PHOTO: IFPA9 participants gather in front of Todd MacCulloch's sprawling house nestled in the trees on Bainbridge Island, near Seattle. The former NBA star, now a competitive pinball player, hosted this year's IFPA World Championships at his home.
BAINBRIDGE ISLAND, WA -- Todd MacCulloch, former University of Washington standout and starting center for the Philadelphia 76ers, hosted this year's main event in competitive pinball at his home here. MacCulloch's two roomy garages and basement were filled with more than 50 pinball machines for the International Flipper Pinball Association's 2012 World Pinball Championship -- better known as IFPA9.
But the former NBA star, now a competitive pinball player and avid coin machine collector, could not leverage his home court advantage. In the final championship match, Italy's Daniele Celestino Acciari defeated Seattle's Cayle George, last year's winner in Sweden, 4-1. Acciari won on The Shadow, Medusa, Attack From Mars and Old Chicago. First prize was $1,350 and a new pin game.
The invitation-only tournament started Friday, June 8, and ended Sunday, June 10. It drew 64 of the best pinball players, according to IFPA's ranking system, from 12 countries.
"The staggering and explosive growth of the entire worldwide community of pinball players and enthusiasts has been nothing short of remarkable since we re-launched the IFPA just a few short years ago," said IFPA co-director Roger Sharpe. "And with this year being the 65th anniversary of the flipper, the future has never looked brighter for pinball with tournaments and leagues taking place around the world on an almost weekly basis."
In 1947, D. Gottlieb & Co. introduced Humpty Dumpty, the first pinball machine equipped with flippers. As a result, Sharpe explained, the game of pinball became a test of controlling a 2.6-oz. steel ball by the skillful manipulation of pressing side cabinet flipper buttons with precise timing.
The International Flipper Pinball Association was created to support competitive pinball worldwide. It provides oversight and assistance for establishing pinball leagues, tournaments (over 350 are now held annually) and promotions. The IFPA's World Pinball Player Rankings, which awards points based on performance, tracks more than 13,000 players from 33 countries. The World Pinball Tour gives away $350,000 in cash and prizes annually.
PHOTO: IFPA World Champion Daniele Celestino Acciari of Italy holds his trophy presented by Gary Stern (r.), Stern Pinball Inc. At Acciari' left are IFP9's second-, third- and fourth-place finishers (r.-l., Cayle George, Andy Rosa and Bowen Kerins). Looking on in background are IFPA's Josh Sharpe and Steve Epstein.