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07/11/07 Pinball

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Manufacturing date : August, 1935
Manufacturer : J. H. Keeney and Company Incorporated
Number of players : 1
Theme : unknown
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Pinball lesson with Wikipedia

Playing techniques

The primary skill of pinball involves application of the proper timing and technique to the operation of the flippers, nudging the playfield when appropriate without tilting, and choosing targets for scores or features. A skilled player can quickly "learn the angles" and gain a high level of control of ball motion, even on a table they've never played.
A placard is usually placed in a lower corner of the playfield. It may simply show pricing information, but should also show critical details about special scoring techniques. This information is vital to achieving higher scores; it typically describes a series of events that must take place (e.g., shoot right ramp and left drop targets to light 'extra ball' rollover). Learning these details makes the game more fun and challenging. With practice -- and a table in good operating condition -- a player can often achieve specific targets and higher scores as well as trigger exciting events.
If you discover a faulty playfield feature (a saucer that ejects the ball right between the flippers, weak flipper, dead bumper, etc.), report it. Features are adjustable, and the operator likely doesn't know why this game is earning poorly. Contact information in the form of a phone number should be available on the machine.


Skillful players can influence the movement of the ball by nudging or bumping the pinball machine, a technique known as "nudging." There are tilt mechanisms which guard against excessive manipulation of this sort. The mechanisms generally include; a grounded plumb bob centered in an electrified steel ring - when the machine is jostled too far or too hard, the bob bumps up against the ring, completing a circuit; an electrified ball on a slight ramp with a grounded post at the top of the ramp - when the front of the machine is lifted (literally, tilted) too high, the ball rolls to the top of the ramp and completes the circuit; and an impact sensor usually located on the coin door, the playfield and/or the cabinet itself. When one of these sensors is activated, the game registers a "tilt" and locks out, disabling solenoids for the flippers and other playfield systems so that the ball can do nothing other than roll all the way down the playfield to the drain. A tilt will usually also result in the loss of any bonus points earned by the player during that ball. Older games would immediately end the ball in play on a tilt. Modern games give tilt warnings before sacrificing the ball in play. The number of tilt warnings can be adjusted by the operator/owner of the machine. Until recently most games also had a "slam tilt" switch which guarded against kicking or slamming the coin mechanism, which could give a false indication that a coin had been inserted, thereby giving a "free" game or credit. Apparently, this feature was recently taken out by default in new Stern S.A.M System games. However, it can be added as an option. A slam tilt will typically end the current game for all players.


Skilled players can also hold a ball in place with the flipper, giving them more control over where they want to place the ball when they shoot it forward. This is known as "trapping". This technique involves catching the ball in the corner between the base of the flipper and the wall to its side, just as the ball falls towards the flipper; the flipper is then released, which allows the ball to roll slowly downward against the flipper. The player then chooses the moment to hit the flipper again, timing the shot as the ball slides slowly against the flipper. Multi-ball games, in particular, reward trapping techniques. Usually this is done by trapping one or more balls out of play with one flipper, then using the other flipper to score points with the remaining ball or balls.
Once a player has successfully trapped a ball, they may then attempt to "juggle" the ball to the other flipper. This is done by tapping the flipper button quickly enough so that the trapped ball is knocked back at an angle of less than 90 degrees into the bottom of the nearest slingshot. The ball will then often bounce across the table to the other flipper, where the ball may then be hit (or trapped) by the opposite flipper.
Occasionally a pinball machine will have a pin or post placed directly between the two bottom flippers. When this feature is present, the advanced player may then attempt to perform a "chill maneuver" when the ball is heading directly toward the pin by opting not to hit a flipper. If successful, this will cause the ball to bounce up and back into play.
A related move, the "dead flipper pass," is performed by not flipping when a ball is heading toward a flipper. If done properly, the ball will bounce off the "dead" flipper, across to the other flipper, where it may be trapped and controlled.
One controversial technique for saving the ball is called a "death save" or "bangback". Very few pinball players can successfully perform this advanced technique. The death save may only be performed when a ball has dropped through an outlane and is heading down toward the drain. If the timing is exactly correct, a player may hold a flipper up and then nudge the machine hard enough (but not so hard as to tilt the machine) to pop the ball back up into play on to the opposite flipper. Usually the death save is performed by kicking one of the legs of the machine with great force, which is why the move is unpopular with many players. More recent machines have recognized this maneuver as a legitimate one though, even going so far as to grant the player a point reward for a successful death save.
Skilled players can often play on a machine for long periods of time on a single coin. By earning extra balls, a single game can be stretched out for a long period, and if the player is playing well he or she can earn replays by points and possibly also free games, known as "specials". In such cases, a player may even walk away from a machine with several games left on it.


Occasionally, a player may try to obtain free games by attaching a piece of string to a coin and lowering it to the counter switch, then raise and lower it to obtain free credits. This is actually quite difficult to do, since a coin acceptor mechanism is designed to reject anything other than a true coin, and uses thickness, diameter, weight and inertia as tests. A slow-moving coin on a string is simply treated as a slug and rejected. Even if it works, a savvy operator will compare the coins to the credits counter and install an inexpensive 'string cutter' razor, so the cheater's victory is short-lived. If discovered in an attempt, the offender will likely be banned from the establishment.
Slugs made from hammered metal pieces or foreign coins are sometimes tried. As soon as the operator finds them in the coin box, multiple adjustments on the acceptor mechanism will be fine-tuned to be less forgiving, stopping that activity.
Electromechanical pinball machines manufactured by Williams (until approximately 1973) had a wiring anomaly which could be exploited with one or more credits remaining on the game reel. By depositing a single coin and pressing the reset button one-quarter to one-half second later, up to five games could be obtained.
Some early (late '70's) computerized games could be fooled into giving free credits by switching the power off and on quickly, or applying a static shock to the coin door. These issues were quickly fixed, and today, may cause existing credits to be removed.
Sometimes, a faulty playfield item will bounce or switch to rack up extra points that are not earned. While initially exciting to get something for nothing, the result is that a solenoid may be destroyed in the process of constant triggering, taking the game out of service. Besides, it takes a long time to make up a million points with a 100-point slingshot, and has nothing to do with luck or skill. If found, it should be reported so it can be repaired before causing damage.
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