Date: 24th - 26th April 2009
It's the last weekend in April and we're back at the Jefferson Country Fairgrounds in Golden, Colorado for the 6th annual Rocky Mountain Pinball Showdown.
Thursday was set-up day for exhibitors and vendors and fortunately the snow of the previous week had vanished to leave a beautiful warm spring day.
By mid-afternoon, work was well advanced on setting up the machines, stands and gazebos inside the main hall.
The tournaments were intending to use three new 24 games, two of which had arrived and were waiting to be unboxed.
It wasn't long before they were set up alongside the three Addams Family machines to complete the Open Tournament line-up.
When all the games were set up, there was a total of 91 machines available for public play plus 9 tournament machines when the doors opened to the public at midday on Friday.
Public Play Machines
While qualifying began at midday for the Open, Classic and Electromechanical tournaments, the first of the show's mini-tournaments took place on Friday evening. The Team Tournament randomly drew two players to form a team who them played a series of opponents in straight single elimination head-to-head matches. The scores from each team's players were added together to give their team score. The team with the highest score progressed, the lower scoring team were out.
The final was played on Tales Of The Arabian Nights and it was the pairing of Keith Elwin and Tim Riehl who walked away victors, collecting winners' trophies for their efforts.
Meanwhile there were some interesting and unusual machines at the show this year. These two customised games re-themed a Black Pyramid to a Tomb Raider and Bobby Orr's Powerplay to a Colorado Eagles.
This tribute to legendary designer Steve Kordek by Eric Kamen was based around Steve's favourite game, Space Mission. Eric hopes to meet Steve at Pinball Expo later this year.
Near the main doors into the show, this display reminded visitors of pinball's roots in bagatelle games.
The show was also well supported by vendors. Illinois Pinball and For Amusement Only had sizeable stands to supply new spares.
Gene Cunningham of Illinois Pinball had seven Medieval Madness playfields which were rapidly reduced to just two. He also had his regular boxes of assorted game plastics and repro custom game parts.
Dave Mercer's For Amusement Only was next door to Gene and did a brisk trade in various parts, spares, translites and manuals.
Also in attendance selling games and parts were Wrong Crowd Productions, Lyons Classic Pinball, Pauley's Pinball, Classic Arcade Resource with some A-list titles set up to play and Universal Sales who run two arcades in the nearby Colorado Mills mall, both of which feature well-maintained pinball machines in the mix of games.
Saturday at the show began at 9am and the damp, cloudy weather outside helped create a sizeable crowd inside the show hall.
By lunchtime it was difficult to find a vacant machine to play and even the free space between games started filling with groups of visitors discussing the show, the games and their performances.
Apart from the events in the main hall, there were also two "Pin Chats" held in an adjacent building at the rear of the main hall.
The first of these featured John Balogh from Colorado Pinball talking about 1990s Bally/Williams repairs. To illustrate his talk, he brought along an unshopped Roadshow which he proceeded to strip down in preparation for restoration and repair.
John described how to start tackling a game of unknown quality which will probably have a number of electrical and mechanical issues. Starting with how to set up a game, described the known and likely problems in the Roadshow, showed some of the previous hacks which had been used to work around problems including by-passed fuses, joined cables and screws in the playfield.
The playfield was then stripped down so the audience could see the condition of the various parts and assemblies.
Before long, the playfield began to look bare as the parts started piling up in the bin, ready to be cleaned and refurbished.
The second Pin Chat was more hands-on for the audience as it gave them the chance to play some rare and sexy games. Basil LeBlanc and Kevin Carroll brought three machines each. Basil had a Stern Iron Maiden, a Gottlieb Krull and a Game Plan Cyclopes.
Kevin brought a mechanical baseball game called Play Ball, a Sexy Girl conversion game and a Big Bang Bar. Because the Sexy Girl contained images of nudity, it remained covered until the Pin Chat began so it could be assured there were no youngsters in the audience.
