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Kent and Lawhorne split top prizes on Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour

Earl Kent

The first time Earl Kent recorded a payout finish on the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour, nine days before Christmas in 2019, he and BJ Ussery negotiated a split of the event’s top two prizes. As occupant of the hot seat at the time, Ussery claimed the event title. This past weekend, May 14, at the same location, The Clubhouse in Lynchburg, VA, Kent, once again, split the top two prizes with his potential opponent in the finals. This time, however, Kent was in the hot seat and became the official winner, chalking up only his second recorded cash payout and his first tour win, albeit with the missed-final asterisk. The $500-added event drew 43 entrants to The Clubhouse.

He and Cameron Lawhorne worked their way through the field to arrive at Kent’s winners’ side semifinal against Chris Woodrum and Lawhorne’s against Brian Glisson. Kent got into the hot seat match 5-3 over Woodrum, as Lawhorne prevailed in a double hill match against Glisson (8-4; Glisson racing to 5). Battling for the hot seat became the defining match of the event with the two of them battling to a 12th deciding game and Kent finally winning it.

On the loss side, as matches dwindled down to the first money round (5th/6th), there was a junior competitor in the mix. Her name as Precilia Kinsley and is likely recognizable to anyone who’s been following the exploits of the Junior International Championships, now in their second season of events. After four events on the 2022 JIC so far, Kinsley is ranked 6th among 19 junior ladies in the 18 & Under division and finished 3rd at the JIC’s last stop in Phoenix, AZ a week ago. Like other junior competitors in the JIC, Kinsley has been encouraged to extend her ‘reach’ into regional tour events and according to Q City 9-Ball tour director, Herman Parker, she’s proved to be a formidable opponent.

“It was the first time she played with us,” said Parker, “and she won her first two matches; against another junior competitor and then, one of our regulars, Reid Vance, in a double hill match.”

She was sent to the loss side by the eventual winner, Earl Kent and eliminated by another Q City 9-Ball veteran, Scott Roberts, who ended up finishing third. Roberts advanced to down James Marvin, double hill, and Collin Hall 8-4 to draw Woodrum coming over from his winners’ side semifinal match. Glisson, arriving from the other winners’ side semifinal, picked up Thomas Sansone, who’d eliminated Clubhouse owner, Chris England 6-1 and Robert Cuneo 6-4.

In the first money round, Sansone and Roberts handed Glisson and Woodrum their second straight loss; Sansone advancing to the quarterfinals, double hill, as Roberts was busy eliminating Woodrum 8-2 to join him. Roberts and Sansone then battled to double hill in those quarterfinals, before Roberts advanced for a shot at Lawhorne in the semifinals.

In what would prove to be the event’s final match, Lawhorne defeated Roberts 8-6. The deal to split the top two prizes was made, with Kent taking the official event title, his first. 

Tour director Herman Parker thanked Chris England and his Clubhouse staff for their hospitality along with title sponsor Viking Cues, BarPoolTables.net, Dirty South Grind Apparel Co., Realty One Group Results, Diamond Brat, AZBilliards.com, Ridge Back Rails, and Federal Savings Bank Mortgage Division. The next stop on the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour, scheduled for this weekend, May 21-22, will be hosted Still Cluckin’ in Providence, NC. 

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Wilkie double dips Ussery in finals of Delaware State 10-Ball Bar Box Championships

Shaun Wilkie, Tarek Elmalla and BJ Ussery

Shaun Wilkie and BJ Ussery entered the AZBilliards database for the first time at the turn of the century. Wilkie’s first recorded payout finish came when he finished 9th at a stop on the Planet Pool Tour in June, 2000. Ussery’s came in September that year, when he finished in a tie for 65th place in the 25th annual US Open 9-Ball Championships; won for the fifth and last time by Earl Strickland. 

