Air hockey

Air hockey is a game where two players play against each other on a low-friction table. Air hockey requires an air-hockey table, two player-held strikers, and a puck.

Air hockey
Genre(s)Table
Players2
Skill(s) requiredDexterity, Agility, Hand-eye coordination, Reaction time

An air hockey table has a very smooth and slippery surface which reduces friction by suspending the puck on cushion of air, so that this its motion is much less altered by friction, causing it to glide in a straight line at relatively constant velocity across the table.

Air hockey tables

A typical air hockey table consists of a large smooth playing surface, a surrounding rail to prevent the puck and paddles from leaving the table, and slots in the rail at either end of the table that serve as goals. On the ends of the table behind and below the goals, there is usually a puck return. Additionally, tables will typically have some sort of machinery that produces a cushion of air on the playing surface through tiny holes, with the purpose of reducing friction and increasing play speed. In some tables, the machinery is eschewed in favor of a slick table surface, usually plastic, in the interest of saving money in both manufacturing and maintenance costs. Note that these tables are technically not air hockey tables since no air is involved, however, they are still generally understood to be as such due to the basic similarity of gameplay. There also exist pucks that use a battery and fan to generate their own air cushion, but as they are prone to breakage, they are commonly marketed only as toys. An air hockey table has very little friction.

The only tables that are approved for play and sanctioned by the USAA (United States Air Hockey Association) and the AHPA (Air Hockey Players Association) for tournament play are 8-foot tables. Approved tables include all Gold Standard Games 8-foot tables; some 8-foot tables from Dynamo; and the original 8-foot commercial Brunswick tables. Other full-size novelty-type tables with flashing lights on the field of play, painted rails, and/or smaller pucks are not approved for tournament play but can be used to learn the game. There are also tables for air hockey having a size of 1.5, 2, 2.5 feet. They are called a mini air hockey. This is due to the small dimensions of the table, bits, washers[1].

A striker (sometimes called a goalie, paddle or mallet ) consists of a simple handle attached to a flat surface that will usually lie flush with the surface of the table. The most common paddles, called "high-tops", resemble small plastic sombreros, but other paddles, "flat-tops", are used with a shorter nub.

Air Hockey pucks are discs made of Lexan polycarbonate resin. Standard USAA and AHPA-approved pucks are yellow, red, and green. In competitive play, a layer of thin white tape is placed on the face-up side. Air Hockey pucks come in circles and other shapes (triangle, hexagon, octagon, or square).

Four-player tables also exist, but they are not sanctioned for competitive play.

Gameplay

Competitive (tournament) play is usually distinguished by the following:

  • The striker is gripped behind the knob using one's fingertips, not on top of it. This allows more wrist action and helps the player to move the striker around the table faster.
  • For basic defense, the striker is kept centered at least 8 inches out from the goal. In this position, very slight movements to the left and right will block virtually all straight shots. To block bank shots, one pulls back quickly to the corners of the goal. This is known as the "triangle defense".
  • Shots are often hit out of "drifts", where the puck travels in set patterns designed to throw off the opponent's expectations and timing. The most popular drifts are the "center", "diamond", "diagonal", and "L".
  • Shots are often organized into meaning groups of shots which are hit with the same apparent delivery but opposite directions, caused by hitting the puck at slightly different locations on the striker. For example, a transverse motion of the right arm can lead to a "cut shot" to the left corner of the opponent's goal or a "right wall under" (bank off the right wall, into the right corner of the opponent's goal).

