For love of the game and bragging rights, pinball lovers compete

Posted April 02, 2012, at 10:52 a.m.
Dave Aceto collapses in frustration while playing at the weekly Coast City Comics pinball tournament in Portland. Katie Ferreira plays on.
Dave Aceto collapses in frustration while playing at the weekly Coast City Comics pinball tournament in Portland. Katie Ferreira plays on. Buy Photo
Steve Morris and Kristine Pennell of the Ouija Conspiracy team get excited about their score at the weekly pinball tournament at Coast City Comics on Congress Street in Portland.
Steve Morris and Kristine Pennell of the Ouija Conspiracy team get excited about their score at the weekly pinball tournament at Coast City Comics on Congress Street in Portland. Buy Photo
Steve Morris and Kristine Pennell of the Ouija Conspiracy team each operate a flipper at the weekly pinball tournament at Coast City Comics on Congress Street in Portland.
Steve Morris and Kristine Pennell of the Ouija Conspiracy team each operate a flipper at the weekly pinball tournament at Coast City Comics on Congress Street in Portland. Buy Photo
The oldest of six pinball machines at the back of Coast City Comics on Congress Street in Portland.
The oldest of six pinball machines at the back of Coast City Comics on Congress Street in Portland. Buy Photo
Ten of 14 players at the weekly Coast City Comics pinball tournament gather round the tables at the back of the store.
Ten of 14 players at the weekly Coast City Comics pinball tournament gather round the tables at the back of the store. Buy Photo
Kristine Pennell of the Ouija Conspiracy team plays the Scared Stiff machine at the weekly Coast City Comics pinball tournament.
Kristine Pennell of the Ouija Conspiracy team plays the Scared Stiff machine at the weekly Coast City Comics pinball tournament. Buy Photo

PORTLAND, Maine — Flippers flapped, lights flashed and bells dinged as seven teams of two players each took turns swatting the shiny ball in the six machines lined up in the back of Coast City Comics on Congress Street. Winners of the weekly pinball tournament took home bragging rights for seven days and a T-shirt.

The contests started back in mid-December. “It was cold and boring, so we thought ‘why not’,” said comic shop co-owner Tristan Gallagher. “Then it went crazy.”

Scoring works like golf. Each machine has a par. If a player reaches par with one ball, it’s a hole-in-one. If they reach the score with two balls it’s a bogey, and so on. The team with the lowest ball score wins. Two-member teams play each machine three times: once apiece and a third time with one player per flipper.

The $5 entry fee goes to buy Mountain Dew, cookies and a veggie tray, Gallagher said. Coast City Comics doesn’t really make anything on the event. But Gallagher said he’s happy to provide one of the few places in Portland where people can congregate without the expectation of buying beer.

“It’s basically a social activity to bring people in,” he said. “It’s a place to hang out.”

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