austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

Let me roll it to you

bunny_hugger's first advantage in the Pinball At The Zoo Women's Tournament was that she's a rather solid player who happens to be a woman who could get to Kalamazoo. Yes, much of the point of having a women's tournament is to encourage women who've had reason to feel excluded from competitive pinball --- and who're therefore less practiced, less able --- to play more. But she's already confident she belongs in the pinball community, and so was going in from a position of relative strength. After all, she was one of Michigan's two representatives to the Women's World Championship in March.

Her second advantage was that she didn't qualify for the Main Tournament, A or B Division. I think B had wrapped up by the time the Women's Tournament began, but A certainly had not. And her obligations to the main tournament took SMB, an even better player than SMS and bunny_hugger, out of the Women's Tournament. SMB --- who tied for third in the Women's World Championship --- would go on to take fourth place in the A Division. Not saying bunny_hugger wouldn't have traded her eventual finish in the Women's Tournament for a place in the A Division, but, she didn't have to play SMB, neither directly nor indirectly.

Her third advantage was that as the Women's Tournament went on while the A Division was still going on, the Main Tournament games were unavailable. It would have to be on the games from the Classics Tournament and the Daily Tournament. These are all older games, electromechanicals and early solid-state games. This is very good for her. They can be infuriatingly hard, yes, and they level the difference between amateur and skilled players, making upsets more likely. But they tend not to be games you can do well on just by beginner's luck, just by hitting the ball until something happens. If you're in tune with the slower play and more deliberate aiming of the classic game you're likely to do well. bunny_hugger is. She's not a specialist in classics games, but she's got an edge that only SMS, who ran the tournament and whose family owns many classic games, can match.

It's a three-strikes tournament. Players will be called up in randomly-drawn pairs, there to compete until each loses a third game. One player gets to pick the game, the other position. And thanks to our Mi-Fi device working, at least through to the last rounds, we can even consult PinTips for advice on the games. They're all basically the same advice, though. Hit banks of drop targets to light the spinner, then shoot the spinner. (Not all. Genie has funny rules about the spinner, and Prospector has two kinds of bonuses to build up.) There's no guarantee how long the tournament will run; with the best of luck it might go three times the log base two of the number of players rounds. Sometimes someone might get a bye round, if an odd number of players are left and she gets lucky. bunny_hugger gets one of these byes, good for boosting morale after one of those games where she loses to a person who's playing worse, a thing that can't be avoided.

And in the end it comes to bunny_hugger and SMS, by rankings the two strongest women in the state. SMS goes into their first match with one strike, bunny_hugger with two. It's bunny_hugger's pick and she chooses Gottlieb's 1971 electromechanical 4 Square. SMS groans at the pick. It's got a simple layout, a bunch of targets marked numbers 1 through 4, with ever-increasing score for completing sets. It's a single-player game; bunny_hugger has to play her complete game first and then wait for SMS to play.

bunny_hugger has a great game, the sort that makes her angry she didn't do that in qualifying for the Classics tournament. (It wouldn't have got her into the Classics finals, although it might've launched her above my finish.) She beats five thousand points, which for a game with maximum score 9,999 is great. SMS tries, but doesn't get half her score. They'll go to one last round, to decide the Women's Champion.

The next game is SMS's pick. She chooses Bally's 1981 Vector, an early solid state that her family had for a couple months. bunny_hugger hasn't played many games on it, and the advice I offer --- not that I have much, as I haven't cracked the game's logic --- before the match starts isn't helpful. SMS beats her, not even needing to play her last ball.

So bunny_hugger takes home second place. There's not a trophy, which is a pity, but it was a small tournament. Maybe next year will be better, and she'll take first in that.

Trivia: When 18th-century Chinese Emperor Qianlong conquered Siankiang the territories provided the emperor eight thousand jin, something over four thousand kilograms, of raw jade every spring and autumn, transported to Beijing on camel trains. Source: The Stone of Heaven: Unearthing the Secret History of Imperial Green Jade, Adrian Levy, Cathy Scott-Clark

Currently Reading: Pacific: Silicon Chips and Surfboards, Coral Reefs and Atom Bombs, Brutal Dictators, Fading Empires, and the Coming Collision of the World's Superpowers, Simon Winchester.

PS: My Mathematics Reading For The 13th of June, a low-impact post that'll probably be my most popular of the month.

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