
Here are the full results of the DPM Classics Tournament:
The 48 qualifiers (the top four in the twelve qualifying groups) for the DPM had to register at the tournament desk by 10am on Sunday to start the play-off rounds. They were then split into four groups of twelve to play head-to-head match play games in exactly the same way as in qualifying.
The four players with the most wins in each group would progress to the quarter-finals. They were:
These sixteen were then paired to play best-of-five matches on randomly-selected machines. Cards with machines numbers were laid out on the tournament desk and players chose an available machine for their next game.
Half the eight pairings needed all five games to decide the 3-2 winner, with three more needing four games.
That round left just eight players to compete the semi-finals. They were:
After the semi-finals, the last four who would compete in the final of the DPM 2016 were decided.
So it would be a truly international field of an Italian, a German, a Swiss and a Belgian who would compete for the Dutch Pinball Masters title. Four games would be played, all chosen by the players. Points would be awarded for finishing position in each game, with 9 points for a win, 5 points for second, 2 points for third, and no points for ending in fourth place.
Each player drew a numbered card. Ernö picked #1 and so chose the first machine to play. He also had to take the player one position on that game, and he chose Creature from the Black Lagoon.
After the first ball it looked like a good choice, as Ernö led with 34.4M. Daniele was closest on 12.8M, while Michael and Ivan had 5M scores. When Ernö bumped his score up to 182M on his second ball it was looking good, but Daniele scored 560M to take the lead.
Ernö made a push on his last ball but could only reach 342,554,260. Michael ended on 31,243,830, but Daniele's total of 574,116,430 made him the clear winner with Ivan in fourth on 16,815,710.
So after one game Daniele had 9 points, Ernö 5 points and Michael 2 points.
Michael chose Indianapolis 500 for his game but struggled to put up a big first ball score, earning 64.2M. Ernö was in the lead with 225M, with Ivan on 93.3M and Daniele on just 3.5M.
The second ball changed nothing, but the third and final ball saw Daniele stage a great recovery, leaping from 10.2M to 320,278,870 which was enough to give him the win. Ernö was then in second with his total of 284,504,320, while Ivan was third on 134,858,130 and Michael rued his choice of machine with 118,441,550.
With two wins, Daniele was looking good to take the title on 18 points. Two second places put Ernö in with a chance as well with his 10 points, but with Michael and Ivan on 2 points each, they both desperately needed a win on the next game to remain in contention.
Game three was Daniele's choice of Demolition Man and after two balls it didn't seem like a wise selection as his 37.4M score was the lowest of the four. Ernö was way ahead of the pack with 474.4M, while Michael had 54.8M and Ivan 43.3M.
The final ball saw Daniele make a real charge to end on 516,117,560. Ivan brought his score up to 77,128,360 to put him in third place. Ernö needed to score 42M to regain the lead which he did, although only just, finishing on 524,291,360. Michael's 72,271,020 wasn't quite enough to steal third.
So far, the top two places in each game had been shared by Daniele and Ernö. If Ernö won the fourth and final game and Daniele came second there would be a tie with two wins and two second places each. Ivan and Michael couldn't win at this point, so were playing for third place.
That final game was Tommy, chosen by Ivan who started.
Once again, it didn't appear Ivan had chosen wisely when his first ball ended with 26.4M on the board. Ernö did worse with his 11.7M, but it was Michael who took charge, scoring 231M with his ball one. Daniele was in second place with his 77.2M.
Ball two changed everything and set up an exciting finale. Ivan raised his score to 160.9M, but Ernö stormed ahead with a 773.9M second ball total. Very close behind was Michael who consolidated his good start with a 716.2M ball two score. Daniele was also moving up the board by making a total of 354.9M going into each player's final ball.
If Daniele could win the game he would win the DPM. Second would give him a tie. Ernö needed to win and then hope Daniele didn't take second if he was to take the title.
On that last ball Ivan improved a little to 270,858,700 but was still firmly in fourth place. Ernö improved by a similar amount to end in the lead on 857,045,840. Michael wasn't able to improve his score by much. His 735,047,200 total put him in second place, with just Daniele to play.
Daniele needed nearly 400M to take second and more than 500M to win, but in the end it was not to be. He could only add 90M before the ball drained and his total of 447,947,230 put him in third place.
That meant, with two wins and two second places, Ernö Rotter was the winner with 28 points. Daniele Celestino Acciari was second on 23 points, his second place on Tommy gave Michael Trepp third on 7 points, while Ivan Geentjens was fourth on 4 points.
The awards were then made, with all four finalists winning cash prizes.
Here are the full results. Lower places were decided by the number of wins in the last group in which they played.
So once again the Dutch Pinball Masters has proved itself to be one of Europe's major tournaments with many of the top players. The match play format seems to be enjoyed by everyone who took part, giving a guaranteed number of games against different opponents on assorted machines.
The increased field only resulted in one fewer game per group while allowing a third qualifying session to be fitted into Saturday's schedule. Any rulings which were needed were made by Albert and Paul jointly and seemed to be fair to all players. This no doubt contributed to the overall good conduct by all the players, and the generally friendly and laid-back atmosphere in the building.
The schedule of matches and the scoring system all seemed to work well, with only a short delay between recording scores on paper and them appearing in the spreadsheet on the projector screen.
We liked the new Classics Tournament format. Limiting the number of games to ten made it much fairer for everyone and meant all the players got to play all their games in the time available.
The only real issue was with the restricted space in the DPM tournament area. This was the same last year and at times is was impossible to get to your next machine due to spectators and fellow players blocking the way. It got pretty warm in the hall on Saturday, but opening the side loading doors helped keep temperatures down while also providing an alternative entrance/exit.
The team at the bar provided swift, friendly service with a good selection of snacks, full meals and drinks at reasonable prices. Our only suggestion here is for a better beer choice than just Heineken when the Netherlands has so many great beers available. We're sure Ad Jonker would have some good suggestions.
We're already looking forward to next year's DPM and the chance to get just that little bit closer to the final.
© Pinball News 2016