Date: 5th - 7th October, 2018 Location: Bulls & Balls, In den Straußwiesen 4, 36039 Fulda, Germany We had heard great things about Bulls & Balls in Fulda, Germany, but never visited ourselves to see what all the fuss was about. So, when IFPA Country Director, Tobias Wagemann, invited us to the IFPA Midsommar Tournament weekend he was organising, we jumped at the chance. Although we had been to Germany many times, we’d never been to Fulda or the Hesse region, so this was a new experience for us and Fulda didn’t disappoint with its Baroque architecture nestled side-by-side with much more recent, but sympathetic, designs in the newer part of the city. The Stadschloss in Fulda The Cathedral in Fulda A view over the newer part of the city We after checking-in to our hotel, we arrived at Bulls & Balls around 6pm on Friday which was just in time for the start of the first competitive event of the weekend, the Warm-Up Tournament. Bulls & Balls is jointly-owned by Matthias Klüber and Jürgen Gärtner. It is located a little way out of Fulda’s central area, but pretty much everything in Fulda is reachable on foot, so even from our hotel (the B&B Hotel which was the opposite side of town and which Matthias very kindly provided for us), it was only around a 20-minute walk to get there. And, as you can see, the weather was good and the temperatures very pleasant for October. The driveway to Bulls & Balls To get to Bulls & Balls, first you walk up the driveway and past a car garage, then turn left behind the garage. Yes, this is the right way Once there, you find a number of outdoor tables and benches, and a limited amount of car parking. The entrance to Bulls & Balls You might notice in the picture above how some of the tables are built from stacked beer crates. This is a theme you’ll see repeated quite a few times during this report. So, let’s take a quick tour of Bulls & Balls to show you where everything is. The entrance you can see in the picture above, but once through the doors you come to the lobby which is where everyone hangs out between rounds when it’s too dark, too cold or too wet to go outside. This is also where everyone can check the scores and standings. The lobby area The main bar On the far left of the picture above is the main bar (there are two), but there is another room further left which you can’t see here. This is normally a billiards room, but for this event the tables had been moved out and 14 solid-state pinballs installed on which the Classics Tournament would be played on Saturday. Normally the room for billiards, for this weekend it was for the Classics Tournament To the right of the bar is a corridor which leads to both the toilets and to the function room where players gathered at the start of each day to hear about the tournament formats and also for lunch around 1pm-2pm on Saturday and Sunday. The corridor to the function room and the toilets The function room The function room contains the second bar It also has a stage for announcements, performances and even karaoke Well, come back to this a little later but continuing around the lobby, or next area is the main pinball room. The main pinball room is on the right side of the lobby The main pinball room On the left is a long row of DMD titles featuring an impressive backdrop montage of pinball playfield photos. The titles in the row are: Metallica, The Walking Dead, Guardians of the Galaxy, The Sopranos, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Shadow, Last Action Hero, Cirqus Voltaire, NBA Fastbreak, Fish Tales, Attack from Mars, Doctor Who, Doctor Who, No Fear, Jackbot and Demolition Man. Some of the artwork behind the long row of machines The long row of DMD pinballs Perpendicular to the long row are 7 shorter rows of four machines each, some back-to-back with the row behind. Game of Thrones, Star Wars, AC/DC and Iron Maiden Terminator 2, High Speed 2: The Getaway, World