THERE'S NO BUSINESS...
THIS IS A LONG, DETAILED REPORT - PLEASE BE PATIENT WHILE IT LOADS
Story dated 30th April, 2002
The Dutch Pinball Open was staged on the weekend of the 27th & 28th April 2002 in the town of Leusden, not far from Utrecht.
It is easy to get to Leusden from the E19 Motorway but it does lack a major hotel within walking distance. The Hotel Leusden - last year's venue - is about 2.5Km away but as the weather was "changeable" at best, a car was a necessity. The sky may be blue in these pictures but it did rain quite frequently and it was windy too.
This year it was in the De Korf sports centre which also featured some 10-pin bowling lanes, a café and 2 bars. Presumably when the DPO is not there some real sport takes place.
The show is run by the Dutch Pinball Association (NFV) but English-speaking visitors need have no worries as most people there speak English too. Announcements are made in both languages and there is an English language version of the web site.
This year attendees could pre-register on the web. The intention was to avoid the lengthy and slow-moving queues of we criticised last year. There were two tables at the entrance; one for the pre-registered visitors and another for the rest.
Preregistration reduced the wait but you still needed to pay for, and collect the badge and raffle tickets. In practice this worked extremely well and at the start, entry only took a few minutes whereas last time it took almost an hour in an uncomfortable corridor. As you can see, with the new system the queues - even just after the opening time - were impressively short.
Events started at 12:30 on Saturday; almost 100 machines divided into 2 halls, one for recreational playing, the other for the competition.
This meant that with all these games there was much more room to play than last year. Unfortunately the lighting in the recreational hall wasn't very suited to pinball and most games had bright striplights reflected off the playfield glass. Also, the volume of the sound was set very low on almost all the games so players were struggling to hear them. Clearly with so many games in one hall the volume has to be managed carefully but in this instance it seemed over-conservative.
Once again Fun 4 You provided the bulk of the machines and again they were mainly modern dot-matrix William's/Bally games which always pleases the crowds. There were a few interesting EM games and a reasonable number of Data East, Sega and Stern games thrown into the mix.
This time around it was noticeable how many of the games were either broken or turned off. Some were not set to free play which presumably is just an oversight and not an attempt to get some money out of desperate players. The selection of games was much the same as last year and is well chosen but that also means that most are now another year older and breakdowns become more likely.
The total list of games at the start on Saturday afternoon is:
Hall (30 games):
Not all the games in the Recreational Hall were available for general play. Some were held back for minor competitions of various kinds. The hall also played host to the various parts sellers where there was a fair selection of parts available, although the prices of some seemed a bit high. There was also the NFV stand selling posters, T-shirts, lottery tickets and other pinball paraphernalia.
In the major competitions the usual smooth running was evident, initially at least. Using a PC based scoring system made control of the games and players much easier, but sadly the projector designed to show the rankings of the main competition was too defocused to be totally legible. Ultimately though, that's not too important and everyone knew how well they had done thanks to the points-based scoring.
In the main event each player is given a player number and is pitted against 3 other players in a series of four four-player games. The opponents are different each time as is the machine played. For each game the winner gets 9 points, second place scores 5 points, third place earns 2 points and you get no points for finishing last. After four rounds the points are totalled and if you are in the top 32 you qualify for Sunday's 2nd round competition. The cut-off level turned out to be 20 points so you either had to come 2nd in every game or win at least one and do reasonably well in the others if you wanted to qualify.
This year there was considerably more time allowed between rounds and for the evening break. Generally, each 4 player game was allotted 30-40 minutes to be completed which sounds a lot of time but in fact seems about right when you consider that there are some top class players in the competition and they do take a while to finish. Saturday's games all finished without any major incidents leaving 32 players to meet another 32 who already qualified at regional DPA competitions.
On Sunday morning the second round started along with the women's competition. Like last year proceedings got off to a slow start with the scheduled 10:00am start delayed by an hour, time that could sensibly have been spent sleeping bit longer. There was also a mix up with the scoring/game-order cards which meant that they had to be recalled and reprinted which accounted for much of the delay, a delay that continued through the whole of Sunday resulting in games with - in some cases - no break at all between them, while others were of an uncertain duration. In one game a player had to abandon their game as another competition had started in the recreational hall. Basically, the schedule went out the window so it became confused when some events would start. You really had to stay in the competition hall to hear the announcements.
After the second round, twelve top scorers continued to the final.
There were 4 games set up, 3 for the main championship and 1 for the veterans competition. The 3 games were Junkyard, Medieval Madness and Congo (which was subsequently replaced by a Tales Of The Arabian Nights after a fault developed). The veterans also played a Medieval Madness. The twelve finalists were Roy Wils, Mike Parkins (UK), Trent Augenstein (USA), Martijn van Amsterdam, Eko Elens, Taco Wouters, Joska Keunekamp, Neil Shatz (USA), Marco Wopkes (D), Albert Nomden, Michel van den Elzen and Dirk Klaver.
The obvious problem with this system is that players never know how well they are doing until all the games are over. They get an indication but the final result is only known a few minutes after the last game finishes. It was intended to have a final playoff with the top 3 (1 from each group of 4) battling it out but due to lack of time this wasn't possible.
Full competition results are shown at the end of this report.
Each year, it seems, the Dutch Pinball Open moves onwards and improves. This year, with a bigger venue and easier registration it managed to make the pinball playing experience all the more enjoyable for the fans. The location is a good one - free parking with a good range of shops just across the street, centrally positioned within the country and only about 3.5 hours from the ferries of Calais.
Control of the tournament was tight so on Saturday the rounds were punctual and players were allowed a decent break between rounds. Sunday was less so and although nobody lost out in a big way it does seem to be the same each year. Despite allowing several extra hours to cover the close of the show it was continuing when we had to leave for the ferry at 7:15pm. (Don't ask how it was we were parked at the docks in Calais two and a half hours later but Steve Ritchie would have been proud of us!)
But the final thoughts must be overwhelmingly positive. Shows take a lot of organising and the Dutch Pinball Association certainly has plenty of organisational skills. Praise is also due for tackling the issues raised in Pinball News after last year's show, most of which were successful resolved this time around.
It was great to meet all the "usual suspects" at the show as well as many new faces and good to see how many people knew about this web site. Please e-mail and say hello. The show also saw the retirement of Guus Arens as president of the NFV. We wish him well and also wish the new president Geert-Jan de Vries the best of luck with the job.
If you went you certainly enjoyed it, and if you didn't go you missed out on a great time.
Players who did not show
up for the second round:
Players who didn't qualify
for the second round:
90 Seconds Competition:
PC Pinball Competitions
Pinside has an excellent collection of pictures from the show
Fun 4 You pinball suppliers
© Pinball News 2000