History

Air hockey was invented by a group of Brunswick Billiards employees from 1969 to 1972. In 1969, a trio of Brunswick engineers – Phil Crossman, Bob Kenrick and Brad Baldwin – began work on creating a game using a frictionless surface. The project stagnated for several years until it was revived by Bob Lemieux, who then focused on implementing an abstracted version of ice hockey, with a thin disk, two strikers and slit-like goals equipped with photodetectors. It was then decided that the game might appeal to a larger market and air hockey was marketed and sold to the general public. The original patents reference Crossman, Kendrick and Lemieux.[2][3] The air table proper had already been patented before Brunswick's project, though for unrelated purposes.[4]

In any event, the game was an immediate financial success and by the mid-1970s there arose substantial interest in tournament play. As early as 1973, players in Houston had formed the Houston Air Hockey Association, and soon thereafter, the Texas Air-Hockey Players Association, codifying rules and promoting the sport through local tournaments at Houston pubs Carnabys, Damians, and the University of Houston. To ensure uniform play standards of the highest competitive quality, the United States Air-Table Hockey Association (USAA) was formed in 1975 by J. Phillip "Phil" Arnold, largely as an official sanctioning body. In this way, non-player friendly rules imposed by Brunswick corporation were rendered void, and the sport of air hockey was secured under the control of players since that time. Since its inception, the USAA has sanctioned at least one national-level or World championship each year, crowning 12 different champions over 30 years. In March 2015, the Air Hockey Players Association (AHPA) was announced and is providing air hockey players with an additional organization also overseeing the sport of air hockey.[5] The two organizations run independently but abide by a similar set of rules and share many of the same players. In July 2015, the AHPA crowned not only its first world champion but also the youngest in the history of the sport in Colin Cummings of Beaumont, TX. Today, professional air hockey is played by a close-knit community of serious players around the world, with extensive player bases near Houston, San Francisco, Sacramento, Los Angeles, San Diego, Denver, Chicago, New York City, and Boston in the United States of America, Barcelona in Spain, Saint Petersburg, Moscow, and Novgorod in Russia. and Most and Brno in the Czech Republic. From the late 1980s, Caracas, Venezuela served as a hotbed of activity; three-time World Champion Jose Mora and other finalists originated from there. By 1999 most of the Venezuelan activity had disappeared.

Competitive air hockey

Tournament history

USAA World Championships[5]

YearChampionRunner-upThird Place
1978 Jesse Douty Phil Arnold Rolf Moore
1979 Jesse Douty Phil Arnold Joe Campbell
1980 Jesse Douty Phil Arnold Joe Campbell
1980 Jesse Douty Robert Hernandez Mark Robbins
1981 Bob Dubuisson Paul Burger Jesse Douty
1981 Jesse Douty Bob Dubuisson Paul Marshall
1982 Jesse Douty Mark Robbins Bob Dubuisson
1983 Bob Dubuisson Jesse Douty Phil Arnold
1984 Mark Robbins Robert Hernandez Bob Dubuisson
1985 Bob Dubuisson Robert Hernandez Vince Schappell
1985 Bob Dubuisson Robert Hernandez Mark Robbins
1986 Robert Hernandez Bob Dubuisson Mark Robbins
1986 Mark Robbins Bob Dubuisson Robert Hernandez
1987 Robert Hernandez Jesse Douty Phil Arnold
1987 Jesse Douty Mark Robbins Robert Hernandez
1988 Jesse Douty Bob Dubuisson Robert Hernandez
1988 Jesse Douty Bob Dubuisson Joe Campbell
1989 Tim Weissman Bob Dubuisson Jesse Douty
1989 Tim Weissman Jesse Douty Robert Hernandez
1990 Tim Weissman Jesse Douty Robert Hernandez
1990 Tim Weissman Phil Arnold Mark Robbins
1991 Tim Weissman Mark Robbins Robert Hernandez
1991 Tim Weissman Jesse Douty Albert Ortiz
1992 Tim Weissman Robert Hernandez Mark Robbins
1992 Tim Weissman Keith Fletcher Vince Schappell
1993 Tim Weissman Andy Yevish Keith Fletcher
1994 John (Owen) Giraldo Mark Robbins Tim Weissman
1995 Billy Stubbs Wil Upchurch Don James
1996 Tim Weissman Wil Upchurch Andy Yevish
1997 Wil Upchurch Tim Weissman Jesse Douty
1999 Jose Mora Pedro Otero Jimmy Heilander
2000 Jose Mora Pedro Otero Tim Weissman
2001 Danny Hynes Tim Weissman José Mora
2002 Danny Hynes Ehab Shoukry Billy Stubbs
2003 Ehab Shoukry José Mora Andy Yevish
2004 Danny Hynes Andy Yevish Anthony Marino
2005 Danny Hynes Billy Stubbs Anthony Marino
2006 Danny Hynes Wil Upchurch Davis Lee
2007 Davis Lee Keith Fletcher Ehab Shoukry
2008 Danny Hynes Ehab Shoukry Jose Mora
2009 Ehab Shoukry Davis Lee Keith Fletcher
2010 Davis Lee Billy Stubbs Anthony Marino
2011 Danny Hynes Ehab Shoukry Billy Stubbs
2011 Danny Hynes Ehab Shoukry Billy Stubbs
2012 Billy Stubbs Danny Hynes Ehab Shoukry
2012 Billy Stubbs Ehab Shoukry Tim Weissman
2013 Danny Hynes Davis Lee Pedro Otero
2014 Billy Stubbs Davis Lee Danny Hynes
2015 Colin Cummings Pedro Otero Danny Hynes

