Foldes comes back from semifinals to win 8th Annual Markulis Memorial
Skip Maloney - AzB Staff
May 19, 2016
Going into the 8th Annual Chuck Markulis Memorial Tournament, an official Mosconi Cup Team USA ranking event, Rodney Morris was at the top of the rankings list that will be used to determine the members of the Mosconi Cup Team, set to compete in December. When it was over, Morris remained at the top of that list, adding points to his total as the runner-up to Hungary's Vilmos Foldes, who came back from a hot seat defeat at the hands of Morris to beat him in the finals. The $10,000-added event drew 78 entrants to Hard Times Billiards in Sacramento, CA on the weekend of May 14-15.
 
As organizers of the Mosconi Cup, Matchroom Pool sets standards regarding the varied tournaments that qualify as ranking events. Based on a variety of factors (money-added, participants, etc.), each qualifying event falls into one of three levels, each divided into separate grades. The Markulis Memorial fell into a Level Two, Grade Two category, which allots 40 ranking points to the winner, and 32 to the runner-up. According to Mosconi Cup captain Mark Wilson, these figures could be adjusted slightly, if, for example, an event failed to deliver on a stated amount of money-added, or total participants. In addition to the 32 points that Morris earned as runner-up in the Markulis Memorial (pending any adjustments), Oscar Dominguez, who came into the tournament in third place in the rankings (behind Morris and Mike Dechaine) picked up 22 points for his finish in the tie for 5th place. Hunter Lombardo, who entered the tournament at #7 on the rankings list, added 14 points to his total. 
 
Morris and Foldes played their first match (together) of the Markulis Memorial, battling for the hot seat. Morris had just survived a double hill match against Tony Chohan, in which he'd been forced to come back from a major deficit. Foldes, in the meantime, sent Skippy Nikakis to the loss side 11-7. Morris claimed the hot seat over Foldes with an 11-5 win that proved to be his last.
 
On the loss side, Chohan picked up Oscar Dominguez, who'd chalked up a win against his father, Ernesto, by forfeit (the two never compete against each other in tournaments, the father always deferring to the son) and then, defeated Francis Ritarita 9-6. Nikakis drew Amar Kang, who, following a defeat at the hands of Morris, had eliminated Jason Williams 9-6 and Rudy Estoque 9-5.
 
Kang defeated Nikakis 9-2 and advanced to the quarterfinals against Chohan, who'd defeated Dominguez 9-2, stopping Dominguez' quest for added Mosconi Cup ranking points at 22. Kang then ended Chohan's weekend with a 9-6 victory before himself being eliminated by Foldes in the semifinals 9-3. 
 
Foldes turned his attention to a re-match against Morris. In a strong reversal of fortunes, Foldes defeated Morris 13-4 in the single set final.
 
Going into the tournament, Foldes was not among the top 11 players vying for ranking points for selection to the European team, nor was the Markulis Memorial among the qualifying events for selection to the team (the US Open 9-Ball Championship is the only American qualifying event among 13 for selection to that team). There are 27 qualifying events for ranking points leading to a selection for the US team, three of which are overseas - The WPA World 9-Ball Championships in Qatar, The WPA China Open in Shanghai, and The WPA Kuwait Open. A full schedule of qualifying events for the US team can be found here at http://www.azbilliards.com/news/stories/12484-mosconi-cup-team-usa-qualification-schedule/. The schedule for European events can be found at the Matchroom Pool Web site - http://www.matchroompool.com/mosconi-cup/#teamEurope.