Straight Pool at the Derby City Classic

The third year of the 14.1 Challenge at the DCC saw some changes and a surprise winner. Darren Appleton from England came out on top in 2008, in spite of never having played in a straight pool tournament before.

The prelims were the same format as last year with each contestant getting 12 tries to get a high run starting with a good break shot. The finals were changed to a single-elimination tournament of the top eight runners to allow video taping of matches by Accu-stats.

The top prelim score was by Mika Immonen who ran 147 balls. He came in as the defending champion having scored a 160 in the finals in 2007. The other top scores were 140 by Fabio Petroni from Italy, 126 by Niels Feijen, 107 by Corey Deuel, 100 by John Schmidt, 98 by Thorsten Hohmann, 92 by Ralf Souquet, and a barely-squeeked-in 73 by Appleton. Feijen had two other runs over 100 and only took 10 of his permitted 12 tries. Hohmann had three runs of 98, just missing the magic 100.

This year saw the addition of a women's division, with Allison Fisher taking top honors with a 56. Jeanette Lee was second with a 42 and Kim Shaw was third with a 32. Fisher won $1000 for her effort.

The final eight men went on to a single elimination tournament with races to 150. This allowed taping of matches by Accu-stats and wider exposure of this great game. In the round of 8, Schmidt beat Deuel 150-52, Feijen routed Hohmann 150-9, Petroni beat Souquet 150-40 and last-seeded Appleton upset defending champ and number 1 seed Immonen 150-38. Appleton lost the lag and was surprised that he was the one who had to break. Then he needed some help from Conrad Burkman to understand the opening break requirements. Once into the running part of the game, he seemed to get his bearings quickly.

The Feijen-Hohmann match took only 3 innings as Niels ran 48, 30 and 72 and out. Feijen continued his run at the end to try for the Accu-stats bonus of $500 for a taped run of 100 or more, but only got a few more balls.

In the semis, Appleton beat Schmidt 150-86 while Feijen beat Petroni 150-120 by running 126 balls in his last two innings to overcome a 70-ball deficit.

Appleton came into the finals against Feijen a prohibitive underdog, but grit and determination count for a lot. There was no run over 37 in the 17-inning final. At the end with Darren needing three balls with four on the table, Niels got him to into an exchange of fouls to force Darren into the next rack. A misjudged safe by Niels let Darren back in, and he got the needed break shot and the win to become the 2008 Derby City Classic Straight Pool Challenge Champion.

With $10,000 added and 25 total entries at $100 each the prize fund was $12,500. $600 in daily prizes were awarded for the four days of prelims and there was a $1000 bonus for high run overall.