Together, Wilkie and Ussery are part of a core group of Mid-Atlantic elite players whose names have appeared consistently, registering victories and cash payout finishes for over two decades. Together, along with a number of other well-known, consistent performers among the Mid-Atlantic pool community (Brett Stottlemeyer, Steve Fleming and Chris Wilburn, among others) and a few from the further-North-Atlantic community (Raphael Dabreo and Miguel LaBoy, among others), they signed on to compete in the 1st Annual Delaware State 10-Ball Bar Box Championships, held last weekend (May 7-8). Together, they advanced to the hot seat match and later, played in the finals. Ussery claimed the hot seat before, together, they appeared in the finals, treating spectators and viewers on a live stream to a pair of double elimination matches that eventually earned Wilkie the event title. The event drew 57 entrants to Milford Billiards in Dover, DE.

Ussery’s path to the hot seat match went through five opponents, who, combined, chalked up only 10 racks against him; Henry Taylor (2), Nelson Tull (1), Steve Fleming (3), Miguel Laboy (3) and, in a winners’ side semifinal, Vinny Cimarelli (1). Wilkie’s opponents on his way to the hot seat match chalked up 14; Mike Saleh (1), Zachary Paitsel (3), Dave Barnes (3), Marty Ciccia (2) and, in the other winners’ side semifinal, Lukas Fracasso-Verner (5). 

The opponent racks-against tipped even further in Ussery’s direction, as he claimed the hot seat 7-4. Ussery was in the hot seat with a 42-14 record (a 75% game-winning average), as Wilkie headed off to the semifinals at 39-20 (66%). 

Neither of them, as it turned out, would have to face the one competitor who’d recorded the most racks against either of them, Fracassso-Verner. He moved to the loss side and picked up Raphael Dabreo, who’d lost his second-round match to Rick Miller and embarked on an eight-match, loss-side winning streak, which would end in the semifinals against Wilkie. Dabreo had just recently eliminated Miguel Laboy 7-4 and Russ Redhead 7-3. Cimarelli drew a re-match against Kirill Rutman Kenny, whom he’d defeated in a winners’ side third round match and had gone on five-match winning streak that had recently included the elimination of two of the aforementioned Mid-Atlantic elites;  Brett Stottlemeyer 7-5 and Steve Fleming 7-1.

Dabreo eliminated Fracasso-Verner 7-5, as Kenny extended his loss-side streak to six matches with a 7-4 win over Cimarelli. Kenny didn’t give up his streak easily, as he and Dabreo fought to double hill in the quarterfinals; the first of four straight double hill matches at the very end of the championship event. The second came in the semifinals, as Dabreo battled Wilkie to a single deciding game before Wilkie earned his rematch against Ussery. 

One can’t ask much more of a regional event final than to have two of its strongest competitors battling to double hill. Twice. And they did. By winning the hot seat match, Ussery had, in effect, extended Wilkie’s match count by one. Wilkie made him pay for that extra match he’d had to play, defeating him twice in what was described as “a very wonderful two sets of pool” that closed out the 1st Annual Delaware State’s 10-Ball Bar Box Championships with Wilkie in possession of the title.

Tour director Tarek Elmalla extended thanks to Leo and Sherrie Weigand and their Milford Billiards staff for their hospitality and to all of the players who came from near and far (New York, Virginia, Maryland, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and more) to compete. He also thanked the folks at https://www.amateursportsstream.com, including Ray Netta and to everyone who joined him in the booth for the live streaming, which, for feature matches, utilized three camera angles that heightened the experience for all of its viewers. And in the ‘keeping everything smooth’ department, Elmalla also acknowledged the assistance of Travis Parker, Ran Ji, Jennifer Benton Boxwell and Eric Probst.

The next item on the Delaware State Championship agenda will entail a switch to 8-Ball, when the 1st Annual DE State 8-Ball Bar Box Championships, scheduled for the weekend of June 25-26, opens the doors, once again, at Milford Billiards in Dover, DE.

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Earl the Pearl tops Friday night battles in the Diamond Open 9-Ball Players Championship

Earl Strickland

Fishers still alive in the WPBA 9-Ball Pro Players Championship. 

