Date: 13th & 14th September, 2014
Inspired by our earlier reports on Polish pinball from Pinball News reporters Łukasz Dziatkiewicz and David Mainwaring, we decided to make our own visit to Poland to play in the inaugural Printimus Pinball Cup.
Printimus is a printing company located on an industrial estate in the southern city of Bytom along with his ticketing company KupBilet. It is owned by Marcin Krysiński who has a sizeable collection of machines which he keeps at the company's premises as part of the Printimus Pinball club.
Marcin hosted and co-ran the tournament weekend together with Łukasz Dziatkiewicz. Łukasz also supplies a number of machines for the Printimus Pinball Club which were used in the tournaments, and they both took part in the tournaments too.
Registered players received a comprehensive pack of specially printed material, including a mini-calendar, a desk calendar, a fridge magnet, a commemorative card, a special postcard with Jersey Jack Pinball and PSF stamps, a map of Bytom, a mini-tournament entry card, and a schedule of events. As if that wasn't enough, branded key fobs and bookmarks were also given to all players in the tournaments.
But before we get to the competitive side of the weekend, those who arrived in Bytom on the Friday were invited to join a walking tour of the city to learn about its history and visit some of the most interesting buildings.
As the tour reached Market Square, dark clouds moved in threatening rain.
Sure enough, the threatened rain came and there was only one way to wait for it to subside.
Then it was time to return to Printimus for some practice ahead of the start of the main tournament on Saturday morning.
Early-comers had an additional treat in store, because at around 9pm practice on the games was suspended while a band took up position at the back of the room. From here Rabarbar (Rhubarb) performed a number of modern contemporary songs in Polish.
These were very much appreciated by the audience despite many (like us) not understanding the lyrics. One of the songs they performed was apparently an adaptation of a motorbike-themed track which was modified to make pinball the subject instead.
Once the musical interlude was over, casual play and practice resumed on the machines, while qualification for the Classic Tournament continued until around midnight.
Registration for the Printimus Pinball Cup weekend was made through Facebook, at an initial cost of €30. Those who delayed their registration faced a price increase of €5 each month, rewarding those who committed early. Personalised Printimus Pinball Cup T-shirts could be pre-ordered when registering and collected when checking-in so they could be worn during the weekend.
Free tea, coffee and water was available in the kitchen area, while sugary drinks and snacks such as Red Bull, Pepsi and chocolate bars were available downstairs.
There were two tournaments running over the weekend - the main Printimus Pinball Cup and the Classics Tournament. Qualifying for the Classics began on Friday evening for those who were there, although competitors had until Sunday night to try for one of the top places.
Thirty machines were set up. The first six were used for the Classic Tournament, the next twenty-two were for the Cup.
The final two were used for high score competitions which ran across the weekend.
Two of the Classic Tournament machines - Spirit of 76 and Bronco were also used for the Roger Sharpe Contest. Each player could only enter once and entry was included with registration for the main tournament.
Both machines have a set of three rollover lanes at the top. In Roger Sharpe's legendary demonstration in front of the New York City council, he had to shoot for a specific lane by plunging the ball, so that was the challenge here.
One of the three lanes was nominated three times on each machine, and players had to plunge into the correct lane without nudging. Anyone who managed to make the nominated shot four or more times in their six attempts won a certificate signed by Roger.
A total of 37 players took part in the main tournament, and they were split into two groups of 19 and 18. All the players in each group played single 3-ball head-to-head games against all the other players in the group on randomly selected machines. The larger Group A began first at around 11am on Saturday, with group B following soon after.
After each game, one of the two players notified the tournament desk who had won.
Once all the matches in each round had been completed and the results entered, Marcin revealed the next round on the projector screen.
It took until 9pm before all the matches in both groups had been played. There were a few machine problems during the day, but all issues were quickly dealt with by the event's technician, Mirek.
Players were striving to maximise their number of wins during the first round, since the top eight players from each group with the most wins would go into the A-Division on Sunday. The next eight would form the B-Division, while the remainder would make up the C-Division.
The results from the qualifying round were:
After qualifying was complete, players could continue practicing on the main tournament machines, play some qualifying games in the Classic Tournament, take part in one of the mini-tournaments, or head into the city to get some dinner.
When the second round of the main tournament began on Sunday morning, the sixteen players in Division A would all play each other as in the qualifying round. However the results from the first round would carry over, so the seven players already played did not need to be played again, and the number of wins from those matches were carried over into the second round. These carried-over wins are shown in the fourth column for each group above.
The same system applied to Divisions B & C, and all matches took place simultaneously.
When the eight matches in Division A had been played, the number of wins were added to those carried-over to produce a ranking. The top four of these went into the main final. The next four played for 5th to 8th, the next four fought for places 9th to 12th and the last four played for 13th to 16th.
In all of these rounds, each of the four players could choose a machine to play and a 4-player game was played on them. The winner of each game scored 4 points, second place scored 2 points, third place earned 1 point, and the lowest score didn't receive any points. After all four games had been played, the number of points earned were added to the number of wins in previous rounds to decide the positions.
The A Division final was held a little later so everyone could give it their full attention, and it was contested by Janos Sandor, Greg Mott, Łukasz Romanowski and Hubert Krysiński.
The first three of the finalists could choose a machine to play, but the fourth machine was pre-selected as The Wizard of Oz.
