Are you ready for some foosball?

The 2012 Maryland Foosball Championships will be held Feb. 17-19 at the Holiday Inn Columbia in Jessup, with 150 enthusiasts of the table soccer game competing for $12,000 in prize money.

According to tournament director Chun Lee, the competition that started in Maryland in the late 1980s will return after a year's hiatus. Lee said the event was not held last year because sponsor Tornado Table Soccer could not fit it into its schedule.

Lee, who has been playing the popular indoor game for 20 years, said the type of foosball being played now is much faster than it was when he started. He said it has been called a combination of tennis and chess and described it as "very fast, very intense."

Tony Spredeman, a 26-year-old Floridian who is the top ranked player in the county, will be among the "foosers" who will be showing off their quick wrists and hand-eye coordination at the event.

Lee said Spredeman and others in a "new generation" of foosers have been playing the game since they were "eight or nine years old." As a result, the game has evolved with players who have better skills and strategy than when he first started.

Spredeman, who turned pro at age 16 and has helped the U.S. win the world championships the past three years, is the defending champion of the Maryland event. Kristin Grogan of Jessup will be defending her women's title.

Competition will be held in several divisions, from beginnier to tour professional, in singles and doubles There are as many as 20 games going on at the same time, Lee said, with competition either best of three or best of five. The games go to five, and in the case of overtime, to eight.

This year's event will also offer a competition for college students, the Mid-Atlantic College Foosball Challenge.

For more information, email marylandfoosball@gmail.com.

don.markus@baltsun.com

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