He’d played twice already. On Friday night at 9:30, Earl Strickland stepped to the tables of the Super Billiards Expo’s arena in search of his second win in the Diamond Open 9-Ball Professional Players Championship. On Thursday, after a bye, he’d lost his opening match, double hill, to Alan Rolon Rosada and at 11:30 a.m. on Friday, downed Tyler Henninger 9-6. Both matches were very lightly attended. Modest crowds, dotting the three-level risers to either side of the 16 tables, laid end to end, side by side.

Friday night, though, was different. This was weekend-is-here Earl the Pearl time. And he got himself an audience. While there were certainly people in the crowd of some 200 or so spectators who were itching to see a show; not a pool show necessarily, but an Earl show, as only he can bring it. Instead, they got the professional ‘Earl’s here to win’ show, full of rock-solid shooting that saw him take control of a 2-2 match and win six in a row before some of the audience had even settled in. People (though not many) started leaving, like baseball fans leaving a stadium when the score is 12-0 in the seventh inning, wanting to get ahead of the traffic jam. Those who remained were switching their attention between what was left of Earl’s match and what was going on at the tables on either side of him (Shannelle Lorraine and Ada Lio were playing south of him, while Jesus Atencio and Mason Koch were battling it out north of him). 

Gomez managed to chalk up three racks and the remaining crowd went wild. Very quietly and not for long.

Earl finished off Gomez, quickly, only giving up one more rack and moved to the lobby outside the arena where folks gathered around the hand-written brackets to see who was coming up against who in today’s (Saturday) matches. Earl was scheduled to play Bart Czapla at noon, in a match that will determine whether he advances to the 16-player, single elimination phase of the event. The first round of that phase will play out at 6 p.m.

Earl was among those looking to see what was coming up next, and he took the opportunity to play to the audience that had been relatively quiet during his win over Gomez. They were lined up two or three deep around him, cameras at the ready, as he gave them a genteel comedian to play with. Standing for one shot with a broad grin on his face, he said that the woman to his left was prettier than he was, riffing on this to talk about his sagging limbs and a “face that looked like a truck hit me and then backed up.” Manifestly not true, but it got a laugh. He embellished on that central joke for a while before moving on to chat with spectators who’d obviously been paying strict attention to his match as it played out; questions and comments about shot situations and potential solutions, back and forth.

Jayson Shaw, still on the winners’ side of the bracket, looking to advance to the final 16 today, as well (2:30 p.m. against Billy Thorpe), joined the throng gathered around him and it took about two seconds for them to launch into a discussion about the tables and how they ‘played’ in a given match.

“I hit this shot,” said Shaw at one point, “that went into the hole and bounced out. The cue ball jumped up onto the rail, travelled all the way down table, jumping over the side pocket and then went back on the table, giving me a straight shot at the 4-ball.”

Lives of the legends playing out in one of their homes away from home.

There’ll be 32 competitors in the Players Championship facing advancement to pool’s version of the Sweet 16 today. Among those 32, on the winners’ side of the bracket, will be Thorsten Hohmann, Warren Kiamco, Ralf Souquet, Fedor Gorst, Darren Appleton and Shane Wolford.  In addition to Strickland, other loss-side competitors looking to make the cut and who’ll have to play two rounds to do it (or not), will be Danny Olson, Lukas Fracasso-Verner, Joe Dupuis, Landon Hollingsworth, BJ Ussery, Jr. and Bucky Souvanthong. As of noon today, the potential for Strickland to face Rosado a second time remained alive, as Rosado stepped to the tables, looking for advancement beyond Eric Roberts.

The two Fishers continue to play for advancement to the final 16 of the WPBA Pro Players event 

Competition at the WPBA 9-Ball Pro Players Championship will dominate the afternoon schedule at the pro player arena. All 16 women who step to the tables at 2:30 p.m. today, haven’t played a match since Thursday; half of them on Thursday afternoon and the other half on Thursday night.

