(VI Qulturalne Mistrzostwa w Grze na Flipperach)

Date: December 9th 2007
Location: Centralny Dom Qultury ul. Burakowska 12 01-066 Warszawa, Poland.

Report and pictures by Lukasz Dziatkiewicz in co-operation with Alexander
Translated by Zuzanna Kolodziejska

One cannot call it a big, but still it was a success! 6th Polish Pinball Championship held in Warsaw on 9th December 2007 must be recognized as a success.

First of all, there was the record number of players - 33 people, beating the previous record of 32 competitors in 2003.

Although we do appreciate the attendance, it cannot be forgotten that we expected it to be far higher because the championship has never been advertised so widely before. Apart from the traditional medial support from Interplay - the monthly magazine about pool, darts and entertainment venues which sponsored the trophies for the forth time - and Machina - a pop culture monthly which supported the championship for the second time - there was also a listing on pinballnews.com and on CDQ – Central Culture Club (the organiser) websites. I also sent e-mails to those competitors from previous years whose e-mail addresses I’d got.

Moreover, some people took part in the tournament after they had been informed by their friends. And finally Jarek Gula – a chief manager of CDQ managed to persuade Poland's biggest daily newspaper (Gazeta Wyborcza’s Warsaw Supplement) to inform their readers of the championship.

That’s why we expected a much larger group of players; all the more so because we asked those who were interested to register early so we could estimate the time the championship would take, prepare scoring system and provide an adequate number of machines. More than 60 people had been registered, but as it turned out only a little over half of them appeared on the day.

Let’s leave this grumbling and move on to the report. Due to the predicted number of competitors, there five machines provided instead of the usual four. They were: “Pinbot” (Williams 1986), “The Simpsons” (Data East 1990), “World Cup Soccer ” (Bally 1994), the immortal (though tired of life) “Fun House” (Williams 1990) and this year grand prize - “Swords of Fury” (Williams 1988).

The latter machine was also a prize for the second time. Last year Jacek had won it and sold his prize to Jarek Gula, who decided to make it an award again. It’s Jacek who, from the very beginning (so for six years now) has repaired and serviced all the machines for the tournaments. He also lends his own pinball machines, because the ones that were in CDQ became prizes for all the championships over the years. Now there is only the “Fun House” in the club.

As one can easily see, all the pinball machines were long past their prime, to put it mildly. For two of them, their age was very visible during play. Of course everybody would like to play on pinball machines which are new or at least in a good shape, but the machines for
tournament come from places where they are operated and regularly played. As long as there is no sponsor to provide machines, we can only ask Jacek to provide us with the best ones he can.

Despite some shortcomings, the organisational work he puts into the championship does Jarek Gula great credit. Without any support from sponsors he has given away six pinball machines and he hasn’t give up yet.

There was talk during the 6th Polish Pinball Championship of organising other championships and if If any of the ideas become reality it will be great! One should be in favour of them as one pinball tournament event a year is definitely not enough. Some of the players would certainly take part in some other. I’m perfectly willing to help in advertising the event together with Interplay and Pinball News.

Getting back to the 6th Polish Pinball Championship: after a bit of practice and player registration we started the games at 6 pm. There were four rounds:


People were divided into four-player groups. Everybody had a chance to play a four-ball game on all five pinball machines. The groups were re-drawn after each game which prevented a situation in which a weaker competitor always had to play with stronger ones. This gave a weak player a chance to win.

After each game competitors were scored 4, 3, 2 or 1 points according to his or her result with the best player earning 4 points. After five games on five different machines, points earned by each player were added up with a maximum possible score of 20 points and a minimum of 5. The best 20 competitors then moved to another round.

Since the number of competitors (33) didn’t divide evenly into 4, by the end of the first round there were five players who hadn’t played on one of the five pinball machines.They were given 4 extra points each as thought they had played in a one-person group.

When it turned out there was a tie and there were more than twenty people who could move to the second round, the play-off was organised.


Twenty quarter-finalists were drawn into five groups. In those groups they played on all five machines once again. The top eight of them qualified for the next round. The only difference with the previous round was that they were now playing with the same group of players on all five machines.

Before I go on to the semi-final, a small explanation: the semi-final began around midnight and as it was Sunday and most people had to go to work or school next day, some of them withdrew from taking part. In these cases, a few stand-by qualifiers took their places and played in the semi-final.


Eight semi finalists were divided into two groups which played on two pinball machines - those in the best shape - “Pinbot” and “World Cup Soccer”. The two groups played on both the machines and points were earned as in previous rounds. The best four players would move on to the final and while the top two scorers went through, the next four players all got the same score - 5 points - which resulted in a spectacular run-off game on “The Simpsons” for the other two places in the final.

