Date: 27th - 29th July 2007
Location: Gorham, Portland, Maine, USA.

Report by John Reuter

The first annual New England Pinball Championship, AKA Pin Maine-ia, was held over a 3 day span at the end of July. It ran from Friday the 27th thru Sunday the 29th, in Gorham, a suburb of Portland, Maine.

The tournament was presented by the Boston Pinball Association, which is one of the largest collector’s groups in the country, with over 160 members. Membership is open to all Pinball enthusiasts, wherever they are located.

The tournament was hosted by myself, John Reuter, AKA BallyMan, co-founder of the BPA and a long time pinball collector, who is currently the owner of 109 pinball machines, at my home arcade.

There were over 50 machines set up for both tournament players and spectators, with a mix from all eras of solid state machines. There were DMD favorites like Medieval Madness, Cirqus Voltaire, Attack From Mars, Star Trek - The Next Generation, Tales Of The Arabian Nights, and Demolition Man, '80s games like Pinbot, Taxi and Elvira and a wide range of classics, including Centaur, Fathom, Paragon, Playboy, Kiss, Flash Gordon, Embryon, Eight Ball Deluxe, Joker Poker, Algar, Jungle Lord, Time Fantasy, Sea Witch and Big Game to name a few.

Admission was $40 per person for all 3 days and all the events, and included a commemorative T-Shirt. The shirt sold out and 25 more are being printed to fill back orders. We are going to work early to see if we can top it next year. The shirt featured the Pin Maine-ia loco lobstah logo on the front, and the BPA emblem on the back.

Food was available from the grill all 3 days and we had several sponsors kick in some goodies to fatten the prize package. I’d like to thanks them here and thank everyone who attended or helped with the proceedings. Thanks Gameroom Magazine, Marco Specialties, Classic Playfield Reproductions and Pinball News.

The proceedings unofficially began Thursday night with the unveiling of 2 brand new, in box pins, Spider- Man and Family Guy, courtesy of one of our sponsors, Betson of New England. These machines were on loan throughout the weekend, were available for all to play, and were featured in several tournament events. Thanks to Joe Kirby and the Betson crew for making this happen. By the way, this was a special treat for me since I’d never opened one NIB pin, never mind two. I got the first game in on the FG and my friend, ACE - Mike Haycock - Maine’s top player, snuck in the first game on SM.

Early Friday afternoon saw the arrival of the first players and the first appearance of the local NBC TV affiliate station’s camera crew. See their footage filmed for their Maine TV news magazine, 207, at . In all they spent 4 hours over 2 days filming and aired 2 different pieces, a short teaser clip and a 5 minute segment a total times of 4 times.

Pin Maine-ia was also the subject of a locally made documentary filmed during the main event on Saturday and 2 other pieces - one by Ron Hallett, a recent BPA addition from the Albany area, who posted a 7 minute tour of my collection on YouTube.

So Friday began with the gathering of many pinball fans, lots of friends old and new, and plenty of warm up games. The first official pay event was Pinball Golf - a 4 person team challenge, and there were 28 participants on 7 teams. Prize money was $30 per head for first and $20 per head for second, with a Team Champion plaque for each member of the winning team.

Saturday saw the arrival and continued registration of lots of players. Dean Grover got the “came the furthest award” by showing up from Colorado, and 4 people came from the Buckeye state, including our eventual A Division winner. Nice showing by the roller coaster capital of the U.S.

The main event featured a non-elimination, match play format. Groups of 4 players were chosen randomly for the first round, and in all subsequent rounds groups were chosen by matching up the players with the closest possible win/loss records.

This had several effects. It kept players of similar ability playing each other, which made it fun for everyone. It allowed everyone - whatever their skill - to get their money’s worth by not knocking people out of the event. It tended to pull players back to the pack making it very hard to distinguish yourself as the very best or very worst player, and it allowed players to sort themselves into the A and B divisions without the need for qualifying rounds.

We played 3 rounds, a total of 9 games, and then separated the group into the 2 divisions.
We erased the B records and they started fresh and played 3 more rounds or 9 more games per person. The A players kept their records and also played 9 additional games. Both groups then produced, after a couple of tiebreakers, 4 finalists. The 1st and 4th seed played and the 2nd and 3rd seed played. The winners met for the finals and the losers settled the consolation round.

Prize money was awarded for the top 3 finishers in each division, along with a trophy for first place and a plaque for 2nd and 3rd. Total prize money for all 3 pay events was $1200.00. WPPR points were also awarded to all participants, with the most points going to the A Division finalists.

A Qualifiers
A Finishers
1. Chris Wamsley
14 - 4
1. Chris Wamsley
2. Mike Haycock
14 - 4
2. Bowen Kerins
3. Bowen Kerins
13 - 5
3. Sean Grant
4. Sean Grant
12 - 6
4. Mike Haycock

A Division winner Chris and Rhonda Wamsley


B Qualifiers
B Finishers
1. Jim Witerow
1. Dave Nedde
2. George Carroll
2. George Palmer
3. Dave Nedde
3. George Carroll
4. George Palmer
4. Jim Witerow

Overall the response to the tournament was fantastic. We had over 70 people attend over the 3 days and 40 players in the main event. The format was very well received and we plan to continue using it at the next Pin Maine-ia.

Sunday was the wrap-up day. We held a “Zen” style flippers contest with 12 participants, and most of the day was devoted to free play and a little relaxed fun. Still attendance was excellent with about 25 people hanging on to finish up strong.

We are already looking for larger venue for next year. Everyone who attended has said they plan to come back again, and we expect at least a few additional guests. Over time I hope to add a flea market and some additional vendors and perhaps grow ourselves a full scale convention.

I hope to see some of you here at Pin Maine-ia next summer. JR.


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© Pinball News 2007