On Friday afternoon, the Fishers, Allison and Kelly, squared off in a game of 8-ball that was not part of the official proceedings and did not involve cue sticks, felt cloth or actual pockets. Instead, they settled into another kind of table to play an 8-Ball Pool Board Game that’s on display and being pre-sold (prior to publication) to attendees at the SBE from a vendor booth surrounded by cue manufacturers. Kelly is acting as the game’s Brand Ambassador and has been at the booth where it’s being demonstrated a number of times, playing against, among others, Darren Appleton, who reportedly broke and ran the first game of it he played. 

While the game doesn’t employ any of pool’s tactile qualities with cues or aiming skills (there are basically no missed shots if you’ve lined up the cue and target properly), it does manage to offer a degree of strategy and tactics, very similar to the kinds of decision-making involved in the actual game of 8-ball. There are opportunities for bank shots (played out on strict horizontal/vertical target paths) safety play and you can scratch, for example, all of which plays out in ways unique to the board game.   

Though new to the game, Allison won the single game against Kelly. They could play a real game of 9-ball against each other before the end of the women’s tournament, but only, for starters, if both of them advance to the event’s final 16. Kelly, who’s only played a single match so far, defeating Jessica Barnes on Thursday night, was to play Liz Taylor at 2:30 today and if successful, would play the winner of an Ashley Burrows/Emily Duddy match in the opening round of the single-elimination phase at 8:30 p.m. Allison, who played two women from the J. Pechauer Northeast Women’s Tour (JPNEWT) on Thursday (Judie Wilson and Kathy Friend) will be facing Angela Janic at 2:30 and if successful, will also play at 8:30, against the winner of a Monica Webb/Kim Newsome match (check the SBE Web site for streaming options).

Other competitors, still on the winners’ side of the bracket, looking for a slot among the final 16 women, include Emilyn Callado, Brittany Bryant, Caroline Pao and LoreeJon Brown. On the loss-side of the bracket, at noon today, also looking for advancement to the final 16, will be,  among others, Janet Atwell, Jennifer Baretta, and both Kia Burwell and Judie Wilson, representing the JPNEWT. Matches at 6 p.m. on the loss-side of the bracket will determine the eight loss-side competitors among the Sweet 16.

Super Seniors get underway, as Amateur Ladies, Seniors continue, with Juniors in the wings 

The original Super Seniors tournament, with long lines hoping for a waiting-list entry, gathered early this morning, while the 996-entrant Open Amateur event looked to enter its Final 16 phase at 1 p.m. today. The four-brackets of the Amateur Ladies event is still ongoing, as is the (plain, so to speak) Seniors tournament. Two junior competitions (17U & 12U) are set to begin today, as well. 

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Danny Mastermaker collects first Super Billiards Expo title in debut of 6-Ball

The competition is starting to heat up at the 2022 Super Billiards Expo being held at the Greater Philadelphia Convention Center in Oaks, PA. The doors opened on Monday (April 18) with TAP League’s National Championships and by Tuesday, the SBE had crowned its first champion. Emerging from a field of 204 entrants, initially spread out over four single-elimination brackets, Danny Mastermaker grabbed that first title in the game format of 6-Ball, downing Fred Goodman in the finals 6-2, 6-2.

Though not by any means a new format, it made its debut here as an SBE event, playing out on Diamond ‘bar box’ tables. Utilizing the same rules as 9-Ball, with, as one might imagine, the 6-ball as the game’s ‘money’ ball, it has some advantages and disadvantages over the more popular standards; 8-ball, 9-ball and 10-ball. It is, also as one might imagine, a much quicker game. Here, at the SBE, it played out in races to six, best two out of three sets for advancement. For some, it was a familiar game, while for others, like Daniel Dagotdot, who was one of the four competitors emerging from the four brackets, it was a new experience. His thoughts on the game itself highlighted aspects of the game, which are something of a good news, bad news situation.

“It is so hard to make a ball on the break,” he noted of his first experience, “and if you break and don’t drop a ball, 90% of the time, you lose.”

It also creates a ‘do or die’ scenario, where if you step to the table after your opponent has broken, you better be prepared to finish the game from that point. An alternate break format softens the ‘do or die’ consequences somewhat, though Dagotdot made note of the same cautionary note about the nature of the game.

