Date: June 29th - July 1st, 2012
Additional pictures by Ivan Durneen
One of the staples of the UK's pinball calendar, the Swavesey meeting is also the most laid-back. That might be due in part to the fact that it is held in a pub over two-and-a-half days, so there's little reason to rush anything. It probably also helps that the pub is in a small village in the middle of the Cambridgeshire countryside, where a car horn being sounded could make front page news.
Friday is really a day to set up the games for the rest of the weekend, but it's also a good chance to get in a late-night pinball session before everyone else turns up on Saturday.
The event is organised by collector and restorer Mark Squires who lives a short distance away from The White Horse and so is able to move games from his house to the pub in a slightly unconventional way.
Back at the pub the first machines had arrived and were being set up.
Escape from the Lost World was brought in and set against the left side wall, as it was being used for one of the competitions.
The Devil's Dare proved temperamental, but Andy and Poibug got it fully working until the playfield glass (which was already cracked) finally broke. So the game was played without glass until Andy Heighway arrived with a replacement on Sunday afternoon.
Phil Dixon's Eight Ball Deluxe was the other competition game, so it sat back-to-back with EFTLW.
The full list of the fourteen machines at the Swavesey meet is:
These were brought to the meet by Phil Dixon, Keith Withnall, Stan Simpson, Andy Netherwood, Nick Marshall, Ivan Durneen, David Blake, Adrian Godwin, David Edwards, Matt Vince, Alan Syson and Mark Squires. The Night Moves cocktail machine belongs to publican Will Wright and is available to play in the main bar area all year round.
Saturday was the first full day and the pinball room soon filled with eager players once the doors opened at 11am.
There was no entry fee but like any arcade, players had to pay for their games. Most were set to 50p ($0.77, €0.63) per play, while others rewarded you with a bonus game if you paid £1 ($1.55, €1.26) for two. The Zaccaria Lucky Fruit was half the price of the other games to keep the EM old-skool!
All the money raised from machine takings, competition entries, the prize raffle and any additional donations would be split evenly and donated to two charities - the East Anglian Children's Hospice and the British Heart Foundation.
If it all got too frantic, people could take a break from the action by sitting in the beer garden, enjoying the sunshine with a pint.
The pub served a good selection of beers, ciders, lagers, and soft drinks. The three real ales were Sharp's Doom Bar, Thwaites Wainwright and Timothy Taylor's Landlord, while there were also some real ciders listed on a chalk board at the bar to join the Aspells on tap.
There were two competitions held on Saturday. Both ran from 12 noon until 5pm and entry was just the regular cost of a game.
On Escape from the Lost World there was the Two Minute Challenge, where each player had two minutes spread across three balls (40 seconds for each ball) to score the most points possible. The top three scorers all won prizes.
Martin Ayub's score of more than 4 million gave him an early lead which he held until the close to win the prize main prize.
The second competition was Closest to the Target, where a target score was set and whoever got closet without going over won the top prize, with a consolation prize for the closest score above the target. As it was run on an Eight Ball Deluxe the target score was set at 888,880.
The lead changed hands several times during the day but Martin Ayub again took victory with a score of 888,350.
The pinball room remained open into the small hours of Sunday morning for the hard core players (and drinkers) and re-opened at 10am for practice ahead of the day's main competition; the UK Pinball Cup.
This annual event awards the Nigel Hill memorial cup to the winner of the tournament, which is held in a sudden death style. Single-elimination head-to-head matches are the order of the day to keep it in the style of the F.A. Cup football tournament where the lowliest teams can pull off shock wins against the big clubs. All the draws for the matches were made using numbered balls pulled out of a box to keep it totally random and in the same style as the F.A. Cup's draws. Entry was free, but players had to pay for their games at the regular price.
There was a preliminary qualifying round where the 29 competitors were reduced to 16 through 8 multi-player matches where the top 2 continued into the head-to-head matches.
The elimination round saw the loss of several big names, including last year's winner Andy Heighway.
After three rounds of matches, the final four were Peter Blakemore, Pete Hannan, Greg Mott and Stan Simpson. Pete and Greg contested one semi final on Lucky Fruit while Stan and Peter played in the other on Indiana Jones.
In between each round of the UK Pinball Cup, tickets were drawn for the charity raffle which was run by Gary Flower.
Prizes were donated by Lee Fensom, Will Barber, Gary Flower, Pinball Renaissance, Martin Ayub, Chris Williams, Jersey Jack Pinball, James Greenhalgh and Nokia, and were split between the raffle and the various competitions.
Gary managed to get everyone to buy tickets, in fact he was so successful he needed to buy a third book of tickets from the post office next door to the pub.
Meanwhile back at the UK Pinball Cup, Peter and Greg won their respective semi-finals to set up the final on Guns 'N Roses.
In the final, Greg ended on just over 700M.
On the last ball, Peter was well on his way to catching up.
Unfortunately, Peter was listening to music on his headphones and failed to notice the two tilt warnings he received. A third one tilted the game and ended the final before he reached Greg's score, making Greg the winner.
Stan won the 3rd place play-off and won a phone from Nokia, presented by Mark.
In an ironic twist given how the final ended, runner-up Peter won a set of Nokia noise-canceling bluetooth headphones.
Which left Greg as the winner, picking up the cup and a Nokia Lumia 710 phone.
After the UK Pinball Cup there was just time to play a few more games on the Two Minute Challenge and Closest to the Target competition machines. When they closed at 5pm, Tom Hare had the third highest score in two minutes on Escape from the Lost World, with his score of 1.659 million being the highest until about 15 minutes before the end.
However, Matt Vince sneaked in just before the end and beat Tom with his 1.91 million. But then Matt himself was beaten at the last minute, leaving him as the runner up.
The winner who grabbed the highest score of 2.88 million right at the end was Martin Ayub.
On the Eight Ball Deluxe which had a new target score for Sunday of 666,660, Tony Smith scored an impressive 665,870 with his three balls to win the prizes for closest without going over.
James Watson was the closest player who went over the target with his 678,030 score, picking up the consolation prize.
When all the competitive events were over, Mark said his thanks to all those who had helped make the weekend a success and raised money for the two charities.
After everything was packed away and all the coins counted, the weekend had raised a total of £1,485 ($2,300/€1,880), easily beating the previous record of £852.56 which was achieved the previous year. This year's figure was achieved through the machine takings, over £300 from raffle ticket sales, £65 from the sale of James Greenhalgh's manuals and a number of direct donations.
Some additional donations were received after the event and Gary raffled off the last few remaining prizes the following weekend at Pinball at the Pipeline to bring the grand total raised to £1,817. Additional contributions can be made through the links to Just Giving on the Swavesey Pinball Weekend website.
Congratulations then to everyone who organised or assisted over the weekend and to the increased number of visitors who turned this year's event into a record-breaking weekend of pinball playing and benefiting good causes.
© Pinball News 2012