So the Blind Squirrel League was a much more compact, more crowded place than previous tournaments had used. Compact enough that the games had to be split between two rooms. The front one had all the ``modern'' games, the ones also used for Blind Squirrel League play. Modern is relative here; they had games as old as 1988's Taxi. The classic games were put in the back room, beside the bar/restaurant's pool tables. Those included Tri Zone. Tradition has it that if you own a game you can't play it anywhere else. But we had done all right on this same Tri Zone in July. How bad could it be here?
Qualification would be based on the highest scores put in during the qualifying hours. And mercifully qualifying began at a slightly reasonable hour, something like 11 am. So we were able to leave the house at 9 am, something we could wake for. And we could play Main or Classics games as we liked. We put in a round on each of the games and could then look at what needed shoring up afterward.
I had a bunch of decent games in the Main tournament banks. None outstanding, that I remember, but this qualifying scheme doesn't require anything really outstanding. Reliably well enough is fine. At the end of my first round I was above the cutoff level for finals in the tournament, and I'd never move from there. In Classics, though ---
You know, in Classics, I just could not get anything together. I blame Tri Zone. There's two things to do in the game: knock down the 'Z O N E' targets to light the spinner, and shoot (through the spinner) the 'T', then the 'R' and 'I' rollovers on the upper playfield. I could only barely get the 'T', and not reliably. Not much for the 'I' either. The result was a string of low-scoring and frustrating games. bunny_hugger wasn't doing well either. But we can't blame owning the game and being too prepared for how our own table plays. Nobody except AJH was having really good games on it. MWS claimed the right flipper was weak and that it was impossible to get to the upper playfield. I don't think it's that bad, but it is hard. The experience would set me into a new training regimen.
Another of the games was Mystic, which has a great theme. It mixes one of the standard motifs, magicians, with classic pinball's distant-third most-popular objective, tic-tac-toe. Normally it's cards or pool. Thing is the game is prone to house balls, and the scoring is an utter mystery. Completing rows or better whole tables of tic-tac-toe builds up score, with it counting all the more the earlier the ball you get it on. But it's tough going and whether a game was good or humiliating was basically a coin toss. Time Fantasy was the third game. It wasn't so rough as Tri Zone or so variable as Mystic and in any case I still didn't get into the top-eight to qualify there. It is the game that has some weird hippie snail as its backglass, though.
Classics closed first. And I got nervous since, after all, it's Classics. I'm usually good at the older tables. But I wasn't getting anywhere and the closer we got to the hour the more frustrated I got. I tried taking a deep breath and finding my calm center again, but that didn't work out. I'd miss out on the Classics Finals, by two places. bunny_hugger would miss Classics Finals by four.
Trivia: Guglielmo Marconi's Wireless Telegraph and Signal Company was incorporated with £100,000 raised from the City of London, mostly from corn merchants connected with Jameson whiskey. Source: Signor Marconi's Magic Box, Gavin Weightman.
Currently Reading: After Apollo? Richard Nixon and the American Space Program, John M Logsdon.