When did the explosion come? When did Suppressed Player and AJG come to blows? Would the tension between them just destroy all chance for anyone to have fun?
It didn't come. In fact if you didn't know something was happening all you'd know is that AJG chose to wear a weird shirt. I can't swear that there wasn't trash-talking between them, but there's a certain amount of trash-talking between everybody in this sort of thing. (Well, within the normal social limits. People don't trash-talk me, except in the mildest ways, since I don't trash-talk anyone else, except in the silliest ways.) Suppressed Player also failed in his (evident) mission to knock AJG out of the tournament. Suppressed Player finished the main tournament in eighth place, while AJG won the whole affair. Well, that's pinball.
The main tournament was, for me, a bust. It was seven rounds of match play, with four points for the winner of each round, two points for the second-place finisher, and you know, I think I managed first place once. I don't remember doing terribly on any games, just that I regularly didn't do better than my competitors. I would end up in 27th place, out of 28, which would reinforce my faith that I'm a league player and not a tournament player. But ...
bunny_hugger would beat herself up for missed chances. But she qualified in the B division, and in the finals for that raised herself up to third place in B division, or 11th place overall. That is not at all bad and put her ahead even of MWS.
So, there was also a side tournament. This was on BIL's electromechanical game, Big Brave. Everyone would get to qualify by putting up two games; the eight people with the highest scores on that would go on to the finals. And fresh off Pinburgh and a lot of electromechanical game play I had my instincts ready. Play slow. Let the ball wear itself out. Flip as little as possible. Find drop targets. And, so, I put up the second-highest score in qualifying. I was not just in the finals but in a great place for the finals.
The finals were done in this climbing-ladder style. It's an ingenious way to increase the number of games the tournament winner can expect to have to play (giving the tournament value in the eyes of the International Flipper Pinball Association) without taking too incredibly long. The finals start with the fifth-through-eighth seed players competing. (IFPA likes groups of four people to play at once, and gives more weight to tournaments where people play in groups of four.) Whoever gets the lowest score in that is knocked out. The fourth-seeded player then joins the group. They play again. Whoever scores lowest is knocked out, and the third-seeded player joins the group. And so on. In the final round the highest-seeded player joins, and the four play, with the positions in this game setting the tournament's final positions.
So the finals are only five games, but it's quite reasonable that the champion had to play all five. Very good stuff. Also you can see why being second-seeded is such an advantage there. I only had to avoid being knocked out in one game to be part of the final four. And even if I were knocked out I'd just drop to 5th place.
My first match I wasn't knocked out. I think I didn't even have to finish my last ball. Another advantage of this format is you don't have to play your best; you just have to beat at least one person. I was in the finals.
And then --- well, I admit I know something about electromechanical games and maybe I do play them more than the average person in Michigan Pinball. But I'm no expert on them. And I know my fantastic qualifying score was, in good part, because I got lucky. I got several good bounces into a scoop worth very many points. I had a rough idea where that shot might be, but no hope of finding it again when I needed it.
I did find it, though. Once. And, you know what? That was enough. RLM, ordinarily a fantastic player, but up a brick of a game. AJG did better but didn't quite find what he needed. BIL, our host and owner of the machine, came very close. I was watching him intently, with that awful mix of appreciating really good play and hoping he got a bad bounce that would save me. And, he did.
I won the side tournament.
This is my first first-place finish in any tournament, or league. I'm still thrilled thinking of it, or looking at the little drinking-glass trophy for it. And I really have to retire the idea that I do well in leagues and lousy in tournaments. I just sometimes need a good game when it counts.
bunny_hugger didn't make finals in the side tournament, and actually finished in 18th. She couldn't find any shots on Big Brave, and even playing for fun after the side tournament she wasn't having much fun on it. That she placed ahead of other excellent players like MWS and even Suppressed Player, and wasn't unreasonably far off qualifying, was small consolation.
Trivia: The Flxible Corporation, makers of buses and other other public transport, drew its name from the flexible couplings, for connecting sidecars to motorcycles, that the company made when it started in the 1910s. Source: To Engineer Is Human: The Role of Disaster In Successful Design, Henry Petroski.
Currently Reading: Stuff Matters: Exploring the Marvelous Materials that Shape our Man-Made World, Mark Miodownik.
PS: The End 2016 Mathematics A To Z: Jordan Curve, something I'd been using in a Theorem Thursday post without explaining. Now I explain. And include a mathematical puzzle that you might just solve by doodling (admittedly, that you won't).