Cup Soccer and Jackbot Creature from the Black Lagoon, Whitewater, Twilight Zone and Terminator 2 WWE Royal Rumble, The Who’s Tommy, Lethal Weapon 3 and Jurassic Park Road Show, Johnny Mnemonic, No Fear Dirty Harry Indianapolis 500, Batman, Fish Tales and World Cup Soccer Transformers, X-Men, Dracula and Dirty Harry In the main pinball room, Jim and Dina Lindsay had their streaming rig set up so selected machines and all the final games could be seen on Jim’s Twitch stream. Jim set up his laptop, cameras, light and microphone to stream Iron Maiden The XSplit software’s output The next side room, to the right of the lobby, is where the ‘Bulls’ part of the name comes from, with two electronic dartboards set up. The two dartboards have their own room The final room, nearest the entrance, contained a further three pinballs. Deadpool, Kiss and Tales of the Arabian Nights As we said, we got the Bulls & Balls just as the introductions and announcements were about to be made for the start of the Warm-Up Tournament at 6pm. The weekend’s trophies Tobias took to the stage to welcome the players, introduce the referees and tournament officials, and explain the rules for the first of the tournaments. Tobias welcomes everyone in both German and English Overall Tournament Director, Tobias Wagemann The competitors are ready for the start of the Warm-Up Tournament The Warm-Up Tournament was played using the Swiss system of head-to-head pairings formed, initially, randomly, but thereafter with players with the same or similar numbers of wins playing together. That means players who keep winning move up to the top and play tougher games against others who are also winning, while at the bottom those who lose their matches play easier games with other losing players. Play in the Warm-Up Tournament on Friday Friday’s Warm-Up Tournament Friday’s Warm-Up Tournament Friday’s Warm-Up Tournament Friday’s Warm-Up Tournament After all the games in the first round had been played, the players were ranked and new pairings made for the next round. This continued until midnight when the final results were announced. When the Warm-Up Tournament had concluded, the player who got his weekend off to a winning start was Ernö Rotter. Julio Vicario Soriano was second, Flavio Baddaria third and Wolfgang Haid fourth. They received their trophies at the awards ceremony on Sunday morning. The top four in the Warm-Up Tournament: Ernö Rotter (1st), Julio Vicario Soriano (2nd), Flavio Baddaria (3rd) & Wolfgang Haid (4th) (picture: Dina Lindsay) Warm-Up Tournament results 1 Ernö Rotter 2 Julio Vicario Soriano 3 Flavio Baddaria 4 Wolfgang Haid 5 Tobias Wagemann 8 Albert Nomden 8 Sebastien Puertas 8 Jens Flügge 8 Archibald Lefevre 8 Robby Henkelmann 8 Rich Mallett 18 Robert Kappenberger 18 Balázs Pálfi 18 Fabio Gravina 18 Dirk Elzholz 18 Cesare Datri 18 János Sándor 18 Helen de Haan-Verbeek 18 Norman Heikamp 18 Boldizsár Botka 18 Greg Mott 18 John van der Wulp 18 Hartmut Besigk 18 Martin Hotze 32 Giuseppe Violante 32 Mark van der Gugten 32 Reiner Pfeiffer 32 Arno Nöbl 32 Ralf Behr 32 Julian Klotz 32 Guido Christiansen 32 Frank Goeltl 32 Alysa Parks 32 Dina Lindsay 32 Peter Blakemore 32 Erwin Deutschländer 32 Olaf Schumann 32 Nico Wicke 32 Jürgen Letzel 47 Péter András Simon 47 Christian Bär 47 Veit Sander 47 Roland Schwarz 47 Jürgen Urban 47 Artur Natorski 47 Kevin Kuhn 47 Matthias Flügge 47 Mario Kertels 47 Alexander Muer 47 Stefan Herold 47 Jürgen Schmitz 47 Benjamin Gräbeldinger 47 Armin Kress 47 Jim Lindsay 47 Peter Schmidt 61 Eberhard Hattemer 61 Thomas Ferocino 61 Torsten Eid 61 Barbara Sprenger 61 Roman Kunovic 61 Wolfgang Szymanski 61 Daniel Poturica 61 Heiko Schmid 61 Florian Thomas 61 Patrick Gelbarth 61 Stefan Schichtl 61 Klaus Löffler 71 Jörn Runge 71 Nadine Felgentreu 71 Thomas Teis 71 Ollivier Francq 71 David Mainwaring 71 Daniela Thomas 71 Victor Machart 71 Jenna Muer 76 Kyoo Barbaix 76 