Date: September 21st 2008
Following the growth of other pinball tournaments and the active pinball league in the UK, it was Dave Rolfe's wish to hold a national tournament in Wales. After consultation about the format and the machines to be used, today saw the very first Welsh Classic Pinball Open at Dave's Ochran Mill home in the South Wales countryside.
Ochran Mills' gardens are opened to the public several times a year and there is a tea room near the house where bacon rolls, cakes, tea, coffee and various snacks were served at very reasonable prices.
The tea room also served as the practice area with 2 pinball machines set up on free play - Data East's The Simpsons and Gottlieb's Class Of 1812 - with a third - a Bally Speakeasy - used for a high score tournament run by Dan Rolfe.
But this wasn't so much an event for recreational players as a day-long individual tournament and the action took place in the games room/workshop area at the side of the house.
Inside were eight pinball machines set up for the tournament, and the "classic" in the event's name gives a clue to the vintage of machines used. All were solid state, pre-alphanumeric games from three different manufacturers and entry cost £5 per person. Players could only enter once.
The machines used for the Welsh Classic Pinball Open were: Strikes & Spares (Bally), Kiss (Bally), Eight Ball Deluxe (Bally), Vector (Bally), Flash Gordon (Bally), Torch (Gottlieb), Paragon (Bally) and Iron Maiden (Stern).
Up for grabs were trophies for the top four finishers and a bottle of champagne for the winner.
Due to the various distances travelled by the competitors to get to the event, the first round of qualifying was split into two sessions - an earlier round starting around 11am for those living nearby or who stayed the previous night, and a later round for those travelling from further afield.
The format gave all the qualifying players the same 6 machines to play. The 2 machines not used in this preliminary round were Vector and Kiss.
Players were split into teams of four to play a single 5-ball game on each machine. When both groups had completed all their matches, their scores were ranked against all the other players' scores and ranking points were awarded.
There were 32 players taking part and after everyone had played their allotted six games, the top 16 progressed to the second round.
The qualifying round results were:
Adam Lee and Mark Boote had to leave before the second round began so their places were taken by Phil Dixon and Dave Wilcox.
With 16 players taking part in the second round, the format chaged to use just the Kiss and Vector machines.
Each player had a single 5-ball game on both machines as part of a group of four. The 16 scores on each were then ranked.
As an incentive to do well in the first round, each player's position in the qualifying was then used as their position on a virtual third machine. When the ranking points were added up, the top four players who went into the final rounds were Martin Ayub, Mike Parkins, Greg Mott and Terry Sullivan.
The final consisted of 3 games played on machines picked at random. The 4 finalists would play the first machine and the lowest scoring player would drop out and become the 4th placed contestant. In the second game the 3 remaining players would play another game on a different machine and the lowest scorer would drop out into 3rd place. The final game would then decide the top 2 places.
The first game selected was Eight Ball Deluxe where Martin Ayub was the lowest scorer, ending up fourth overall.
The second game moved on to Kiss and this time it was Greg Mott's turn to drop out and take third place.
Which left Mike Parkins and Terry Sullivan to battle it out on Stern's Iron Maiden.
The final was an evenly balanced affair throughout but on the final ball, Mike overtook Terry's total of 158,000 to end on 248,000 and became the first winner of the Welsh Classic Pinball Open.
A short time later, event organiser Dave Rolfe presented the trophies to the finalists.
In fourth place was Martin Ayub.
Third was Greg Mott.
The runner-up was Terry Sullivan.
And the winner of the Welsh Classic Pinball Open for 2008 was Mike Parkins.
There was one further award to present - to the winner of the high score competition held on the Speakeasy in the tea room.
The victor there was Nick Marshall who collected his prize money from organiser Dan Rolfe.
So the inaugural Welsh Classic Pinball Open drew to a close an visitors braved the busy motorways for the trip home, having enjoyed an excellent day of classic solid-state pinball action. It shows how a purely competitive event can draw a good number of players from across the UK to take part.
Dave says the success of this first event means there will be another next year so keep an eye on the Diary section where details for 2009 will appear as soon as they are confirmed.