August 23rd, 2018

krazy koati

Hail to the black and the blue

We got back to Fremont soon after the qualifying hours opened. This required we get up about six hours earlier in the day than we liked, but, sacrifies must be made. I started out with FunHouse, a game included in the bank not just because bunny_hugger loves it so. It's a tough game for tournaments. Anyone who loves pinball knows this game inside-out; it's maybe the most accessible late-solid-state game and one of the all-time best games. But if you're skilled, and the game is playing comfortably, you can play it basically forever. To have a tournament not go on forever, the table has to be set hard. So play it in a tournament and the game's likely to be crushing, and it had crushed me the day before. My first game of Saturday, though, I had it, cruising along to multiple jackpots and about 13 million points. This put me in the top ten players on that table. And I'd stay there: shortly after I played the game malfunctioned, and after a fair bit of trying PH and AJH determined the game couldn't be fixed in time to put back in play. Nobody could swipe my 91 points. Testament to that superstition that your first game of the day is often your best.

But other games go well too. Dirty Harry I start to get the hang of. There's three important shots on the table. One is the Headquarters scoop on the left. One is the Magna Force shot on the right. One is the side ramp shot in the center, using the upper flipper. I finally start to find where these shots are, that is, where on the flipper to shoot to hit them. Better, the shots feed into one another. From the left flipper shoot the Magna Force, from that shoot the side ramp; that takes you to the right flipper where you can shoot Headquarters, which puts you back to the left flipper. I start feeling really good about the game. It ends up being one of my four best games.

I don't better my other scores for the Main tournament. But I give the Classics a try and improve all three games. Mystic it's relatively easy to double your score on; just have a good first ball. 4 Square is more about bringing the ball to a stop often, and then aiming; the game is a bunch of targets all labelled 1 through 4 and you want, like it suggests, to hit four 1's, four 2's, four 3's, and four 4's. The more sets of 1-2-3-4 you hit, the more everything on the field is worth. And on Eight Ball, the pool-themed Fonzie-ripoff game, I find the little shot up the right that builds up the bonus value; the bonus is based on how many targets corresponding to pool balls you've hit, and so --- well, that's got me into the Classics Tournament.

The Classics Tournament is an exciting prospect. My first really big finish in an important tournament was the Baby Food Festival Classics, several years ago. Its points had just lapsed from my International Flipper Pinball Association rating. (Points decline in value as they age; the first months of my and bunny_hugger's competitive pinball lives now count for nothing, except that they are how we got here. The scheme does motivate people to keep playing, and to give skilled newcomers a chance against skilled oldcomers who've been playing since before games had flippers.) The downside: playing in it could endanger my appearance in the Main Tournament. I'm qualified now, but anyone not playing in the Classics Tournament will have that uninterrupted time to put up Main Tournament qualifying scores. They could edge me out.

I get into Classics in 11th place, out of 12 taken in. I'm comfortable with that. bunny_hugger is at 16th place, not in unless an impossible number of people don't show up or decline to play. They don't. She doesn't actually kick my shin, but we do argue about whether I'm a significantly better player than she is. I'm not. I would accept ``slightly'' better, with the main differences being that I recover quicker from an unfair event and that I have an easier time strategizing on a modern Rules-a-palooza game with impossibly complicated gameplay. All my grand strategy experience.

First round of Classics Finals. Three games, in a four-player group with Grand Rapids League regulars RLM and MSS, plus this guy UNC, in from Indiana. He's one of a couple of out-of-staters (and in one case, an out-of-country-er) who're there and messing up the usual forecasting of who'll do what. Knock-Out is the first game; it's an electromechanical. It wasn't in the Classics Qualifying banks, as it was reserved for the daily tournaments. But there's no daily tournament Saturday, so it's free for our use here. We play it one-player, since the game can sometimes tilt through, losing someone their ball because the previous player tilted. MSS goes first and puts up 81,540, nearly rolling it. I'm second; I like going second when I can, for no good reason other than why not. I put up 40,320. UNC is next and gets to 38,780 and I breathe so much easier. I get at least one point the round. RLM has a terrible game, getting only 21,630. If I can keep this pace, I'll get through this round and into semifinals.

The next game is 4 Square, which I think of as a friend by now. RLM goes first, and puts up a solid 3,725. I'm second; I put up 2,055. Not good, but with a bit of luck I might get third or even second place. UNC gives me hope again, but on the last ball (of five) he blows through my score and finishes at 2,596. MSS takes to the fourth ball to beat my score. I'm now tied for third in the group of four; only the top two go on. If I win the last game I move on surely; if I come in second, I might make it.

The game is Mystic. Well, literally anything might happen. What does happen is that MSS has a really good game, getting 394,320 points. I manage a much more average 82,230. RLM squeaks me out on the bonus, coming in at 84,650. My only hope is that UNC tilts away his bonus, and he doesn't; he squeaks out the both of us and finishes at 93,280. MSS and RLM will go on to the semifinals. I'm out of the tournament in 11th place. UNC gets 10th. MSS will go on to 8th, and RLM to 4th.

On the one hand I'm free to better, or at least defend, my position in the Main Tournament. On the other, aw, man. Classics was my best chance to get a nice big heap of points. What am I going to do in Main?

MWS, who carpooled with us again, tied in the first round of classics with CST. CST won; MWS finished the tournament in 9th.

Last year when we all bombed out of the Main Tournament after the first round we went to Michigan's Adventure. We had agreed to doing this again, if the Main Tournament turns out not to need us.

Trivia: Beethoven's Fidelio opened five nights after Napoleon's armies occupied Vienna, in November 1805. The sparse audience was mostly French officers who had little knowledge of German and less of Beethoven. Source: Beethoven: The Universal Composer, Edmund Morris.

Currently Reading: Fuelling the Empire: South Africa's Gold and the Road to War, John J Stephens.

PS: I'm Looking For Topics For My Fall 2018 Mathematics A-To-Z so please drop a few in!


PPS: A little more Columbo and then some of the town, last year.

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And a split-second later, the leaf is much less than it was, and Columbo was a bit heavier than he had been.


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Fallen tree along the walkway down to Omena proper from the house. It's not all that far, but every spot of it looks like every letterboxing clue ever.


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Looking back up the road leading from Omena to the rented house. There really is a split in the road in the far center and the house was off to the left from it.