“Unless there’s a pack somewhere,” he said, “if you miss, you’re done, too.”

“I do like the game,” he added, “and you can’t ever really say you don’t get a chance.”

The game format appears to be attracting its share of ‘side action’ matchups at the SBE. Apparently, Dagotdot noted, players on the amateur end of the player spectrum like the odds better in a game that’s “fast-paced, with very little safety play and (not much) strategy.

“It might develop as a format with that action angle to it,” said Dagotdot. “I saw a lot of players doing that in the first two days.”

Loye Bolyard, tour director of the Maryland State Championships series of events, played 6-ball growing up, but at this stage, doesn’t see it showing up on his event calendar any time soon. Like Dagotdot, he noted the most obvious difference that it makes in game play.

“It’s all about the break, but there’s really no downside to it,” he said. “The good thing is that anybody can play.”

Open Amateur tournaments are underway, as are the two Pro events

The SBE’s Open Amateur event, with 962 registered entrants got underway on Wednesday, sporting 16 double-elimination brackets. The TAP League National Championships concluded, while its Rally in the Valley event began. On Thursday, the two Pro events got underway; the Diamond Open 9-Ball Professional Players Championship and the WPBA 9-Ball Pro Players Championships. Today (Friday), as the Open Amateur Players championship entered its third day, the Seniors Amateur Players Championship and the Women’s Amateur Player Championships got underway. 

The 74-entrant Diamond Open 9-Ball Pro event finished two rounds of play on Thursday, with a list of the ‘usual suspects’ advancing. The only real (apparent) surprise in the early rounds, which included a lot of opening round byes, was Earl Strickland’s second round (after a bye), double-hill loss to Alan Rolon Rosado. Among those advancing to a third round today (Friday) were Darren Appleton, Mika Immonen (downing junior competitor Landon Hollingsworth), Thorsten Hohmann, Warren Kiamco, Ralf Souquet, BJ Ussery, Fedor Gorst, Jayson Shaw, Billy Thorpe, John Morra and Kristina Tkach, who was the only one who played two matches, albeit one, a forfeit win over Lukas Fracasso-Verner.

The 63-entrant WPBA 9-Ball Pro Players Championships had much fewer byes in its opening round and played a single round, followed by eight matches of a second round. Like the Open event, it featured its own set of ‘usual suspects’ advancing. Kelly Fisher was the only player to receive a bye and won her opener. Winning two and advancing to a third round were (among others) Kelly Fisher, Allison Fisher, Monica Webb and Kim Newsome. Playing their second round today (Friday) were (also among others) were Jennifer Baretta, Janet Atwell, Brittany Bryant, Carolyn Pao and Loree Jon Brown.

Junior players like Landon Hollingsworth, Payne McBride, Skylar Hess and Savannah Easton (among others) are competing in the Pro events and will be competing in two separate junior events (17 & Under, 12 & Under), beginning on Saturday. The winner of each division will win paid entry to Billiards Education Foundation’s Junior Nationals. The top 16 in each division will qualify for the event. Each division’s winner will be recognized by the BEF as the Pennsylvania Jrs. State 9-Ball Champion. 

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Sim downs Hohmann in second set of NBL 8-Ball double elimination final to claim event title

Del Sim

Originally from Scotland, the man they call The Highlander – Del Sim – has chalked up two breakout performances in the past two weeks. On the weekend of April 9-10, he finished as runner-up to Jeremy Sossei at Stop #13 on the 2021/2022 Joss Northeast 9-Ball Tour and then, this past weekend (April 16-17), he went undefeated to win the National Billiard League’s (NBL) 8-Ball Championships, hosted by the league’s flagship venue, Sandcastle Billiards in Edison, NJ. Combined, those two finishes have earned Sim more than all of his (reported to us) payout finishes over the past six years. This past weekend was the only victory (reported to us) since he won a stop on the Tri-State Tour in 2016.

“Well, well, well. . . I finally snapped off a title,” he wrote on the NBL’s Facebook page. “Doesn’t happen very often.”

