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April 3, 2012

Click photo to biggie-size

From Friday March 30 till Sunday April 1 the largest Match Play tournament in the world was held just outside of Pittsburgh, PA.  The Bay Area contingent consisted of Walter, Nicole, Alex, Josh, Damien, Chris,  Andrei, Marcus, Eugene, and of course, myself.

We booked flights, hotels, and used up vacation days to do it. And several spent time away from families.

Was it worth it?

Above: The Pinburgh Poster

Passing over the Rockies on the flight out.

About a month ago, I considered the sanity of this endeavor: Am I really flying across the country to do this?  It takes about a kilobuck, all told. It makes no practical or economic sense.  But I love playing pinball and I love competing, love the community and camaraderie.  If I’ve found one truth in life, it’s that we have to follow our passions.  Wherever they may lead us.

“Some people never go crazy. What truly horrible lives they must lead.” – Charles Bukowski

Here I am, on the scene and ready for action.

Nicole had custom BAPA headbands and wristbands made for the league.

Above left to right: Josh, Eugene, Nicole, Jonny O, Andrei Massenkoff (2011 World Champion)

Banners hang from the rafters to recognize past PAPA World Champions.  

Three of the 14 winners are (or were) Bay Area players, and all three from the Bay Area Pinball Association: Rick Stetta (PAPA 2), Bowen Kerins (PAPA 4) and Andrei Massenkoff (PAPA 14).

Dave Baach, who co-ran the PPE tourney with me. hooked me up with some cool stickers.

Dave Baach (right), a key contributor to PAPA’s evolution, and co-ran the PPE Tournament with me.

Damien got 3rd highest score on a very tough Demoman with the claw disabled.

Results for Bay Area Players:

A Division

Andrei: Qualified for playoffs, advanced to Semi Final

Eugene: Qualified in A, finished 83

Alex: Qualified in A, finished 48

Damien: Qualified in A, finished 37

Josh: Qualified in A, finished 80

B Division

Walter: Qualified for playoffs, advanced to Semi Final

Chris: Qualified for playoffs, advanced to Semi Final

Jon: Qualified in B, finished 55

Marcus: Qualified in B, finished 74

C Division:

Nicole: Finished 36th

I think we did a great job overall and had a real team spirit going.  We traded info on games we had played and that made a big difference in some of my matches.

I qualified in B Division (the intermediate Division), but at the very bottom.  I really needed some monster rounds to have a shot at the playoffs.  My opening round I got a 9-3 (Nine wins and 3 losses – a Round of 7-5 or better is good ). This put me at 32nd place, so I was pumped.  But then I had two mediocre rounds, going 5-7, and then 4-8.

I got my act somewhat back together in round 9 with 6-6, but not enough to make up for the previous two craptastic displays of non-performance.  I really needed an 8-4 or better.  So going into the final round, to have any shot of qualifying I needed 11-1 or 12-0, and I only managed another 6-6.  Thus, in the end I managed to climb about half way up the standings to finish at 55th out of 91 players in B Division.  Out of all players I finished 147th out of 273.

Now that I was out of the tournament, it was time to have fun.  I played pinball.  I hit the local bars.

I went to get my swerve on at the local watering hole, and dragged Chris along.  It was Nicole’s birthday, and since she got knocked out of C Playoffs contention, our initial intention was to buy her a glass of her drink of choice, which is Champagne.  Thing is, they only sell alcohol at the State liquor stores or in bars in Pennsylvania.  We went to the nearby bar, on the off-chance, and learned they only sold beer to-go.  Then we decided to stay.

I asked this girl at the bar if she was playing in the pinball tournament, then got her reaction shot (above).  Her name was Teresia and she’s a private investigator, catching workmen’s comp abusers.  We had a good time and Chris and I convinced her to do a Kamikaze shot with us.

I went back in to find Damien.  I found a split flipper money game with some top guys, including Keith Elwin, got in.  “You’re the new guys, you go first.”  We did.  “Spinner, Damien, all day”.  And we did.  Got the win.  Took the 8 bucks off the game like champs.

Not a bad end to this adventure.

Above: Nicole stayed out all night long.  Sleeping in her boat.

It was time to go home. Back to life.  Back to work.  Back to Reality.  Back to what we do, when it’s not pinball.

Was it worth it?

You’re goddamn right it was. 

  1. Per permalink
    April 3, 2012 4:37 pm

    Awesome story J-man! You’ve convinced me to go next year.


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