Montrealers to face off in city's 1st women's pinball tournament

Montreal's women-only pinball league hosts its first tournament, open to novices and seasoned players alike.

Lady Luck Women's Pinball Tournament is hosted by Montreal's only female pinball league

Tonight is the Lady Luck Women's Pinball Tournament, the first in what Montreal's only female pinball league hopes will be an annual event. (Cory Correia/CBC )

Pinball may seem like a wacky game, reserved for dingy arcades and kids' birthday parties. But that's not the case for everybody.

Since January, around 20 Montreal women have been meeting weekly to polish their pinball skills.

And tonight, they'll put those skills to test at the first annual Lady Luck Women's Pinball Tournament, hosted by Montreal's only female pinball league.

Charlotte Fillmore-Handlon, one of the top 100 pinball players in Canada and a PhD candidate at Concordia University, founded the league this past January. She was motivated by what she saw as a lack of women in the game.

"Pinball has a tradition of being an old boys club," Fillmore-Handlon told CBC's Daybreak. "I wanted to create an environment where women feel comfortable joining in."

Members of a Montreal's women-only pinball league. (Adam Kiesler)

So while players get competitive, they also maintain a supportive and educational atmosphere, and are constantly exchanging tips on how to increase scores.

Open to amateurs

While tonight's event is a tournament — complete with prizes for those who come out on top — it's also a chance for amateurs to be introduced to the game.

Fillmore-Handlon is confident that once amateurs lay their hands on the flippers, they won't be able to stop playing.

"Pinball can be quite addictive," she said. "You start playing and you can see yourself getting better. And it feels really good."

Charlotte Fillmore-Handlon, organizer of Ball Bustin' B*****s women's-only pinball league, plays a pinball machine at North Star machine à piastres. (Submitted by Charlotte Fillmore-Handlon)

Although pinball can be intimidating to novices, Fillmore-Handlon says that playing with the league means newcomers become quickly acclimated to the ins and outs of the game.

And even if new players aren't hooked by the game itself, Fillmore-Handlon believes the social environment is the best part of the experience.

"It seems to attract a particular kind of interesting, creative person," she said.

The First Annual Lady Luck Women's Pinball Tournament is tonight at North Star Machines à Piastres, on St-Laurent Boulevard. Registration is from 7 to 8 p.m., and the tournament begins at 8:15 p.m.. Registration is free. Each game costs $1.