Date: 29th & 30th June, 2019
Location: White Horse Inn, 1 Market Street, Swavesey, Cambridgeshire, CB24 4QG, UK

The East-Anglian Pinball Show is one of the cosiest and most unusual events in the UK’s pinball calendar.

For a start, hardly anyone called it by that moniker. For everyone involved, it’s just known as Swavesey after the small Cambridgeshire village where it is held. The actual venue is the back room of the White Horse Inn pub on the village square.

The White Horse Inn in Swavesey, home of the East Anglian Pinball Weekend
The White Horse Inn in Swavesey, home of the East Anglian Pinball Show

Swavesey also happens to be the home of the event’s organiser, Mark Squires, a.k.a. Dr. Pinball, who announces the dates each March and sends out his appeal for machine-bringers and raffle prize donors.

Another unusual feature is the cost, or the lack of it. Entry is free, and all the twelve machines are on free play.

The machines in the back room of the White Horse Inn
The machines in the back room of the White Horse Inn

The chief aim of the two-and-a-half days is to raise money for the event’s chosen charity. This year the beneficiary was Tom’s Trust, a charity dedicated to providing care for children with brain tumours.

So, how does a free event raise any money? Purely by donations. Machine owners donate their games for the long weekend, bringing them from around the country without any recompense. Others donate items for the raffle which brings in the majority of money raised, while straight cash donations are also taken, either in person at the pub or by pledges.

Some of the items for the raffle
Some of the donated items for the raffle

But before we get to that, let’s take a look at the pinballs.

Set-up began on Friday evening, once the back room became available following an earlier function. Within a couple of hours most machines were unloaded, on their legs and ready to play.

The left side of the main row
The left side of the main row
The right end of the row
The right end of the row
Two more machines on the opposite wall
Two more machines on the opposite wall
The final machine getting ready to play
The final machine getting ready to play

The full list of machines at Swavesey 2019 is:

  • Attack from Mars (remake)
  • Batman (Stern)
  • Creature from the Black Lagoon
  • Flash
  • Harlem Globetrotters
  • Miss Annabelle
  • Pinball Champ
  • Pirates of the Caribbean LE (Jersey Jack)
  • Safecracker
  • Strikes and Spares (Bally)
  • Terminator 2
  • The Machine: Bride of Pinbot

All the machines were in great shape and even with the high temperatures experienced on Saturday they had no problem keeping going throughout the show. Any minor problems which did occur were quickly remedied, with several knowledgeable pinball technicians in attendance and ready to leap in.

It was a hot weekend which no doubt did wonders for beer sales
It was a hot weekend which no doubt did wonders for beer sales
Soft drinks were available too, along with a BBQ on Friday evening
Soft drinks were available too, along with a BBQ on Friday evening

On Saturday evening there was a group meal in the pub’s restaurant for around twenty attendees, followed a choice of more pinball, relaxation in the beer garden or a friendly game of poker.

Sunday is always the busiest day, thanks to the dual additional draws of the show’s tournament and the charity raffle.

Trophies and prizes for the top three in the UK Pinball Cup
Trophies and prizes for the top three in the UK Pinball Cup

The history of the UK Pinball Cup can be traced back to 2008 and the first Monster Meet at Pinballers Anonymous, since when it has been an annual part of the UK tournament schedule. The host of that event wanted a football World Cup-style competition where players were randomly paired and giant-killing was a regular part of the fun, and Pinball News was happy to oblige.

Players sign up, choose their number and get their player badge
Players sign up, choose their number and get their player badge

The UK Pinball Cup isn’t about WPPRs, TGPs or cash prizes. After an initial three-game qualification round with four-player per machine, it’s all quick-fire, head-to-head, single-game, single-elimination rounds to decide the winner. Player pairings and machines played were chosen at random by drawing numbered balls out of a box.

Tournament Director, Martin Ayub, explains the format
Tournament Director, Martin Ayub, explains the format
The first round of four-player games
The first round of four-player games

The first round removed half the players, leaving sixteen to enter the head-to-head rounds.

The head-to-head games
The head-to-head games
The head-to-head games
The head-to-head games
One of the semi-finals on Safecracker
One of the semi-finals on Safecracker
The other semi-final on Bride of Pinbot
The other semi-final on Bride of Pinbot

The final came down to a single-game decider between James Adams and Bob Marlow. The machine chosen at random was number 11 – Pirates of the Caribbean LE.

The two UK Pinball Cup finalists, James Adams and Bob Marlow
The two UK Pinball Cup finalists, James Adams and Bob Marlow

Neither player seemed overly familiar with the gameplay, resulting in a low-scoring final. By the time of each player’s last ball, James had 38,226 to Bob’s 23,437.

The last ball for each player
The last ball for each player

Bob could only manage a total of 33,401 with his final ball, making James the winner. Trophies and prizes were presented by Martin Ayub.

Winner of the UK Pinball Cup 2019, James Adams
Winner of the UK Pinball Cup 2019, James Adams, who won a trophy, a Philips shaver and becomes custodian of the Nigel Hill Memorial Cup (picture: Mark Squires)
Runner-up, Bob Marlow
Runner-up, Bob Marlow, wins a trophy and a Philips Hue lighting strip (picture: Mark Squires)

In the play-off for third and fourth held on Pinball Champ, Nick Marshall beat Dan Lewell to take third and win a trophy and Bluetooth sports headphones.

The full results are:

1 – James Adams
2 – Bob Marlow
3 – Nick Marshall
4 – Dan Lewell
6 – Nick Hamill
6 – Greg Mott
6 – Steve Lockwood
6 – Vin Jauhal
12 – Wayne Johns
12 – Paul Garner
12 – Martin Ayub
12 – Keith Withnall
12 – Barry Parsons
12 – Ben Lockwood
12 – Lester Levet
12 – Aid Cooper
23 – Chris Williams
23 – Edina Berta
23 – Mark Squires
23 – Phil Dixon
23 – Matt Vince
23 – Neil Grayson
23 – Ben Leigh
23 – Gary Flower
23 – Alex Berta
23 – Mark Cram
23 – Stan Simspon
23 – Effie Lewell
23 – Colin Bobby
23 – Phoebe Lewell

After the qualifying round was decided, the draw for the charity raffle was held.

Raffle prizes ready for Sunday's draw
Raffle prizes ready for Sunday’s draw (picture: Mark Squires)

All weekend raffle organiser, Gary Flower, had been using his powers of persuasion to cajole attendees into buy raffle tickets and raising more money for Tom’s Trust.

Gary Flower exhibits some of the donated prizes before drawing the first winning numbers
Gary Flower exhibits some of the donated prizes before drawing the first winning numbers

The holders of the winning tickets could come to the desk and choose any prize they wanted.

Another lucky winner
Another lucky winner

Once all the raffle prizes had been awarded and the final of the UK Pinball Cup decided, the organiser of the East-Anglian Pinball Show, Mark Squires, gave his thanks for everyone involved and all those who came out.

Mark Squires thanks everyone for coming and raising so much money
Mark Squires thanks everyone for coming and raising so much money

By the end, more than £800 ($1000/€900) had been raised for the charity, while everyone who came got to enjoy a fun, social weekend playing a great range of quality classic and new titles.

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