austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

Feeling all the bumpers

Saturday we had to get up and to the convention center early, because if you weren't there to check in by 9:30 you lost your spot. And I have to reiterate this very slight inconvenience wore us all the further down, because it was another day we couldn't sleep in, after a long and exhausting week. We'd had a whole day at Kings Island amusement park, a drive and evening pinball tournament (more anon), two full-day tournaments and now another early morning day ... eesh.

9:30. The tournament official, someone named something or other that I missed, and who had a cowboy hat so I could have some chance finding him again, checked that we were all in. And then he gave us, per tournament-finals custom, 30 seconds on each table. Literally each: he set up his ``assembly line'', with all forty finalists taking their turns on each of the machines and, theoretically, moving to the next when he ordered time. As this is a very simple thing to do, it didn't go smoothly, but that's all right. Everyone got their chance to at least touch the tables, and many people got to try out important things. Like, where the skill shot might be. How scoops are kicking out. How touchy the tilts are. The things you might be able to work out if you have thirty seconds and know what you figure are the things you have to know about the tables.

After all that ... bunny_hugger and I were at liberty. We had a bye for the first round. That would be six groups of four people each, all playing the four tables in three banks of machines. So we had maybe an hour or so before bunny_hugger would be needed, and two or more before I'd have anything to do. So we went for breakfast, to the coffee shop that isn't Starbucks that's in the Westin. And that felt weirdly transgressive. The previous day, with my perfect round, I spent over thirteen hours within the single cavernous room of the main tournament floor (and the bathrooms attached to it). It was jolting when I left the room the previous night, as if I had forgotten there was other space, or things that receded into the distance, like the hills of Pittsburgh or the rivers across the way. Now, we had just been there maybe an hour total and we were leaving again.

They had three sets of tables. I knew a stunning number of the twelve. The first set was made of Cirqus Voltaire --- the same one I'd played on Thursday --- as the modern game and Mars Trek, Genesis as the late-solid-state and Stars as the earl-solid-state. I've only played Mars Trek at Pinburgh 2016, but it's the electromechanical. The others I know well; Cirqus Voltaire used to be everywhere. Genesis haunts west-side tournaments. Stars haunts the Flint-area tournaments.

The second set has Avatar as the modern game, Argosy as the electromechanical, Mousin' Around as the late-solid-state, and Big Game as the early-solid-state. I've never touched Avatar before. Mousin' Around I have, and I like, but I've never played it much and it's got that late-solid-state set of cramped playfield and obscure ruleset.

The third set was Godzilla as the modern game, Jungle Queen as the electromechanical, Creature from The Black Lagoon as the late-solid-state (it's really an early-modern game, but its gameplay is very late-solid-state in tone), and Cyclopes as the early-solid-state. The amazing thing is every one of these is in MJS's famed pole barn. Cyclopes is a particularly weird, obscure game with hideous artwork and yeah, try to work out that captured woman's hip structure.

The top-seed person in each group will get to pick which of the sets to play, subject to the reservation that only two groups can be on one set in any round. I expect to have my pick of the games. The third set is tempting since, hey, I've got experience on all of these. And Cyclopes is a game there's an excellent chance nobody knows how to play. But I'm not that good at it myself. And everybody who'd be at Pinburgh knows Creature inside and out. So I'd feel good playing that, but not like I have any edge. The second bank with Avatar I dread: there's nothing I feel strong on there.

Ah, but that first set ... I feel really good there. The table I'm weakest on is the electromechanical. And I know from experience how tight the Cirqus Voltaire tilt is. Someone's bound to learn that to their surprise. So I have my pick: stick to the first set as much as I possibly can.

Trivia: A summer 1800 British diplomatic mission led by Captain John Malcolm arrived in Teheran with a retinue of 500 men, including a hundred Indian cavalry and infantry and three hundred servants and attendants. Malcom had been originally commissioned at the age of 13. Source: The Great Game: The Struggle For Empire In Central Asia, Peter Hopkirk.

Currently Reading: A Gambling Man: Charles II's Restoration Game, Jenny Uglow.

PS: The Summer 2017 Mathematics A To Z: Integration, another omnipresent and powerful tool.

Tags: pinball, pinburgh

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