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Chinakhov shuts Pagulayan down to win American 14.1 Straight Pool Championships

Ruslan Chinahov

Alex Pagulayan moved into the finals of the American 14.1 Straight Pool Championships on Saturday night, October 26 at Q Master Billiards in Virginia Beach, VA, displaying his usual measure of confidence and humor. Assuming his victory, he made note of the height differential between himself and his opponent, Ruslan Chinakhov (who’s taller by about a foot), and during player introductions, let the assembled crowd know that he’d be giving the Russian a chance, later. 
 
“When we’re done,” said The Lion, “we’re going to play some basketball.”
 
Well, that hoop encounter never happened, because Chinakhov took advantage of two odd break mishaps by Pagulayan to defeat him 175 to -2 and capture the event title.
 
Pagalayun’s shaky start, from which he failed to recover, followed a semifinal match in which he took aim at a winning shot to pot his 150th ball, and though it dropped, he’d placed so much draw on the cue ball that it rolled back and dropped into a corner pocket, almost literally right under his nose. So instead of winning the semifinal match at the tail end of an 86-ball run, he dropped two points down to 148, as Marco Teutscher stepped up and started a serious run of his own. 
 
Teutscher went on a 79-ball run that gave Pagulayan a lot of nerve-wracking time to think and though Teutscher’s run ended at 127 and Pagulayan returned to the tables to drop the two he needed to advance to the finals, it may have given him pause as he entered the finals. Characteristic of him, as noted above, he showed no signs of it having affected him.
 
Chinakhov’s quarterfinal and semifinal path through to the finals demonstrated why he’s nicknamed The Siberian Express. In his quarterfinal match versus one of the three players who emerged undefeated from the tournament’s round robin phrase, Max Lechner, Lechner sunk 13 balls before Chinakhov stepped to the table and ran 150. Quickly.
 
In the semifinal round, against Albin Ouschan, who’d run out against his quarterfinal opponent, Thorsten Hohmann, Chinakhov emerged from early safety play to run 141. Albin stepped up and dropped 17 before Chinakhov returned and completed the run to 150.
 
The finals drew a crowd, although the table was isolated into a corner of Q Master Billiards’ Tournament Room and only about 15 or so of them were in the bleachers directly in front of the table. The crowd spilled out into the general area, or into an adjacent room, where they glanced through a glass wall to check out the action. Many of them missed the early drama of the opening shot by Pagulayan.
 
He made a legal break, but scratched. This meant that he started the game out at minus-one, and Chinakhov would begin with ball in hand behind the line. Chinakhov, though, asked for a re-break of the rack. Pagulayan expressed doubt that this was the prevailing rule. However, when tour founder, Peter Burrows, was asked, he affirmed it and Pagulayan broke a second time, again, failing to sink a ball, though leaving Chinakhov a shot, from which he launched a run. That run was interrupted once, during which Pagulayan fouled a second time, sinking to -2 on the scoreboard. Chinakhov came back to the table and completed the final run to 175 balls and claimed the event title.
 
Like Thorsten Hohmann, who was eliminated in the quarterfinals, Ruslan Chinakhov had come to Virginia Beach on the heels of two straight tournaments at Steinway Billiards in Queens, NY – The 7th Steinway Classic, a 10-Ball event and the subsequent Grand Masters Division of the NYC 8-Ball Championships. Both of those events were won by Hohmann. Chinakhov figured strongly in the 8-ball event. Defeated by Hohmann in an early round, Chinakhov won seven on the loss side to challenge him a second time in the finals. Unsuccessfully, as it turned out, but the runner-up finish had a way of encouraging the Russian as he made his way south to Virginia.
 
Straight pool is not, he noted, his favorite game, but he was in a ‘good place’ when he arrived.
 
“I like straight pool,” he said, as he decompressed at Q Master’s bar after claiming the straight pool title, “but I don’t like it as a tournament game. I like it as a practice game, because I actually don’t like to sit on a chair for an hour to watch my opponent while he’s on a run.”
 
He is reminded that his time at this year’s 14.1 Straight Pool Championships was not spent that way; that, in fact, it was his opponents who spent their time sitting.
 
