|WELSH CLASSIC PINBALL OPEN 2009
Date: September 20th, 2009.
Almost a year ago to the day, the inaugural Welsh Classic Pinball Open was held by Dave Rolfe at his family's home - Ochran Mill in the South Wales countryside.
That event attracted good support from the UK pinball community and so Dave was back again this year with a few different machines and a slightly different selection of players in the pinball room. 28 visitors competed in this year's tournament - slightly down from last year's 32 but like last time they were well catered for with bacon rolls, hamburgers and baked potatoes amongst the hot food available to purchase from the cafe.
Also in the cafe were three pinballs - a Data East Simpsons, a Revenge From Mars and a Speakeasy which was also used for a high score competition which ran alongside the main tournament.
The Welsh Classic Pinball Open cost £5 to enter and it uses all solid-state machines from the end of the '70s and the '80s, so there are no EMs and no dot matrix machines either. While the bulk of the machines were the same, some visitors had brought additional games which varied the mix from last year.
The format was largely unchanged though. At stake was the title, plus a commemorative trophy and a year's stewardship of the new perpetual Welsh Classic Pinball Open trophy, shown below on the right.
Competitors played in groups of three or four on seven different solid state machines for the qualifying round. The players were split into two groups - an early and a late group so those traveling long distances could arrive a little later in the day. The first group began at about 11am and the second group once the first had completed their games.
The names of the players in each group were read out by tournament organiser Greg Mott.
Greg used a computer in Dave's new bar and DJ station to organise the groups and record the scores, helped by Dave's son Harry Rolfe.
The machines used of the qualifying round were: Kiss, Paragon, Eight Ball, Eight Ball Deluxe, Vector, Flash Gordon and Iron Maiden. Everyone played all seven and when the games were completed, ranking points were awarded with 100 for the top score, 85 for second, 78 for third and so on down to 3 points for last place. Most machines were set to 5 balls and any extra balls earned could be plunged but not played.
Once the first group had played their games, they could go and get some lunch either at the on-site cafe or drive into Abergavenny where the annual food festival was taking place. Fortunately it was lovely weather and many players took the opportunity to just sit outside and take a break in the gardens.
Around 3pm, everyone had returned and the qualifiers for the second round could be announced. The top half would continue into the next round while for those in the lower half, their tournament run was over.
Qualifying Round results
For the second round, the play moved to the three machines at the front of the room - Atlantis, Pink Panther and Torpedo Alley.
The 15 qualifiers were split into four groups and they all played these three machines, earning ranking points just like they did in the qualifying round. In addition, a fourth "virtual" machine was created, using the player's positions in the qualifying round to award ranking points.
The sum of the ranking points from these four machines determined which four players would go into the final.
Second Round results
That left Aid Cooper, Nick Marshall, Phil Dixon and Eddie Mole playing to decide the top four places in the three game final.
In the final games, a machine was drawn at random and all the finalists played in a four-player game. The player with the lowest score dropped out and the remaining three moved on to the next machine. This continued until the eventual winner could be declared.
The first machine to be drawn was Flash Gordon and it was here that Aid Cooper ended his tournament run to take fourth place in the game and overall.
The second game drawn out of the box was the Atlantis.
Despite a valiant attempt to claw his way back, Phil Dixon ended up last of the trio, taking third place in the tournament.
Which left Eddie Mole and Nick Marshall to contest the last game. The game drawn was Iron Maiden which just happened to have been Eddie's. Nick was given the chance to draw an alternative but chose to play it anyway.
The three-ball game started well for Nick as he led by 28,780 to 19,550 after the first ball. Eddie pulled back with his ball two score to stand at 48,380 but Nick quickly regained his lead to go into the last ball on 85,780.
That score proved to be good enough as Eddie finished his third and final ball on 79,430 which meant Nick didn't need to play his last ball and was the new Welsh Classic Pinball Open Champion.
Shortly afterwards the presentation ceremony took place with host Dave Rolfe awarding the trophies and branded mugs to the top four players.
This year Dave had also supplied a new perpetual trophy for the winner to keep until the next Welsh Classic. Last year's winner Mike Parkins briefly got his hands on the new trophy before handing to Nick as this year's holder.
Throughout the main tournament, competitors and spectators could purchase spare parts, manuals and other pinball and coin-op parts from Dave Wilcox who had set up in the corner of the tournament room, where he was helped by Dan Rolfe.
Dave also did well by winning the High Score Competition, held on the Speakeasy in the cafe.
This year's event improved on last year's by increasing by one the number of machines played and also by allowing recreational play on the main row of machines once the first round of the tournament was over.
That meant visitors who had traveled some distance got to spend more time playing pinball, even if they were knocked out of the competition after the first round of matches.
The new (and well stocked) bar area also improved the facilities although it would have been nice to be able to see the results screen a little more easily or perhaps have a print out of the results for each round. Next year it is hoped to use a variation of the EPC scoring system which should go some way to help.
With machines of this era, some technical issues are perhaps to be expected. The majority performed well and held up for the duration of the tournament though, with only a few games having to be interrupted or restarted.
So with the final over, the last few parts purchased and snacks all stocked up in preparation for the journey home, we bring our report from the second Welsh Classic Pinball Open to a close. Many thanks to Dave and the whole family for hosting the event, Greg for running the tournament and congratulations to the winners.
We'll see you again in 2010.