Date: 10th - 12th March, 2017
Additional pictures: Printimus Pinball
After last year's inaugural Mihiderka Pinball & Food Festival - the world's only combined pinball and vegan food event - we are back at Printimus Pinball in the southern Polish town of Bytom to enjoy the burgers and the flippers for a second time.
Printimus is a full-service printing company based on a light industrial park on the outskirts of Bytom in the Silesia region of the country. While printing is the main business, the building also houses a nice collection of pinballs ranging from 1977 Gottlieb four-players such as Bronco and Jungle Queen, through to Jersey Jack Pinball's The Hobbit Smaug Edition.
Printimus is owned by Marcin Krysiński while the Printimus Pinball section is run by joint Polish IFPA Director, Łukasz Dziatkiewicz who is also president of Polish Pinball Association (PSF). Together they would host a main pinball tournament, a classic tournament, a JJP tournament, a magic-themed tournament and a Dig-Dug video game tournament.
Mihiderka is a Marcin's family-run vegan restaurant which began as a single operation in Gliwice near Bytom but has since expanded to three locations with a fourth opening soon and further expansion on the cards.
So, the three-day event gives a unique opportunity to combine competitive pinball with the best in plant-based cuisine.
But before we get to any of that, we left the Printimus building for a ride to another unique business based in the nearby city of Katowice. On the way there we drove through the city of Chorzów. The city was a sponsor of the Mihiderka Pinball and Food Festival, providing prizes to the winners, and even included pinball in its promotional video (something which is very unusual in Poland) to businesses looking to invest in the region.
So it was that our car dropped us off down a narrow alleyway.
Our destination was a pinball-themed hotel offering an immersive pinball experience for those staying in one of the dedicated pinball rooms.
As soon as you enter the building you come face-to-face with a familiar character at reception.
Every corridor and room in the hotel features pinball games, pinball artwork, pinball photographs.
Leaving reception to visit the bedrooms we pass a Mustang machine and various backglasses.
The rooms are split up by theme. Some are music-themed, others circus-themed.
The pinball hotel is the brainchild of Eugeniusz Wiecha who is a legendary figure in the Polish amusement business, establishing the Rabkoland amusement park, being one of the founders of Interplay magazine and also a prolific operator of amusement machines.
Then it was back to Printimus Pinball for practice, lunch, and the start of the tournaments.
Entrance to the Mihiderka Pinball & Food Festival cost €40 per person if paid before February 14th, increasing by €5 for entries up until March 7th and rising to €50 thereafter.
Apart from entry to the tournaments, players had use of the kitchen facilities, soft drinks, tea, coffee as well as breakfast and a late lunch on Saturday and Sunday. Beer could be purchased at 5PLN ($1.25/€1.18/£1.01) per 500ml bottle, although in contrast to previous tournaments there was no fully-stocked snacks machine.
One criticism of last year's festival was that although the vegan food was tasty and plentiful, some players objected to the lack of any meaty dishes. This year there were several meat dishes (cold meats and sausages) available for breakfast both days.
Breakfast food items remained available throughout the morning while qualifying for all the tournaments continued.
The main tournament used an unusual qualifying format. There were 24 pinballs used in qualifying and players could play any of them as many times as they wanted before qualifying closed around 9pm on Saturday evening.
Whenever a player achieved a score they deemed good enough, they would get it recorded on their score sheet and that score would then be 'locked-in' for that machine and couldn't be changed. They could then move on to their next machine and play until they decided to record a score on that one.
The machines used were:
Players were free to move around between machines as they wished, so if they found they couldn't get into a particular title they could come back to it later. However, with 24 machines on which to record scores, time could be tight if players were too picky about getting a great score to record.
All scores on the twenty-four machines were ranked and ranking points awarded. When qualification ended, the twelve players with the highest total ranking points would continue to A division play-offs the next day. The remainder would move into the B division for their own set of play-offs for places thirteenth and up.
In addition to the main tournament there was the classic tournament held on six electromechanical or solid state machines.
Qualifying in this tournament was more like classic PAPA style, in that a player could choose three of the six machines and play one game on each for their entry. The skill was in putting together a run of three good scores and not having a bad game which ruined your entry.
You could decide at any time to void your entry, or if you thought it was better than any previous attempts, submit it. One entry was included with MPFF registration, but more could be bought for 5PLN each.
The same pricing scheme applied to the remaining two tournaments.
One entry to the Magic of Pinball competition allowed one game on each of the three magic-themed games - Pinball Magic, Theatre of Magic and Cirqus Voltaire. OK, so Cirqus Voltaire is more a circus-themed game but what circus doesn't have a magical feel to any youngster lucky enough to be in the audience?
As the classic tournament, the key to success lay in putting together a string of good games so that all three games in your entry held respectable scores.
