We can all remember the loud dinging of the pinball machine from our youth and how stressful it was when the tiny silver ball went ricocheting off of the bumpers and slipped between the paddles at the bottom of the machine. This weekend is your chance to relive your childhood pinball days by playing or watching as hundreds of professional pinball players compete in the largest pinball tournament in the world: Pinburgh.
Hosted at the Professional and Amateur Pinball Association (PAPA) World Headquarters in Carnegie, PA, Pinburgh features over 250 tournament games and 400 players competing for over $60,000 in prizes. The competitions last for three full days, narrowing down the playing field to just 24 qualifiers for the championship’s final round on Sunday, March 30th. As the name PAPA suggests, these are not just any pinball fanatics coming to show their skills, some of these players are ranked in the top 25 of the World Pinball Player Rankings. While not every competitor needs to be world-ranked, a high level of skill is necessary in order to place players into the appropriate A,B,C, or D divisions. Incentive to place in a higher division comes from the greater cash prizes and level of prestige for group A.
On top of an impressive turn out for competitors, attendees will also experience a top of the line facility for all things pinball. The PAPA World Headquarters consists of 30,000-plus square feet dedicated solely to pinball with over 450 pinball machines. For tournament use, the facility includes projection screens and kiosks for reviewing game coverage and standings, as well as a broadcast booth producing live tournament coverage and 15 TVs showing live tournament coverage. There is also catering on-site during tournament events for all those who might need a little food to calm their nerves during stressful moments of the competition.
Pinburgh has events going on Thursday, March 27th through Sunday, March 30th. Be sure to check out Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday‘s schedules for more details about each day’s events. A flat registration fee of $175 is required of all participating players, but the weekend’s events are all free for spectators, so even if you don’t possess the hand-eye coordination needed to play, you can still witness this year’s world championship.
It seems Pinburgh hasn’t been the only pinball-related item to grace Pittsburgh over the past few years. Doug Cooper, a professor of architecture at Carnegie Mellon University, created a film short three years ago with the oh so familiar name, “Pinburgh.” This fantastical adventure takes viewers through a more industrial Pittsburgh setting where a man playing pinball in a bar evolves into a city-wide pinball game, with the houses and businesses acting as bumpers and lighting up with the cherished pings and dings of the traditional pinball machine.
So be sure to watch Cooper’s film to prepare you for this weekend’s activities and competition. Let the pinball games begin!