Lemke and Fix Off and Running

Greg Fix, Dan Witt, Loule Lemke

These “Twins” are as different as day and night. One has light hair, and one has dark. One is a professional player roaming the country to play in national tournaments and out of the way bars and pool rooms. The other works full time as a programmer and is thereby confined to a tighter, more local area. The one thing these “TWINS” share is a fierce competitive spirit. That spirit came alive at the “Minnesota Billiards” first major tournament.

The Place — Minnesota Billiards, 700 Rice Street, St. Paul, Minn. The Twin Cities newest pool room, and one of the nicest. Dan Witt, room owner, is a player and a pool buff. Dan has always liked the old antique tables ever since his first exposure at the long closed “Infamous Harkins Pool Room”.

Dan still has some of the original “Harkins” Snooker, Golf, Pool and Billiard tables in his “Antique Room” downstairs. Upstairs is furnished nicely with 8 nine-foot new antique style tables, and one “bar box” for a total of 18 tables. Dan has recently purchased the building and is planning to double the size of the room within the next two years.

The Tournament — December 10 and 11, 1983. Eight ball on Saturday, 9 ball on Sunday. 32 entries $50 each. Each prize fund was $1600 plus Dan Witt added $250 to each pot. $1850 each side for a total of $3700. This kind of money brought players from the 5 state area. One player on Sunday withdrew due to illness and his money was refunded.

8 Ball — 8 Ball was a race to 5 in the no loss bracket and a race to 4 in the one loss bracket, BCA rules.

Greg Fix played pretty steady 8 ball all day long for the win. He had his own cheering section. His parents came all the way from Stevens Point, Wisc, to watch their son perform, he did. Mom and Dad loved it. There were several threats to win this tourney that fell by the wayside.

Bob Garza from Albert Lea. Minn. ran into Louie Lemke and Mac McMillan. Joe Saad lost to Steve Cobb and Mike Ring. Dick Spitzer was ousted by Greg Fix and Mike Ring.

Mike Ring, the “Giant Killer ” of this tourney lost his first match to “JW” Williams. Once Mike figured out that these tables were bigger, (Mike is noted as a “Bar Box” 8 bailer) he got tough and handed losses to Joe Saad and Dick Spitzer. Just as it looked like he was ready to roll, Mike played what he called a “BOW WOW” against Bart Taylor. Bart didn’t mind and took the win. Mike will be back.

9—BALL — The 9 ball format was: one foul, ball in hand. Race to 7 in the no loss bracket, race to 5 in the one loss bracket.  Double elimination. “Southside Louie” Lemke won it, “wire to wire”. Louie has just come off a nice finish at Caesars Palace in Lake Tahoe, Nevada. The experience gained seems to be helping. John Meyer the eventual 3rd place finisher, put on a pretty impressive display of billiard skill.

John did not give Greg Fix a shot until he had the lead 6 to 0. Greg got a shot but John closed him out at 7 to ZIP. Nice shooting John. Greg then squeaked by Rusty Mohler 5 to 4, in the loser’s bracket and won the return match with John Meyer when John couldn’t retain his earlier concentration. This brought Greg to the finals. Louie Lemke arrived there by beating; Bart Taylor, Dale Schluesner, Rusty Mohler (7-4) and John Meyer (7-3). Louie won the final match over Greg 7 to 5.

The Players — They came from all over the five state area. If you have ever driven all the way across South Dakota, you know how bad Dick Spitzer from Rapid City, S. D. wanted to play. Rusty Mohler up from Mason City, Iowa made a good showing. Bart Taylor came from Tomah. Wisc, to finish well. Local hot shots: Bill Mulloy, Joe Saad. John Meyer, Mike Ring and Gene Lowe all let their presence be felt, as they tried to defend against these out of state raiders, and also out of the twin city invaders.

Seco Varani, Bob Garza and Toby Dick added to the overall scene. You get the idea now. This field was stronger than “Mister T” and just as hard to dispose of. Players I talked to were all enjoying themselves, and plan to return next year when Dan Witt is offering a return match. I imagine Greg and Louie will be ready.

Side Notes — Tournament players were separated from the crowd by a retaining rope. The players liked that as it helped keep down outside distractions.

Side action downstairs was steady throughout the tournament. Dick Spitzer didn’t fair too well in the tourney, but I hear he made enough downstairs that he was grinning all the way to Rapid City.

One local gambler (let’s call him Buster) didn’t book a loser all weekend. He left Sunday night expanding on the tournaments and his success.

Louie and Toby had a late night session with the $$$ going Louie’s way.

Bottom line; a successful, well handled, fun tournament. Thank you Dan Witt, and many happy returns.

This article originally appeared in the February 1984 issue of the National Billiard News and is reprinted with permission.