AHPA World Championship[5]

YearChampionRunner-upThird Place
2015 Colin Cummings Billy Stubbs Brian Accrocco
2016 Colin Cummings Brian Accrocco Doug Howard
2017 Colin Cummings Vincent Sauceda Brian Accrocco
2018 Colin Cummings Vincent Sauceda Danny Hynes
2019 Colin Cummings Vincent Sauceda Keith Fletcher

US Championship[5]

YearChampionRunner-upThird Place
1983 Jesse Douty Mark Robbins Bob Dubuisson
1984 Jesse Douty Phil Arnold Mark Robbins
1998 José Mora Pedro Otero Tim Weissman
2004 Danny Hynes Ehab Shoukry Don James
2007 Wil Upchurch Davis Lee Keith Fletcher
2009 Danny Hynes Ehab Shoukry José Mora

European Championship[5]

YearChampionFinalistThird Place
2006 (Singles) Goran Mitic Michael L. Rosen José Luis Camacho[NB 1]
2007 (Singles) José Luis Camacho Sergey Antonov Sergio López
2006 (Teams) Spain Czech Republic
2007 (Teams) Russia Spain

Texas State Open[5]

YearChampionRunner-upThird Place
1998 Tim Weissman Jose Mora Wil Upchurch
2000 Jose Mora Danny Hynes Jimmy Heilander
2002 Jose Mora Danny Hynes Anthony Marino
2003 Anthony Marino Jose Mora Danny Hynes
2004 Danny Hynes Ehab Shoukry Anthony Marino
2005 Danny Hynes Ehab Shoukry Anthony Marino
2007 Tim Weissman Vince Schappell Joe Cain
2008 Danny Hynes Jimmy Heilander Syed Rahman

Catalan Championship[5]

YearChampionRunner-upThird Place
2003 Pedro Otero Emilio Araujo Marc García[NB 2]
2004 Marc García Sergio López José Luis Camacho
2005 José Luis Camacho Sergio López Marc García
2006 José Luis Camacho Marc García Javi Navarro
2007 Marc García Mauro Sturlese Javi Navarro
2008 Sergio López José Luis Camacho Mauro Sturlese

Russian Open[5]

YearChampionRunner-upThird Place
2006 Paulo "The Cannon" Lourenço Igor Masloboev[NB 3] Sergey Grishin
2007 Pedro Beles Sergey Grishin Nikita Vaganov
2008 Cláudio Barimbetche Vadim Chizhevskiy German Vargin

Notes

  1. European champion"
  2. Catalan champion"
  3. Russian champion"

References

  1. Air hockey table dimensions
  2. U.S. Patent US 3773325
  3. U.S. Patent US 3927885
  4. U.S. Patent US 3415478
  5. "AirHockeyWorld.com tournament results". Archived from the original on 2 April 2010. Retrieved 29 December 2009.
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