Date: November 12th - 14th 2010
Location: Heighway Pinball, Adare, Co. Limerick, Ireland
Pictures: Andrew Heighway & Pinball News

To County Limerick they came.  From Germany, the UK and other parts of the Emerald Isle, descending on a house located in the middle of farmland for a weekend of tables, talk and tournaments.

The home of Heighway Pinball near Adare, Ireland
The home of Heighway Pinball near Adare, Ireland

Pinball trader and organiser of the UK Pinball Party, Andrew Heighway, runs Heighway Pinball from a large, modern home near the town of Adare and for the third year running he played host to the Irish Meet pinball get-together. 

The location had moved about 2 miles from last year's, but the objectives were the same.  Meet up with friends, play pinball, have a little competition or two, but above all, relax and have fun, without the distractions afforded by having mobile phone coverage.

Free soft drinks and snacks were provided, along with tea and coffee and whatever else visitors wanted to bring with them and could find room for in the fridge.

The number of attendees has grown each year, from an initial 8 in 2008 to 20 last year, reaching more than 30 for this year's event.  There were 16 pinballs set up for them to play:

Apollo 13
Big Buck Hunter Pro
Black Hole
Dirty Harry
Haunted House
Indianapolis 500
Monster Bash
No Fear
Party Zone
Revenge from Mars

Peter and Albert play Black Hole
Peter and Albert play Black Hole

In addition, a Pac-Man Ball pusher machine was set up in the kitchen and a twin seater Daytona was available in the garage.

The Pac-Man Ball pusher
The Pac-Man Ball pusher

One drawback of the rural location was the intermittent problem with the electrical supply which would occasionally cause various breakers to trip for no apparent reason.  Thankfully it didn't occur too often but it always seemed to happen just as you were having that killer game.

The main tournament of the weekend was the Irish Pinball Open which took place on Saturday, but before that was a new Classics tournament which was held on Friday evening.

Because bad weather in the Irish Sea had caused the cancellation of the fast ferry from the UK to Ireland, some players would be arriving later than originally anticipated, so the Classics tournament didn't start until about 8pm.

The 22 competitors had to play a single game on Pinbot, Black Hole, Defender, Firepower and Rollergames, after which their scores were ranked with all the other players' scores and ranking points awarded. 

The 8 players with the most ranking points proceeded to the 2 semi-finals, with the top 2 from those going into the final and the bottom 2 going into a 5th-8th place play-off.  The 8 qualifiers were: Martin Ayub, Daniel Bradford, Phil Dixon, Andrew Heighway, Kate Morris, Nick Marshall, David Sanders and Peter Scheldt.

The four semi-finalists who made it into the final were Phil Dixon, Andrew Heighway, David Sanders and Peter Scheldt, and it all came down to a final game played on Rollergames.

Dave Sanders plays Rollergames in the Classics final
Dave Sanders plays Rollergames in the Classics final

In the end it was a victory for host Andrew Heighway, with Peter Scheldt from Germany in second, Phil Dixon from the UK in third and Dave Sanders also from the UK in fourth.

Trophies were presented by the tournament's sponsor, David Stephan of Touch Of Gold who was also on hand to offer advice and special pricing on gold and silver plating services for pinball parts.

Third placed Phil Dixon
Andrew and David with third placed Phil Dixon

Second placed Peter Scheldt
Second placed Peter Scheldt

Winner, Andrew Heighway
Winner, Andrew Heighway

Pinball play continued into the early hours of Saturday morning and resumed a few hours later when players practiced ahead of the Irish Pinball Open which began around 2:30pm.

Younger players get ready for the Open tournament
Younger players get ready for the Open tournament

Before that however, Andrew had arranged for hot food to be delivered and it duly arrived just before 2pm.  The sausages, chicken goujons, potato wedges and chips were eagerly consumed before play began in the qualifying round of the Open.

The hot food quickly disappeared
The hot food quickly disappeared

The same qualifying format as the Classic was used, and players had six machines to play in order to earn ranking points. 

Players in the Open
Players in the Open

The machines used were: Big Buck Hunter Pro, Monster Bash, Jackbot, Dirty Harry, No Fear and Black Hole (a substitute game for the poorly Defender). 

Black Hole was used instead of Defender
Black Hole was used instead of Defender

The top 12 players qualified for the play-offs, which used a modified double-elimination format.

