Though I'd won the B Division semifinals I was still low seed, so I wouldn't get to pick any of the games. The first table picked, by COE, would be Whoa Nellie again the anachronistic representative of the modern game bank. I would have another good game on a table I don't like; not so good as in the semifinals, but just short of three thousand points. Good enough for second place.
Next picked was Tag Team, that wrestling-themed game and the oldest of the mid games. The Mid games were a real grab bag; Tag Team is much closer to Blackout and other 70s games than it is to World Cup Soccer, also in the class. In qualifying I had worked out at least one secret, of how to lock balls and get a multiball going. As with most games of that era Tag Team doesn't have a jackpot, so far as I know, but two or three balls simultaneously allow you plenty of chances to score. I couldn't get multiball going on this, but nobody else could either, and I took a comfortable second place. I think at this point I realized I had at least third place in the B Division secure.
The final game would be an Old class game, meaning that really, the B Division finals were all ``old'' style games. Cute, that. And the selected game was Blackout again. I think the guy picking had wanted Meteor, which would have crushed me, but it was in use then for the Main Tournament and he didn't feel like waiting.
Blackout started well for me again. It also started well for ... everybody, really, except COE, who just wouldn't get anything together that game. Second ball went pretty well too, and I was looking safe for a second-place finish. On the third ball though something astounding happened: the first guy to play got an extra ball. The implication: There's an extra ball to be given somewhere on the machine! (And we were allowed to play extra balls. Many tournaments either disable them or allow you only to plunge the ball.) I had to find where that ball was located. So when my turn came I actually perused the instruction card.
Yeah, yeah, I should have done that to start. Everybody looks at the instruction card for an unfamiliar table. But even when they're there they tend to be not enlightening. For a game of that era, what you want to do is knock down sets of drop targets. Maybe shoot a scoop over and over. Hit all of a set of standing targets. It's just what reward you get for that which varies. But now I studied to see what I had to hit to light and collect the extra ball. It was lit by repeatedly hitting a set of drop targets that, that day, that game, I was pretty good at safely hitting. It was collected with a scoop I'd managed to hit already that game. I had a specific goal, now.
So I aimed, and shot, and what do you know but I found the extra ball, and grabbed it up. And the ball just kept on going, building and building score and bonus. My extra ball wasn't the usual anticlimax either; while it was nothing like the monster third ball, it was still a good, solid shot that helped me over the first player. All told I ended up above 700,000 points, within sight of rolling the table, and a score that would've been the third-highest recorded on Blackout that whole tournament.
People clapped. They do that. Pinball's competitive, yes, but everybody loves it when someone else is having one of those in-the-zone games. We had clapped for the first player when he put up a better-than-500,000 score and that would have been the in-the-zone game if I hadn't managed that, just then, for a little while, playing Blackout like an expert. (For a better sense of scale, remember I'd won the table the previous round with just over 150,000.) I thanked everyone, of course; how could I not? And felt exhausted by the game and held on to bunny_hugger.
I won the table. That brought me to eight points total in the finals division. The guy who'd finished in first place on Whoa Nellie and Tag Team came in third on the table, so he came to nine points total and won the B Division. I got second.
They had plaques for second place, nice hefty lucite-based things. It's the kind of plaque you can use as an impromptu murder weapon if you suddenly need to bludgeon someone, so you know it's classy. And so, grinning and giggling, there I was, getting my photograph taken with the other place-winners and getting my second-ever solo trophy. Again in the B Division.
Trivia: Rotary pencil sharpeners were banned in Britain during World War II, due to their waste of pencil lead and wood. Source: The Pencil: A History of Design and Circumstance, Henry Petroski.
Currently Reading: Year Zero: A History of 1945, Ian Buruma.
PS: Reading the Comics, May 17, 2016: Again, No Pictures Edition, but they're something to talk about anyway.