Benson double dips Felix to take Stop #22 on the New England 9-Ball Series
Skip Maloney
Jul. 15, 2019
(l to r): Tom D'Alfonso, Ben Benson & Mike Felix
(l to r): Tom D'Alfonso, Ben Benson & Mike Felix
By the time the 22nd stop on the New England 9-Ball Series had worked its way down to its final 12 competitors on Sunday, July 14, the range of Fargo Rates stretched from 735 to 357, due in part to the fact that the tour initially separates higher and lower Fargo Rated players into upper and lower brackets, keeping them apart until the final matches of the event. Demonstrating that the handicapping system does tend to level the competitive playing field and make it possible for lower-ranked players to effectively compete against higher-ranked opponents, the player who eventually claimed the hot seat had one of the three lowest Fargo Rates among the remaining 12 players. That hot seat occupant turned out to be Mike Felix (485), but the competitor he had sent to the semifinals, Ben Benson (554) came back from those semifinals to defeat Felix twice and claim the event title. The event drew 66 entrants to Crow’s Nest in Plaistow, NH.
 
Benson had advanced in the upper bracket to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal against Tom D’Alfonso, who had the highest Fargo Rate among the event’s final 12 (735). Felix, in the meantime, squared off against Buffy Oldham (468) in the other winners’ side semifinal.
 
Benson started the match against D’Alfonso with five ‘beads on the wire’ in a race to 8. D’Alfonso chalked up five of the eight he needed, but not before Benson had won the three he needed to advance to the hot seat match. In a straight-up race to 4, Felix downed Oldham, double hill, to meet Benson in the hot seat match. Felix started the hot seat match with a single ‘bead on the wire’ in a race to 5. He and Benson battled to double hill (3-4), before Felix chalked up his fourth rack and claimed the hot seat.
 
On the loss side, D’Alfonso picked up Geoff James, who’d shut out Beau Powers and eliminated Josh Rupard, double hill (3-3; Rupard racing to 4) to reach him. Oldham drew Gabriel Kirshnitz, who’d only given up a single rack in his previous two matches; that one to Mark Pulsifer and none at all to Troy Fortin.
 
D’Alfonso and Oldham advanced to the quarterfinals; D’Alfonso giving up a single rack to James in a 5-1 win, as Oldham gave up none at all to Kirshnitz in a 3-0 win. The quarterfinal match was yet another shutout, as D’Alfonso eliminated Oldham 8-0 to earn himself a rematch against Benson in the semifinals.
 
D’Alfonso was able to chalk up an additional rack beyond the five he’d managed in the winners’ side semifinal against Benson. But for the second time, Benson won the three he needed to win the semifinal 3-6 and advance to the final rematch against Felix.
 
Same situation; Felix began the final match with a single ‘bead on the wire’ in a race to 5. Benson gave up only a single rack in the opening set of the true double elimination final. He gave up two in the second set, but scored the five he needed to claim the event title.
 
Tour director Marc Dionne thanked the ownership and staff at Crow’s Nest for their hospitality, as well as sponsors Predator, 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 event originally scheduled for July 28, to be hosted by Stix and Stones in Abington, MA, has been cancelled. The next stop on the New England 9-Ball Series, now scheduled for the weekend of August 3-4, will be a $500-added Summer Sizzler Partners Tournament, hosted by Yale Billiards in Wallingford, CT.