Chinakhov takes two out of three over Loftis to win 4th Annual Texas Open 10-Ball Championships
Skip Maloney
Feb. 23, 2018
Ruslan Chinakhov (Photo courtesy of Erwin Dionisio)
Ruslan Chinakhov (Photo courtesy of Erwin Dionisio)
Since January 1 of this year, Russia’s Ruslan Chinakhov has (according to available records here at AZBilliards) earned $247.11 per day shooting pool (not including any Calcutta earnings), which would put him on track to reported earnings of $90,197.11 by December 31, almost triple what he’s reportedly earned in any year since 2007. Chinakhov is reportedly back home in Moscow, after a blistering hot month-and-a-half here in the US of A. Following an eight-man shared victory at the Derby City’s 14:1 Challenge (and other payouts from multiple events), a successful one-on-one, 10-ball challenge versus Oscar Dominguez and a victory in the Virginia State 10-Ball Championships, Chinakhov flew to Round Rock, TX, where, on the long weekend of February 15-18, he chalked up a victory on the 4th Annual Texas Open 10-Ball Championships. Chinakhov went won eight of his nine matches in Texas, downing Kenny Loftis in the hot seat match, losing the opening set of a true double elimination final to Loftis, and then taking the second set to claim the event title. The $4,000-added event drew 128 entrants to Skinny Bob’s Billiards in Round Rock.
In addition to a Jack & Jill Scotch Doubles Tournament, an Open Banks Rails Game, an Open 10-Ball Tourney (all on Thursday, February 15), and two (Open and Ladies) Ring Games on Friday, the annual event also featured a $1,000-added Ladies 10-Ball tournament, which drew 32 entrants and saw Jennifer Kraber go undefeated through the field to claim that event title (separate story).
Though both of the previous two Texas Open 10-Ball Championships were in attendance at this year’s event, neither figured into Chinakhov’s victory. Those two previous champions, Manny Chau (2017) and Skyler Woodward (2016) were shut out in a winners’ side match (Chau by James Dabel, Woodward by Loftis) and faced each other in the seventh, loss-side round (determining the four-way tie for 13th). Woodward advanced with a shutout over Chau, and then, three rounds later, ran into Charlie “Hillbilly” Bryant, who defeated him in a double hill match (any bets that “Hillbilly” had himself a nice growl/grin/handshake for the ‘young whippersnapper’ Woodward at the end of that match?).
Though Chinakhov earned the headline for this event, it should be noted that runner-up Kenny Loftis was the surprise competitor. Loftis, in all of his (reported) pool-playing career since 2011, has earned as much as Chinakhov is projected to make (see above) in the next six-and-a-half days. The surprise commenced with his winners’ side shutout over Sky Woodward, continued with a subsequent, double hill win over “Hillbilly,” and reached its peak when he defeated Chinakhov in the opening set of the true double elimination final.
“He certainly was the surprise of the weekend,” said Skinny Bob’ Billiards’ owner, John Cielo. “He’s been consistent finishing in the money in these annual 9-ball and 10-ball events, but he’d never made the top eight before.
“He played outstanding,” Cielo added.
Through his first 43 games against five opponents (Rich Anglin, Pat Castro, Ray Lopez, Shane Manaole and Alex Calderon), Chinakhov gave up a total of eight racks. Half of those were surrendered in his winners’ side quarterfinal against Calderon, which set him up to face Ronnie Alcano in one of the winners’ side semifinals. Loftis, in the meantime, who’d given up 11 racks through his first 46 games against Charlie Morra, Leon Contreras, Jason Harkrider, Sky Woodward (the shutout) and Ruben Bautista, squared off against Bryant in the other winners’ side semifinal.
Loftis and Bryant fought their double hill battle, which advanced Loftis to the hot seat. Chinakhov joined him after shutting out Alcano. In their first of three, Chinakhov moved into the hot seat with a 7-5 win over Loftis.
On the loss side, “Hillbilly” picked up Woodward, who was in the midst of a four-match, loss-side winning streak that included victories over Robb Saez 7-3, and Roberto Gomez 7-4. Alcano drew Ruben Bautista, who’d defeated Jeffrey Luna 7-5 and eliminated the ever-dangerous Jeremy Jones in a double hill match.
Bryant chalked up his double hill win over Woodward, and was joined in the quarterfinal match by Alcano, who’d defeated Bautista 7-3. Alcano then ended Bryant’s bid 7-3, before himself being eliminated, by Loftis in the semifinals 7-5.
One has to imagine that the results of the first double-elimination set of the finals came as a surprise to both Chinakhov and Loftis; Chinakhov, because of how things had been going for him since 2017 had turned into 2018, and Loftis because of how things had been going for him since he started showing up on regional tour payout lists here at AZBilliards seven years ago. Loftis took that opening set 7-5.
In the second set, Chinakhov regained control. He gave up only two racks to Loftis in that second set and claimed the event title.
“He impressed me,” said tour director James Davis, Sr. of Chinakhov’s performance, “and I’m not easily impressed.”
“He’s tall,” Davis added, “and has the most powerful break I have ever seen. He makes every shot look so simple, just an amazing player.”