Janos's choice of Demolition Man was first to be played. On each machine, the player who chose it played first.
Janos had a poor start, scoring just 11.4M. Greg played second and was pleased with his first ball score of 848M, but Łukasz followed him and more than doubled it to 1.73B. Hubert scored 72.3M on his first ball.
Janos never got a good ball and ended his game on 74.7M. Hubert pulled back his game to take third place with 420M. Greg wasn't able to repeat his first ball performance and finished second with 1.03B. Łukasz, meanwhile, was almost unstoppable, eventually ending his game with a score of 4.32B.
Greg's choice was Dirty Harry but it didn't prove to be an inspired selection as he only scored 159M with his three balls.
Łukasz did somewhat better with his winning 421M total, compared to Hubert's second place 280M, while Janos was very close in fourth on 157M.
Play moved on to Łukasz's choice of Star Trek: The Next Generation. With two wins he had a clear lead with his 8 points to Greg on 3 points, while Janos and Hubert both had 1 point.
Łukasz was the first player to choose a machine which worked well for him. Despite having a ball hangup during his game, he powered to a three ball total of 1.69B.
Janos was closest of the chasing pack with 625M, while Greg ended on 595M and Hubert scored 317M.
With three wins, Łukasz couldn't be caught and had already won going into the last game of the final, but the remaining places were still up for grabs. It was Hubert's turn to play first.
He had a poor start, scoring just 868 points. Janos did better with 7.5K, Greg was in the lead with 8.9K, while Łukasz was last to play and scored 2.8K.
Those positions remained through ball two, but on the third ball Janos overtook Greg by 31K to 30K to take the lead with just Łukasz to play. He started on 12K but built it up to more than 60K to win all four games of the final.
Janos's second place moved him ahead of Greg in the overall rankings, while Hubert was fourth.
Łukasz won €500, a plaque, a certificate, and a miniature wooden bagatelle game from the 1930s.
Łukasz also won a copy of Japanese writer Haruki Murakami's mini-novel, Pinball, 1973, while Janos won a copy of Santiago Ciuffo's photobook, Pinball. A number of additional prize packs from the Mayor of Bytom (Damian Bartyla) in celebration of 760 years since the city was founded were also awarded to five of the top players.
The final of the main tournament wasn't the end of the competitions as there was an additional hour of qualifying still to play in the Classic Tournament.
There were six machines used for the Classic Tournament, and players could buy as many entries as they liked from Friday morning until the final of the main tournament at a cost of 5 zlotys ($1.60, €1.25, £1.00) per entry. Once the main tournament final was over, any remaining entries could be played before the semi-finals took place. The machines were:
An entry consisted of a single game on any three of these machines. Players could then choose whether to submit their entry or tear it up. A submitted entry replaced any earlier entry, meaning it could improve if submitted wisely, or degrade a player's position if entered unwisely. So players had to look at other scores and carefully consider whether to submit an entry or not.
The top eight players from qualifying went into the two semi-finals. They were:
These eight were split into two groups of four, and just like in the main tournament, each player chose one of the classic machine to play.
The same 4-2-1-0 points system was used to rank the four players in each group, from which the top two went into the final. They were:
The same format continued into the final which began after midnight. Two players chose Mata Hari, one chose Haunted House and one chose Jungle Queen.
After an initial third place on Mata Hari, Martin Ayub went on to take first place on the remaining three machines and win the final with a total of 13 points.
Andreas Kopp was a clear second following his initial victory on Mata Hari. Jürgen Gärtner and Greg Mott ended up on a tie for third, so they had a play-off for position, which Jürgen won.
The results of the Printimus Pinball Classic Tournament were:
Additional awards were presented to the most stylish player, which was won by Janos Sandor following a vote by all the competitors.
The winner's plaque featured a twist on the three wise monkeys, this time using farmyard animals to see, hear and speak no evil.
The award for the most improved player went to Daniel Maczurek.
The plaque for the best score on the reverse-flipper The Shadow was awarded to Kuba Tkacz after a long and tiring day of pinball playing.
The Wizard of Oz highest score of 528,934 was achieved by Darek who wasn't one of the competitors in the PPC. However, he was still given a signed Jersey Jack Pinball flyer, as was the highest scoring PPC player who was Daniel Kaczmatek on 430,622 points.
The proceedings wrapped up a little after 2am on Monday morning.
It is clear Marcin, Łukasz, and the team went to great lengths to make this an inviting and worthwhile event for all participants. From the free pierogi meal, to the tour of Bytom, the car rides to the hotels and airport, the side tournaments, and the band playing on Friday night, there was a full schedule of events over nearly three days.
This was our fist visit to Poland, and despite not speaking any words of Polish it was no trouble finding our way around the city of Bytom, buying items from the shops and ordering food. The prices are a pleasant surprise for visitors, and the quality of food, drinks and accommodation was high. Everyone at both the Printimus premises and in town was very welcoming, and all the contestants appeared to enjoy themselves.
As David Mainwaring asked at the end of his Polish Pinball Open report earlier this year, would we come back again? As then, the answer here is a definite 'yes'. We look forward to a repeat visit in 2015. Check our Diary page for dates and further details.
Until then, here's a video about the event from a local TV station in Silesia which was also broadcast in other parts of the country.
© Pinball News 2014