Cha’s the Champ in Galveston

Yu Ram Cha

There was, no doubt, a measure of retribution at work on Tuesday night, Sept. 15, when Yu Ram Cha stepped to the table to compete and win the double elimination finals of the Galveston City Classic's Women's Open 9-Ball event. She'd gotten through the event's opening round of play with an easy 9-1 win over Brooke Richmond-Demkey and then ran into Allison Fisher. Fisher prevailed 9-7, though she gave up more racks in that single game than she'd end up giving to her next three opponents combined. With Fisher in the hot seat, Cha moved to the one-loss side, where she began a string of seven victories over Iris Ranola, Gerda Hofstatter, Megan Smith, Monica Webb, Miyuki Sakai, Vivian Villarreal, and Line Kjorsvik. Through those seven games, she allowed her opponents a skimpy average of between three and four racks per game.

By the time Cha finished her string of seven wins with a 9-3 win over Kjorsvik in the semifinals, Fisher had been waiting for about 33 hours to play that final match. Cha, fresh off her match against Kjorsvik, had momentum on her side as she opened up the first set of two matches with four straight racks. In the opening rack, the pair spent about 10 minutes chasing the 2-ball around the table and trying to keep their opponent away from a clean shot. Cha sunk it, finally, and went on to clean the table.

Second ‘verse' was same as the first, with the 2-ball in hot contention. Again, Fisher left Cha with just enough to room to put it in and clear the table from there. Cha broke and ran the third rack and then watched Fisher scratch on the fourth rack, at which point, she sunk a 4-9 combination that gave her a commanding four-rack lead.

Allison then made her move. Beginning with the fifth rack, it was Fisher who was able to emerge from the ‘safety' games and run tables five through seven, making a superior jump shot and using a ball in hand to make a 1-9 combination that drew her within a game at 4-3. Cha responded to get up by two, and then, after sinking two balls on the subsequent break, she scratched. With a chance to pull within one again, Fisher scratched shooting at the 8-ball and it was 6-3. Cha attempted a carom combination looking to sink the 9-ball in game 10 and missed it, to allow Fisher to get back within two.

Fisher came up dry on the next rack, but left Cha little to work with. Cha tried a long bank shot on the 1-ball and when it missed, Allison pulled within one again at 6-5. At arguably the most critical juncture of this opening match, Cha made a brilliant cut shot on the 9-ball to turn what could have been a tie at six, into a 7-5 lead. Shooting at the 1-ball in the next rack, Cha banked it to sink the 9-ball and she was on the hill.

Cha finished the opening set by sinking three balls on the break. Though she turned the table over to Fisher shortly thereafter, Fisher scratched shooting at the 7-ball and Cha closed out the set at 9-5.

Fisher broke the opening rack of the second set and though she sunk two on that break, she rattled the 1-ball in the corner pocket. Cha cleaned the table and then broke and ran for a 2-0 lead. Racks three and four were tortuous safety battles, during which Fisher was never able to step to the table with anything resembling a clean shot. Constantly forced into kick and safety situations, the two battled back and forth as Tuesday turned into Wednesday. Cha came out on top in both of those games and when she took a cut shot on the 2-ball in the fifth game that sunk the 9-ball, she was up 5-0. Minutes later, she was on the hill with a clear chance to shut Fisher out of the second set completely.

“I tell you what,” said Nick Varner, commentating on the Ustream broadcast, “I can tell you from experience, that Allison's real tired of steppin' up to that table with nothing to shoot at.”

“She's not shooting bad,” he added, “Cha's just not giving her anything to shoot at.”

In what looked to be the final rack, with Fisher looking more than just a little frustrated, Cha stepped up to address the 9-ball. She sunk it but watched as the cue came around to drop into a pocket, giving Fisher her only win of the second set. Cha came back to dominate the last rack and close it out, winning the first-place, $6,000 prize.

According to tour representative, Clark Rone, while the Women's Event had been promoted as carrying a $10,000 guaranteed first place prize, the field of only 29 women prompted a players' meeting prior to the event. It was decided by the players that rather than continue with that $10,000 guarantee, that the prize pool would be calculated to spread evenly (by percentages) across the whole field of entrants.