Date: May 2nd & 3rd, 2009.
Location: SS Billiards, 732 11th Avenue South, Hopkins, Minnesota 55343, USA.

On the weekend of May 3rd, 2008 SS Billiards in Hopkins, MN held its fifth annual May Day Pinball Tournament.

SS Billiards

The champion won $1,000 cash and a trophy. Everyone who participated experienced a great weekend with great food and lots of time playing pinball.

Two of the trophies from the two other May Day Pinball Tournaments


This year's May Day Pinball Tournaments were planned from the start to be different to the first year's pinball tournaments. They were also planned to be different to last year’s tournaments.

Information at the entrance, for everyone to see


Those who registered for the tournament on-line or via e-mail by Tuesday, April 21st only had to pay a $40 registration fee. Pre-registration also guaranteed a great meal. Due to his T-shirt vendor being ill, Lloyd could only offer to follow up on event T-shirts.

No on-line registrations were accepted after April 21st. Though walk-in registrations were welcome up to and including the day of the event, those who registered at the entrance had to pay a higher $50 registration fee and did not get the meal.

Lloyd readying a registration packet

The first two people arrived early to check in

A few excited players early Saturday


Everyone who pre-registered received a belly full of Famous Dave's BBQ pork ribs and chicken with all the fixings, including corn muffin, coleslaw, and drunkin' apples for desert. Those who pre-registered got the word “Ribs” written on their name tags to signify that they were to receive the “rib” dinner.

The May Day 2008 entrance package with “Ribs” name tag


Saturday, May 2nd

Practice got under way at 12.00pm and went until 2:00pm. Qualifying rounds started at 2:00pm and went until after 11:30pm. A group of players who had already qualified left for a local pinball collector’s house at about 11:20pm.

One competitor “keeping warm” during a normal day at the arcade

During the qualifying rounds from 7:00pm until 8:00pm, a break was taken for food. This is when Lloyd had dinner delivered from Famous Dave's.

Delicious food from Famous Dave's

Unlike last year, this year the food was served buffet style.

Hot food for those who pre-registered

Lloyd made sure that those who signed up at the door got the opportunity to get a meal at one of the restaurants close to the event. He just asked them to check out and check back in.

The ever popular “Wendy’s

A few doors down from Lloyd’s is “EZ Foods Deli”

Keeping with the original spirit of PAPA, qualifying and competing were held during normal days in the arcade. This meant that players occasionally had to wait for a non-competing customer to finish his or her pinball game before the competitors could have their chance to play. But, fellow competitors usually abandoned their practicing on a pinball machine in favor of those trying to earn qualifying points or win their competition rounds.

Even with a one-hour break for dinner, fourteen people had a chance of competing in eighteen qualifying rounds. Not everyone competed in every round.

Missing a round or losing in that round earned the player 0 points. “Byes” or winning a round earned the player 1 point.

The lowest point total collected was 3 points. The highest total of collected point was an incredible 13 points. The qualifying point mark was 8 points.

About one third of those in attendance, four of fourteen people, competed in every half-hourly qualifying round; from 2:00pm until 11:30pm.

Zach was the highest point earner. He collected 13 points in 18 rounds possible. And he was the best point earner. He collected his 13 points in 17 rounds.

Lloyd and two of his “regulars” relaxing during some “down time”

There were only three problems reported over the entire weekend. These three problems were all intermittent, found on different machines, and all happened on Saturday. They could not be duplicated on Sunday but the machines in question were made unavailable for tournament play on Sunday.

First was the “Jack the Monkey” shot on Pirates of the Caribbean.
Second was switch for the post on Lord of the Rings.
Lastly, there was the “Castle Shot” on Medieval Madness.


As with last year, because of low attendance, the mini-tournaments were not a consideration from the get go. There was, however, plenty more pinball for those who didn’t feel like qualifying for May Day as there were two single elimination pinball tournaments.

The first was the “Singles” (Single Elimination) which was planned and executed by Lloyd. The second was the “Joe Esposito” single elimination pinball tournament. 

Joe with the trophy named in his honor

The placard of the Joe Esposito Trophy

The first single elimination pinball tournament was held at 4:00 pm. The tournament finished before the time food arrived at 7:00pm. The format for the tournament was luck of the draw for two chosen competitors. Wins were decided by the first person to win two-of-three rounds on a game pre-chosen by luck of the draw.

Tracy Johnson was an out-of-towner who came in to play tournament pinball. He backed up his intent by winning the Single Elimination Tournament.

Proud and fierce competitor, Tracy Johnson

After the first single elimination pinball tournament, food was served buffet style. After an hour break for food, the second pinball tournament was held as single elimination. The format for the tournament was luck of the draw for sets of two and three competitors. Games were chosen by the tournament director.

Contestants determined the player order. Wins were decided by the first person to win one round. This second tournament started at 8:00pm and finished at around 9:10pm.