Ayoka Besigk 78 Mirko Hertrich 78 Helmar Oels 80 Daniel Fritzenwanger One the tournament was over, the machines were available for free play up until the venue closed, which was soon after 1am. Players could then get some sleep before the first full day of competition on Saturday. There were two tournaments held on Saturday. The first was the PinGolf Tournament which began at 10am by splitting the 82 players into two pools. Each pool was then further divided into groups of four who played two rounds of nine machines. As usual in pingolf tournaments, each machine had a target to achieve with the aim of reaching it using the fewest balls possible. The target was always a points score but was generally different for each game and set at a level to make each game equally challenging. If the target was reached during the game then the ball number was recorded as the score for that game. If the target was missed after three balls then there was a sliding scale up to a maximum of seven according to the final points total achieved. In the example below, reaching the target of 30 million points scored the number of balls it took, but if the three-ball game total was only 20 million then a five would be recorded. The target score and sliding scale of points for The Sopranos Alongside the PinGolf, the Classic Tournament ran in its own dedicated room. There were fourteen solid-state pinballs set up, although the Haunted House was not included and, being a little fragile after all these years, some games would occasionally go down for a brief period. There was a long row of seven machines on the right side of the room: Eight Ball, Harlem Globetrotters, The Six Million Dollar Man, Dolly Parton, Nitro Groundshaker, Nugent and Bobby Orr Power Play. Seven of the Classic Tournament machines Facing those seven were two smaller banks of machines. Iron Maiden and Flight 2000 Haunted House, Charlie’s Angels, Sinbad, Lucky Seven and Mr. & Mrs. Pac-Man Players could choose any eight of the available machines to play. They then started a two-player game and played both players. The two scores were recorded on handheld devices and entered into a database where they were ranked and points awarded. Qualifying in the Classics Tournament Qualification At just after 2pm, all play in both tournaments was halted for an hour while a buffet lunch was served in the function room. Hot dishes of meatballs in gravy, pork schnitzel, pasta, mushroom sauce and more were available, with a selection of vegetarian alternatives also on offer for those who pre-ordered them. The remains of the lunch buffet This lunch buffet was repeated on Sunday at 1pm, with a different selection of dishes available. When the Classic Tournament’s qualifying round ended at 8pm, the top sixteen players continued to the play-offs which were head-to-head best-of-three matches initially, until the last four were decided. Play-offs in the Classic Tournament Play-offs in the Classic Tournament The final four then played three four-player games using the 4-2-1-0 scoring system. The finalists were Erwin Deutschländer, Martin Janczyk, Albert Nomden and Jürgen Urban, and they played on Flight 2000, Bobby Orr Power Play and Nugent. The final of the Classic Tournament Jürgen won the first game on Flight 2000 and came second on Bobby Orr Power Play for a total of 6 points going into the last game. Albert won on Power Play but came last on Flight 2000 for his 4 points total, however he could still catch Jürgen on the final game as could Erwin who had a second and third place for 3 points. Martin had a third and fourth which gave him just 1 point and put him out of the running. Martin won the last game on Nugent to give him 5 points in total and third place overall. Albert came second for a total of 6 points – the same as Jürgen had going into the last game, but Jürgen took third place on Nugent and got the extra 1 point which gave him