Story dated 10 May, 2003

Here we are once again at the Dutch Pinball Open, held for the third year running in Leusden, and for the second year at the De Korf sports centre.

The preregistration scheme available on the NFV website meant it didn't take long to pick up the entrance ticket, high-score competition entry and raffle tickets and queues were short and moved swiftly. The table for non-registered visitors saw a longer queue but even there waiting times were quite short.

As last year, the show was divided between two halls - one for recreational play and the other for the Dutch Pinball Open competition.

Most of the games were again provided by Fun4You but there were also a significant number from private owners and many of these were for sale. Bargain of the show had to be the Jackbot priced at 450 Euros and it seemed to be in be excellent condition.

Last year's report included several suggestions for improvements to the show and it is good to see many of them have been taken on board. The lighting in the recreational hall is at a much lower level and has greatly reduced the problems with glare on the playfield glass. The condition of the games hasn't improved much - the first game I played developed a stuck ball in the very first game and the flippers were very weak too. The stuck ball reoccurred in the next game too. Within 30 minutes of the show opening, about half a dozen games had been turned off due to faults. The competition games held up better although again games had to be repaired several times.

It is probably to be expected that these games will become less reliable. There were only a few Stern games at the show so the game selection is broadly similar to last year but of course they're all a year older and as we know, reliability doesn't improve with age for pinball games.

Saturday was the qualifying day for those who hadn't already qualified at previous NFV shows and was open to all visitors prepared to pay the competition entrance fee of 15 Euros.

Players were divided into two groups A & B and given score cards showing the four games they would be playing and which player number they would be. Each game was played with four players and the winner received nine points, second place got five, third place scored two points and if you were last you didn't score any points at all.

Players in group A played first. There was some confusion after the first group of games when several group A players thought they were playing their next game straight away whereas the next games were for group B players. In one instance a group A player interjected into the first group B game and started playing before being persuaded that it wasn't their turn yet.

Once everybody had got the idea, however, things went more smoothly.

There were 52 games in the recreational area:

Monster Bash, Rollercoaster Tycoon, The Simpsons Pinball Party, Medieval Madness, Pinball Magic, Tales of the Arabian Nights, Twilight Zone, Bram Stoker's Dracula, Deadly Weapon, Radical, Gilligan's Island, Dirty Harry, Teed Off, Eight Ball Deluxe, The Simpsons, Jackbot, Dirty Harry, Starship Troopers, Star Trek - TNG, Popeye, Twister, Maverick, No Fear, Space Jam, Viper Night Drivin', X-Files, Star Trek - TNG, Batman Forever, Twilight Zone, Terminator 2, The Addams Family, Star Wars - Special Edition, Creature from the Black Lagoon, Corvette, Dirty Harry, Frankenstein, NBA Fastbreak (x2 - linked), Jackbot, Tales From The Crypt, The Shadow, Baywatch, Twilight Zone, Stargate, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Popeye, Corvette, Johnny Mnemonic, Champion Pub, Jackbot, Demolition Man and Space Jam.

Meanwhile, these 19 games were in the competition area:

Medieval Madness, Jackbot, Dirty Harry, Airborne, Monopoly, Creature From The Black Lagoon, Bram Stoker's Dracula, Cirqus Voltaire, Theatre of Magic, Pinball Magic, Dirty Harry, Airborne, Baywatch, Demolition Man, No Good Gofers, Bram Stoker's Dracula, Attack From Mars, Theatre of Magic and The Addams Family.

In the recreational hall there was a high score competition using some of the games shown below. Entry to the show gave you one ticket to the high score competition, although you had no choice which game you played as that was decided by the colour of your ticket. You could also buy more tickets at the NFV stand.

I thought all the games in the row above were in the high score competition but it turned out that access to the Monster Bash, Rollercoaster Tycoon and Simpsons Pinball Party was controlled by the staff at the NFV stand to stop the same players repeatedly playing them. I good idea but not one I was aware of at the time, sadly.

At the other end of the hall was the PC-pinball competition. A selection of different games were set-up to play such as Captain Hero and Avengers, using both a keyboard and an external controller box. You can read all about the PC Pinball competition at Sam Lapian's website.

Over in the other hall, the main competition (called either the Dutch Masters or Dutch Pinball Open) worked slightly differently this year. If you scored enough points in Saturday's qualifying round (this year you needed 21 points or more), you continued into Sunday's competition.

The first round on Sunday saw 14 four-player games, with the top three continuing to round two.

The fourth placed played went into bonus round A, the winner of which continued to the next bonus round (B) where they played those knocked-out in the second round and so on for bonus rounds C and D. In this way, even if you are knocked-out from the main competition you still have the chance to battle your way back in by beating everyone else who is knocked out too and securing yourself a place in the semi-finals.

The second round saw three players per machine with the top two continuing and third place going into bonus round B.

Round three was back to four players per game with the top two moving on to the next round and the third and fourth places going into bonus round C.

In round four it was down to the last 14 playing a straight head-to-head game, two players with the winner going to the semi-finals, the loser to bonus round D, the winners of which battled it out for that extra semi-final place.

The semi-finals consisted of two games of four players, the top two from each game went into the final.

Dutch Masters finalists

Meanwhile there were other competitions taking place. The Women's tournament started at 11:15 on Sunday and like the open competition consisted of all the entrants playing four games of four players using the same points scoring system used in the qualifying rounds. The top eight players went into the semi-finals - two four player games with the top two from each game going into the final.

Women's competition finalists

As if that wasn't enough there was also the veteran's competition (for the purpose of this event, "veterans" were defined as 40 years old or older). In this there were five games set up and each entrant played one game on each in any order. From the scores, the best four players went into the final.

Veterans' competition finalists

The Dutch Masters competition was open to everyone, so women and veterans who qualified for the Masters on Sunday carried on playing in that, rather than play in the women's and veteran's competitions.

All three of these finals were played simultaneously with a good crowd gathered to see the outcomes, details of which (together with more from the show) can be found in the next section of our report.



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