So neither of us made the Main Tournament. Nevertheless bunny_hugger was in the women's tournament, set to start at 4 pm. So would be her onetime pinball rival KEC, at least if at least one of the higher-placed women dropped out. And one did indeed; SMB, at least, chose to stick through the Main Tournament finals rather than skip over to the women's finals. As points value go this is the sensible decision; women's-only tournaments affect the women's-only rankings, independent of the world rankings. But it opened up a spot for KEC, who was thrilled. And it made the competitive field considerably easier; SMB is an excellent player.
The tournament format was the default for this sort of thing: three-game, PAPA-style scoring. That is, four people played a set of three games. Winner each game got 4 points; second place 2 points; third place 1 point; last place 0 points. In the semifinals the two highest points-getters in each group would go on to the next round. KEC has a rough first round, and is in the bottom tier of players her group, which wasn't the one bunny_hugger played in. She gets knocked out.
bunny_hugger has some good luck. The games chosen are the older tables, from the classics banks and from the older games in the main bank. She has a relative competitive advantage on these. Older games make it harder for skilled players to have runaway scoring games; the rules don't allow for the compounding of multipliers that get scores so crazy. Crankier people describe this as older games being coin flips. But they're not, apart from the lack of ball saves making it much easier to have a house ball. They play differently. You have to adjust your style.
bunny_hugger loves these older games. She plays them as much as she can. A row of older tables is her home turf. She's still not confident about her position. I can offer some advice. I point out what I know about Eight Ball Deluxe, which is to shoot up that left lane. This is about all the advice I can offer, but it's useful; she's able to earn an extra ball, on one of the two tables that allow you to get any, and that's such a big step up.
She breezes through the first round. The second round decides the final four. bunny_hugger does well enough the first game. The second game of the finals proves critical. It's Meteor, her old friend. She dominates the first two balls and gets up to 200,000, when nobody else is past half that. The other players rally. First player gets to just under 250,000 points. Number two and three don't quite get to 200,000. bunny_hugger goes nervously to her last ball, and struggles to get it quite under control. She's still behind the first player when the ball takes a bad bounce and drains, and I groan. But her bonus counts up, slowly. It's going to be close. She just might win on the bonus, and only barely on the bonus.
The countup stops. bunny_hugger is 70 points short. Out of a quarter-million points. I groan. So do others. bunny_hugger gets the idea I laughed and I have to explain what I actually did. Everyone is awestruck by the closeness of the match and congratulate the winner.
Second place is good, yes, but she's lost two points that she might have had. And it sinks her attitude for the last game, AC/DC, which would have been hard in any case. She has a strong game, earning second place on a table nobody was any good on all weekend. But the two points lost on Meteor hurt; they leave her in third place when she would have had second. Possibly, had she gone into the final game with the optimistic joy of a last-minute win, first place.
Third place is not bad. But it is hard to argue that when taking second place would have needed anything, however slight. And when first was so close to attainable. Not qualifying for a contest is hard. Qualifying is also hard. And doing well, it turns out, is hard as well.
Trivia: On the 19th of October, 1901, Alberto Santos-Dumont attempted using a partly lighter-than-air craft to fly from the Aéro-Club de France to the Eiffel Tower and back --- a journey of seven miles --- in under a half hour. He missed by 40 seconds, owing to engine problems that he repaired while in flight above Paris, and was temporarily denied the Aéro-Club de France's 100,000-franc prize for the round trip. Source: To Conquer the Air: The Wright Brothers and the Great Race for Flight, James Tobin.
Currently Reading: The Complete Peanuts, 1999 - 2000, Charles Schulz. Editor Gary Groth.
PS: OK, OK, now we'll get back in the park.
The back-gate entrance to Keansburg Amusement Park. Fun fact: despite the sign's promise that Coca-Cola's sold there, what we did get from there was Diet Dr Pepper, a completely different conglomerate's carbonated drink product.
Keansburg's bumper cars, a ride that you're limited to three rides on per night even if you have a pay-one-price wristband like we got. The ride operator explained that if they didn't do this then packs of bored teenagers would occupy the ride and spoil the fun for everyone else.
Evening-glow view of some of the kiddie rides at Keansburg.