“Yeah,” he said, “this time, not, but it’s not always like this.”
 
He’ll be competing at the International 9-Ball Open, about 20 miles west of Q Master Billiards at the Norfolk Waterside Hotel in Norfolk, VA beginning (with a players’ meeting) tomorrow (Sunday, Oct. 27) and continuing until next Saturday. 
 
“I’m in good shape right now,” he said of his aspirations for the upcoming 9-ball tournament. “Finally, during this week, I feel like I found my game. Maybe not even ‘mine,’ maybe even better than mine.”
 
Event founder and Chairman Peter Burrows thanked Q Master owners’ Barry Behrman’s son Brady and daughter Shannon Paschall, as well as general manager Gary Ornoff for their hospitality, as well as director Andy Lincoln, Vice Chairman Michael Frank, and the assistance of Kristine Jagdeo. The list of sponsors took up an entire page of the event program and included Bob Jewett, Billiards Digest and Mike Panozzo, the Derby City Classic’s Straight Pool Challenge, Nick Varner Cues and Cases, J. Pechauer Custom Cues, Predator Cues. Simonis Cloth and Aramith Billiard Balls.
 

Zippler wins first Action Pool Tour event at season opener; Malm takes Ladies title

Tom Zippler

The Action Pool Tour opened its 2017 season at the Magic 8 Cue Club in Cockeysville, MD on the weekend of Jan. 14-15. It featured the first of a season-long series of ladies tournaments, a new rule governing the calculations for rankings (lowest event score, previously eliminated from calculations, now counted in rankings), and, in the persons of Tom Zippler and Tina Malm, new visitors to the tour's winners' circle. The 40-entrant Open event saw Zippler return from a loss in the hot seat match to defeat its occupant, Brett Stottlemyer, in the finals. In the 7-entrant ladies tournament, Tina Malm did the same thing, downing Lai Li in the finals.
 
Zippler's trip to the finals went through Steve Fleming, Phillip LaPorta, Justin Powers and the eventual winner of the Ladies tournament, Tina Malm, before coming up against Andy Lincoln in a winners' side semifinal. Stottlemyer defeated Mike Slagle, and Bill Woods before almost having his winners' side run derailed by Dave Hunt in a double hill fight. Stottlemyer moved on, though, to defeat Doug Hornsby, before meeting up with Clint Clayton in the other winners' side semifinal.
 
A 7-4 victory by Zippler over Lincoln and a 7-3 win by Stottlemyer over Clayton set the two up for their first of two in the hot seat match. It came within a game of double hill, with Stottlemyer winning 7-5 to claim the hot seat.
 
On the loss side, Clayton picked up Malm, who, following her defeat at the hands of Zippler, had defeated Garrett Waechter 6-3 and Will Moon 6-4. Lincoln drew Trevor Dentz, who'd squeaked by Doug Hornsby 6-5, and defeated Tom Helmstetter 6-2. Lincoln and Malm advanced to the quarterfinals; Lincoln 6-4 over Dentz and Malm, with a shutout over Clayton. 
 
There were a couple of "ifs" on the line in the quarterfinal match that followed. If Malm had defeated Lincoln, she'd have guaranteed herself more prize money in the Open match than she eventually earned winning the Ladies tournament. In addition, if Malm had gone on to face Zippler in a re-match, she might have fared better than Lincoln did in his re-match against Zippler. Lincoln and Malm went double hill in that quarterfinal match before Lincoln advanced. Lincoln was then shut out by Zippler in the semifinal.
 
One can only surmise that the APT veteran Stottlemyer lost a degree of momentum in waiting for the potential newcomer to the winners' circle (Zippler's) return. In any case, Zippler took the final match 9-5 over Stottlemyer to claim the APT season opener title.
 
Tina Malm claimed the Ladies title with a 4-1 record. She downed Judie Wilson 6-2, and just did get by Kia Sidbury, double hill, in a winners' side semifinal, before being defeated by Lai Li, double hill, in the hot seat match. Li had won her two opening matches 6-2, against Jenny Acot and Terri Stovall (in the other winners' side semifinal), before winning the double hill hot seat match against Malm. 
 
