D’Alfonso and Ruzzano split top prizes on New England 9-Ball Series stop in Fall River, MA

Adam Blair, Tom D’Alfonso & Mark Ruzzano

It’s rare on the New England 9-Ball Series, but splits of the top prizes do happen. Case in point:  Stop #7 (2019-2020), hosted by Straight Shooters’ Family Billiards in Fall River, MA on Saturday, November 23. Tom D’Alfonso and Mark Ruzzano battled in the hot seat and were scheduled to meet again in the finals. They allowed their hot seat result to stand as the definitive answer to ‘who won,’ split the top two prizes, and left the undefeated D’Alfonso as the official winner. The $500-added event drew 48 entrants to Straight Shooters.

D’Alfonso was far and away the highest FargoRated player at the tables on this particular day. At 737, he was 102 points ahead of the next highest-ranked player in the field; Dennis Levesque at 635 and he didn’t play against him. In his six matches (to include Ruzzano twice), he faced an opponent-average FargoRate of 552.8. His highest-ranked opponent through six matches was Roarke Dickson (588) in a winners’ side quarterfinal, in which Dickson was awarded ‘four beads on the wire’ in a race to 8 and only added two, for an 8-2 actual score, or 8-6 handicap victory for D’Alfonso.

D’Alfonso advanced to face Antero Tavares (560) in one of the overall winners’ side semifinals (the tour keeps upper and lower rated players separated in the early matches). Mark Ruzzano, in the meantime, squared off against Adam Blair (505). D’Alfonso moved on to the hot seat (and what proved to be his final) match with his only double hill win of the day, 8-3, arriving at the hot seat match having given up only six racks through 39 games. Ruzzano, in a straight-up race to 5 sent Blair to the loss side 5-1. D’Alfonso claimed the hot seat 9-2.

On the loss side, two long loss-side streaks were about to come to an end. Tavares picked up Jim Prather, who, in the lower bracket, had been defeated in the opening round by Mark Ransom and was in the midst of a seven-match, loss-side winning streak that would take him as far as the overall quarterfinals. Along the way, he’d wreaked his vengeance on Ransom with a double hill win that left Ransom in the tie for 13th. Prather then downed Roarke Dickson and Matthew Rezendes, both 5-1, to meet Tavares.

Blair drew Mourad Idrais, who’d also been defeated in the event’s opening round (he was shut out by Mike Negrelli) and was on his own six-match, loss-side winning streak that was about to end. He’d recently defeated Souheil Muraby, double hill, and in a serious ‘vengeance is sweet’ scenario, returned the shut out ‘favor’ to Negrelli to meet Blair.

Prather downed Tavares, double hill (5-3) and in the quarterfinals, faced Blair, who’d ended Idrais’ loss-side streak 4-2. Blair then ended Prather’s run 4-2 (Prather racing to 6).

In a straight-up, race-to-5 semifinal, which proved to be the final match of the night, Ruzzano ended Blair’s short loss-side visit 5-3. He and D’Alfonso opted out of the final and as the undefeated occupant of the hot seat, D’Alfonso claimed the official event title.

Tour director Marc Dionne thanked the ownership and staff at Straight Shooters, as well as sponsors Predator Cues, BCAPL, USAPL New England, Fargo Rate, Bert Kinister, AZBilliards, Inside English, Professor Q-ball’s National Pool and 3-Cushion News, Delta 13 Racks, MJS Construction, Bob Campbell with Lease Fundings, Master Billiards and OTLVISE Billiard Mechanics of America. The next stop on the New England 9-Ball Series, scheduled for Thanksgiving weekend (November 30 – December 1), will be a $1,000-added event, hosted by Legends Billiards in Auburn, ME.