For the Zen Tournament that makes up the Lansing league's postseason it looked momentarily like bunny_hugger and I would be paired up again, despite the jokes that after blazing through the competition last season that husband-wife pairings were forbidden. But the pairings were based on who did and didn't show up, and what with things like the champion not bringing his girlfriend(?) and many of the Grand Rapids folks not making it (at least one had the date wrong, somehow), we weren't teamed up. bunny_hugger got paired with our pinball friend, the one we caught at Cedar Point. I got teamed up with one of the league's oldest but least skilled members. So no double trophy, but, hey, twice the chance of winning, right?
This time around the competition was double elimination on best-of-three games, which offered the chance for more and longer play than last season's, but also meant we played the same games over and over again: Attack From Mars, Monster Bash, and as tiebreaker Medieval Madness, even though Medieval Madness is almost the same game as Attack From Mars. (There's some playfield and some rule changes, but if you've mastered one, you've just about mastered the other.)
I hadn't practiced Zen playing with my partner, but I'd picked up from practicing with bunny_hugger and watching others that the important thing was communication and strategy, so, before we started we talked about what approach to take on each of the games. He was willing to follow my brilliant strategic insight of ``shoot the castle'', and he was awfully good at handling his side of the table: on the first Attack From Mars we scored an impressive three and a half billion points, which would be a pretty good score in normal play and was the highest my partner had ever got on the machine, and a lot of it is that he kept the ball well-controlled. That would be our best game on anything all night, but it was a good starting omen.
That pairings matched high- and low-ranked players produced some that sure looked like the should be dream teams, since a couple really skilled players had only been to a few matches over the season and so were low ranked, and it seems sensible that two good players ought to clean up playing together. But then best-of-three matches are not statistically significant. bunny_hugger and her partner beat out the league champion and his partner, and given the champion's part in the FunHouse stunt (and general, goodnatured ragging on her for skipping a contest night for Silver Bells) they took the chance to point and cry out, ``In your face!'' ... Which would be easily hilarious except he'd just extended his hand to congratulate them, thus making for the most awkward possible scene.
bunny_hugger and partner played me and my partner in the semi-finals, which made that the easiest contest since the honor of the household would be victorious either way. I think that was the only contest in which I had to go to the tiebreaker either; it was otherwise a long night of Attack From Mars and Monster Bash. But my partner and I won that, so we went to the finals, where we'd have to win two out of three, twice, to take home the trophy.
And we did.
We won four games in a row, stunningly; we got lucky and the opponents got some bad breaks. This is the first time my partner's got any real pinball glory, either, so it's gratifying he could have that. Now the pressure for next season is going to be impossible.
Afterwards, bunny_hugger had a rather good game of Lord of the Rings --- for the first time getting to the ``Destroy The Ring'' wizard mode, something she's never done before, and something I've only ever gotten to twice (and succeeded at once). Unfortunately she didn't imagine she was near the Destroy The Ring mode, and the unfamiliar music, table behavior, and video animation left her unprepared for the ball actually shooting out and she couldn't do anything with it. But still, she's got to the wizard mode, something she watched in awe at the very first league meeting we'd ever attended and which this time last year she would never have imagined her ever being able to do.
After that she and our pinball friend and I went to Pinball Pete's in East Lansing, where it turned out they were closing early, so after a couple pretty good games of Pin*Bot (including the first time I ever achieved the goal of getting to the Sun; bunny_hugger also had a fantastic game that would be one of my highest-scoring on the real machine too), we went home, satisfied and exhausted.
Trivia: Frank and Forrest Mars allegedly named the Snickers bar after the family horse. Source: Chocolate Wars: The 150-Year Rivalry Between The World's Greatest Chocolate Makers, Deborah Cadbury.
Currently Reading: Wheels Stop: The Tragedies and Triumphs of the Space Shuttle Program, 1986 - 2011, Rick Houston.