Strickland comes back to take down Dechaine and win 2nd Annual Ginky Memorial


A clearly determined Earl Strickland came back from a loss in the hot seat match versus Mike Dechaine to take him down in the extended race-to-13 finals and lay claim to the championship title of the 2nd Annual George "Ginky" Sansouci Memorial Tournament on Labor Day weekend. Dechaine was the event's defending champion, and in spite of a relatively easy, five-match road to the hot seat and an initial strong showing against Strickland, was unable to repeat as the event's champion. The $2,000-added 10-ball event, mutually organized by the Tri-State, Predator, and Mezz Pro Am tours, drew 48 entrants, while the $2000-added, concurrently-run A-D handicapped 9-ball tournament drew 128, making the 2nd Annual Ginky Memorial, one of the largest New York City pool tournaments, ever.

Someone handed Strickland a microphone at the end, and in addition to thanking all and sundry for their part in bringing about the event, he recounted his tale of meeting and playing against the event's namesake, George, "Ginky" Sansouci.

"When it was over," said Strickland, "I called my wife and said, 'He robbed me.' Came all the way up here to get robbed by someone I didn't even know."

Strickland looked skyward, with a broad smile on his face, and added, "We miss you, buddy." He thanked virtually everybody, commenting that he hadn't realized how great a pool city New York was until he'd moved here (he is currently the house 'pro' at Steinway Billiards). He also gave thanks "to everybody, for putting up with me," he said, "because I'm a little crazy."

"Sometimes," he said of his victory, "you kind of back into things, and this is one I kind of backed into."

Strickland got by Bob Hemnani, and Jerry Tarantola, before he faced one of the event's tour directors, Tony Robles. An 8-2 victory over Robles, put him among the winners' side final eight for a meeting against Nelson Oliviera. He dispatched Oliviera to the loss side 8-5 and then, downed Jeremy Sossei 8-4. He moved into the hot seat match versus Dechaine, who'd just sent Zion Zvi west 8-6. In their first of two meetings, Dechaine used two 'break and run' racks and a couple of combinations on the 10-ball in the final two racks (the first, a 2-10, and the second, a 1-10) to defeat Strickland 8-4. It was the last time he would hold a lead against Strickland.

Zvi and Sossei moved to the loss side, where they were met by Oscar Dominguez and Warren Kiamco, respectively. Dominguez had downed Brian Deska and Oliviera, both 8-5, to draw Zvi. Kiamco had defeated Jorge Rodriguez and Ryan McCreesh, both 8-2, to pick up Sossei. It was Zvi and Kiamco who advanced to a re-match in the quarterfinals; Zvi with an 8-6 win over Dominguez, and Kiamco, 8-2 versus Sossei.

It's hard to imagine anyone who was more surprised about the outcome of those quarterfinals than Zvi, who was shut out 8-0. He'd sent Kiamco west 8-6, when they'd faced each other among the winners' side final eight. Kiamco wreaked his vengeance, in spades, as it were, and turned to face Strickland in the semifinals.

The source of Strickland's 'backed into' commentary at the end of the evening could be traced to his semifinal match versus Kiamco. The two battled back and forth, neither of them looking very happy, until they were knotted at double hill. In the final rack, Kiamco, shooting at the 9-ball, made his shot and watched in horror, as the cue ball rolled right into the hole after it. Strickland finished things and had his second shot at Dechaine.

Strickland set the tone immediately. Dechaine won the lag, sunk the 3-ball on his break, and had a clear shot at the 1-ball. It hung in a corner pocket. Earl took it down and ran the table. Strickland sunk two on the next break, but rattled the 4-ball in a corner pocket, allowing Dechaine to play on to the 6-ball. A minor safety battle ensued, but when it was over, Strickland had a 2-0 lead that he'd hold on to and increase before it was over.

Unlike their first meeting, battling for the hot seat, it was Dechaine who racked up the lion's share of unforced errors in their final match. Strickland broke dry five times in those finals, but won every one of those racks. Ahead by only two at the end of the 12th rack (7-5), Strickland went on to win the four he needed to extend the race to 13, and then, added the two he needed to capture the event title. In the final rack, which began with a dry break by Strickland, Dechaine 'pushed,' and after trying to jump the 1-ball, Strickland gave the table back. Dechaine attempted to jump into the 1-ball, too, using a bridge, and when both the 1-ball and the cue left the table, he conceded the match to Strickland.

A lot of work and mutual effort on the part of the three NYC-area tours went into making this memorial to Ginky a huge success, and each of the tour directors (Tri-State, Predator and Mezz Pro Am) had high praise for the others. A tip of the hat went out, as well, to InsidePool for their live stream, via UStream. Thanks, as well, were tendered to R2BR (refuse to be regular), in the persons of Ron Mason, Jimmy Martinez, Jr., and David Padilla, for the Memorial T-shirts, some signed by participants. The proceeds from the sale of these shirts will be used to benefit breast cancer research.