Oscar Bonilla wins first Sandcastle Gauntlet Event

Dan Cintron, Jimmy Conn and Oscar Bonilla

Monday, January 17th 2011 marked the launch of "The Gauntlet", Sandcastle Billiard's all new upper level player tournament. This all new 10 Ball competition hosted by Sandcastle Billiards in Edison, NJ emulates the old 9 ball tournaments that ran for several years at the old West End pool room of Elizabeth, NJ that would draw out the toughest of competitors such as "The Miz", Allen Hopkins, Jack Collovito, and many other heavy hitters from around the area. That tournament consisted of only 3 handicapped levels. One could be a 7, 8 or nine with a one-ball spot per level. Your rank was what you got as a spot. The Gauntlet 10 Ball Tournament consists of 4 levels ranging from the bottom rank being a 7 and the top or pro level rank of 10. Each level is only one ball spotted. This allows all the players just enough of a handicap to play pretty much even without having to give out, "the world" to lesser opponents while at the same time encourages the 7's and 8's to play well and step up their game to the next level! This seemed to work out perfectly as there were many hill-hill matches throughout the night whether it were Open and B players, A and Opens or A and B players competing.

The first of many Monday night Gauntlets was the perfect warm-up competition before The Derby City Classic and yielded quite a few heavy hitters such as Manny Chau, Joey Kong, Oscar Bonilla, Dennis Spears, Jimmy Conn, Wali Muhammad, Victor Nau, Dan Cintron, Spanky, Ron Lubas, Billiard Bob, and many other worthy competitors.

A 5-1 victory over Oscar Bonilla started Dennis Spears' journey through the toughest draw in the tournament followed by Manny Chau who sent him to the one loss side. Spears then faced Joey Kong, Billiard Bob, Ed Culhane, and then met up with Manny Chau for the second time to get his revenge and moved on to face Oscar Bonilla a second time who in turn would then get his second chance at Spears and stop his run at 4th place. On the winner's side of the bracket, one of the lowest ranked players, Teddy “TNT” Taso claimed victory over fellow “7” ranked player, Ben Sadowski who always proves to be a tough and worthy competitor in himself, and then dominated his next set against one of the many A players. Teddy fought back from a deficit of 2-0 with a two-pack to give him a 5-3 victory. He then faced another A player in Dan “Absolute” Cintron who escaped out of his deficit to Teddy with a 5-4 win to face Jimmy Conn who in turn wound up victorious over Mr. Manny Chau in their tight matchup. That left Dan Cintron and Jimmy Conn to face one another in the hot seat match. Conn remained undefeated sending Cintron to the one-loss side to face the patiently awaiting Oscar Bonilla to battle between 3rd place and a shot at the finals. It was the steady play of Oscar Bonilla that prevailed and carried him from his 1st round loss all the way back over to the winners' bracket to defeat Jimmy Conn twice in the finals in two sets of slug fests and incredible safety play throughout the end of the competition. Hats off to all the great players that participated in the premier night of “The Gauntlet”!

Sandcastle Billiards thanks all who went out to participate and watch the event. $300 was added to the 21 player field.

Top Finishers:

1st Place - $700.00 - Oscar Bonilla
2nd Place - $480.00 - Jimmy Conn
3rd Place - $220.00 – Dan Cintron

Participants were as follows: Jimmy Ocena, Manny Chau, Ben Sadowski, Teddy Taso, Raj Vannala, Roger Hanos, Ed Culhane, Joey Kong, Oscar Bonilla, Ray Lee, Jimmy Conn, Victor Nau, Paul Wortman, Billiard Bob, Dennis Spears, Wali Muhammad, Mark Billings, Tony Navarro, Spanky, Dan Cintron and Ron Lubas.