austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

Perhaps a little more

Next game for me is Aerosmith. Between yesterday and the time spent at Nickelrama I have a fair idea how to reach its 30 million point target. Not that it's subtle strategy: hit the toybox to light locks, lock as many balls as possible and keep the multiball going. I'd even hit the 30 million on the Nickelrama table, and in only three balls, on admittedly an easier table. Still, now I've got a more solid idea of what to --- wait, the ball just drained. All right, well, try again and --- oh good grief, did I even hit a switch? (Even if a game has ball save turned off, the way high-level tournaments will, it will often give the ball back if no switches are hit.) And again. My strategy shifts: instead of trying to hit the 30 million I just want to get past the 6 million needed not to bottom out, and I manage. Then to get to the 12 million threshold which --- oh good grief. Second game and another nine-stroke table. It's not impossible that I should do as well Saturday as I had Friday, but it's looking much less likely. I'll need some favors from the electromechanical tables.

I don't get it. Not really. I put up dismal scores, getting eight-stroke games, on tables like Gorgar that I'd birdied on the day before or Playboy that everyone else in my group does fairly well on. I finally, finally meet an objective at all, getting the target 2,500 points on our old friend Flip-A-Card in three strokes. And I do it in style too, getting many of the cards collected and then shooting the 500-point Ace target. I get credit for it twice: the ball rolls up the lane that scores me those points, and then rolls back down that lane, for a thousand points total.

I could start to believe in a rally when I have a similarly good Monte Carlo --- another electromechanical game --- and then wrestle myself to another three-stroke hole on The Flintstones. I'm obviously nowhere near finals, but I never expected to be at finals. But if I can keep this going on CSI and Whirlwind then I should at least finish mid-pack. And hey, CSI I did well on in Pinburgh, and met --- in five strokes --- the previous day. All I have to do is pick any of the eighty different multiballs and shoot for it.

And that doesn't work. I never find any of the important shots and I soon shift to just avoiding bottoming out. Nine strokes on the game. Whirlwind, the last game, to get par I'll have to beat the highest score I've ever gotten on the table. But they've fiddled with the game overnight, balancing the thing so the spinning plates on the playfield are a little less cruel and making it possible --- I see other people in my group doing this --- to do an extremely hard plunge that sends the ball through the left ramp and either advance the lock (hard on this game) or score a jackpot (a million points, to start, and more millions as you go on).

Other people can do that. I can't. I can't get the ball launched hard enough to reach the ramp and so lose not just the ``super'' skill shot here, but the regular skill shot that could be worth a half-million (but has a huge risk of center-draining the ball). I do have some good play in catching and controlling the ball and shooting the cellar for awards, but none of them are worth very much. I end up matching the previous day's seven strokes.

I finish the day 23 strokes above par, worse than the performance bunny_hugger was punishing herself for Friday. It leaves me at +33 for the tournament, and down in the bottom eight of the 64 competitors. And was I ever on camera? I don't know; I couldn't tell from the commentators. There was a point one of them said ``Lansing, Michigan'' which bunny_hugger thinks was them talking about me. I don't know. I haven't watched the recorded and not-yet-lost stream to check.

Meanwhile bunny_hugger's had an even worse night than Friday, and even worse than me. She finished the night 24 strokes above par, and +45 for the whole tournament. Even more inconsolable.

We have a little time to wander around before quite everybody finishes, and I drown my sorrows in a couple more games in the showroom. I even put my name on the high score table on the Star Wars Episode 1 pinball machine. It's got very easy settings and probably was reset just before the tournament, but still, a high score credit means so much as consolation.

Finally we're all done, including ADM's friend, and the place is closing up and I'm struck with that strange sentiment from knowing you're at a place for probably the last time ever. Oh, bunny_hugger may well be at the Women's World Championship again. She hopes to, after all, and there's even rumors of a women's league in Michigan that would help propel her into the top sixteen in her own right. But would it ever be held in Dallas again? In previous years it was Las Vegas, and the rumor is the International Flipper Pinball Association moved it to Dallas mostly to show they were serious in some contract talks about venue pricing. Now that their seriousness is shown, might it move back? Would we ever be in Dallas again, and if so, for what reasons? What a strange thing to have to think about.

The tournament's given me a Texas rating. I'm --- at this writing --- the 259th-highest placed player in Texas, so it's technically possible I could be invited to that state's finals next February. bunny_hugger is ranked 315th --- at this writing --- in Texas. She's played more events, but as a restricted event the Women's World Championship doesn't count in the normal rankings. It just gives her something for the Women's Rankings.

We hear that ADM is in the finals. So he is; he finished the qualifying at 10 strokes under. (It turns out everyone who beat par makes it to the finals.) We actually know at least three of the people who make the finals, though ADM's friend is not among them. That'll be Sunday, a day we don't go to the Fun! Billiard and Gameroom Superstore. We have plans.

Trivia: In the summer of 1864 Alabama Governor Thoma Watts managed to get 30,000 cards of cotton imported through the blockade to Wilmington, North Carolina, but could not get them delivered by the railroads. Source: Look Away! A History of the Confederate States of America, William C Davis.

Currently Reading: Invisible: The Dangerous Allure of the Unseen, Philip Ball.

Tags: dallas, pinball, world women's pinball championship
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