Fifth round. Set 66, Pavo. Our first table is the modern one, Gottleib/Premier's 1995 Big Hurt. If this sounds like a weird name for a game know that its full title is Frank Thomas's Big Hurt. If this sounds like a weird name for a game know that Frank Thomas was a professional baseball player nicknamed ``The Big Hurt'' and that the game is one of the last baseball-themed pinball games. I know nothing about the game. (It transpires that the game was released on Pinball Arcade last year, but my ancient iPad can't play the newest Pinball Arcade tables.) But the first player puts up a nice easy ball, hits it at the most distant target on the playfield, and soon has like 80 million points. I can do that.
No I can't. I launch the ball softly and it goes out the left inlane and there's no ball save. Fine, my own fault. I can rescue this. Only I can't. I do the best I can to shoot at anything, really. But the game, like most Gottlieb/Premier tables of the era, has a weird set of rules. I don't know what's best to shoot for, or likely to shoot for, and I only break past ten million points on some five million point baseball-card bonus awarded the last ball. Player four, meanwhile, gets ninety million points on the baseball-card bonus the final ball. Why? An excellent question. I join the legion who name Big Hurt the worst table they encountered at Pinburgh.
The electromechanical is Williams's 1967 Magic City. I know it from the Silverball Museum. It's basically an bunch of pop bumpers and just try to keep the ball at or near them. It has flippers far apart, separated by a pop bumper. It's a layout that's easy for modern players to do badly on, so I feel good about this. I come in second place.
The late-solid-state game is Bally's 1987 City Slicker, another game I never heard of before. It's ... got ... uhm. It's something about gangster and cowgirls and all I really work out is that shooting some part starts this fun little side ``Go Downtown'' table thing where you just hit a partly captive pair of balls at a target and run up points. It looks like fun. Everybody else runs them up. Not me. There's a bunch of nice, interesting shots. I just can't make any of them, and go down to last place again.
And the early-solid-state game is Stern's 1979 Dracula, which has no relation to the Bram Stoker's Dracula game I actually know anything about. (It turns out PinTips did have a page on it, but I was in a part of the convention hall from which I couldn't get Wi-Fi.) The instruction card gives me some hope, but I know the game from the era: banks of drop targets! Shoot spinner when lit! And with one pretty solid ball I have ... a third-place finish.
I have three wins, nine losses in the round. This makes my record for the first day 24 wins, 36 losses. bunny_hugger, in set 55, Electra, has a slightly less dismal record and goes 4-8. Her record for the first day is 26-34.
We are consigned to the D Division. bunny_hugger is part of a many-way tie for 601st. I'm somewhere in the 670s. It's heartbreaking, particularly for bunny_hugger, who'd made the B Division last year and hoped to repeat. At least to get C.
It's a night spent trying to console each other. There's not a lot to say; we're feeling dismal after performing worse than we thought we should. There are two slivers of hope. The first is that the second day is the one that decides whether we go to finals. In the A, B, and C Divisions your record for the first two days is counted. In the D Division only your second day's performance counts. One or two good rounds could launch us into finals, something a low seeding in one of the other divisions would make impossible. (On the other hand, a high seeding in another division would count. bunny_hugger starts the second day officially seeded 30th of the 190 players, but that doesn't give her an actual advantage.) And, you know, if we're currently under-ranked, and most of the people in D aren't, then we might have a good day Friday.
Trivia: By 1895, the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad had a daily train on the Morris and Essex line, carrying roses from Madison, New Jersey, into Manhattan. Source: Railroads of New Jersey: Fragments of the Past in the Garden State Landscape, Lorett Treese.
Currently Reading: The Money Men: Capitalism, Democracy, and the Hundred Years' War Over The American Dollar, H W Brands.
PS: The Summer 2017 Mathematics A To Z: Elliptic Curves, and I hold off as long as possible saying how they're useful but boy are they ever useful.