The final tournament was played out on the two Jersey Jack Pinball title The Wizard of Oz and The Hobbit: Smaug Edition.
Around 3pm on Saturday lunch was served. Guests could choose from the two types of Mihiderka vegan burgers, or they could order from a delivery service menu if they preferred a meat or non-vegan meal.
In addition to the made-to-order burgers, a rice stew with bread was served on Saturday.
Once lunch was finished, the serious business of qualifying continued.
Later in the day, vegan mushroom pizza was served along with the remaining stew from lunch time.
When qualifying closed, all the players were ranked according to their total ranking points across all twenty-four machines, with the top half going into the A division and the remainder into the B division for the play-offs on Sunday.
Qualifying in the classic, Magic of Pinball and JJP tournaments would continue on Sunday meaning everyone still had a chance of making to the play-offs of those tournaments.
Before the main tournament play-offs could begin, the format had to be decided based on the number of players and the time available. It was agreed that everyone in each division would play a single game against each of the other players in their division with the number of wins deciding the rankings. The top four in each division would then go into their respective finals.
As a slight twist, the number of wins for the four finalists would be carried forward and be added to the 4-2-1-0 points earned in each game of the final.
The four A division finalists were Cezary Głowala, Daniel Maczurek, David Mainwaring and Martin Ayub. Martin achieved three more wins in the play-offs than either Cezary or Daniel in the play-offs, so he took those three points into the final. Similarly, David had one more win so took one point into the final.
The format of the final allowed each player to choose a machine upon which a four-player game would be played. Points would be awarded for positions on each game, with four points going to the winner, two points to the second-placed player, one point for third place and no points for coming last. When the fourth game was over, the total of the game points and the points carried over would decide the places.
The first game was chosen by Daniel and was Twilight Zone. As with all four games, the player picking the game went first with the remaining players rotating play order from game to game.
Despite picking the game, Twilight Zone was not kind to Daniel and he ultimately ended up coming last on the machine.
Cezary in the player two position fared a little better but still never really got into the game, finishing third.
After another poor start, David pulled his game back with a strong finish on his third ball.
However, Martin had made a strong start on his first ball, racking up over 600M. His second ball pushed that to 1.1BN which was easily enough to win the game without needing his third ball.
Play then moved on to Cezary's choice of Cactus Canyon, and after taking second in the previous game, David Mainwaring went one better and won this game. Martin was second, Daniel third, and the curse of playing your chosen game continued with Cezary coming fourth.
The curse was broken on game three though as, after a shaky start, David won on his pick of The Flintstones with a total score just shy of 1BN.
Martin was second again, with Cezary third and Daniel fourth.
Going into the last game off the final, David and Martin were tied on 11 points each (including the carried forward points), while Cezary had 2 points and Daniel 1. Whoever between David and Martin finished highest in the last game would be the overall winner.
The game was Martin's choice of Funhouse, and he started as player one.
He had a good start too, getting multiball and a jackpot on his first ball and setting himself up for a reasonable 10M overall total
Daniel had a solid if unexceptional first ball, but soon got his game together and overtook Martin's total.
Cezary wasn't finding too much fun in the house, but still put up a reasonable score to sit in third place with just David left to play.
David needed a big last ball to overtake Martin's score and win the final, and although it looked as though he could possibly do it, an outlane drain ended the final and left David in fourth on Funhouse.
So, the results of the A division final were:
In addition to the medals, cash prizes were also awarded with €150 for first place in the main tournament, €75 for second, €50 for third and €25 for fourth.
The winners of each tournament also took home a goodie bag from the city of Chorzów which included a mug and a quality sketchbook.
The final of the B division was running alongside the A division and it was a battle between Joël Wozniak, Jakub Jozefczyk, Hubert Krysinski and Jerzy Weglarz.
In that division, it was Jakub who triumphed, with Joël second, Hubert third and Jerzy fourth. They ended up in thirteenth to sixteen places respectively.
Attention then turned to the remaining four tournaments. After the main tournament's play-offs here was another period of qualifying for these, but as soon as the main final was over, the play-offs for the classic tournament began.
The Classic tournament along with the side tournaments allowed unlimited entries during the qualifying period. One entry was included with MPFF registration, but others could be bought for 5PLN each.
In the Classics, the top eight were split into two groups of four with each group playing a single four-player game on Genie, Bronco and Jungle Queen. It was original intended to play all six machines, but the lateness of the hour and the time it would take to play all six meant it was cut-down to the three fastest-playing games.
After the play-offs there was a tie for second place in one group. Initially it was decided to give the place in the final to the highest qualifier, but after much discussion that decision was reversed and a single game on Mata Hari was used to decide who should go into the final.