the win. Erwin was fourth in this game and fourth overall. Winner of the Classic Tournament, Jürgen Urban (Picture: Dina Lindsay) The top four in the Classic Tournament: Albert Nomden (2nd), Jürgen Urban (1st), Martin Janczyk (3rd) and Erwin Deutschländer (4th) (Picture: Dina Lindsay) Classic Tournament results 1 Jürgen Urban 2 Albert Nomden 3 Martin Janczyk 4 Erwin Deutschländer 6 John van der Wulp 6 Mario Kertels 6 Julio Vicario Soriano 6 Martin Hotze 12 Cesare Datri 12 Roman Kunovic 12 Balázs Pálfi 12 Ollivier Francq 12 Mark van der Gugten 12 Jürgen Schmitz 12 Olaf Schumann 12 Johannes Ostermeier 17 Jens Flügge 18 Robby Henkelmann 18 Rich Mallett 20 Jürgen Letzel 21 Armin Kress 22 Giuseppe Violante 23 Peter Schmidt 24 Alysa Parks 25 Christian Bär 26 Sebastien Puertas 27 Helen de Haan-Verbeek 28 Peter Blakemore 29 Kay Kuster 30 Stefan Schichtl 31 Robert Kappenberger 32 Flavio Baddaria 33 Jens Büsscher 34 Stefan Herold 35 Dirk Elzholz 36 Tobias Wagemann 37 Guido Christiansen 38 Jim Lindsay 39 Norman Heikamp 40 Ralf Behr 41 Benjamin Gräbeldinger 42 Matthias Flügge 43 Florian Thomas 43 János Sándor 45 Torsten Eid 46 Wolfgang Haid 47 Roland Schwarz 48 Archibald Lefevre 49 Heiko Schmid 50 Nico Wicke 51 Ernö Rotter 52 Eberhard Hattemer 53 Artur Natorski 54 Kevin Kuhn 55 Greg Mott 56 Mirko Hertrich 57 Thomas Teis 58 David Mainwaring 59 Fabio Gravina 60 Patrick Gelbarth 61 Julian Klotz 62 Klaus Löffler 63 Dina Fukson 64 Jürgen Ostermeier 65 Péter András Simon 66 Reiner Pfeiffer 67 Barbara Sprenger 68 Bartosz Sokolowski 69 Jörn Runge 70 Daniela Oymann 71 Boldizsár Botka 72 Nadine Felgentreu 73 Arno Nöbl 74 Kyoo Barbaix 75 Veit Sander 76 Wolfgang Szymanski 77 Daniel Fritzenwanger 78 Frank Goeltl 79 Daniel Poturica 80 Jenna Muer 81 Alexander Muer The PinGolf Tournament’s final sixteen were: Erwin Deutschländer, Jens Flügge, Benjamin Gräbeldinger, Martin Hotze, Mario Kertels, Julian Klotz, Archibald Lefevre, Jim Lindsay, Rich Mallett, Alexander Muer, Albert Nomden, Johannes Ostermeier, Roland Schwarz, Julio Vicario Soriano, Tobias Wagemann and John van der Wulp. They were made up from the top eight players in each pool. They played off in four groups of four, continuing the PinGolf scoring but only playing three machines. The remaining machines were then available for everyone else to play for the rest of the evening. When the games had been concluded, the top player in each group went into the final. They were: Jens Flügge, Benjamin Gräbeldinger, Johannes Ostermeier and Julio Vicario Soriano. The final was also played on three machines, starting with Iron Maiden and continuing with Guardians of the Galaxy and Terminator 2. Once again, the player with the lowest number of balls needed to reach the three target scores would win. Jim shows the four finalists the play order Tobias makes sure the glass is clean for the first of the PinGolf finals games Johannes starts the first game of the PinGolf finals Julio in the PinGolf finals Play moves on to Guardians of the Galaxy for game two The last game of the final is on Terminator 2 By the end Julio Vicario Soriano was the winner, taking five balls to reach the three targets. Johannes Ostermeier was second on seven, while Benjamin Gräbeldinger was third and Jens Flügge fourth following a playoff on High Speed 2: The Getaway after both finishing on nine balls. Winner of the PinGolf Tournament, Julio Vicario Soriano (Picture: Dina Lindsay) The top four in the PinGolf Tournament: Johannes Ostermeier (2nd), Julio Vicario Soriano (1st), Benjamin Gräbeldinger (3rd) & Jens Flügge (4th) (Picture: Dina Lindsay) PinGolf Tournament results 1 Julio Vicario Soriano 2 Johannes Ostermeier 3 Benjamin Gräbeldinger 4 Jens Flügge 6 Roland Schwarz 6 Erwin Deutschländer 6 Archibald Lefevre 6 Alexander Muer 12 Jim Lindsay 12 John van der Wulp 12 Mario Kertels 12 Martin Hotze 12 Julian Klotz 12 Albert Nomden 12 Tobias Wagemann 12 Rich Mallett 