Date: 23rd & 24th October 2009
Report by Lukasz Dziatkiewicz
Comeback of Polish Pinball Wizard
One of the best Polish pinball players - 26 year-old Aleksander Zurkowski from Warsaw - became the first player to win two Polish Pinball Championships.
Two years after winning the 2007 title, the sociology student returned the the same venue to repeat his victory and take home his fourth pinball machine.
But this tournament will be remembered for more than Aleksander's second win. Thanks to the organisers and supporters, we also had a record number of eight pinballs used in the tournament and - which is even more important - a record field of 36 competitors for the event.
This third achievement is the most important in boosting media interest in the tournament. A few articles were published in newspapers in the days leading up to the Championship such as this one in the Polska The Times:
and there were more after the tournament. Definitely the best of the bunch was published after in the local but very famous daily Warsaw newspaper “Zycie Warszawy”. Good job!
Our media sponsor Onet, which is the largest Polish web portals, published my report:
In addition, the local Warsaw TV station “TVN Warszawa” (a local branch of one of the main television networks covering a third of Poland, “TVN”) broadcast a report which helped to promote the Championship:
I was also interviewed on the radio - on Radio Warszawa, which is Catholic station. We had a nice and fairly long conversation about pinball and Polish Pinball Championship, which was broadcast before the tournament and allowed me to give it more advance publicity.
Get the Flash Player to hear this audio clip.
Jacek Przybylski, as always, arranged all machines. Most of them were borrowed from private owners.
Three of them belonged to Michal Glowacki. It was his visual merchandising company “G&G studio” which printed the Championship posters.
The 8th Polish Pinball Championships, officially and originally called the "VIII Qulturalne Mistrzostwa Polski W Grze Na Flipperach" had, for very first time, a longer name which translates as "Qultural 8th Polish Pinball Championships" - a competition for the KupBilet Trophy sponsored by TickEventum.
This was due to the fact we had to bring in a sponsor to fund the grand prize – as usual, a pinball! The prize had previously been funded by the venue and the main organizer, Centralny Dom Qultury. Marcin Krysinski, who is the TickEventum’s principal shareholder and President of the Board, not only secured the money for this trophy but also printed a large variety of promotional items: calendars, certificates, Polish Pinball Association member cards, tables for the player groups and individual versions for the players to keep as mementos. We used computer to keep track of the Championship's progress, but printed tables were also very useful.
The 8th Polish Pinball Championships were held, as usual, at the Centralny Dom Qultury (CDQ), a Warsaw underground club. One day before the tournament, a training session was organized - from 4pm until 11pm when players could practice on most of the games.
Just before 11am on Saturday 24th, the first players began to arrive.
On one side of the CDQ's lower hall stood the eight tournament machines: Pool Sharks, Who Dunnit?, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, The Bally Game Show, Bram Stoker's Dracula, Demolition Man, Fish Tales and Pin-Bot, which was waiting for a new owner because this machine was the grand prize.
As you can see from that list, all but three of the pinballs had dot matrix displays. On the other side of the hall were Twister, World Cup Soccer, Star Wars (Data East) and the only machine from CDQ itself, Funhouse.
During the elimination round, the Who Dunnit? machine suffered a failure and was replaced by the machine based on the Star Wars saga.
The elimination round began around 1pm. The 36 contestants were divided into 4-player groups and each group played on all of the 8 machines.
All machines were set on 4 balls with extra balls allowed. The results in the individual groups didn't matter, because ranking points were awarded on each machine. The 16 players with the highest total ranking points qualified for the next stage.
A few words about the entrants. Most of them were regular competitors, while some had taken part once or twice before. But there was also a number of new players in the Championship. Krisztián Szalai and Ernö Rotter didn't turn up, but a Pole from Germany, Marcin Janczyk (he has the highest position of Polish pinballers on the Pinball Rankings list – currently 173rd) did participate. One pinball fan came from my home city – Krakow.
Arkadiusz Durman who works as a tram driver took part, but it was another player who became the real sensation. Armand Maculewicz from Stargard Szczecinski came for the first time. Nobody knew him and... he was extraordinary, because some of his results were much, much better than others. Incidentally, Armand works as a railroad man (there seems to be a mysterious predilection for pinball among Polish rail vehicle drivers).
The biggest group came from Silesia, among them former champion Mariusz Tkacz with his seven-year-old son Kuba (the youngest competitor) and brother Dominik. We were particularly glad to see this extraordinary participation of pinball fans from many parts of Poland.
At around 7pm, the semi-final began. 16 players fought in four groups on the best working machines. These were: Fish Tales, Demolition Man, Terminator 2: Judgment Day and The Bally Game Show. This time it was the result in group which mattered and earned points – 7 points down to 1 point depending on the place in group. To help keep the players going, Red Bull supplied them with refreshments.
We decided to turn off the extra balls so as not to draw out the competition. Railroad workers Armand and Aleksander scored 24 points each, while Artur Hoznar and Jaroslaw Nietrzebka scored 22. These four players formed final four.
In the final game on three machines (without Terminator – Hasta la vista, baby ;), only the first two of the above-named players mattered. Despite winning the first two games, Armand finished last on Fish Tales and ended up with 15 points, whereas Aleksander had 17.
It was a very close competition right up to the end. Jaroslaw was third and Artur fourth.
The final four (and our two main partners – Marcin and Michal) each received a bottle of wine, funded by Piotr Butkiewicz who works for wine store Galeria Wina.
Three finalists took cups which were, as always, funded by magazine Interplay. Armand as reserve champion received a vacuum cleaner provided by Marcin Trzaskowski who works for Electrolux, and a Pinball News mug with autographs of Gary Flower, Steve Ritchie and Martin Ayub which I brought from the UK Pinball Show.
Apart from the champion Aleksander, the rest of finalists got Stern translites and flyers with Gary Stern’s autographs. These souvenirs were received from Gary when Marcin met and talked to him in his factory. Marcin contacted Stern and they agreed to be one of our partners.
Aleksander, apart from winning the Pin-Bot, also received a mini-subscription to the PinGame Journal. Jim - owner and editor-in-chief - agreed that his magazine was our media patron.
© Pinball News 2009