Ken Shuman Offers OPEN Invitation

Next month the worldwide pool community will have their collective eyes focused on Virginia Beach, Virginia for the 37th edition of the U.S. Open 9 Ball Championships.  With its rich history and stellar international fields, the U.S. Open is arguably the most prestigious title to hold and the most difficult to win.  This year should be extra special with the move to our new venue, the elegant and newly renovated Holiday Inn Virginia Beach.

Everyone who loves this game should make at least one trip to pool heaven and attend a U.S. Open in person.  It's an unforgettable experience and I guarantee you'll go home with a lifetime of memories.  If you were previously undecided about going, I hope this added insight will seal the deal and you'll make your reservations immediately.

Founder and promoter Barry Behrman has always embraced establishing traditions at his event.  Some of them go back many years, some are more recent.  The first one you'll encounter is during the players meeting on Saturday night, when Barry and the previous champion present the U.S. Open green jacket to the current champion.  This year, Barry may have to ask two time defending champion Darren Appleton to present it to himself!  It's a heartwarming and emotional moment, and I can't wait to hear what Darren has to say as he puts on the jacket that will forever commemorate his historical, back to back, undefeated triumphs.  After the ceremony, the players remain around to practice and mingle with the fans.  It's a great time to talk to them, get autographs, and wish them well.  And food is provided for all the players courtesy of Barry and Shannon.  

Friday evening brings us what is possibly the most important night of the year in our sport.  It's the Billiard Congress of America's Hall of Fame Induction Banquet, held right on site at Holiday Inn.  One of the newer U.S. Open traditions, this event has been a sellout every year since inception and our thanks to Barry, Shannon, Rob Johnson and Mike Panozzo for making it possible to have a formal ceremony where fans can honor the greats of the game in person.  It's a gala affair, beginning with a cocktail hour for fans to talk with existing Hall of Famer's and meet the newest member, Miss Karen Corr, all followed by a terrific dinner.   

After dinner, you'll see video tributes to the newest member made by close friends and other greats of the game who could not attend.  Each Hall of Fame inductee previously selects one or two special people in their life to formally present them to the audience, and you'll hear their remarks before the formal acceptance speech.  Depending on the presenter, they'll make you laugh, cry, or both.  In 2010, Francisco Bustamante had Alex and Efren as his presenters.  You should have heard the Lion roar and witness Bata having some fun at Busty's expense.  It was priceless.

The acceptance speeches are riveting.  You'll see the greats of the game in a completely different light, with their hearts on their sleeves and their emotions pouring out.  I'll never forget the expression on Johnny Archer's Dad's face in 2009 as his son was being inducted.  It's hard not to well up inside as you watch and listen.  Truly a very special night.

Saturday brings back the final 4 players to see who wears the crown.  In keeping with the newest U.S. Open tradition established in 2010, all final day matches have a "win by 2" provision.  The semi-finals are capped at 13 so 12-12 would be hill-hill, and the finals are capped at 15 so 14-14 means just one more game will be played to crown a champion.  Wouldn't you know the first time we id this the final match between Darren and Corey was tied at 11, 12, and 13 before Darren claimed his first U.S. Open title in a tension packed 15-13 thriller.   

Who knows what will happen this year.  Can Dynamite Darren become the first player in history to three-peat?  He hasn't lost a match since 2009.  Find out for yourself by attending the longest running and most popular event in professional pool.  Adding to the drama is that this is the last chance to earn Mosconi Cup points before the teams are announced. And don't forget that Q Master Billiards is only 3 short blocks away from the Holiday Inn.  All the action starts October 21, so make your plans and we all hope to see you there!