17 Jürgen Schmitz 17 Boldizsár Botka 19 Flavio Baddaria 20 Ernö Rotter 22 Reiner Pfeiffer 22 Stefan Herold 22 Cesare Datri 25 Dirk Elzholz 25 Artur Natorski 25 Greg Mott 25 Matthias Flügge 28 Peter Schmidt 28 Sebastien Puertas 32 János Sándor 32 Giuseppe Violante 32 Robert Kappenberger 32 Jürgen Ostermeier 32 Barbara Sprenger 32 Fabio Gravina 37 Torsten Eid 37 Nico Wicke 37 Norman Heikamp 37 Balázs Pálfi 42 Ollivier Francq 42 Jürgen Letzel 42 Péter András Simon 42 Arno Nöbl 42 David Mainwaring 45 Helen de Haan-Verbeek 45 Jürgen Urban 47 Frank Goeltl 47 Armin Kress 49 Peter Blakemore 49 Eberhard Hattemer 51 Jens Büsscher 51 Roman Kunovic 53 Klaus Löffler 54 Christian Bär 55 Wolfgang Szymanski 57 Martin Janczyk 57 Stefan Schichtl 57 Thomas Teis 60 Mark van der Gugten 60 Ralf Behr 60 Heiko Schmid 60 Kevin Kuhn 63 Robby Henkelmann 64 Florian Thomas 64 Alysa Parks 66 Kay Kuster 66 Veit Sander 68 Olaf Schumann 70 Wolfgang Haid 70 Guido Christiansen 70 Thomas Ferocino 72 Dina Lindsay 72 Kyoo Barbaix 74 Patrick Gelbarth 75 Jörn Runge 76 Mirko Hertrich 77 Bartosz Sokolowski 78 Daniela Thomas 79 Nadine Felgentreu 80 Jenna Muer 80 Daniel Fritzenwanger 82 Daniel Poturica Although Saturday’s tournaments didn’t finish until late, there was still more to come, with a Midnight Madness tournament starting at, well, midnight of course. This was played on the three newest Stern machines and an entry consisted on one game on each. The initial entry to the tournament cost €5, while extra entries cost €2 each. All proceeds went to the Medicines Sans Frontiers (Doctors Without Borders) charity. Needless to say, we didn’t stay up for this one but 21 players did take part, with the winner being Flavio Baddaria. Winner of the Midnight Madness tournament, Flavio Baddaria (Picture: Dina Lindsay) Midnight Tournament results 1 Flavio Baddaria 2 Nico Wicke 3 Fabio Gravina 4 Wolfgang Haid 5 Archibald Lefevre 6 Victor Machart 7 Daniel Poturica 8 Kevin Kuhn 9 Stefan Schichtl 10 Julian Klotz 11 Jürgen Letzel 12 Robert Kappenberger 13 Arno Nöbl 14 Reiner Pfeiffer 15 Armin Kress 16 Jens Flügge 17 Mirko Hertrich 18 Thomas Teis 19 Jenna Muer 20 Alexander Muer 21 Daniel Fritzenwanger Sunday morning began with the trophy presentations for Friday and Saturday’s tournaments, before Sunday’s main tournament was introduced. This was the Five Strikes Tournament. This paired up the 80 players to play head-to-head single games. Players continued in the tournament until they lost five games at which point they were out. Eventually we were down to the last six players with any lives remaining. They were: Johannes Ostermeier (4 strikes left), Julio Vicario Soriano (3 strikes left), Eberhard Hattemer (2 strikes left), Cesare Datri (1 strike left), Albert Nomden (1 strike left) and Jens Flügge (1 strike left). To make up the eight players for the two semi-finals, they were joined by two players from the four who picked up their fifth strike in the last round. Four players went out in that round, so they played a play-off game on Guardians of the Galaxy to decide which two went into the semi-finals. The play-offs for the seventh & eighth semi-final places The two winners from that play-off were Roland Schwarz and John van der Wulp. Those eight were split into two groups of four to play three machines with 4-2-1-0 scoring. However, the number of strikes remaining (if any) were carried forward giving Johannes 4 points, Julio 3 points, Eberhard 2 points, and 1 point each to Cesare, Albert and Jens. The first group features Johannes, Julio, Roland and John, and they played on Guardians of the Galaxy, Jackbot and The Walking Dead. The second group had Eberhard, Jens, Cesare and Albert. They played on Deadpool, High Speed 2: The Getaway and Metallica. Johannes and Roland were the winners of their group. They were joined in the final by Jens and Albert. We had to leave for the journey to Frankfurt Airport and the