The four classic tournament finalist were David Mainwaring, Martin Ayub, Joël Wozniak and Greg Mott.
With the clock ticking, it was decided against playing all the same games again but to play the as-yet-unused Evel Knievel. A single game was deemed too random, so the final would consist of two games on the machine with the scores from each game added together to give an overall score.
Greg began and got off to a very nice start
Martin played second but had a fairly tortuous first ball.
David had a similarly disappointing start, while Joël did a little better.
On the third ball, Martin drained after only adding 8K to his total, but the player two light then lit. It turned out he had played an extra ball earned by Greg. This happened because the player one light didn't work and nobody noticed the 'same player shoots again' light briefly illuminate during the game, so there was no indication it was still player one's turn.
There was much discussion about what had happened and the best way to resolve it.
In the end, Greg received an extra ball at the end of the game, the score from which would be added to his five-ball game total. Martin 's ball would be drained and the 8,000 points he scored with Greg's extra ball transferred to Martin's total.
After all the excitement had died down, Greg won the first game with his 222K total, Joël was second on 102K, Martin third on 91K and David fourth on 47K.
In the second game David began, needing a good game to catch up with Greg's first game total. His first ball of 55K was a good start and the 80K which followed looked promising, but these turned out to be his best balls of the game and he ended on 150K.
Greg was looking to cement his lead with a reasonable second game, but his 103K total left the door partially open.
Joel had a nice final ball, nearly doubling his 79K score to end on 150K.
Martin needed around 220K to win, but could only manage 178K before a drain ended his game and the final.
The final scores were:
and the full results were:
Cash prizes of €50/€25/€15/€5 were also awarded for first to fourth places.
The next tournament was Magic of Pinball and again, the late hour meant the final was played on a single game of Cirqus Voltaire rather than across all three tournament machines. The four finalists were Piotr Kochanski, Greg Mott, Jakub Tkacz and Rafal Bytomski competing for the champion title.
This time it was Rafel who triumphed over the others, with Piotr in second place, Jakub third and Greg fourth.
The penultimate final was the JJP tournament. This was played on The Wizard of Oz and The Hobbit, with the familiar 4-2-1-0 points system used in each game. The four finalists were Mariusz Tkacz, Greg Mott, Piotr Kochanski and Rafał Bytomski.
Greg began well, taking first place and four points from The Wizard of Oz. Mariusz earned two points from his second place, Rafal got one point for third place, while Piotr failed to score with his fourth-place finish.
There had been a failure of the main processor fan on The Hobbit, so The Wizard of Oz was played first and then the fan was swapped to The Hobbit so that game could be played.
Mariusz began on game two but was unable to improve on his previous second place and actually ended up third with one more point for a total of three.
Rafal played second and had a much better game on The Hobbit than The Wizard of Oz, winning the game and ending up on five points.
The final wasn't going well for Piotr. After failing to score any points in the first game, he had a similarly tough time in the second.
After winning game one, Greg needed second place or higher to avoid either a tie-break or coming second.
As it was, he took second place and the two points for a winning total of six.
So, the final totals were:
and the final standings were:
The very last tournament to conclude was the Dig Dug video game competition which took place last thing on Sunday evening.
We rushed out before the Dig Dug final was completed to try to get some dinner before everywhere in Bytom closed for the night (we failed), but the tournament was won by Łukasz Dziatkiewicz who not only won a medal but a suitable prize for his first place.
There was one further award for the Most Stylish Player which was awarded by the organisers to Christina Staines, with Łukasz making the presentation.
By the end of the competitions, only a few players remained as the Mihiderka Pinball & Food Festival 2017 drew to a close.
Marcin and Łukasz were kind enough to collect those guests who flew in to nearby Katowice Airport and bring them to the event, as well as take them back on Monday morning for their flights home. There was also the opportunity for a final few games on the Printimus Pinball machines as well as a farewell chance to savour the tasty Mihiderka vegan pizza for lunch.
In addition, a prize package arrived on Monday from Jersey Jack Pinball containing flyers, T-shirts and hats. Greg Mott, as winner of the JJP tournament, was able to choose some prizes from the gifts, with the remainder used for future tournaments.
The Mihiderka Pinball and Food Festival is certainly a unique event in the pinball world and one which in our opinion is well worth supporting.
The first MPFF in 2016 proved rather restrictive in the way almost the entire weekend was spent in the Printimus building, with only vegan food served and little opportunity to venture outside for alternatives. Thankfully the organisers listened to the suggestions and made the MPFF more relaxed in 2017, with more time to play games, earlier finishes and non-vegan meals available.
Thanks to Marcin, Łukasz and the Mihiderka team for organising another MPFF, and to resident technician Mirek for making sure the ball kept rolling smoothly all weekend.
© Pinball News 2017