Date: December 5th 2010
Location: Special When Lit, Unit 6 Loyal Trade Business Park, Stephenson Road, Salisbury, SP2 7NS, UK.

In December 2009, 31 players took part in the very first Festive Pinball Gathering, held at Peter Blakemore's Special When Lit pinball club in Salisbury in the south of England.

Special When Lit, with an outdoor smoking area
Special When Lit, with an outdoor smoking area

This year we were back with a new mix of popular and lesser-known solid-state machines, more Christmas decorations and more food and drink for visitors to enjoy.  Entry to the venue and the tournament costs £5 ($7.88)

The previous day had seen Special When Lit host its own league night which gave players the chance to compete and get some valuable practice time on the machines. 

Despite the icy and snowy conditions in Salisbury and across the country, 30 players braved the weather to socialise and compete in Sunday's Festive Pinball Gathering Tournament, organised by Pinball News.

Ice covered the car park with snow further afield
Ice covered the car park with snow further afield

Inside - in the warm - were the 14 machines available to play during the morning's practice session.  They were:

Bram Stoker's Dracula
Doctor Who
Gold Wings
Guns 'N Roses
High Speed 2 - The Getaway
Medieval Madness

Monster Bash
No Fear
Pink Panther
Terminator 3
Who Dunnit?

A chance to chat and warm up before the tournament began
A chance to chat and warm up before the tournament began

Three of the more unusual games - Spirit, Pink Panther and Gold Wings with a Monster Bash
Three of the more unusual games - Spirit, Pink Panther and Gold Wings
alongside a Monster Bash

The side room contained six more games
The side room contained six more games

Twelve of these were chosen for the tournament; No Fear and Dracula dropped out as they had minor mechanical issues which might impact on some players and not others.  Up for grabs were trophies for the top 3 as well as for the top female and top junior players.

The glittering prizes
The glittering prizes

The tournament consisted of a qualifying round from which the top 16 would move on to the play-offs.  Players could choose any 6 from the 12 machines on which to play a single qualifying game.  All the scores on each machine were ranked with the top player scoring 100 points, giving a theoretical maximum score of 600 for achieving the top score on all six chosen machines.

Scores were recorded on players' score cards which were handed in once completed.  Individual players' scores and machine scores were displayed on two monitors, while the play-offs ladder was printed out and put on the wall behind.

The scoring system monitors and the play-offs ladder
The scoring system monitors and the play-offs ladder

During qualifying, the Stargate developed a fault which couldn't easily be fixed in a timely manner, so the scores on that machine were counted, but no further games could be played as the machine was taken out of the tournament.

Players could play alone or in groups with most preferring the group approach.  When the qualifying finished, these were the standings:

Pos Name Points
1 Martin Ayub  557
2 Greg Mott  519
3 Ivan Durneen  424
4 Peter Blakemore  414
5 Will Barber  395
6 James Watson  335
7 Matt Vince  330
8 Nick Hill  320
9 Eddie Mole  314
10 Neil Fellender  307
11 Dave Rolfe  305
12 Andy Kerslake  304
13 Nigel Baker  303
14 Tony Fitzgerald  283
15 Tom Hare  270
16 Andy Sims  270
17 Sarah Jarrett  259
18 Sarah Holmes  254
19 Graham Rowley  232
20 Justin Walker  231
21 Mike Kindler  224
22 Harry Rolfe  196
23 Phil Taylor  178
24 Emmanuel Crusiaux  166
25 Susan Porter  166
26 Adrian Godwin  88
27 Leighton Avery  87
28 Moira Ross  77
29 Sam Webb  68
30 Dylan Webb  38

Everyone who didn't qualify was then invited to choose a consolation Christmas gift from a selection generously donated by Pinball Renaissance of St Louis Park, Minnesota and SS Billiards of Hopkins, Minnesota.  These included mugs, T-shirts, torches, toys and mobile phone accessories.

The top sixteen qualifiers were then divided into four groups of four and each group played a single four-player game on a randomly drawn machine.  The top three in each group moved on to the next round, but the lowest scorer in each group dropped out to play a play-off game with the other lowest scorers to determine their final position.

Excitement in the tournament play-offs
Excitement in the tournament play-offs

In that first round, Andy Sims, Tom Hare, Dave Rolfe and Nigel Baker dropped out, leaving 4 groups of 3 to play the next round.  The groups were mixed up and each group played another random machine, with the top 2 in each moving on and the lowest scorers dropping out.  In the second round the casualties were Tony Fitzgerald, Ivan Durneen, Nick Hill and last year's winner, Will Barber.

The qualifying round is under way
The tournament heads towards the final four

As the tournament reached the semi-finals, four head-to-head play-offs would decide the final four.  Greg Mott and James Watson battled in the first group on Pink Panther, with Greg winning through.  Andy Kerslake and Neil Fellender fought for the second final place and it was Neil who won that struggle on Genesis. Event host Peter Blakemore met tournament organiser Martin Ayub in the third semi-final on Gold Wings, and it was Martin who won that one.  The fourth final place was between Eddie Mole and Matt Vince on Medieval Madness, where Eddie was the winner.

So Greg, Neil, Martin and Eddie met in the final which was played on the randomly-drawn Monster Bash.

None of the players dominated the opening balls, but Martin opened up a small lead with his 19M.  Pretty soon though, Greg took charge of the game and made it to the Monster Bash mode to finish on 120,473,460 points.  Neil had already finished on 26,929,070 and Eddie had some bad luck with his game to end on 12,359,470.  Martin was in third place before his last ball and needed to get a multiball started to move up.  He made the Frankenstein shot to get that multiball running and move into second place, but couldn't get to Monster Bash and ended on 41,827,530.

So Greg was the tournament winner - his first ever full tournament win.  Martin was second, Neil third and Eddie fourth.  Host Peter presented the trophies to the top three and to Sarah Jarrett as the best female player and Harry Rolfe as the best junior player.

Fourth placed Eddie Mole
Fourth placed Eddie Mole

Third placed Neil Fellender
Third placed Neil Fellender

Second placed Martin Ayub
Second placed Martin Ayub

Festive Pinball Gathering Tournament winner Greg Mott
Festive Pinball Gathering Tournament winner Greg Mott

Top female player Sarah Jarrett
Top female player Sarah Jarrett

Top youth player, Harry Rolfe
Top junior player, Harry Rolfe

So here are the final placings in the 2010 Festive Pinball Gathering Tournament:

Pos Name
1 Greg Mott
2 Martin Ayub
3 Neil Fellender
4 Eddie Mole
5 Matthew Vince
6 Peter Blakemore
7 Andy Kerslake
8 James Watson
9 Will Barber
10 Tony Fitzgerald
11 Ivan Durneen
12 Nick Hill
13 Tom Hare
14 Andy Sims
15 Nigel Baker
16 Dave Rolfe
17 Sarah Jarrett 
18 Sarah Holmes 
19 Graham Rowley 
20 Justin Walker 
21 Mike Kindler 
22 Harry Rolfe 
23 Phil Taylor 
24 Emmanuel Crusiaux 
25 Susan Porter 
26 Adrian Godwin 
27 Leighton Avery 
28 Moira Ross 
29 Sam Webb 
30 Dylan Webb 

With the tournament concluded, casual play resumed for those who remained as the second Festive Pinball Gathering drew to a close.

Many thanks to Peter and Moira for hosting and for providing the festive atmosphere and the refreshments.  Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves and it was a fitting way to end the 2010 pinball season.


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