Professional and Amateur Pinball Association

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The Professional and Amateur Pinball Association (PAPA) is an organization supporting the game of pinball as a recreational and competitive sport. PAPA is currently owned and operated by Kevin Martin and is based in Scott Township, Pennsylvania, just outside of Pittsburgh.

The main activity of the organization is hosting the annual World Pinball Championships and Pinburgh Match-Play Championship. Each event brings hundreds of serious pinball players from around the world to compete for a number of large cash prizes. The World Pinball Championships run for four days and allow competitors to register in different divisions which accommodate beginners and skilled players alike. Each occurrence of the World Pinball Championships has been denoted by a number; for example, the 2010 tournament is known as PAPA 13.

The Pinburgh Match-Play Championship resurrects the name given to a previous Pittsburgh-area pinball tournament, and has a different structure. Players pay one entry fee and compete in multiple rounds directly against other players for two days, before a day of finals is played in three divisions, along with a consolation tournament for players who do not make the finals.


PAPA was originally created by Steve Epstein, owner of the former Broadway Arcade in Manhattan.[1] PAPA 6 was the last tournament organized under his tenure. The PAPA organization was transferred to Kevin Martin in January 2004 and its moniker applied to the pinball tournaments formerly held under the name of Pinburgh; PAPA 7 was the first of these, held in 2004.

In September 2004, shortly after PAPA 7, the remnants of Hurricane Ivan flooded the tournament area, ruining more than 200 games. However, the organizers managed to restock and rebuild in time to host PAPA 8 in 2005.

Tournament format[edit]

The format of the World Pinball Championships has changed over time. In the current format, players declare a division (A, B, or C, with A being the most skilled) and may enter as many times as they like, paying entry fees each time they choose to play. During an entry, a player will choose and play a certain number of games from a predetermined bank of machines (for example, five out of a possible nine machines). Each game score is assigned a point value based on how it compares to all of the other entries on that same machine: 100 points for the highest score, down to 1 point for 88th place, and 0 points for all lower scores. Interestingly, this point value may decrease over time as more games are played by everyone. An entry's overall score is the sum of these point values; thus, it too can decrease over time.

A player's best entry over the course of the qualifying period determines the player's qualifying score, and the qualifying scores are used to determine the rank of each player. A player's rank may go up or down, even without continuing to play more entries. There is a fair amount of strategy that can be employed to deal with this.

At the end of the qualifying period (typically several days), the top-ranked players in each division (the actual number varies) compete in a head-to-head, bracketed format to determine the winners.

The tournament also includes a Juniors division (16 years or younger), a Seniors division (50 years or older), and a Classics division that runs on multiple days of the event. In 2014, the Juniors division was changed to be three tournaments run on consecutive days, similar to the Classics division.

Tournament machine configurations[edit]

If possible, the game software of each machine is put into tournament mode. Typically, this means that the rules will avoid giving random awards, so that scores reflect mostly skill and not luck. Also, extra balls are disabled if the software supports it.

The physical setup of the machines is also configured to make things as challenging as possible. This can be done in a number of ways, for example:

List of tournament winners[edit]

Pinburgh Match-Play

A Division

B Division

C Division

Junior Division

Senior Division

Classics Division


External links[edit]