Oh, yes, right, the side tournament. I didn't have space to fit it in with the main discussion. The goal was a trio of closest-to-the-pin scores. We chose to do three closest-to-the-pin games, after the success of using Medieval Madness in such a format last year.
We picked three tables. Attack From Mars, which is basically the same game as Medieval Madness. Indiana Jones. Tales of the Arabian Nights. We thought they were the strongest picks for a game where there's skill in not letting your score run away. Attack From Mars has one strategy that builds scores rapidly, shooting the flying saucer. It's easy to go way past the score, though. Indiana Jones and Tales of the Arabian Nights are bonus-heavy games; you can easily score half your points on the bonus alone. The rules prohibit tilting your game (even by accident; that voids the attempt), but dropping your ball is fine ... if you've got a good sense of when your score plus your bonus will carry you close to but below the threshold.
Many people tried putting a couple scores up. I meant to, but never had the chance: I was staying alive in the main tournament. GRV, one of the state's all-time greats and a surprise early exit from the contest, put up solid scores on each of the games, coming shockingly close to the target score. I worried that people would give up, sure they wouldn't be able to match. But MWS, somehow finding the time, kept at it, and he and GRV began trading off the best scores.
And then MWS pulled it out: he got closest to the pin on all three games, thanks in part to a decision to go upstairs, to Tales of the Arabian Nights, and make one last attempt to get it in. So, he claimed all three of the prizes. That would be two coupons to the Klassic Arcade in Gobles, which is a tiny town in the outskirts of Kalamazoo, in the southwestern part of the lower peninsula, and a gift card to Schuler's, a bookstore with outlets in Lansing in the center of the lower peninsula, Grand Rapids on the west side, and Ann Arbor, in the lower east side. MWS is from Flint, in the center-northeast. Well, he gets to Lansing and to Grand Rapids often enough, and Ann Arbor sometimes. Kalamazoo, he was in last month. That's something.
So when we went to the Fleetwood diner, we weren't just celebrating my second-place finish. We were also celebrating his triple win in the closest-to-the-pin contests.
Trivia: The smallest plot of land buyable from the public domain in the (Old) Northwest was a half-section, 320 acres, in 1800. In 1804 this was reduced to a quarter-section, 160 acres, and in 1820 to a half-quarter section, 80 acres, at $1.25 per acre. Source: Measuring America: How the United States was Shaped by the Greatest Land Sale In History, Andro Linklater.
Currently Reading: Frozen Hell: The Russo-Finnish Winter War of 1939-40, William R Trotter.
PS: How April 2017 Treated My Mathematics Blog, as I could hardly forget to talk about myself, could I?