B Division Finals. Though I scored the most points of anyone in the two groups playing the first round, I'm still the lowest seed and so won't have any chance to pick a game in the three-game set. I stick to my superstitious play-second post. The first game is AC/DC, which had crushed me the little bit I'd tried playing in qualifying. The only place near us that had one was Grand Rapids and they replaced the table several months ago, and since then I've gradually forgotten everything I knew about how to start a good-scoring mode. I start to remember; shooting a bank of anything is good, shooting the ramps repeatedly starts a multiball eventually and oh there goes my ball. I come close to but don't meet first-player DAD's score. But I'm well ahead of the other finalists, DAW and SDP and while SDP doesn't get anything together, DAW has a breakthrough last ball. I'm in third place with one PAPA point.
Next game: Bally's 1979 Viking. Early solid state game. Good territory for me; it's an era I do well in. It was one of my three best games in qualifying. It's even better --- well, slightly better --- now. I take first place. DAW's still got the edge with six PAPA points, but I'm in second at five. DAD has only two and SDP one. It's not anyone's match yet --- SDP can't take first place --- but it's close. And thanks to the logic of the scoring, if I can beat DAW then I am at least tied for first place.
Our game: Genesis. The one that keeps crushing me. I've learned some new little bits about it, including how to stack various score multiplying-gimmicks, which is what's needed to have a real breakaway score. What I fail to do is actually use any of them. DAD, going first, puts in a score of over two million points, enough to win under normal circumstances. I put up 385,360, enough to beat someone who doesn't know what they're doing and has a round of bad luck. SDP, going third, crushes it with over four million points, enough that I believe he's overtaken me in the PAPA scoring. And then DAW finishes with an anemic game but one plenty to beat me: 634,650. He finishes with seven PAPA points, good for first place.
I had thought SDP had beaten me. Not so; we were tied for second, and were to play a one-ball tiebreaker. Somehow it ends up on Aerosmith, which I've come to like but is not a game that lends itself to quick dirty point grabs for one-ball play. I forget what he puts up on his one ball, but it's several millions and close to the best I had done on that table in qualifying. Best I can figure to do: smash the toybox and try to get multiball going. ... Which, what do you know, but happens; and in the big action of three-ball multiball (the game lets you build it up to six balls) I smash well past his score.
And so I have second place, in the B Division! Just as last year, which prompts me to make the joke that if I win second place in the B Division in 2018 I'll take permanent possession of the spot, and they'll just have to go from 1st to 3rd ever after. Also to keep making the joke in the hope of finding someone who's amused by it. (Spoiler: the person amused by it is me, and only me. I am fine with this.) It's a small addition to the mantle of pinball trophies, but it's there, and fairly won.
A postscript. Later in the day, after the women's tournament (more on this to come) ADM talks with bunny_hugger about the play. He's startled that I took second place in the B Division, saying, ``He's not a B Division player.'' When I wander back over with a fresh-bought Moxie he asks what I'm doing playing B Division.
ADM is the Michigan state champion for this year. I'm flattered that he thinks I'm slumming when I play B Division. I think he's judging me by my best moments, and overlooking my streakiness. Possibly he's completely unaware of it. But I have slumps deeper and longer than his, and while I can have flashes of fantastic play I'm also terrible at having that pull-yourself-together third-ball rally that the true A Division players regularly have.
I've seen the top tier players. There's something qualitatively different about the way they play, even when they're playing lousy. The most modern Stern games, especially, just stratify the different kinds of players; there is a level of scoring on, say, Game of Thrones that I just can't even think to play. I'm solidly in the second tier of playing, with freak games that bring me to the upper limits of that. But the top tier, the ADM-level of players? I'm not there, and that's all there is to it. For now, I'm a good B-level player, at least in a group as big as comes to Pinball At The Zoo.
(I should say: bunny_hugger is in the same band of players as me. Lower in the band perhaps, but she beats me too often to be plausibly in the next band of players.)
Trivia: The asteroid Mr Spock is named for the discoverer, Jim Gibson's, ginger short-haired tabby cat. The cat was named after the Star Trek character. Source: Marking Time: The Epic Quest To Invent The Perfect Calendar, Duncan Steel.
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.