Date: August 11th & 12th, 2012
Now in its fifth year, the Welsh Pinball Classic is the only pinball tournament in the UK where you won't find a single dot-matrix machine.
Held at a farmhouse near the South Wales town of Abergavenny, classic '80s Bally machines are the norm here, with the occasional Stern thrown into the mix.
Before we get to the games though, the Welsh Pinball Classic is as much a social event as a tournament. Many visitors arrived the day before the competition, with others staying even longer and taking advantage of the generous grounds to pitch a tent and camp out in the mild weather.
The gardens also provided a great place to relax before, during or after the tournament, or to make use of the barbeque.
To wash down the char-grilled offerings, what better than some local beer or cider. Both were available in the cafe building next to the house, along with tea, coffee and home-made cakes.
Saturday was a day for practicing on the machines which would be used for the tournament the next day, and to socialise late into the night.
Inside the pinball building were the classic machines.
With players traveling from all over England and Wales, competitors could start their qualifying round games whenever they were ready, as along as they began before about 1pm.
The tournament was organised by Greg Mott who, together with Peter Blakemore, input all the scores from the 55 competitors who paid the £7.50 (€9.48, $11.88) entry fee.
Players could play any 6 from the 8 available machines. All the scores on each machine were ranked and ranking points awarded, with 100 points for the top score. The sum of their ranking points on each machine produced a players total score.
The machines in use were; Mr & Mrs Pac-Man, Strikes & Spares, Fathom, Kiss, Flash Gordon, Meteor, Eight Ball Deluxe and Space Invaders, and all were set to 4-ball play for the tournament.
The top 16 ranked players from the qualifying round moved into the second round. The results of the qualifying round were:
Once the qualifying round was over, there was time for those who made it through to prepare for the next round, for those who didn't to reflect on their games, and for everyone to enjoy some lunch.
Not everyone relaxed outside though. Dave Sanders was deep into a game of 1942 inside the pinball room, eventually beating the game for a top score of 11,756,510.
The sixteen qualifiers from the first round were:
These qualifying positions were important because, in the second round players played the same format but on three pre-selected machines - Kiss, Strikes & Spares and Space Invaders. Like before, the scores on all machines were ranked, but then the qualifying positions were added in as a virtual fourth machine.
Players were arranged into four groups of four, and when everyone had played their games and the scores entered into the computer, the results and the top four qualifiers for the final rounds were announced.
Greg briefed the four finalists on the format, where all four players play in a 4-player game and the lowest scorer drops out into 4th place. Play then moves on to a second machine and once again the lowest scorer drops out, this time into 3rd place. After that, a head-to-head game decides the top two positions.
The first game was held on Fathom, and it was David Dutton who ended up in fourth place, dropping out of the final. Martin had the top score of 1,887,570, Eddie was second on 1,587,440, Stan was third on 653,730 and David ended on 369,410.
The second game was played on Eight Ball Deluxe, but ended prematurely when Stan Simpson caused a slam tilt. The slam tilt was unexpected as, although he was giving the game some hard nudging, Martin had given it more on his previous ball without incurring a tilt of any kind.
Nevertheless, according to standard tournament rules anyone who slam tilts a game automatically loses. Thus Stan was out, leaving Eddie and Martin to contest the final.
The final was closely contested, with both players neck-and-neck going into the fourth and last ball. Martin played first but unfortunately had a 'house ball' where, after launching, it shot straight between the flippers without the chance to flip it even once.
That left Eddie only needing to score a couple of thousand points to take the lead and win the final, which he did with ease.
So Eddie Lehan won the 2012 Welsh Pinball Classic.
Awards were presented outside the pinball room by Greg.
With the trophies, T-shirts, mugs and other prizes distributed it was time for everyone to head home and look back on another enjoyable weekend in the rolling hills and farmland of the Welsh countryside.
And recover from all that 'socialising'.
© Pinball News 2012