Skip to content

IFPA National Championships

July 28, 2014

The IFPA National Championships is a tournament featuring the winners of the IFPA State Championships series.  This year it was held at Lyon’s Classic Pinball in Lyons, Colorado.

Keith Elwin and Bowen Kerins battle it out in the a best-of-7 series.

For more information on the IFPA State Championship series:

Comedy and Collisions at the Pacific Pinball Museum

July 21, 2014
Comedy and Collisions at the Pacific Pinball Museum
Dance Party with dj Darewon

Duat Mai, Mean Dave, Natasha Muse, Ethan Orloff, Lilybeth Helson & Nina G.

Produced by Comedy and Pinball for a Cause.  No host bar and free flipper finger food.
Dancing till midnight.

Friday July 25th, 2014
Doors open at 8 pm for the Show
Museum open at 2 PM for Pinball
Pacific Pinball Museum
1510 Webster St.,  Alameda, CA

California Extreme 2014 Recap

July 16, 2014

Another year, another CAX.  And another awesome weekend like no other.


I checked into my room and then went down to the showroom for my volunteer window.  Even by 3 PM the showroom looked very filled, so it was clear that Ken, Jim, TJ and Mark had things ready to go.

I got the worst job in the world: alphabetizing all the pre-register laminated name tags.  My spell checker just had to correct me on ‘alphabetizing’, so yeah.


But the next day the show began.  Michelle Morris did her usual awesome job coordinating the front end.


STERNS Mustang pinball

I put a few games on STERN’s Mustang Pinball, and while the game seemed to get a lukewarm reception on release, it’s a solid player.


The ultra-rare Kingpin and Big Bang Bar (BBB’s back-lights were out)

Of course, no CAX is complete without these two ultra-rare games.

I got a video of an incredibly good Dance Game player working both foot pads.


On Sunday, I ran two fun pinball tournaments right next to the Pacific Pinball Museum booth in the main showroom using the Surf Champ clear pinball built by Michael Schiess.  The cabinet and playfield are made of plexi-glass so you can see what the mechanics are doing while the game plays.

The first was a split-flipper tournament where two players work as a team, one on each flipper. The winners were the final team to play: Jem Gruber and Jeff Fehervari.  Jem and Jeff each took home a Star Trek translite and t-shirts provided by STERN pinball.  Congrats guys!


Francisco and Elias on split-flipper


Jeff Fervari and Jem Gruber with their loot.

The second tournament was single-player, one-handed affair, which is inevitably hilarious since lots of players will instinctively want to use their non-playing hand when things get tense.

Former NBA Basketball player Todd MacCulloch pulled off an amazing game.  I’ve talked to Todd on many occasions and he’s such a mellow guy, and sort of a…well “gentle giant”.  But once he started his game he visibly transformed.  He was crazy fast and his hands and reactions were very quick.  Logically it makes sense: that’s what it takes to get to the NBA, but still, seeing it in person is another thing.

On ball one he earned an extra ball, something no one else managed to do.  Then,  on ball two, only 2000 points short of the leader’s score, he tilted!  And the tilt carried through to the next ball, costing him two balls!  Had he not earned the extra ball on ball one his game would have been over!  With his last ball he went on to put another 10k on top for the solid win.  Congrats to Todd!

The STERN T-shirt was way to small for Todd so he gave it to the runner-up, Dale.  Todd is great guy!



In the main tournament, (full bracket HERE) Bay Area local Brian O’Neill of SFPD won the Casual Division.  Bay Area players have won the Casual Division the last four out of five years.

The Bay Area also did a great job in the Classics Division.  Alex Samonte of BAPA took 2nd, Andrei Massenkoff of BAPA/SFPD took 3rd and Josh Warren of BAPA/EBPL took 4th.

In the Modern Division, Tim Hansen of BAPA took 4th.  Bowen Kerins, the co-director of the tournament (with Greg Dunlap), took 1st.  Bowen started with the original BAPA league so I’ll count that as a Bay Area win as well. :-)

So.  After all the dust has settled, obviously this only scratches the surface of this awesome show.  I wanted to hit some seminars – I didn’t.  I wanted to play in Stephen Kleckner’s Street Fighter Tournament – I didn’t.  I wanted to not have something break at work on Saturday – it did.  But, I still had an awesome time and I have a reason to go back next year. :-)  Not that I needed one.

Huge thanks to the team that put on CAX:  Jim, TJ, Mark, Michelle, Ken, and all the volunteers do an incredible, stressful job for you.  Be sure to thank them when you see them.  And play more pinball!

California Extreme 2014

July 6, 2014


Photo by Gene X / Orange Photography

Photo by Gene X / Orange Photography

California Extreme is an annual arcade and pinball show and it’s MASSIVE.  You do not want to miss this one!  Vendors, speakers, tournaments and hundreds of pinball and video games all converge on the Hyatt Regency in Santa Clara for two days of non-stop arcade awesomeness.  This will be my 5th year attending and I can’t wait!

In addition to several video game tournaments, CA Extreme hosts a world-class pinball tournament that is also a PAPA Circuit Event.  Even if you can’t make the show, you can follow the tournament action live via PAPA TV.


Multi-World Champion Bowen Kerins getting enthusiastic on ACDC. Photo: Gene X / Orange Photography

Join the CA Extreme Facebook Group and get all the latest updates:

On a budget?  If you work two volunteer hours, you get admission free for the rest of the day.  More info here.

See more of Gene X’s photos of last year’s show here.

PAPA TV Coverage of Southern-Fried Gaming Festival

June 24, 2014


The PAPA TV crew made the trip to Atlanta for their annual show.  Check out the Semis and Finals tournament action here.

Oakland to Legalize Pinball

June 22, 2014


Way back in 2010, I learned there are still laws on the books in Oakland pertaining to pinball.  The laws in question are:


It is unlawful for any person to keep or use in any public place any pinball machine equipped with any device which cancels and records the cancellation of free games won without the actual playing of said free games by the player.


It is unlawful for any person to keep or use in any public place any pinball machine game which permits the insertion of more than one coin per game.

These laws deal with pinball at a time when it was still a gambling game.  Pinball made so much money in that format that even the mob got involved.  Today, the laws are basically ignored: they’re antiquated and everyone knows it.  A few times I thought it might be fun to mount a campaign to “legalize” pinball in Oakland and get these old laws struck from the books.  The reality is they’ve never hindered the growth of modern pinball in Oakland.  And anyway, it’s kind of cool to be an “outlaw” playing pinball, right?

(A) was related to a thing called a knockdown switch.  If you earned some credits on a pinball machine, you told the bartender or soda jerk and he paid you out in anything from cash to cigarettes to prizes, after which he’d hit the “knockdown switch” to clear your credits so the next player could play.  Modern pinballs still retain the credit count, even after a reset, which might be a holdover from these days.

(B) seems particularly targeted at a special kind of pin game known as Bingo that was popular from around the 1950s through the 1970s.  Flippers were added to Pinball games in 1947, but a lot of people still liked to gamble, and Bally, in particular, knew it.  So while they made “games of skill” with flippers, which were “For Amusement Only”, they also made Bingos, which were for gambling.  Bingos became very popular, and like slot machines, they allowed players to insert many coins (over 100 was not uncommon) to better your odds or returns.

Musician Lonnie Irving made a great song about Bingos.

Well, it now appears the City of Oakland is going to finally, officially, get rid of these laws:

But note: I have it on fairly reliable word that some Bingos still operate around the Bay Area.  Could the striking of such laws usher in some of the Chinese Bingos?  Not likely, but who knows.

Shatz ’98

June 18, 2014



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 216 other followers