Our pinball league's first season ended the last week of February, with me ranked surprisingly high and bunny_hugger pleasantly near the median. She came in 11th out of twenty; I was in fifth place, and nearly tied for fourth, which puts me in the pack that's just behind the power players who know how to apply psychokinetic powers to the ball and to the tilt mechanism. And since we are, amazingly for how casual and friendly a group we are, a sanctioned league this means that we have official rankings in the International Flipper Pinball Association's standings, with me about 5544th (of the 24,000 players they have on record) and bunny_hugger floating around 9700th. She's even already got an official pinball photo on the IFPA's web site, looking as a Twitter friend described it like the character in a mid-80s movie whose pinball skills are going to save the neighborhood youth center from redevelopment by the Rich Jerk Corporation.
Last Tuesday, then, we had the first ``Super Ball'', our silly little postseason, and rather than an ordinary match we had a ``Zen Pinball'' match, teams of two people, each playing one flipper, in a best-of-three round of bracketed play. The pairs were set by matching the strongest with the weakest players, of those who showed up for the extra game, so while I was teamed up with a guy of roughly equal skill, bunny_hugger got matched with the league superstar, the guy IFPA ranks as second in the state. (The weaker players in our league didn't attend.)
My and my partner's mediocrity teamed up for several indifferent games, although they did improve when we figured out to (a) stop trying for the Super Skill Shot on Medieval Madness --- which was a tempting but futile endeavor for nearly everybody that night --- and take the ordinary skill shot for all-but-guaranteed points instead, and (b) plan out ahead of time just what our strategy is going to be and stick with it for crying out loud. bunny_hugger and her partner, meanwhile, started strong and stayed strong, getting ultimately to the finals match. He was much better than my and my partner were about describing strategy, shot-by-shot, which is one of the things the stronger players were doing; he also insisted on bunny_hugger doing the skill shot on Tales of the Arabian Nights, as she is really good at the snake-charming shot there.
And the night sprawled out, with a lot of laughing and casual hanging out and several astounding moments, including one pair that managed to score 62 million points --- for the game, a really impressive total --- on Medieval Madness and yet failed to win because the other pair managed 69 million and got on the high score table.
We've found a really great pastime and a wonderful group to play with and it's just such a great thing that we're part of this.
Trivia: Prince Alexander of Bulgaria was abducted by officers under Russian instruction in August 1886. When he returned to Bulgaria he abdicated, under pressure from the Tsar. Source: The Struggle For Mastery In Europe, 1848 - 1918, A J P Taylor.
Currently Reading: Up Ship! A History of the US Navy's Rigid Airships 1919 - 1935, Douglas Hill Robinson.