pinball: fast forward, our first tournament wins

By BillVolckening

January 07, 2024

This story got frontpaged on January 10, 2024


53 days ago

Many things happened between my last Pinside entry and the present day. Linda and I rediscovered our love of pinball, and part of it was a pair of janky machines at McMenamins' Edgefield, where we would later get married. The two machines were Shrek and Avatar, and they sparked our interest in pinball. Soon, we started playing tournaments around Portland, and an unbelievable new place called Next Level opened in Hillsboro. Early on we were part of the Next Level crew. It was one of the few places that opened its doors during the pandemic. We also rented a bunch of machines from Quarterworld.

When tournaments started up again, we were well prepared to improve our rankings but it took a good year before we started seeing some results. Linda won a women's tournement- a Foo Fighters launch party at Next Level. In December I won a Match Play with an Amazing Race final at Next Level. I never thought I'd win a tournament, and it wasn't really a goal, so it was a surprise. Competition is stiff here in Portland, Oregon. The final game was Flintstones, and I was up against a friend who is a very good, newer player. But Flintstones was one of the machines we rented, so the game for the win was much easier than I'd expected.

Two days later, my wife won her first open tournament at Ground Kontrol playing Guardians of the Galaxy-- another game we'd rented. 

After the Holiday break, Linda won the first FLIP Women's tournament of the year at Ground Kontrol, and two days later I won another Match Play at Next Level with an Amazing Race final that ended on Medusa. It's nice to have a couple wins under our belts. We've played tournaments for five years and have often finished at the bottom. But we improved, and we're having fun with it.

I don't think we'll ever go to a lot of the big events, but we like to go to random tournaments at small venues when we're traveling. So far, we've done small bar tournaments in San Francisco, Ft. Lauderdale, Seattle and New Hampshire. Who knows? Maybe we'll do all 50 states...

Story photos

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