The first round ended. MWS, our most stalwart pinball friend, is already knocked out of his, C Division, finals. (This was separate from our action, but it took about the same time because it was the same format, groups of four people playing four tables.) bunny_hugger came up for her first turn in the D Finals. She was on the Cirqus Voltaire set, the one that would be so interesting to me. Her group started on Gottleib's ugly-themed 1986 Genesis. It's been at many westside pinball tournaments in Michigan and it always crushes people. The theme is you're collecting the body parts to build a robot, and the more parts, the more your score multiplier builds. So if you can't collect enough of the same kind of shot (to complete a body part) you have a lousy game. bunny_hugger has lousy shots and house balls. She comes in last, by far.
On to the early-solid-state game: Old Stern's 1978 Stars. She knows this one. Complete sets of drop targets. Repeat. There's a center post so that a ball heading down the middle might bounce back into play, but since the rubber washer around it has been taken off in the name of being harder, don't count on that. It's prone to house balls. One of her competitors puts up only 13,580 points total, almost what you would get by plunging the ball and walking away. One of her competitors puts up 213,490 points, and bunny_hugger's somewhere around 30,000 on the last ball. I hope she can last long enough to at least get into second place, eating 58,600. That would make the round salvageable; in a group-of-four game like this, you never actually have to win. You just can't always lose.
She has an epic ball. It keeps going on. She gets the ball bounced off the center post one, and I believe she even has a lazarus ball, one that falls out of play between the flippers but hits the trough so hard it bounces back up. This sometimes happens, and it's a testament to her skills that she responds right and gets the ball back into play. Her score ratchets up and up and ... she finally loses the ball. The bonus counts up. And up. It rolls up past 200,000. It rolls up to 208,200, and there it stops.
Her competitors applaud. It was an incredible ball and it's just heartbreaking that she fell short. For the rest of the day she torments herself with thoughts of, you know, one more spinner hit, or one more shot at the drop targets ... She also spends the rest of the day complaining that her second-place score beats all the scores that anyone in my group puts up on that game in the next several rounds. Which, fair enough. She had a magnificent game that got her only two points instead of three.
The modern game: Cirqus Voltaire, Bally, 1997. She loves the theme. She shoots the Ringmaster a lot. I've warned her about how easily it tilts. But she's not able to get enough shots on the Ringmaster, and she never starts a multiball. She finishes in third place with a sadly paltry score. In the round she has three points. If she wins the last game she'll have six points and probably have to play a tiebreaker to move on to the next round.
The next game is Mars Trek, a 1977 game by Spanish company Segasa, featuring on the backglass the last Battlestar, Galactica, thrown backwards in time from its 1978 origins. It's an electromechanical, which bunny_hugger feels naturally in tune with. It's got a lot of nice, fun shots, including this nice horseshoe guarded by two spinners.
She gets house balls. Everyone does, on electromechanicals. On the last ball she has to beat 617,600 points. She's somewhere in the 300,000's. (The minimum score on the game is 100 points, for what value that scaling is.) But she has a nice, steady, systematic game. She keeps returning the ball up top, where it can bounce around the bumpers and play itself. She has a good, long ball time. When she loses the last ball she's a bit under the second-place finish of 539,200, but it's obvious the bonus will beat that. It keeps ratcheting up, a thousand points at a time. The first-place person looks worried. bunny_hugger declares she's failed.
Her score tops out at 563,700. She's gotten second place, good for two points. She has five points on the round, good for third place. The top two people, with nine and with six points, move on. Her finals are over.
I barely have time to console her, not that I'm any good at it. Mine start.
Her Mars Trek score is better than anything I put up, and it's better than anything all but two people I play puts up, the rest of the day. Just observing, as she would.
Trivia: By 1768 five waterwheels powering sixteen engines were operating on the north end of the London Bridge. It is not clear when corn mills grinding on the south side were first installed. Source: Old London Bridge: The Story of the Longest Inhabited Bridge in Europe, Patricia Pierce.
Currently Reading: A Gambling Man: Charles II's Restoration Game, Jenny Uglow.