9th POLISH PINBALL CHAMPIONSHIPS
Date: 27th November, 2010
I would like to tell you that Poland and Hungary have shared a common king a few times. We also shared a border for many years, but that was a long time ago (although it occured again in 1939) and we were even part of a single country when Hungary and part of Poland became parts of the Austrian Empire.
We Poles used to say: “Poles and Hungarian cousins be, good for fight and good for party” (Hungarians also know this phrase). That’s true for a pinball party too, because the new Polish pinball king is Hungarian!
The 9th edition of Polish Pinball Championship had a slightly longer name this time. Originally called “Qulturalne Mistrzostwa Polski w Grze na Flipperach” which means “Qultural 9th Polish Pinball Championships”), it had 'Printimus 2010' added to the beginning of the tournament name. Printimus is a printing house and this was the second time they had sponsored the grand prize which was, as always, a pinball machine. As in 2009 it was a Pin•Bot, although not the same one. They also prepared some very important commemorative prints for the event.
Last year we had 36 competitors and it was our biggest turnout yet. This year 64 players decided to take part - four of them from abroad. Three Hungarians and one Frenchman visited Warsaw’s Centralny Dom Qultury (it changed its name to 'Spółdzielnia CDQ' which has been the organiser and venue for the tournament from the very start. They were: definitely best Hungarian pinballer and one of the best in the world (currently 14th in the world on WPPR) Krisztián Szalai, László Horn (2nd in Hungarian WPPR and 58th globally), Istvan Szabo and Frenchman Michel Dailly.
The three Hungarian players were joined by their colleague Gabor, who is half- Hungarian, half-Pole. This nice guy helped us with translating some of the more complicated matters.
The rest of the players came, as usual, from Warsaw, the nearby city of Piaseczno and from all across Poland.
On November 27th we prepared our record-breaking number of 12 machines - 8 for the tournament and the rest for warm-up or for casual free play by competitors and the public.
Please remember, this is may be a small tournament but for many people this is one of the things they really like about it.
Most of machines came from Pawel Nowak’s BillArt club in Piaseczno and a games room Radom city (over 100 km away!) - four machines from both. The remainder came from private owners.
All 64 contestants played each of the eight machines in groups of four players. The machines were: four classics - Indiana Jones (Williams), Twilight Zone, Star Trek - The Next Generation and Cirqus Voltaire - as well as Demolition Man, Harley-Davidson (1991, Bally), the oldest in this collection, Pool Sharks and the less well-known Independence Day.
Because “ID4” was very easy to play, the elimination round took 8 hours and didn't finish until 9pm (having started at 1pm). Matches on Independence Day took longer than on all the other - about two hours! All games were set on three balls with no extra balls, which we changed for this edition as previously we had played four balls with extra balls enabled.
64 contestants played in the first phase, teaming up with whoever they wanted to form a group. The results within each group weren't the important thing, because there were individual ranking points awarded for each machine.
The best ranked 16 players were all promoted to the next stage – the quarter-final. Those 16 were divided into four groups, each consisting of four players where first in the rankings was matched with fifth, ninth with thirteenth etc.
Starting with this stage, it was the results within the groups which mattered. All four guests from abroad qualified for the semi-final. It was too late to play the next two matches on more than two machines, so we chose the best playing games and allocated them by a draw.
It was good decision because it took until midnight before we knew the four finalists from the 8 semi-finalists. It wasn’t a surprise that Krisztián and László made it to the final. They were joined by our very good Polish representative, Daniel Nowak from Belchatow, and from Warsaw the vice president of PSF (Polish Pinball Association), Konrad Buczynski.
Around midnight, the final battle started. Three machines were used: Indiana Jones, Twilight Zone and Star Trek.
Krisztián was the best on all three and at around 1:30am he decisively became the winner of “Printimus 2010 - Qultural 9th Polish Pinball Championships”.
Second place went to Daniel, with László and Konrad in third and fourth.
Krisztián won the Pin•Bot, although he had to return to Warsaw to get a bigger car for it. The other three finalist got their choice of translites from Stern Pinball with Gary Stern's autograph.
They also received memorial mugs from Mariusz Tkacz, who also prepared 16 memorial T-shirts for all the quarter-finalists. There were also some souvenirs from Pinball News and Tomex for the best four.
In addition, all competitors could take free mini-calendars and posters made by G&G Studio.
As always, we have some media patrons: internet portal Onet – the biggest Polish portal who published a preview of the event, PinGame Journal whose Editor, Jim Schelberg offered a mini-subscription (four issues) of his magazine as an award for the second year, specialist Polish amusement magazine Interplay which traditionally sponsored the cups (this year they provided a very unusual glass trophy), event and cultural magazine Aktivist, student & portal magazine Eurostudent, and of course, Pinball News.
One very important announcement - maybe even crucial for attendance - was in Co Jest Grane, which is the cultural events and premiere supplement to Gazeta Wyborcza – one of the main newspaper in Poland. It was also published in the local Warsaw section of the Gazeta Wyborcza web site.
Almost all of these published some information about our tournament, but much more interesting were two radio reports which were also a kind of promotion, and a film report shot during the event. I and Aleksander Zurkowski – one of the most Polish pinball players - visited the Polish Radio (Polskie Radio) station's 4th programme a day before tournament . You can read something about this, or watch and listen or just listen here.
There is also a story told by Polish singer and musician Leslaw, who was one of the co-founders of the band Komety (which means 'Comets'). He tells the story of their song Król flipperów (King of Pinballs). You could listen this song here, and listen & watch how Komety play it on concert (incidentally, probably shot in CDQ club) here.
The second radio station which was interested in our tournament was Eska Rock which sent a reporter to CDQ during the Championships, where he recorded some interviews. You can listen to them here, here and here.
The most spectacular media material could be found on the television. Artur Rej and Ludwik Lis who work for all-Polish television commercial broadcaster TVN, made a really awesome report about pinball machines and Polish Pinball Championships for local station, Warsaw TVN. Good job! Thank you very much guys.
By the way, I get impression that TVN station likes pinballs because on the 16th of January, their flagship newscast for all Poland call Fakty (meaning 'The Facts') showed a report from USA all about pinball machines! It was a very nice surprise for us. There were some mistakes or simplifications, but still, that was something almost unbelievable! Why? Because pinball is niche and, what probably is a bigger problem, many people in Poland mix it up with slot machines. So sometimes we have a problem to persuade some media to report about pinball. But the report from the USA about pinball is really enthusiastic. Reporter Marcin Wrona called pinball “one of the greatest entertainments of all time”.
In the end. We try to promote pinball and our tournament in as many way as possible.
We use private and business contacts, and all kinds of media: press, TV, radio, portals, internet and e-mails, but we don’t forget about classic - you could even say old school - methods like posters. These are made not only for the competitors as a gift, but inevitably some of them are pasted or attached to some of Warsaw’s walls. The most ambitious and enthusiast installer of posters is our champ Aleksander Zurkowski. This time he had problems with them. Big problems. He was caught twice by municipal police, and because he started to discuss it, the officers gave him several mandatory fines include criminal damage, illegal cark parking and littering.
© Pinball News 2011