[ Sorry to be late. We were doing a pinball pub crawl and then went to White Castle. ]
So for the last Sunday of the year we went to a private house, about an hour outside Grand Rapids, itself about an hour away. We were welcome there; he was hosting a charity pinball tournament, raising money for MS alleviation, and offering one last chance for Michigan pinballers to get points for state finals. We picked up our pinball-league friend; he was coming from Flint and saving a lot of driving was a good thing for him, and it gave us someone else to chat with on the drive.
The tournament format was an intriguing one: rather than an elimination format, instead, everyone would play one head-to-head game against everyone else in the competition, with the tournament rankings being based on the total number of wins. The order of pairings was set randomly, and the tables to be played on --- they had nearly two dozen there --- supposed to be picked randomly, although after the first round they had to re-do the shuffle because one guy (another of our friends from multiple leagues) got assigned to play FunHouse for all 21 games. bunny_hugger could do that but most mortals could not.
As a format, though, this was great: there were some sluggish moments of people waiting for their partner for the next round, because goodness knows how long the previous game would last, but that gave some time to nibble on the snacks provided or watch the football game or see if the malfunctioning machines --- including, for a critical stretch, FunHouse --- would get repaired in time. FunHouse did, though The Addams Family wouldn't make it.
And since it wasn't an elimination format, everybody got to play, and even, sometimes, beat great players: bunny_hugger was able to beat the people who ultimately took the #1 and #2 spots. I didn't; in fact, the guy who took #2 --- our home league's champion --- absolutely demolished me in our game, Mustang. I mean, I put up a mediocre game, yes, but he put up an outstanding game, and I asked, ``Why did bunny_hugger have to go and get you riled up?'' (They'd been trash-talking one another over FunHouse for, well, ages.)
But I had some moments of glory myself, including pulling out ahead on a mediocre game of Fish Tales to suddenly score an outrageous number of points --- literally fifty million, I believe --- in under half a minute, which just makes me look like I know secrets.
After the main tournament was another side tournament, everyone playing one of three select tables and the four highest-scoring people going on to play, finally, Gilligan's Island. That was a game I played a couple times back in the 90s and didn't really understand; this time around, I had a much better idea what to do --- you're hitting various targets, like pineapples and bamboo and stuff, to make a potion that'll keep the volcano from exploding --- and I kind of get how you should play it. And in head-to-head play on the main tournament I even won the two games I ended up playing that. But I did lousy in the qualifiers for the side tournament, and so just looked on helplessly and trying to understand a particular weird scoring thing that the game offers multiplayer games.
Still, ultimately, in the main tournament I managed to win more games than I lost, and so came in tied for fifth place (although the International Flipper Pinball Association scores this as a tie for sixth place among the three people who made it), which is just magnificent. I'm content with that.
Trivia: The American reconquest of the Aleutian islands of Kiska and Attu in 1943 employed about a hundred thousand United States troops. Source: A History of the Second World War, B H Liddell Hart
Currently Reading: The Princes Of The Air, John M Ford.