Pinball ‘wizards’ compete in regional tournament in Meriden

Pinball ‘wizards’ compete in regional tournament in Meriden

MERIDEN — Some of the best pinball players in the region squared off during a competition Sunday at The Sanctum.

The contest brought 61 players, largely from across New England, to the the pinball game room at 290 Pratt St. The winner received a ticket to “Pinburgh” — a three-day tournament that attracts 1,000 players to Pittsburgh in July.

Jim Swain,  co-owner of The Sanctum, said the secret to good pinball play is good aim and plenty of body English. Luck also plays a small part.

“Skill definitely in the end shows who is best,” he said.

The machines that pose the greatest challenge have two sets of flippers guarding the hole at the bottom of the board, said Manchester resident Kate Finegan. The Sanctum also has a few machines that put multiple balls in play at once.

“It’s cool to have so many machines in one place,” she said of The Sanctum.

Finegan also enjoys the artistry and mechanics of a pinball machine, making the experience much different than playing a video game.

“There’s a lot to appreciate about the different machines, old and new,” she said.

Dozens of machines line the walls and are clustered in the middle of The Sanctum, which also opens Monday nights for more casual leagues, tournaments and open play. The winner of Sunday’s contest was selected through an hours-long competition.

Matthew Szewczyk, of Rhode Island, said he likes playing among some of the best pinball wizards around.

“This is one of the premiere places to play in America really,” he said.