“I feel reborn,” he wrote later, noting that the victory meant a lot to him for reasons that went beyond the tables. In addition to 8-ball being his favorite game among the many available, the win brought back cherished memories of his father, who would “beam with pride” when he would win in league play as a younger player.

“(It’s been) 8 years since he passed, almost to the day,” he added, “and I feel he would have enjoyed this one the most, with lots of drama and high-level play by all.”

Arguably, the highest drama of the event came in the second set of the double elimination final. Having been defeated by Thorsten Hohmann 8-2 in the opening set, Sim stepped to the table, on the hill at 5-3, with all of his striped balls on the table. Six of Hohmann’s solids were ‘running interference’ against any hopes that Sim was harboring of running to the 8-ball and finishing things right then and there.

“I knew this could be my last opportunity,” he would say later, as he provided commentary to a three-minute video clip of the event’s final rack. 

He stepped to the table and ran the rack. Game, set and match.

“Del played a great second set against me,” commented Hohmann, “and made a heck of an out to win.”

That ‘out’ entailed a planned route for the cue ball, which came off striking Sim’s last striped ball. The target ball dropped into a corner pocket, while the cue ball embarked on a journey that ran above, through and below four of the six solid balls still on the table, coming to rest in a position that allowed Sim to line up and pocket the winning 8-ball in the only pocket that it could have been done.

Del Sim and Thorsten Hohmann

The field of 32 for this NBL 8-Ball Championship, which, due to last-minute cancellations,  became 29 by the time it got underway, was drawn from 13 out of 16 scheduled qualifying events that took place around the country over the past few months. It is a formula that was part of the plan from the beginning, according to league founder Ed Liddawi and employed to hold the league’s 10-Ball Championships this past December.

“The three slots that were available,” explained Liddawi, “were filled by a runner-up and two, third-place finishers from the largest-field qualifiers.”

“We ended up with 16 amateurs and 13 Pros,” he added.

The NBL was to have been launched at about the time the country began its ongoing battle against the pandemic. Its start was delayed and as it has slowly begun its re-launch, it has been designed with far fewer qualifiers and main events than originally planned; a circumstance that Liddawi is planning to rectify in 2023.

Everything at this 8-Ball Championship, according to Liddawi, went according to plan, with (as featured in December’s 10-Ball championships) live music, a comedian (Frank Del Pizzo, with, reportedly, some pool humor in his repertoire) and a mixture of amateurs and pros facing off against each other at various points throughout the event. Two amateurs battled for the hot seat, as, on the loss side, Thorsten Hohmann, was finishing up what would be an eight-match, loss-side winning streak that started with a 6-1 loss to amateur competitor Joe Dupuis and eventually, took him to the finals.

Sim’s path to the winners’ circle went through Kenny Tran, Jason Lynch and John Morra to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal against Shane Albaugh. Al Lapena, in the meantime, got by Jerry Dunne, Lukas Fracasso-Verner (double hill), and Frankie Hernandez, to arrive at his winners’ side semifinal against BJ Ussery.

Lapena and Ussery locked up in a double hill fight that eventually sent Ussery to the loss side. Lapena was joined in the hot seat match by Sim, who’d sent Albaugh over 8-5. Sim claimed the hot seat 8-6 over Lapena and watched, no doubt with some level of anxiety, as Hohmann worked through the final stages of his loss-side run.

On the loss side, Albaugh drew Hohmann, who’d recently chalked up loss-side wins #4 & #5 against Frankie Hernandez 6-3 and Dennis Spears in a shutout. Hohmann got by Albaugh 6-4 and in the quarterfinals, faced Morra, who’d survived a double hill match versus Ussery.

Hohmann and Morra (predictably) locked up in a double hill match that did eventually send Hohmann to the semifinals, where he eliminated Lapena 6-2. The Pro vs. Amateur battle was joined. The recent Hall of Fame inductee versus a competitor looking for his first (recorded) win in six years.

