Dechaine goes undefeated to win Robert Dionne Memorial
Skip Maloney - AzB Staff
Jan. 20, 2017
Paul Coorey, Francisco Cabral and Mike Dechaine
Paul Coorey, Francisco Cabral and Mike Dechaine
When a professional pool player appears in a handicapped tournament, he (or she), in any matchup, is often expected to win twice, and in some cases, three times as many games as his/her lower-handicapped opponents. The intent is to level the playing field, to give the lower-ranked opponent an opportunity to win the match by having to win significantly fewer games. In many cases, the professional handicap of having to win more games is not enough to offset the wide disparity in levels of skill.
 
On the weekend of Jan. 7-8, 42 players signed on to compete in the 11th Annual Robert Dionne Memorial Tournament, held under the auspices of the New England 9-Ball Series, to commemorate tour director Marc Dionne's father, who passed away in 2006. Among the 42 entrants at the $1,500-added event, hosted by The Crow's Nest in Plaistow, NH, was Mosconi Cup competitor, Mike Dechaine, who went undefeated through the field, and in his final 34 games, gave up only a single rack (total) to his last three opponents.
 
According to Dechaine, it wasn't all as easy as indicated by the aggregate score of his last three matches.
 
"I went hill-hill twice in the tournament," he said. "Francisco Cabral, who finished third, almost got me, and so did Tony Ruzzano (who finished in the tie for 9th place)."
 
"It wasn't too far from home," he said of his reasons for signing on, "and I just decided to participate."
 
To regular competitors on the New England 9-Ball Series, it must have been akin to joining a pick-up basketball game and seeing LeBron James show up to play on the opposing team, with predictable results. From Dechaine's perspective, the handicap system (akin, say, to forcing LeBron James To play one-handed) worked well; creating some predictable blowouts and the two double-hill matches.
 
"There might be some slight adjustments needed," he said of the system, "but I think it's pretty spot on."
 
By the time Dechaine had reached the winners' side semifinals (with his two, double-hill matches behind him), he was facing opponents with narrower margins of error. Facing Kerry McAuliffe, racing to 6, Dechaine had to win nine games. He did so, giving up the one rack he'd relinquish from that point on. He was joined in the hot seat match by C+ player, Paul Coorey, who'd defeated Dan Martis, double hill. In that hot seat match, Coorey had to win four, before Dechaine chalked up 12. Dechaine shut him out.
 
On the loss side, the two competitors who had earlier forced a deciding game in their matches against Dechaine - Cabral and Ruzzano - squared off in the matches that would determine the four-way tie for ninth place. Cabral defeated Ruzzano and then, Steve Sutton, both double hill, before picking up McAuliffe. Martis drew Charlie Matarazzo, who'd gotten by Jay Cunningham 5-3, and Rick Bergevin, double hill.
 
The lower-ranked players, Martis (C), and Cabral (A-), downed their higher-ranked opponents, Matarrazo (C+) and McAuliffe (A); Martis 4-2 over Matarazzo, and Cabral 6-3 over McAuliffe. Cabral gave up only a single rack to Martis in the ensuing quarterfinals, but had his loss-side streak ended by Coorey 5-6 in the semifinals (Cabral racing to 9).
 
Coorey got a second shot at Dechaine, but it was a repeat of the hot seat match. Dechaine shut him out a second time to claim the event title.
 
Tour director Marc Dionne thanked the ownership and staff of The Crow's Nest for their hospitality, as well as sponsors Ozone Billiards, Molinari, Bert Kinister, AzBilliards, Inside English, Professor Q-ball’s National Pool and 3 Cushion News, Delta 13 Racks, Bob Campbell, Championship Cloth, and OTLVISE Billiard Mechanics of America. The next stop on the New England 9-Ball Series, scheduled for Sunday, January 15, will be a $500-added event, hosted by Legends Sports Bar in Auburn, ME.