Dagotdot mounts a dramatic comeback in finals to go undefeated in Ginky Memorial A-D event

Photo courtesy of Jerry Tarantola - NYCGrind.com


The finals of the 48-entrant Open event of the 2nd Annual George 'Ginky' Sansouci Memorial, won by Earl "The Pearl" Strickland over Mike Dechaine, was entertaining. The finals of the concurrently-run $2,000-added, 128-entrant, A-D handicapped event, won by Daniel Dagotdot over George Poltorak, was a nail-biting, double hill thriller. The trek through the 128-entrant field, which had begun for the amateurs on Saturday morning, September 1 at Amsterdam Billiards, ended on Sunday evening, just ahead of the Open finals. Dagotdot and Poltorak stepped into those finals, both having endured a long, arduous climb up a steep, billiard hill. Dagotdot won seven matches to get into the hot seat. Poltorak took 10 matches, including seven on the loss side, to reach the finals. Spectators were torn between rooting for the undefeated hot seat occupant, or the hard-fought battle waged on the loss side by his opponent.

Dagotdot got by Noel Bursuto, Kapriel Delimonkonoglu, Trevor Heal and Chad Bowling to move among the winners' side final eight, where he met and then defeated Chad Davis 7-5. Joining him among the winners' side final four was Kelly Wong. The other winners' side semifinal pitted Patrick Myers against the man who'd sent Poltorak west, Nicky Chan. Dagotdot defeated Wong 8-7, and was met on the hot seat stage by Myers, who'd sent Chan west 7-4. Dagotdot prevailed 9-6, and sat in the hot seat, unaware that while his route to victory had but one stop to go, it was destined to be the most harrowing of the entire journey.

Poltorak, working his way back on the loss side, defeated Mike Ettl, and Willie Johnson to move among the contenders for the 9/12 slots. He shut out Kirril Safronov, and defeated Sal Marcelo 7-4 to earn a re-match against Chan. Wong, in the meantime, drew Ron Gabia, who'd gotten by Junior Sanchez 7-5 and Ron Mason 7-4 to reach him. Poltorak had been moved to the loss side with a double hill victory by Chan in the third round. In their second meeting, it was Poltorak ending Chan's day with a double hill win. He moved on to the quarterfinals to face Wong, who'd defeated Gabia 7-5.

Five down and two to go; three to win it all. Poltorak defeated Wong in the quarterfinals 7-5, and then, in what appeared at the end to be something of a contentious meeting, he sent Patrick Myers packing 7-2 in the semifinals. Poltorak was on the verge of winning his first major tournament, facing a thus-far undefeated, multi-winning Tri-State champion in the person of Daniel Dagotdot.

The final match proceeded routinely to a 4-4 tie, at which point, Poltorak put together a six-pack of victories that put him on the hill. Spectator emotions were running high for the underdog, as they are wont to do, when said underdog is six racks out in front and on the hill. Then, Dagotdot went to work. One rack at a time, one ball at a time, he fought his way back. The closer he got, the higher the tension mounted in the room. When the Open semifinals between Earl Strickland and Warren Kiamco concluded on the UStream, center stage table, all focus shifted to the starkly darker table of the Amateur finals.

It's hard to know at one point the tension reached its peak. Dagotdot's 'turnaround' win at 10-5 was noteworthy. At 10-6, people were thinking, "It could happen." At 10-7, they started paying closer attention. At 10-8, moving into the 19th rack, people were literally holding their breath each time Dagotdot stepped up to the table to take a shot. Better, some may have been thinking, that Dagotdot have lost at the 10-4 mark than to climb up that long hill, see the summit in sight, and falter at the last moment. Suddenly, it was 10-9 and then, knotted at double hill, and in what seemed the blink of an eye, focus narrowed to one ball at a time; 8 left, 7, left, 6 left, down to the 8-ball with the cue in Poltorak's hand. As people had experienced watching Dagotdot's battle back to double hill, they struggled with Poltorak's reality - to have come so far, to stand on the brink of a first-ever major tournament victory and falter at the last moment. Unthinkable.

Poltorak missed his shot at the 8-ball, and the room quivered, like a spider web touched at the center, vibrating strands all the way out to the edge. Dagotdot stepped to the table, sunk the 8-ball, and then, the 9-ball, ending it. The crowd, as they say, never more aptly, went wild, with Dagotdot enjoying a micro-second of explosive triumph, followed by a long intake and exhalation of the breath he'd been holding, off and on, for over an hour. His undefeated journey was complete. He was the Amateur champion of the 2nd Annual George "Ginky" Sansouci Memorial Tournament.