Things didn’t look too good for the amateur in the opening set of the true double elimination final. The Hall of Famer took that set 8-2. Sim ‘caught a gear’ in the second set, getting out in front in the shortened race-to-6 and on the hill, two racks ahead at 5-3. In the final rack, which took a little less than four minutes and was later to be commented on by Sim himself, Sim stepped to the table and ran the rack, taking it, as always recommended, one step at a time. He finished with a commendable display of skill and proverbial nerves of steel that earned him the event title. 

That display is on display as an archived match at the NBL Web site. It is recommended that you watch the live stream of it and switch to the NBL Facebook page to watch Sim run the final rack and comment on his thinking, from start to finish.

The NBL will begin its next season in December, with a schedule of to-be-determined dates at 64 sanctioned locations. The plan, as it was originally intended, will feature four Pro/Am main events, fed by a 2-stage series of eight qualifying tournaments. Further information can be found on the league’s Web site at https://www.nblusa.com/ and on the National Billiard League’s FB page. In addition to its immediate success, defined by accomplishing stated objectives with no apparent serious ‘glitches’ in the logistics of it all, this latest 8-Ball Championship is a model for Liddawi’s larger plan for the NBL.

“It was,” he said, “a ‘proof of concept’ event to show that this business model works.” 

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Sim To Face Lapena For NBL 8-Ball Hot-Seat

Del Sim

Day two is complete at the National Billiard League’s 8-Ball Championships, and the hot-seat is going to come down to Del Sim vs Al Lapena. 

Sim is looking to build on the success he had at last weekend’s Joss NE 9-Ball Tour stop and no one has been able to slow him down in this event. He has wins over Kenny Tran, Jason Lynch, John Morra and Shane Albaugh, while Lapena has wins over Jerry Dunne, Lukas Fracasso-Verner, Frankie Hernandez and BJ Ussery. 

Action is fierce on the one-loss side today with six players battling it out for their share of the $28,000 prize fund available at this event. Fracasso-Verner will face John Morra on Saturday, with the winner taking on Ussery, and Thorsten Hohmann plays Dennis Spears with the winner playing Albaugh. 

Matches will get back underway Saturday at noon (EST).

Fans can follow all of the action with online brackets at Digitalpool.com. They are also providing free online streaming of every table on their Facebook page. 

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Ussery comes from the loss side to take VA State 10-Ball Championships

Manny Chau and BJ Ussery

Junior competitor Precilia Kinsley takes Ladies title

There were times, as the 2022 VA State 10-Ball Championships, held under the auspices of the Action Pool Tour, were playing out, that one might have thought they’d taken a wrong turn somewhere and ended up at an event on the Junior International Championships (JIC). In both the concurrently-run Open and Ladies tournament, held this past weekend (April 9-10), there was strong representation from the up-and-coming crowd of junior competitors.

Precilia Kinsley (15) won the Ladies event and though the Open event was won by BJ Ussery, Jr., it was a different kind of junior (Nathan Childress) who sent him to the loss side. Three of the five matches he played after that to get to the finals put him up against Childress a second time and two other prominent male juniors on the JIC roster, Joey Tate and Landon Hollingsworth. All four and Brent Worth, another player on the JIC, competed in the Open event. Kinsley went two-and-out, while Worth went three-and-out in that division. The event drew 46 Open competitors and 20 Ladies to Diamond Billiards in Midlothian, VA.

Ussery’s path to the Open finals was rolling along smoothly through his first three matches, in which he’d given up only one rack, against Luther Pickeral (0), Shane Buchanan (1) and Larry Kressel (0). Then, he ran into Childress, who defeated him 8-5. Childress advanced to a winners’ side semifinal against Manny Chau. Hollingsworth became the second junior competitor in the winners’ side semifinals, having, on his way, given up only three racks, once, and two racks twice before facing Danny Mastermaker, who’d given up that many racks in his previous winners’ side quarterfinal win over Mac Harrell.

Mastermaker advanced to the hot seat match, sending Hollingsworth to the loss side 8-6. Chau joined him after downing Childress 8-4. Chau claimed the hot seat 8-1 over Mastermaker and waited on what he, with good reason, might have assumed was one of the three junior competitors still at work on the loss side.

