Shuff takes two out of three over Haas to claim MD State 9-Ball Open Championship

Thomas Haas and Brandon Shuff

Pool careers have a way of coming in waves that vary in both tempo and strength. Sometimes they’ll lap into shore without a lot of height (measured in cash rewards), but a dependable consistency. At other times, they’ll come crashing in with tremendous height and force, only to be followed in smaller increments until the next ‘big one’ comes along. For further information, see “Shuff, Brandon” from Maryland, whose largest and most consistent series of strong ‘waves’ reached shore in 2012. The biggest ‘wave’ of that year (single payout) came as a result of his presence on the USA’s Mosconi Cup team, which lost to Team Europe 11-9 on the last day of competition. He also chalked up a series of wins (3) on the Action Pool Tour, one on the Fast Eddie’s Tour in Texas and a variety of top-five finishes at events from coast to coast (16 in all, of 25 cash-carrying events for him that year). It became his best (recorded) earnings year, to date, since he first showed up and cashed on the Planet Pool Tour, almost 20 years ago in 2004.

Shuff’s had a couple of low-height (financially), though strong (strength of field) waves reach shore this year. He finished 35th and 59th in the Derby City Classic’s Banks and 9-Ball divisions, respectively, in January. This past weekend (April 1-2), he advanced to the hot seat, lost the opening match of a double-elimination final to Thomas Haas and then defeated him in a second set to claim the MD State Open 9-Ball Championship title. The event, held under the auspices of On The Hill Productions drew 75 entrants to Brew & Cues on the Boulevard in Glen Burnie, MD.

Like careers, pool matches can come to players in waves. Shuff and Haas, battling against a ‘Who’s Who’ list of familiar-to-them, Mid-Atlantic (and from elsewhere) competitors, finished the event with close, average win/loss records; Shuff ahead with 66% (49-25) and Haas with 58% (56-39). Their opponents chalked up an average of just over three racks for Shuff and four against Haas.

Shuff received an opening round bye and advanced through Frank Wei (2), Richard Musser (4) and Joseph Tomkowski (5) to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal against long-time area rival, Brett Stottlemeyer in one of the winners’ side semifinals. Haas, without a bye, downed Eric Lyons (5), Zachary Paitsel (3), Tom Zippler (4), Jimmy Varias (5) and Chris Jenkins (3) to arrive at his winners’ side semifinal versus Josh Brothers.

Shuff and Haas chalked up 7-3 wins over Stottlemeyer and Brothers to square off in the hot seat match. They battled to a predictable double-hill final game in the match before Shuff prevailed to grab the ‘seat.’

On the loss side, Stottlemeyer drew a familiar, long-time rival (on the Action Pool Tour, primarily) Chris Bruner, who’d survived a double-hill match against Tarek Elmalla and eliminated Grayson Vaughn 7-3 to reach him. Josh Brothers picked up Jimmy Varias, who’d recently defeated Bobby Pacheco 7-1 and Grai Rasmechai 7-4.

Brothers and Varia locked up in a double-hill battle that eventually sent Varias to the quarterfinals. Bruner and Stottlemeyer almost got into a double-hill match, until Bruner edged out in front to defeat him 7-5. Bruner ended Varias’ bid 7-3 in those quarterfinals.

Haas earned his potential two-set rematch against Shuff with a 7-4 win over Bruner in the semifinals and proceeded to take the opening set of those finals 7-2. By the same score, Shuff took the second set to claim the event title.

On the Hill Productions’ Loye Bolyard thanked the ownership and staff at Brews & Cues on the Boulevard for their hospitality, along with sponsors Aramith Balls, Simonis Cloth, TAP Chesapeake Bay Region, Safe Harbor Retirement Planners, Gina Cunningham with Keller Williams Integrity, and The next MD State Championship, a Women’s 9-Ball Championship, scheduled for May 20-21 at Brews & Cues.

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