Chris Williams plays in the qualifying round
Chris Williams plays in the qualifying round

More qualifying play
More qualifying play

The main games room got quite busy during qualifying
The main games room got quite busy during qualifying... did the hallway did the hallway

Tournament organiser Martin Ayub enters the scores
Tournament organiser Martin Ayub enters the scores

There were 30 players in total, and the 12 who qualified for the play-offs were:

Pos Name Points
1 Martin Ayub 487
2 Nick Marshall 446
3 Peter Scheldt 435
4 Phil Dixon 411
5 Andrew Heighway 403
6 Albert Medaillon 398
7 Dan Bradford 378
8 Greg Mott 367
9 Matthew Vince 349
10 Cormac Mitchell-Lees 297
11 David Sanders 288
12 Jim Brady 282

The 12 players were split into three groups of four and each group played a single 4-player game on a machine drawn by tournament sponsor David Stephan. 

The top scorer stayed on their machine for the next round while the second and third placed players changed to different machines.  The lowest placed player in each group joined the loser bracket where they played a 3-player game on a fourth machine, with only the top scorer progressing to the next loser round.

The second round ran on the same system but with 3-player games instead, with the winner staying on the same machine, the 2nd placed player swapping machines and the 3rd placed joining the loser round.

This continued into the third round where the 3 x 2-player games saw the winners going into the final and the losers playing in the loser round for a shot at the fourth final place.

Greg secures a second win on Dirty Harry
Greg secures a second win in the play-off rounds on Dirty Harry

Top qualifier Martin Ayub stayed on Jackbot throughout, as he came top in all his 3 matches to go into the final.  He was pleased when the machine drawn at random as the final machine was... Jackbot.  He was joined in the final by second placed qualifier Nick Marshall who won power-interrupted loser bracket final on Big Buck, eighth-placed qualifier Greg Mott who came back from a third place on Monster Bash to win twice in a row on Dirty Harry, and Matt Vince who played all three machines - Dirty Harry, Monster Bash & Jackbot - on his way to the final.

As everyone gathered around the Jackbot, the final began with Nick playing first, Greg second, Martin third and Matt fourth. Nick got off to a solid start and ended his three balls on 1,176,006,750 points, tilting the final ball and losing his bonus.  Greg had high hopes of surpassing Nick, but luck was not with him and he ended up almost 300M short on 892,303,420 points.

Greg plays in the final
Greg plays in the final

Martin was in last place going into his final ball, but managed to salvage second place, edging past Nick and ending up with 1,228,886,560 points.

Martin tries to come back from last place
Martin tries to come back from last place

The crowd enjoys the final

But it was Matt who took both an early lead and also charge of the machine.  With a score of 3,340,696,620 points at the end of his second ball, he had no need to play the third and comfortably took first place.

Shortly afterwards, Andrew Heighway and David Stephan congratulated the finalists and presented the trophies.

Irish Pinball Open fourth placed Greg Mott
Irish Pinball Open fourth placed Greg Mott

Third placed Nick Marshall
Third placed Nick Marshall

Second placed Martin Ayub
Second placed Martin Ayub

2010 Irish Pinball Open winner, Matt Vince
2010 Irish Pinball Open winner, Matt Vince

Matt had only recently got into pinball and this was his first tournament win, moving him 669 places up the IFPA world rankings.

Here are the final placings for all 30 competitors.

Pos Name
1 Matthew Vince
2 Martin Ayub
3 Nick Marshall
4 Greg Mott
5 Peter Scheldt
6 Albert Medaillon
7 Daniel Bradford
8 Phil Dixon
9 Andrew Heighway
10 Cormac Mitchell-Lees
11 Jim Brady
12 David Sanders
13 Ian Craig
14 Nigel Baker
15 Chris Williams
16 James Watson
17 David Stephan
18 Ken Franks
19 Sarah Jarrett
20 Tana Stephan
21 Spencer Franks
22 Sean McOrath
23 Stephen Brady
24 Chris Bennett
25 Naoise Stephan
26 Kate Morris
27 Lia Stephan
28 Edward Murphy 
29 Brianna Stephan
30 Zara Buckley

The Open finished around 9:15pm, so there was just time for most players to jump in their cars and head into town to Pat Collins Bar and Restaurant for food and drinks before they stopped taking food orders at 9:30pm.

For most, Sunday was a traveling day, but there was still time for an ad-hoc mini-tournament at lunchtime, organised by Albert Medaillon and won by Peter Scheldt.

After that, we left for the flight home with happy memories of a weekend enjoying pinball favourites and reacquainting with old friends of both the solid-state and human variety.

Many thanks to Andrew for organising the weekend's events, the food, drink and trophies, and for opening his home to a bunch of pinball freaks to run riot over it.  Thanks too to Andrew's dad John for his help.


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