SHINE CHARITY PINBALL
Date: January 18th, 2014
Pictures by Chris Bear
The post-Christmas period was looking pretty bleak for pinball tournaments in the UK, but a dull Saturday in January was livened up thanks to a charity fund-raising tournament, high score competition, and charity raffle.
The event was organised by Matt Vince as part of his campaign to raise money for the children's charity Shine. Matt and his fiancée Sarah have personal experience of the charity through their daughter Katie who was born with Hydrocephalus in 2012.
Katie has undergone numerous operations to make it possible for her to live a normal life, and the charity has provided the family with valuable support and advice through the tough times.
So at the start of 2014, Matt began a sponsored weight-loss programme and organised the Shine tournament day at The Pipeline bar in central London where he operates three of the pub's six pinballs.
The doors opened at 11am with the main tournament starting around midday. Entry was via a minimum £20 ($33, €24) donation to the charity through Matt's page on the Just Giving website.
In the main tournament, eight modern machines were set up on a raised area on the left side of the bar.
The 51 competitors could choose any six from the eight on which to play a single 4-ball qualifying game, either on their own or as part of a group. The eight machines available were: World Cup Soccer, Fish Tales, Attack from Mars, Red & Ted's Roadshow, Family Guy, Bram Stoker's Dracula, High Speed 2 - The Getaway and AC/DC Premium.
Scores were recorded either on a smart phone or - when things got busy - on paper, and then entered by hand on a PC. The scoring system was put together by Justin Walker who helped Matt organise the event.
Scores were ranked, with 100 points for the top score and a decreasing number of points for lower scores. The exact number of points for places below first depended on the number of competitors who played the machine, with the scale weighted so there were larger gaps between the points at the top end.
The top sixteen players would continue to the play-off rounds.
Meanwhile, a side high-score competition was being hosted over on the opposite side of the bar on Stern's new Start Trek Pro pinball which was lent by Stern's UK distributor, Electrocoin.
All players in the main tournament also received a ticket valid for one play on Star Trek. Additional entries could be purchased for £1 ($1.65, €1.24).
The competition remained open until the final of the main tournament, so players had plenty of time to try their luck.
Lukasz Romanowski put up an initial 75M early in the day which looked like it could be enough with many scores in the 20M-30M range, but there were plenty more players willing to have another try and a constant queue to get on the machine.
The Star Trek high score competition was looked after by Katie's mum, Sarah, who - along with Matt's mum Ann, was also selling tickets for the charity raffle which would be held just before the play-off rounds began.
Gary Flower was roaming the bar and using his persuasive charms to sell tickets for the raffle at £1 each.
For those not currently competing - or anyone who was in need of a warm-up game or two - six practice machines were also available and set on free play. They were: Funhouse, Twilight Zone, Judge Dredd, Pool Sharks, Monster Bash and The Addams Family.
This is what they were all playing for:
Over in the main tournament area, Polish player Lukasz Romanowski was repeating his performance in the Star Trek competition by taking the top qualifying position.
As the end of qualifying drew near, there were some anxious faces checking to see if they had made the cut... or not.
When all the qualifying matches were over and the qualifying places decided, it was time for the raffle. Tickets were drawn from a bowl and the lucky winners came up to select a prize.
With all the prizes distributed, all eyes turned to the play-offs over the opposite side of the room.
Four groups of four players were formed, and they played a single 4-ball game on a randomly-chosen machine, with just the top two going through to the semi-finals.
There were some surprises amongst the fallers at this particular hurdle, leaving the last eight as:
The same format continued into the semi-finals with two 4-player games, with the top two from each going into the final. The losers would play for 5th - 8th places.
When both matches had reached their conclusion, the final four were:
The final was held on AC/DC, with the sound pumped through The Pipeline's PA system.
While the final was taking place, the 5th - 8th place play-off was running on the nearby Bram Stoker's Dracula.
In the final, Ivan Miles had the best game of the four and put in a winning performance, closely followed by Robin Kemp who could have taken the win if his canon shot had struck home and collected the 9.5M song jackpot.
Peter Blakemore came in third, with event organiser Matt Vince in fourth.
Soon after, the awards were handed out to the top players in both the main tournament and the Star Trek high score competition.
Lukasz's early 75M score on Star Trek held up to give him the win. Johan Smaros came in with a late second place score of 55M, while Martin Ayub was third with 52M.
Here are the full results for both events:
The event had been a great success and the near £2,000 ($3,300 or €2,400) raised for Shine certainly put a smile on everyone's face.
Donations and sponsorship are still being accepted through Matt's Shed4Shine page on the Just Giving website.
© Pinball News 2014