On the loss side, Nicole Fleming, after losing her opening match to Sidbury, got by Judie Wilson, and Terri Stovall, to earn herself a re-match against Sidbury in the quarterfinals. Fleming successfully wreaked her vengeance on Sidbury 6-1 to face Malm in the semifinals. Malm downed her 6-3 to get her second shot at Li in the hot seat. Again, one can only surmise that the downtime between hot seat match and finals had its effect on Li. The result was an 8-2 victory by Malm, which earned her the first ladies title of the APT season.

Appleton goes undefeated to take 10th Annual American Straight Pool Championship

Kevin Clark, Karen Corr, Darren Appleton and Jason Klatt

If the barrier separating men and women on the felt fields of pool is ever going to be permanently removed, Karen Corr is as likely a candidate as any to be the movement's poster child. Corr joined 39 men competing for the 10th Annual American Straight Pool Championship over the weekend of September 12-14, and came within a single match of winning the whole thing. She was defeated, soundly, one might add, by Darren Appleton in those finals. The $13,000-added event (originally the Maryland 14:1 Open) was hosted by Diamond Billiards in Midlothian, VA.
 
The event began with eight, round robin flights, consisting of four matches for each of five players in races to 100. At the end of those flights, 24 of the 40 players were seeded into a single elimination bracket, with the top eight seeds receiving byes in the opening round. The players were seeded by virtue of their total match victories and point differentials in the four matches they had played.
 
The top seed for the single elimination bracket was Tom Walter, who went undefeated, with a point differential of 319 (an average score of 100-20 in those opening rounds). Jason Klatt, playing in his fist straight pool tournament was the # 2 seed, also undefeated with a point differential of 305. In order, the other players receiving byes were Darren Appleton (290 point differential), Brandon Shuff (264), Kevin Clark (256), Johnny Archer (231), Mika Immonen (220), and Mike Dechaine (205). Corr was seeded at #9, having dropped one of her four matches (to Kevin Clark), though her point differential was stronger than Archer's at 252.
 
The top names in the event were spread out over the eight round robin flights, so that Appleton, Dechaine, Archer, Immonen, and Corr (as examples) did not compete in the early rounds of play. Each of those five faced strong players in their respective round robin matches. 
 
The point differentials tightened immediately in the opening round of single elimination, with races to 125. On average, the point differential in the eight matches was decimal points over 56, with Robert Madenjian chalking up the largest difference (125-40 over Jeff Crawford) and Mike Davis battling in the tightest race (125-20). The top nine seeds in round robin play had averaged point differentials of just over 65.
 
In the second round, the top eight seeds joined in and increased the differential point average by about 13; from 56 in the opening rounds to 69 in the second. Contributing to this increase was Karen Corr, who not only eliminated Mike Dechaine in this second round, but did so by a score of 125 to minus 2. The closest race in this round was won Huidji See, who eliminated Johnny Archer 125-110. Corr had collected $100 by recording the highest run over Friday and Saturday of the event (83), which bested Dechaine's run over the same period by a single ball. In effect, she stomped on him twice.
 
Gone with Archer and Dechaine were Mike Davis, Shaun Wilkie, Danny Mastermaker and Holden Chin, who fell to Appleton 125-21; 32 down and eight to go. Corr battled Tom Walter. Shuff faced Kevin Clark (the only person at this stage to have defeated Corr), The Iceman (Mika Immonen) squared off against Jason Klatt and Appleton took on Huidji See.
 
The point differential in this quarterfinal round, with races to 150, averaged out at just over 63 balls, with Corr defeating Walter 150-122, Clark besting Shuff 150-75, Klatt getting by Immonen 150-88, and Appleton checking in with the largest differential, eliminating See 150-62.
Klatt would now face Appleton, as Corr turned to do battle against the only opponent who'd defeated her to that point, Kevin Clark.
 
The somewhat insignificant differential in the event semifinals was just over 50. It was brought about by Appleton's 150-50 victory over Jason Klatt, and the tightest race of the entire event that saw Corr advance to the finals by a single ball over Kevin Clark – 150-149. It was followed by the largest point differential recorded in the entire tournament; a gap of 122 balls, as Appleton claimed the event title with a 150-28 victory over Corr.
 
