austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

Venus and Mars

Back to the tournament. After a strong start bunny_hugger was becalmed just short of the fifteen points needed to qualify. I started slower, but kept going. People kept qualifying ahead of us. The top eight, the A bracket, got filled up. We kept plugging away. MWS qualified. And then, finally, I did well enough in our pods to get the fifteen points and qualify for finals.

bunny_hugger didn't.

Now, on the one hand, both of us had qualified for finals in either the main or the side tournament. And she had had several fantastic games, including absolutely crushing people on a round of Pinball Magic. She found one shot she could repeat, and build up to an incredible points payout. I believe her score that game more than doubled the combined scores of everyone else in her group, and that group included the guy who had won the Michigan State Championship. On the other hand, she had missed the main tournament, and that hurts. And side tournaments are never worth as much as main tournaments. It would happen that, despite her doing better in her tournament than I did in mine, she'd get about half the International Flipper Pinball Association credit.

I didn't get into the A division. I was part of the quartet of people who'd get to compete for B division. It'd be me, MWS, the father of that father-son pair (the son was in A division), and another guy from the Detroit area whom I'm not sure we had ever met. Competitive pinball records indicate he was at the Amazing Race tournament the week before, but that's not much guidance about who he was.

We would go into a three-game playoff, following rules akin to what they do at the top-level pinball competitions. And the games would be scattered all over; after two matches me, the father, and MWS were surprisingly close to tied. It would all come down to the last game, which the random draw made out to be ... Mars, God of War.

I would have a chance on this. Mars, God of War, a solid state machine, levels playing skill. And I'd put some time on it, as well as staring intently at other people playing, to work out some of its secrets. Knock down every drop target. Also, I'd worked out where to shoot, at least, for two- and three-ball multiballs. Those wouldn't have jackpots, but they'd offer the chance for big scoring potential in vey short order. I'd be the last player, too, which is always a psychological advantage. The last player doesn't have to be the best he can; just, good enough, and the last player knows how much that enough is.

I had a fair first ball, including locking a ball but not releasing it for multiball. That's potentially dangerous since on an older game like this, someone else could unlock the ball, gaining multiball for themselves and stealing yours. But nobody did, and I felt relieved. The second ball went better, as I remember it, although again I locked a ball without releasing. Still, I had a pretty good lead.

MWS closed out on a lousy ball that locked him into fourth place. The father played. I've since realized that he is a single-ball player; he can often win, but it's on a single outstanding ball rather than a couple consistently good balls. I think I apprehended the risk here because I did feel like the score gap he had to overcome wasn't nearly big enough. It wasn't; his score just barely exceeded mine. And I thought about what I could do to rack up points quickly when my turn came. And then ---

Trivia: In 1870 Alphonse Penaud introduced the rubber band as a source of power for small model planes. Penaud was twenty years old at the time. Source: First Flight: The Wright Brothers and the Invention of the Airplane, T A Heppenheimer.

Currently Reading: Vic and Sade: The Best Radio Plays of Paul Rhymer, Editor Mary Frances Rhymer.

PS: A Leap Day 2016 Mathematics A To Z: Kullbach-Leibler Divergence, a mathematics thing I didn't know about two weeks ago, but which I've learned something about for now.

Tags: bill's basement tournament, pinball

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