|GERMAN PINBALL MASTERS 2009|
Date: April 25th - 26th 2009
Report by Lukasz Dziatkiewicz
Over 70 pinball machines were brought to the sports hall in Wilsdruff - a city of almost
This was the first time the German Pinball Association had organised their annual convention and tournament in the former German Democratic Republic (East Germany).
The GPA-Frühjahrsconvention und Deutsche Flippermeisterschaft 2009
The entry fee was €5 per day and everybody who paid could play on all the machines with the exception of the tournaments machines. The main tournament also cost €5 to enter.
88 players from 7 countries took part in the tournament. Apart form the German players, Poland and Hungary each has 6 competitors, 4 came from Holland to compete, 3 from Switzerland, 2 from Austria and a single (but very special) American.
All participants were split by a draw in two groups: 43-players in the green group and 45-players in the blue group. Those groups were then sub-divided into smaller, 4 player sub-groups.
Each of these sub-groups played on each of the six machines assigned to either green or blue. Three of these were older numeric or alpha numeric display games and the other three had newer dot-matrix displays. In the green group, the older machines were represented by: Whirlwind (1990), Jack•Bot (1995) and Nine Ball (1980) while the newer games were: No Fear: Dangerous Sports (1995), WWF Royal Rumble (1994) and Johnny Mnemonic (1995).
In the blue group the older games were: Freedom (1975), F-14 Tomcat (1987) and Flash Gordon (1980) and the more modern Judge Dredd (1993), High Speed II: The Getaway (1992) and Creature from the Black Lagoon (1992).
We visited the hall in Wilsdruff on the night of the 24, the day before the event began and it looked like a perfect place for tournament. However, on the sunny second day we discovered there was one big problem with the venue - skylights.
Sunlight streaming in through these overhead windows made playing difficult and the only solution was to use some pieces of cardboard as protection from the sun.
In the first round it was not a player's placing in their group that mattered, but the scores achieved on each of the six pinballs they played. Based on these scores, a ranking for each machine was established and points were awarded to players.
51 players progressed to the second round; 25 from the green group and 26 from the blue. They were joined by 9 of the tournament's player-organisers.
In this group was Roger Sharpe. This American is a pinball legend. He is author of the famous book "Pinball!" (1977 E.P. Dutton). Sharpe was: Contributing Editor for Play Meter Magazine, Pinball Designer, Director of Marketing & Licensing for Williams/ Bally/Midway and Licensing Consultant (that is how he described himself to me).
He gave a lecture about pinball and his job. Some of the pinball fans also got to talk with him also in small group afterwards.
Roger took part in the tournament (he was in the group of 9 special players). He played in a quite an unusual way - a wide stance combined with some strange leg movements.
The 60 contestants in the second round were supposed to compete in 15 doubles games - so that each player played with all the others - but it was quite late, so
Four players advanced to the final which started around 23:00. They were made up of two Germans; Michael Spiegel and Ernö Rotter, and two Hungarians; Krisztián Szalai and Gabor Solymosi.
They played the final on two machines. The first was designed by the guest speaker Roger Sharpe, the western-themed Sharpshooter.
The second was the 1995 Bally game Indianapolis 500.
Michael Spiegel won on the Sharpshooter game and came second on Indianapolis 500 which earned him first place. Fellow German Ernö Rotter was second with Gabor Solymosi in third and Krisztián Szalai in fourth.
In addition to the tournaments there was also a prize draw. The tickets cost €1 each and visitors could buy as many as they wanted to increase their chances of winning.
The lucky winning ticket holder was from Hungary and he took home the grand prize which was a Williams Whirlwind pinball.