Dates: May 21st - 23rd, 2010
Report by Jason Rufer, Host of IFPA 7
The greatest players from around the globe came to compete and play their best to win the title of IFPA Champion!
Cokato, MN - of all places - was the location for IFPA 7. Many may ask; 'where?' and 'why?'. Well, I thought the same thing considering last year it was in England and the previous year in Las Vegas.
It all started last year when the Sharpe brothers were in Minnesota for a visit to a local tournament in Minneapolis. Josh Sharpe had seen a clip of a news story done about my place, and knowing a mutual friend of ours - Paul Madison - we had talked about making a visit to my building, seeing my collection of games and checking it out for a potential IFPA spot.
So in 2009, I forget the exact date but Paul, Josh, and Zach came out late one evening around midnight, after the tournament in the Twin Cities. I still remember when they walked in and honestly I was really excited. We shook hands and they had big grins on their faces and said "this is awesome, this is perfect". They asked me, "So, you want to do this?". I couldn't refuse.
I have to give credit to John Ross of Pinball Plus and Lloyd Olson of SS Billiards. They both gave me moral support and really it was about a collective bringing recognition of pinball to Minnesota and bringing as much entertainment as possible to the players who traveled here.
Much preparation was put forth by all three parties. We all got together via email and, with the help of Derek Fugate, we got a full week of pinball crammed in to give the players and guests from around the globe the best possible gaming we could muster.
The week began with Derek Fugate at the Blainbrook Bowl for a mini tournament - including WPPR points - on Monday the 17th May. Tuesday was a pre-IFPA Pinball Plus Welcome Party & Tournament. Then there was another tournament at Blainbrook on Wednesday the 19th.
Thursday was a really nice tournament at SS Billiards with a decent cash prize pot and some nice food. Talking with Lloyd, I wanted this to be a great event to bring him more business and some out of town players to his establishment, while giving local players a chance to meet and play with the big boys.
When I started this endeavour it was never about me. I wanted to see some great players come and thought it was a chance of a lifetime, as well as an opportunity to get some more traffic into and around the Twin Cites' great pinball spots and show what Minnesota had to offer. After seeing how things turned out I think it did just that! I get the most joy from seeing people have fun and playing pinball. When I have private personal gatherings it's a blast to see others having fun. That's what makes me happy.
So, with the spot locations picked and my commitment to being the host, the hard work began.
First things first. I had to finish my bathroom.
When I built my building I set out in my mind to do something different, something never done before. Obscure, yet cool. I made my bathroom into a Doctor Who T.A.R.D.I.S. It's like an outhouse inside the building. It even has a 1960s period working landline phone. This is a design I had thought of doing many years ago but only now did I have the means to do it.
Once the bathroom was done, the bigger job was to move onto the games and make them player-ready.
As many of my local pinball buddies know, there are many games I have bought and just never really gone through. Heck, I have a White Water here I have still not shopped out because it's a PITA ;-)
So I started to go through the games and get things cleaned, adjusted and any worn parts replaced. Many games got all new coil stops, sleeves and bushings, and almost every '80s and '90s pin that had not had them before got all new flipper rebuilds . Many EMs got all new flipper rebuilds as well. Above all, my objective was to not disappoint the players. With many of them traveling hundreds - if not thousands - of miles, I wanted everyone very pleased and happy with the games.
Coming up to the last 4 months prior to the event, I literally spent most of my life out in the building, sometimes until 1 or 2 o'clock in the morning, only to go to work at 7:30am. I had little time to do anything other than pinball. My life was consumed with getting things ready. I did not see much of the family unless they wanted to come out and visit me. My wife was very understanding. She knew my passion and my enjoyment of having this come to fruition.
John Ross of Pinball Plus along with many other personal friends said that if I needed any help they would be glad to help in any way. I felt I could handle the task and did not want to burden anyone.
In the last couple of weeks, as it was coming down to the wire, I did have to call in Tim Nabours of Nabours Novelty. He helped me with very minor issues with about 6 or 7 games that really gave me a boost towards completion but only took him about 3 hours to fix. Tim is well known in the Twin Cites and a great EM and solid state tech with many years' experience.
From the 90 (or so) pinballs I own, the following games were chosen for use in the tournament.
Over the 3 days of the tournament, things went very smoothly. I had few breakdowns but other than a minor switch adjustment and a few flipper coil wires needing re-soldering after they had broken from vibration, I couldn't have had a better couple of days.
I like this picture because it reminds me of a 1950s photo that hangs in my house of 4 guys bending over the car hood looking in the engine compartment.
In the finals it was just great to watch all the players. They all did great and in the end Daniele Acciari of Italy won and man was it emotional.
I couldn't help but feel overjoyed for him. From the story I heard, just for him to come to the USA was nothing short of a leap of faith. I heard he was sponsored by the local Italian magazine and came at the last minute. It was his first trip to the United States and what a trip it was!
I know Andy Rosa put up a good fight, I was rooting for him as our "local guy". The heat and humidity took their toll on Sunday. It was the hottest day of all. Andy even bought a fan and donated it to me ;-)
Full details of all the results can be found on the IFPA site.
More pictures can be seen here.
Two local news stations came out to cover the event. Both did a great job and both produced quite different reports. Click on the article and you can read the blurb on the event as well as watch a video clip link at the right.
When they came out, I directed the media to Josh Sharpe. I am very happy about how things turned out and wanted to be the guy behind the scenes.
The second day we had a light lunch of sub sandwiches with catering for dinner done by Charlie Bush Catering's food wagon.
Sunday - the third day - was pizza provided by Godfather's Pizza, sold by the slice.
I have to thank my wonderful wife Sara, my mother-in-law Susan and Moira Ross (the companion to Peter Blakemore of Salisbury, United Kingdom) They all helped with the first day food preparations including all the homemade subs and the fruit and vegi combos.
What an honor to have not one but two Williams pinball greats at my house. Roger Sharpe signed my Andromeda and Barracora pin. Steve Epstein also signed my Barracora. I was on cloud 9!!!
There was a section in the back of the building for players to lounge and relax for practice.
Game list in the practice bank on pay-to-play:
More fantastic professional photos taken by my friend Mark Teskey can be seen here. Please take a look as there are 157 fantastic high-quality shots for your viewing pleasure.
Mark does this for a living and can be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org All photos watermarked by Mark Teskey are owned by Mark Teskey and used with permission.
The guys from Japan, Bowen, Eden, Koi, and a few others were the last to leave around 9pm that Sunday. As Josh Sharpe put it. "It was all worth it" !!!
Thanks to Mark Teskey and Ross Simpson for the professional photos.
Thanks to Josh, Zach and Roger Sharpe, Steve Epstein and Brian Woodard, and the whole IFPA crew.
And lastly a big thanks to Brian Shepherd from Ohio. He was a great help with getting a handful of games in tournament ready condition on Thursday. He was a major contributor and I personally thank him for all his hard work.
© Pinball News 2010