The final round

Two members of the pinball family of Nietrzebka made it to the final: 43 year-old dad Jaroslaw and his elder son Janek (18 years-old). This was their second championship final and 13 year-old son Staszek Nietrzebka also took part in the tournament. Last year the father of the family was second and his elder son was third. The family owns 16 pinball machines at their home in the Warsaw suburbs and Janek recently designed his Polish website: www.pinballnews.za.pl. He has also become a Country Director of IFPA for Poland and all the Polish finalists can be found on pinballrankings.com website.

Piotr Butkiewicz, a 36 year-old manager of the wine store in Warsaw took part in the championship final for the second time. Although he claims that he didn’t play any pinball between the two tournaments, he managed to play well in the 6th Polish Pinball Championship.

And the fourth finalist was pinball-obsessed Alexander Zurkowski, a 24 year-old student of sociology at the Warsaw University. He is the owner of four machines (one is broken and one is shared with his friend) and he took part in European Pinball Championship in Stockholm in June 2007, where he was 33rd. He's attended all but two of CDQ tournaments and last year he was fourth.

At 1:40am this four squared up to the newest pinball machine in CDQ - “World Cup Soccer.”

The final played on World Cup Soccer

The result of the 5-ball game decided the final placings. At 2:00am Alexander Zurkowski became the winner and the new owner of “Swords of Fury.”

Winner Alexander Zurkowski with his prize

Piotr Butkiewicz was second, Janek Nietrzebka beat his father to repeat last year's third place, making Jaroslaw Nietrzebka fourth.

The four finalists (left to right):
Janek Nietrzebka, Piotr Butkiewicz, Jaroslaw Nietrzebka and Alexander Zurkowski

Finally I’d like to mention the participation and help of a few people. Almost the whole labouring job with the draws, the counting, writing the points etc. was done by Zuzanna - Alexander’s girlfriend, Alexander himself and their friend Konrad. Both Zuzanna and Konrad also took part in the championship.

As far as “traveling sacrifice” is concerned I made the biggest one because I came from Barcelona specially for the championship. Nevertheless a few people came from outside Warsaw, which is a very rare thing in CDQ Pinball Championship history. They were Mateusz from Gliwice, Bartek from Poznan and Marcin from Ruda Slaska with his kids - 14 year-old daughter Dorota and 11 year-old son - Hubert. Hubert, however, wasn’t the youngest player. The youngest was 7 year-old Kornel, who came with his father who also played.

Some of the competitors, for example Bartek and Marcin, have their own pinball machines, which proves that although pinball machines are now disappearing from the public sphere, they find very often their place in private houses. This is very cheering especially nowadays when the pinball machine has become an underground entertainment. Some time ago it was thought to have connection with criminal underworld or gambling; now it becomes more and more unknown.

For the last six years we had thought that Polish Pinball Championship was the only one such event in the post-communist countries, but Polish ace Alexander came across the information about a pinball tournament in Hungarian Capital – Budapest.

Without stopping to think, he had gone there for the Hungarian Pinball Open and was placed 6th! You can read his report from the tournament below.

He would consider going for another tournament there and we hope that we manage to attract at least a few Hungarian pinball players to come to the 7th Polish Pinball Championship. It’ll probably be held in October, so those who are interested are asked to check the information on www.cdq.pl, the Pinball News Diary page or to contact [email protected]

This year we are going to start the tournament early on Saturday. It is quite likely that a practice day will be organised before. Everyone is warmly welcome!

Aleksander Zurkowski’s story from Budapest

This year the Hungarian Pinball Open (HPO 2008) was held on 12th January in Budapest in an arcade in one of capital shopping malls. The tournament was played on seven different Stern machines. The machines were almost new and most were in good shape both visual and technical (for example: “Family Guy,” “Pirates of the Caribbean,” “Spider-Man”).

The organisers saw to it that all the stages of the event were professionally prepared. The tournament was preceded by the Internet registration and around 30 people took part in the championship. As in the Polish championship, the competitors were split in four-player groups which played on all seven machines. When one game had been played competitors were moved to a new machine, but the line-up of each group had been changed, so everyone could play against the majority of fellow competitors. The players earned points according to their place in a group (a bit like in speedway).

Their total score was the sum of their points earned in every group they played. There was only one round in the Open, so each player's position in the rankings was their final place in the tournament. Everyone was given card where he or she noted down his or her points and after each group game a form with all rankings from the game was made and given to organisers who put it in the computer system.

When the last game had been finished there was a small draw of minor prizes and of course the trophies for the first three best players were awarded. There was also a special award for the best female player. Each competitor was given a distinction and small souvenirs.

In the tournament there was a group of leading Hungarian players and few people from close boarder countries. The organisers managed to create a perfectly organised tournament with a great atmosphere of friendship and fair-play competition.

Finally, here is a video report of the Polish Pinball Championship from Gazeta.tv.  Just click on the picture below to watch it.

Click here to watch the Gazeta report


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© Pinball News 2007