Fairfax Pinball Open

Practice games were available for free play at the Fairfax Pinball Open. 38 games were packed into the hotel ballroom for the Fairfax Pinball Open. Qualifiers asked scorekeepers to record game scores at the Fairfax Pinball Open. The tournamet T-shirt featured the Fairfax Pinball Open dot matrix display logo.

The Fairfax Pinball Open was bigger and busier than ever at its no location. Click photo to enlarge.

The Free State Pinball Association held its 10th Annual Fairfax Pinball Open tournament on February 22-24, 2013 at a new location: the Best Western Fairfax in Fairfax City, Virginia. Thanks to widespread publicity and meticulous planning, the new venue allowed more people to enjoy more games than in previous years.

Goodbye John's Place

When John's Place went out of business on New Year's Eve, the Free State Pinball Association (FSPA) had to relocate their spring pinball league and their annual Fairfax Pinball Open, both starting in just a few weeks. FSPA had been playing pinball at John's Place for about a decade. League commissioners feared the end was near when they learned that pinball league Mondays were now the most profitable evening for John's Place.

FSPA scrambled to find new venues. The pinball league moved to Sterling, Virginia, a story for another day. The Fairfax Pinball Open moved to the nearby Best Western Fairfax, which had a triangular ballroom available on the tournament weekend.

At the Tournament

To offset the expense of renting the ballroom, FSPA charged a $10 admission fee. Once inside, players found 38 games set for free play. In previous years, admission was free, but players had to drop coins into the 20 games crammed into John's Place. The new price structure, the extra games, and the extra space contributed to a more social weekend. Many players brought guests, who played the practice games without competing in the tournament.

Players accustomed to modern complex, computerized pinball machines found challenges in Gottlieb's Snow Queen and other 1970s electromechanical games. Bally's Baby Pac Man stumped many of the best pinball players with its combination of a Pac Man video game and a diminutive pinball play field.

The tournament competitions ran smoothly thanks to years of FSPA experience. Volunteers registered players and entered their qualifying scores into custom FSPA software. Video displays showed qualification standings. Volunteer scorekeepers recorded players' qualifying scores. During the tournaments, players could track their progress on large sheets of paper showing the results of all the games in the brackets.


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