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The Battle for the Bay

November 15, 2010

About a month ago I ran a Pin Golf for the Backbone Entertainment Party at Playland-not-at-the-Beach.  I remarked to Richard Tuck (the main honcho at Playland) that while the turnout was lackluster the people who played really liked the format.  A week later I got a call from Denise, Playland’s media promotion person, asking me for details about the Pinball tournament for their upcoming Pinball Weekend of the 13/14th.

So that’s how you find out you’re running a pinball tournament sometimes.  And that’s how Richard Tuck thinks: Idea?  GO!  I sort of like that – just come up with an idea and let’s do it.

Pin Golf seemed to work so I ran with it.  The better players actually finish first, so no epic games of superlong length making the schedule uncertain.  I decided to use Bowen’s “bonus format” which has novices playing with experts but novices are eligible for their own, separate final.  I also tried out a poker chip queue system to see if it would make that duty easier (it did).  The combination of the two gives everyone a chance at the money, sweetens the pot, mixes newer and experienced players, and creates a better social mix.  Everyone seemed to like it.  It made the tourney run faster and didn’t lock players into pre-set groups.

When used in the tournament, each chip had a label with the player's name on it and each slot was labeled for a particular game.

In Pin Golf, your goal is to complete objectives for each game using the fewest number of balls, similar to strokes in golf.  Often times, the objective is just a certain score, but I wanted to make it more interesting so I had players activate certain features in some cases.  For example, on Fun House, players could either activate all the STEPS awards, collect all goals on the Mystery Mirror, or score 5 Million.  On Creature from the Black Lagoon, players had to activate Video Mode with eight shots to the right ramp (and the ramp was very difficult to backhand on this particular Creature).

Tragedy struck right at the end of qualifying.  With only two players left on Fun House the Mirror scoop broke off!  What to do?  Have everyone play a different game?  Average these two players other scores for this one?  I chose option C: lots of tape.

My first pinball repair. Hopefully my last.

Qualifier scores:

Andrei Massenkoff    28
Chris Heileg    33
Mads Kristensen    38
Tim Hansen    42
Josh Lehan    42
Alex Samonte    43
James Vierra    46
Eugene Gershtein    50
Chris Gershtein    55
Mark Altvater    58
David Joud    59
Nina Ghisseli    60
Jeannie Rodriguez    60
Mitch Tunick    67
Tony Escobar    69
David Strong    77
Teresa Altavater    78
Nick Loizeaux    85
Roman Edwards    87
Spencer Tai    90

NOTE: James Vierra was eligible for Novice but qualified in Open
David Joud was disqualified for Novice for taking 2nd at the Avatar Launch Party

Plaques for the top 3 finishers in Kids, Novice and Open. Playland provided $185 worth of passes to the Novice and Kids Tournaments and the Open Division had a $200 cash pot.


1st Place: Peter Loizeaux – $50 family pass to Playland and Plaque
2nd: Peter Williams – $25 family pass to Playland and Plaque
3rd: Bella Gershtein – $15 pass and Plaque

Novice Final:

1st Place : Chris Gershtein – $50 family pass to Playland and Plaque
2nd: Mark Atvater – $25 family pass to Playland and Plaque
3rd: Nina Ghiselli – $15 pass to Playland and Plaque


The top 8 squared off on Scared Stiff, with no preference to seeding, random order.  The goal was to light at least 3 modes and light Cast a Spell.  The result of that was to divide players into two groups of four:

Jim Vierra, Chris Heileg, Eugene Gershtein and Alex Samonte were knocked out, and now playing for WPPR points (World Pinball Player Ranking)  and an impomtu $5 side pot.  Not to mention, two players (Chris and Jim) were in the East Bay Pinball League and the other two were from the Bay Area Pinball Association, so it was also a matter of league honor.

5 – 8:

5: Eugene Gershtein

6: Alex Samonte

7: Chris Heileg

8: Jim Vierra

Eugene and Alex emerged victorious on behalf of BAPA.


Andrei Massenkoff, Tim Hansen, Mads Kristensen, and Josh Lehan are the top 4.  They are all in the money at this point and playing White Water to beat the cash and WPPRs out of each other.

The goal is to activate Bigfoot Hotfoot.  This took 5 completions of the Big Foot standup targets.  Tim opens it up with a HUGE hole-in-one.

I thought the tourney was over right there.  I was ready to hand Tim the plaque and go home.  Only one other player in qualifier did this goal in a single ball.  But then Andrei Massenkoff rose up and activated.  BOOM > hole in one.  Josh Lehan exclaims “oh wow” and Mads Kristensen utters several Danish curses.  That forces the tie-breaker.

Tim and Andrei face off on Roller Coaster Tycoon.  The Goal: earn 2500 guests.  Mads and Josh fight for 3rd.

Tim and Andrei tie again with holes-in-one.  Double tie-breaker!

Meanwhile, Mads bested Josh for 3rd.

Last stop: Circus Chimera – a re-themed Ballyhoo EM.  The Goal is a mere 2000 points.  Tim and Andrei square off.  Both players get early bad balls, but then Tim makes a foray with 1300+, maybe next ball?  But then Andrei has a ball, an incredible ball, and really, it was a thing to see – many close, precise saves and clutch grabs on the ball to send it back up the playfield.  A truly intense final, no easy points in this game – Andrei left the game shaking, rattled and slightly confused with the effort.  It was up to Tim to equal… but…


Open Final:

8th: Jim Vierra
7th: Chris Heileg
6th: Alex Samonte
5th: Eugene Gershtein
4th: Josh Lehan

3rd Place: Mads Kristensen $40 + Plaque

Tim Hansen - Second Place $60 + Plaque

Andrei Massenkoff - Grand Champion $80 + Plaque

Thanks to:

Richard, Frank, and Kendra of Playland-not-at-the-Beach for hosting, promoting and providing prizes.

Mark and Teresa Atvater for help setting up.

Mads Kristensen for help with game goals.

Eugene Gershtein and Josh Lehan for scorekeeping.

Jeannie Rodriguez for help with cleanup.

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