flight back to London, but in the final it was a win for Johannes who finished ahead of Roland in second, with Jens third and Albert fourth. Winner of the Five Strikes Tournament, Johannes Ostermeier (Picture: Dina Lindsay) The top four in the Five Strikes Tournament: Albert Nomden (4th), Jens Flügge (3rd), Johannes Ostermeier (1st) & Roland Schwarz (2nd) (Picture: Dina Lindsay) Five Strikes Tournament results 1 Johannes Ostermeier 2 Roland Schwarz 3 Jens Flügge 4 Albert Nomden 6 Eberhard Hattemer 6 Cesare Datri 6 Julio Vicario Soriano 6 John van der Wulp 9 Archibald Lefevre 9 Armin Kress 12 Robby Henkelmann 12 Christian Bär 12 David Mainwaring 17 Ollivier Francq 17 Artur Natorski 17 Thomas Teis 17 Arno Nöbl 17 Klaus Löffler 17 Julian Klotz 17 Olaf Schumann 25 Jürgen Schmitz 25 Heiko Schmid 25 Matthias Flügge 25 Wolfgang Haid 25 Peter Schmidt 25 Florian Thomas 25 Flavio Baddaria 25 Alysa Parks 25 Sebastien Puertas 25 Benjamin Gräbeldinger 36 Erwin Deutschländer 36 Péter András Simon 36 János Sándor 36 Boldizsár Botka 36 Helen de Haan-Verbeek 36 Jürgen Ostermeier 36 Nico Wicke 36 Torsten Eid 36 Peter Blakemore 36 Greg Mott 36 Dirk Elzholz 48 Tobias Wagemann 48 Mario Kertels 48 Roman Kunovic 48 Barbara Sprenger 48 Mirko Hertrich 48 Stefan Herold 48 Jürgen Letzel 48 Ernö Rotter 48 Daniela Oymann 48 Nadine Felgentreu 48 Kay Kuster 48 Giuseppe Violante 48 Kevin Kuhn 58 Victor Machart 58 Thomas Ferocino 58 Martin Hotze 58 Balázs Pálfi 58 Kyoo Barbaix 58 Alexander Muer 58 Jens Büsscher 66 Ralf Behr 66 Reiner Pfeiffer 66 Dina Fukson 66 Martin Janczyk 66 Stefan Schichtl 66 Daniel Fritzenwanger 66 Wolfgang Szymanski 66 Jürgen Urban 66 Fabio Gravina 73 Mark van der Gugten 73 Robert Kappenberger 73 Veit Sander 73 Jim Lindsay 73 Helmar Oels 78 Patrick Gelbarth 78 Rich Mallett 78 Bartosz Sokolowski 78 Daniel Poturica 78 Jenna Muer An ad-hoc Women’s Tournament was also held on Sunday, run by Dina Lindsay. This was run on a selection of machines at the far end of the main games room and consisted of ranked scores on each machine. Play in the Women’s Tournament We don’t have the final results of the Women’s Tournament yet but will add them here when we get them. As you will have seen, this was a pretty full-on weekend of competitive pinball for all the competitors, and Bulls & Balls was an ideal location to host the 80+ competitors. Being a featured Audition Location for Pinball Universe means Bulls & Balls gets the latest Stern games for potential buyers to try during normal opening, but also for use in the tournaments. Pinball Universe brought twelve games to Bulls & Balls which allowed competitors to try games such as Deadpool and Iron Maiden which they might not have previously seen. The facilities both inside the building and in the surrounding area were excellent, with shops, hotels, restaurants, bars and transport all close-by, and a fascinating array of historic buildings and grounds to explore. The tournaments were all well organised and planned, with published schedules closely followed and everyone in the mood for a fun weekend of competition. Tobias with Bulls & Ball co-owner Matthias Klüber It was purely a tournament weekend though. Once the first round of the tournaments began there were no free-play machines available and little for non-playing partners, friends or spectators to do at the venue. Those involved in the tournaments came to compete and thus were occupied nearly the whole time. We spoke with a number of players who said they had been to Bulls & Balls several times for tournament events such as this and never seen anything of the city itself, which seemed a shame given all there is to enjoy just a short walk away. So, we thoroughly recommend attending one of these weekends – there is Christmas event coming up a little later in the year – but allow an extra day or two to explore the city and surrounding area. It’s definitely worth making the effort.