Peter Burrows, chairman of the American Straight Pool Championship, said that the 11th annual event is "likely" to be back at Diamond Billiards, and is being scheduled to precede the US Open 9-Ball Championships in 2015, so that players in attendance for the straight pool event can travel just a few miles to begin play in the US Open.
 
According to Burrows, a difficult time identifying a room willing to hold the 10th Annual 14:1 Maryland Open led to the search beyond the state of Maryland and into Virginia, where Diamond Billiards agreed to host. 
 
Tour director Megan Fort thanked Thomas Dorsey and his staff at Diamond Billiards, Iwan Lee with Simonis Cloth and Aramis Balls, Nathan Sulinski, Pete Burrows, Michael Frank, Shaun Wilkie, Andy Lincoln, QPod (who donated raffle cues, as well as the cue presented to Appleton as the winner), Brian Russell of Focus Apparel (designer of the logo for the new American Straight Pool Championships), Lucasi Cues (Jamie and Wes Bond), John Berton and Kamui Tips.

Shuff shuts out Stottlemyer in finals of Action Pool Tour stop

Brandon Shuff (File photo courtesy of Jeff Smith)

They’d fought to double hill in the battle for the hot seat, so when they met again in the finals of the Action Pool Tour stop on the weekend of November 12-13, Brandon Shuff, Brett Stottlemyer, and those assembled to watch were expecting a second tight battle. It didn’t happen. Shuff denied Stottlemyer so much as a single rack in the event finals to complete his undefeated weekend. The event drew 59 entrants to Big Daddy’s Billiards, in Glen Burnie, MD. 

Shuff got into the hot seat match against Stottlemyer, having given up only six racks through five rounds of play (for a record of 40-6, including two he gave up versus Mike Davis in the fourth round). Advancing among the winners’ side final four, Shuff met and defeated Andy Lincoln 8-1, as Stottlemyer was engaged sending Shaun Wilkie west 8-4. Shuff gave up more racks in his hot seat battle versus Stottlemyer than he’d given up in his previous five rounds, total. He persevered 8-7 to gain the hot seat, and give up his last rack to an opponent. 

Lincoln moved to the loss-side and met up with Brian Deska, who’d defeated Alan Duty and R.J. Carmona, both 6-3. Wilkie drew Mike Davis, who, after being downed by Shuff 8-2 earlier, went on to defeat Fred Scott 6-2 and Rafael Reyes 6-3. Davis and Deska advanced to the quarterfinals; Davis with a 6-3 win over Wilkie and Deska surviving a double hill match over Lincoln. 

It was Deska who advanced to meet Stottlemyer in the semifinals, after a 6-2 win over Davis in the quarterfinals. Stottlemyer chalked up his last victory and in fact, last rack of the event with a 6-3 victory over Deska. Shuff took command, early and often, to complete his undefeated weekend with an 8-0 finals victory that left him with an overall 56-13 record (81%).

Krah wins in Newark

Local favorite, Matt Krah avenged an earlier loss to Andy Lincoln to win the Planet-Pool Tour event at Cue & Cushion Billiards in Newark, DE by the score of 9-7 and 9-8 in the double elimination finals. Krah picked up $700 for first while Lincoln took $350 for second. Max Eberle and Danny Bell filled out the top 4 spots.
 
On the ladies side, Linda Shea came from the one-loss side to win her 6th tournament of the year.

Loar wins in Rockville

Chris Loar recovered from an uncharacteristic early trip to the one loss side and won 6 matches in a row to win the third stop on the Planet-Pool tour held at Champions in Rockville, MD. Loar took $1000 for first place while John Moody Sr. settled for the second prize of $500. Andy Lincoln and Kevin West filled out the top 4 spots.
 
Meanwhile, in the ladies division, Linda Haywood Shea kept her perfect record intact as she went undefeated at her second tournament in a row and defeated Sueyen Rhee in the finals to win the event. Shea collected $300 for first while Rhee took $150 for second.