IRISH PINBALL MEET 2010
Date: November 12th - 14th 2010
To County Limerick they came. From Germany, the UK and other parts of the Emerald Isle, descending on a house located in the middle of farmland for a weekend of tables, talk and tournaments.
Pinball trader and organiser of the UK Pinball Party, Andrew Heighway, runs Heighway Pinball from a large, modern home near the town of Adare and for the third year running he played host to the Irish Meet pinball get-together.
The location had moved about 2 miles from last year's, but the objectives were the same. Meet up with friends, play pinball, have a little competition or two, but above all, relax and have fun, without the distractions afforded by having mobile phone coverage.
Free soft drinks and snacks were provided, along with tea and coffee and whatever else visitors wanted to bring with them and could find room for in the fridge.
The number of attendees has grown each year, from an initial 8 in 2008 to 20 last year, reaching more than 30 for this year's event. There were 16 pinballs set up for them to play:
In addition, a Pac-Man Ball pusher machine was set up in the kitchen and a twin seater Daytona was available in the garage.
One drawback of the rural location was the intermittent problem with the electrical supply which would occasionally cause various breakers to trip for no apparent reason. Thankfully it didn't occur too often but it always seemed to happen just as you were having that killer game.
The main tournament of the weekend was the Irish Pinball Open which took place on Saturday, but before that was a new Classics tournament which was held on Friday evening.
Because bad weather in the Irish Sea had caused the cancellation of the fast ferry from the UK to Ireland, some players would be arriving later than originally anticipated, so the Classics tournament didn't start until about 8pm.
The 22 competitors had to play a single game on Pinbot, Black Hole, Defender, Firepower and Rollergames, after which their scores were ranked with all the other players' scores and ranking points awarded.
The 8 players with the most ranking points proceeded to the 2 semi-finals, with the top 2 from those going into the final and the bottom 2 going into a 5th-8th place play-off. The 8 qualifiers were: Martin Ayub, Daniel Bradford, Phil Dixon, Andrew Heighway, Kate Morris, Nick Marshall, David Sanders and Peter Scheldt.
The four semi-finalists who made it into the final were Phil Dixon, Andrew Heighway, David Sanders and Peter Scheldt, and it all came down to a final game played on Rollergames.
In the end it was a victory for host Andrew Heighway, with Peter Scheldt from Germany in second, Phil Dixon from the UK in third and Dave Sanders also from the UK in fourth.
Trophies were presented by the tournament's sponsor, David Stephan of Touch Of Gold who was also on hand to offer advice and special pricing on gold and silver plating services for pinball parts.
Pinball play continued into the early hours of Saturday morning and resumed a few hours later when players practiced ahead of the Irish Pinball Open which began around 2:30pm.
Before that however, Andrew had arranged for hot food to be delivered and it duly arrived just before 2pm. The sausages, chicken goujons, potato wedges and chips were eagerly consumed before play began in the qualifying round of the Open.
The same qualifying format as the Classic was used, and players had six machines to play in order to earn ranking points.
The machines used were: Big Buck Hunter Pro, Monster Bash, Jackbot, Dirty Harry, No Fear and Black Hole (a substitute game for the poorly Defender).
The top 12 players qualified for the play-offs, which used a modified double-elimination format.
There were 30 players in total, and the 12 who qualified for the play-offs were:
The 12 players were split into three groups of four and each group played a single 4-player game on a machine drawn by tournament sponsor David Stephan.
The top scorer stayed on their machine for the next round while the second and third placed players changed to different machines. The lowest placed player in each group joined the loser bracket where they played a 3-player game on a fourth machine, with only the top scorer progressing to the next loser round.
The second round ran on the same system but with 3-player games instead, with the winner staying on the same machine, the 2nd placed player swapping machines and the 3rd placed joining the loser round.
This continued into the third round where the 3 x 2-player games saw the winners going into the final and the losers playing in the loser round for a shot at the fourth final place.
Top qualifier Martin Ayub stayed on Jackbot throughout, as he came top in all his 3 matches to go into the final. He was pleased when the machine drawn at random as the final machine was... Jackbot. He was joined in the final by second placed qualifier Nick Marshall who won power-interrupted loser bracket final on Big Buck, eighth-placed qualifier Greg Mott who came back from a third place on Monster Bash to win twice in a row on Dirty Harry, and Matt Vince who played all three machines - Dirty Harry, Monster Bash & Jackbot - on his way to the final.
As everyone gathered around the Jackbot, the final began with Nick playing first, Greg second, Martin third and Matt fourth. Nick got off to a solid start and ended his three balls on 1,176,006,750 points, tilting the final ball and losing his bonus. Greg had high hopes of surpassing Nick, but luck was not with him and he ended up almost 300M short on 892,303,420 points.
Martin was in last place going into his final ball, but managed to salvage second place, edging past Nick and ending up with 1,228,886,560 points.
But it was Matt who took both an early lead and also charge of the machine. With a score of 3,340,696,620 points at the end of his second ball, he had no need to play the third and comfortably took first place.
Shortly afterwards, Andrew Heighway and David Stephan congratulated the finalists and presented the trophies.
Matt had only recently got into pinball and this was his first tournament win, moving him 669 places up the IFPA world rankings.
Here are the final placings for all 30 competitors.
The Open finished around 9:15pm, so there was just time for most players to jump in their cars and head into town to Pat Collins Bar and Restaurant for food and drinks before they stopped taking food orders at 9:30pm.
For most, Sunday was a traveling day, but there was still time for an ad-hoc mini-tournament at lunchtime, organised by Albert Medaillon and won by Peter Scheldt.
After that, we left for the flight home with happy memories of a weekend enjoying pinball favourites and reacquainting with old friends of both the solid-state and human variety.
Many thanks to Andrew for organising the weekend's events, the food, drink and trophies, and for opening his home to a bunch of pinball freaks to run riot over it. Thanks too to Andrew's dad John for his help.
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