Before the audience got their chance to play the machines, Basil and Kevin talked briefly about them and gave some background about how they were created, how many were made and they described the notable features to look out for when playing them.
The prospect of playing such unusual machines drew a sizeable crowd to the room.
It wasn't long before the games were being enjoyed by the audience in a session which lasted over three hours.
Saturday also saw the conclusion of the free-to-enter Kids Tournament where the winner was Joshua Henderson, second place went to Nick Lemberger while Natalie Stoner was third. All three received free registration to the PAPA junior division with Joshua and Nick also collecting two entries and one entry respectively. The top three were joined on stage by all the entrants who each received a certificate for taking part.
There was an additional tournament on Saturday evening - the quick draw competition. In this, players were drawn against random opponents in single head-to-head matches. The winner of each game advanced to the next round. Entry cost $5 and the ultimate winner took the entire prize pot.
The initial 32 players were reduced to 16 after the first round, then down to 8, then to 4, and the final two were Cayle George and Don Brownback. The final game saw Don triumph and take home the $160 top prize.
Sunday saw fewer visitors than Saturday and after a quiet start, the number of visitors soon increased and it wasn't long before all the games were in almost constant use.
The Parent-Kid tournament started Sunday morning and pitted one parent with their child against an opposing couple in a series of single-elimination matches. Fifteen teams signed up producing five rounds of head-to-head play.
The eventual winners were Mark and Joshua Henderson who triumphed over George and Ethan Chappel in the final.
There were also several other tournaments held across the weekend.
In Saturday's Classic Solid State Tournament it was a win for Mike Mahaffey who defeated Cayle George in the final to take home the trophy and the $300 top prize.
Mike repeated his victory in the final of the Classic Electromechanical Tournament where he beat Keith Elwin into second place to take his second title of the day.
On Saturday at midday, the Quick Draw Tournament took place. Entry cost $5 per player and it was a rapid, single elimination contest where the winner took the pot. That winner was Don Brownback who collected $160.
Running alongside the Open Tournament in the tent was the Electromechanical Tournament which, like its neighbour, began with qualifying on Friday and Saturday before the top 8 played on Sunday morning to produce the eventual champion.
After two-and-a-half days of competition, the winner was Denny Powers who collected a trophy and the $200 top prize.
At midday on Sunday, there was a raffle for a selection prizes including t-shirts, glare guards, hot sauce, translites, posters, books, caps and flyers.
These were duly given out to the lucky winners by Dan.
In the Open tournament there was a play-off between the top two in the loser bracket. Trent Augenstein and Keith Elwin battled it out on 24 to win a place in the final against Cayle George and it was Keith who won that match to face Cayle on The Addams Family. Cayle had the advantage going into the final as he only had to win once since he got to the final from the winner's bracket, whereas Keith needed to win twice to beat him.
After ball one of the first game, Cayle led 75M to 4.8M. After the second ball in which Cayle toured the mansion, he boosted his score to 141M but Keith came right back with a good multiball and a series of million plus shots to end his second ball at 197M. Cayle could only nudge his score up to 154M with his third ball, so Keith won the first game to make them level.
The deciding game was on the same Addams Family machine and Cayle got off to a bad start with just 2.35M on his first ball. Keith didn't do much better, ending his first ball just shy of 5M. Ball two brought Cayle 23.3M and Keith just 9.5M so it would all hang on the last ball. A quick multiball which lived up to its name gave Cayle a final total of 32.4M. Could Keith overtake him? Yes he could. A Mamushka and Cousin It double gave him the win, ending his game when his score reached 45M.
So Keith won $1000 plus a PAPA registration with two entries, Cayle was second taking home $250 along with a PAPA registration, and Trent was third, winning $100. All three also picked up trophies.
Finally, here's our exclusive Two Minute Tour of the games, the vendors and the people at the Rocky Mountain Pinball Showdown on Sunday morning.
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