Another competitor from out of town was Reed Rasmussen who showed up the locals by winning the Joe Esposito tournament.

Reed with his first ever, first-place pinball trophy


Sunday, May 3rd

Practice was again held from 12.00pm until 2:00pm. A few serious competitors showed up to practice but most of the players didn’t show up until almost the 2:00pm deadline.

Two of the few serious competitors practicing on Sunday

Drawings for the 2008 May Day Pinball Tournament elimination rounds started just after 2:00pm. During tournament play, players determined their order by: flip of a coin, paper/rock/scissors, or agreement.

A flip of the coin gone wrong and therefore re-flipped


Immediately upon their arrival, all players had to register or sign in at the door. Those who had pre-registered, of course, only had to sign in. Everyone who got at least eight qualifying points was eligible to compete in the 2009 May Day Pinball Tournament. As was the year before, Lloyd disassociated himself from the WPPR / IFPA, so no WPPR points were awarded.

Close up of a special notice at the entrance, for everyone to see


On Saturday, very close to every half hour, two names were drawn at random. At that time, one game was also drawn at random for the pair of associated names to play. One round was played on the game and the winner received one point. The tournament director determined that those who earned eight points qualified to compete in the 2009 May Day Pinball Tournament.


Elimination rounds were again head-to-head play, but it was usually best-two-of-three. As there were no "byes", in some cases, a third player was added to a group. Only when a third player was introduced, game play changed to best-three-of-five. This format was followed until there was one “Pinball Wizard”. The layout of the arcade was left as normal. Unlike last year, game play was set on tournament. Unlike the first year, no machines were moved for players or arranged into groups for different divisions. These conditions were to keep the original spirit of PAPA. That is, either you proved that you could play competition pinball - or not.


NO bang backs were allowed.
NO death saves were allowed.
The same “draw” format was followed as in the qualifying round.
Competition rounds were usually best two out of three.
For each round, the winner advance to the next round.
The final three players played on a game that was chosen by the Director.
All decisions of the Tournament Director were final. (See Tournament Decisions below.)

“Nudging” was allowed, but no bang backs or death saves


Starting a month prior to the May Day, save Lloyd, no one else was allowed inside the tournament games.


If an easy problem happened (eg. a stuck ball), the ball was quickly unstuck and, when possible, the ball was returned to shooter lane. Tournament play continued. If a bigger problem occurred (eg. a broken piece), a refund was given and that round was started over on a new machine.


The pinball machines were left in their normal positions, but the majority of the machines were set on tournament play, so no extra earned balls were available on most games. Lloyd left the normal pricing per game. The games were $0.75 or $1.00 per play. Eleven games were available.

In alphabetical order the games available were:
Attack From Mars (Bally)
Batman (Stern)
Indiana Jones (Stern)
Lord of The Rings
Medieval Madness
Pirates of the Caribbean (Stern)
Spider-Man (Stern)
The Addams Family (Gold)
Twilight Zone
Wheel of Fortune


Players and their games were chosen by luck of the draw. For the most part, competition was best three of five games on the drawn game. For groups of three, the one to advance was the first to win four games on the drawn game. Like last year, the tournament played out in three rounds as shown below. Players are listed in order of random draw. Those who won are signified with a “W”.

Round 1

Zach Sharpe (W)
Eric Fisher
The Addams Family (Gold)

Derek Fugate (W)
Nick Foss
Spider-Man (Stern)

Joe Fox
Josh Sharpe (W)
Wheel of Fortune

Jesse Howard
Dan Dolney (W)
Batman (Stern)

Jason Werdrick
Paul Madison (W)
Twilight Zone


Round 2

Paul Madison
Zach Sharpe (W)
Indiana Jones (Stern)

Dan Dolney
Josh Sharpe
Derek Fugate (W)
Wheel of Fortune


Round 3

Zach Sharpe (W)
Derek Fugate
Indiana Jones (Stern)

Serious competitors playing hard

The pinball tournament was finished by 6:15pm, by which time the winner was Zach Sharpe who won the $1,000 top prize, a trophy and PAPA 12 registration.

Zach Sharpe with the 2009 trophy and a PAPA entrance package

The second place winner could not be pictured because he left to make ready yet another local and monthly pinball tournament. Many from Sunday’s group left soon after to attend this other pinball tournament.


Lloyd took down the posted information and changed the games back to “normal” play first thing the next morning.

Lloyd has already announced plans for the next May Day Pinball Tournament. The May Day pinball tournament, and its two accompanying pinball tournaments, are planned to be held on the weekend of May 1st and 2nd, 2010. But before next May Day, as is listed on Pinball News, Lloyd will be hosting his next Pinball Circus on October 10th and 11th, 2009.  

All pictures courtesy and property of Lloyd Olson, SS Billiards and are used here with permission.