On that loss side of the bracket, Childress drew Scott Roberts, who’d lost his opening match to Larry Kressel and was working on a seven-match, loss-side winning streak that was about to come to an end. He’d recently survived two straight double-hill matches against Mac Harrell and Chris Bruner. Hollingsworth drew Ussery, who was working on his own loss-side streak and had recently defeated Reggie Jackson 7-1 and JIC competitor Joey Tate 7-3.

Ussery defeated Hollingsworth 7-3 and advanced to his quarterfinal rematch against Childress, who joined him after putting a stop to Roberts’ loss-side streak 7-1. A little older by a matter of hours and presumably a little wiser, Ussery, Jr. stepped to the proverbial ‘plate’ and battled Childress to a deciding 13th game, his only double hill match of the tournament, before eliminating him.

Ussery then defeated Mastermaker 7-3 in the semifinals and claimed the VA State 10-Ball Championship title with a 9-6 victory Chau in the finals.

Precilia Kinsley and Liz Taylor

Six from JIC (30% of the field) compete, Kinsley comes from the loss side to take the title

Like Ussery, Precilia Kinsley had to come from the loss side to win the Ladies division of the VA State 10-Ball Championships. The winners’ side semifinals in the Ladies tournament featured two juniors against each other in one and two veterans in the other.

Kinsley was one of the juniors. She’d gotten by Cheryl Pritchard and Buffy Jolie to face fellow junior competitor, Bethany Tate in their winners’ side semifinal. Liz Taylor, who, at the same venue, won last October’s VA State Ladies 9-Ball Championship, ran a sort of JIC young ladies’ gauntlet. Four of her five total opponents in the event were JIC competitors. She opened with a victory over Courtney Hairfield (who’d finished 5th/6th in the last JIC 18U Girls division event, two weeks ago) and Hayleigh Marion (double hill) before stepping into her winners’ side semifinal against someone much closer to her in age, Lisa Cossette.

Tate downed Kinsley 6-4, as Taylor was working on a 6-2 win over Cossette. Taylor claimed the hot seat 6-2 over Tate and waited on the return of her last junior competitor.

On the loss side, that competitor, Kinsley, drew fellow JIC competitor Hayleigh Marion, who’d recently eliminated Britt Faries 5-2 and yet another JIC competitor, Savanna Wolford, double hill. Cossette picked up Buffy Jolie, who’d survived a double hill fight versus Courtney Hairfield and defeated Bethany Sykes 5-2 to reach her.

Cossette downed Jolie 5-3 and in the quarterfinals, faced Kinsley, who’d survived a double hill match against Marion. Kinsley defeated Cossette 5-3 and in their semifinal rematch, eliminated Tate 5-3, as well. Kinsley and Taylor came within a game of double hill, but in the end, the youngster edged out in front of the woman who owns a number of VA State titles. Kinsley downed Taylor 7-5 to claim her first. 

A five-entrant Second Chance tournament was won by Chris Bruner, who took home $80 for the effort. Brian Sewell ($20) was runner-up

Tour directors Kris Wylie and Tiger Baker thanked the ownership and staff at Diamond Billiards, as well as sponsors George Hammerbacher and Haselman & Hunt, D.D.S., P.C. Family Dentistry (Haselman & Hunt.com). As the Action Pool Tour works on adding two more events to their 2022 calendar, the next scheduled event, to be held on the weekend of November 19-20, will bring the tour back to Diamond Billiards for the VA State 8-Ball Championships. 

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Davis, Jr. and Atencio split top two prizes on Player Madness Tour

Mike Davis and Jesus Atencio

With the winner and runner-up of the inaugural Player Madness Tournament series of events in the house, BJ Ussery and Mike Davis, Jr. might have been expected to repeat their dash to the hot seat and finals, but for the second event of the Player Madness Tournaments, held this past weekend (March 5-6), it didn’t turn out that way. Davis did his part, advancing through the field of 71 to go undefeated to the hot seat and finals, but Ussery spent some time on the loss side of the bracket and didn’t make it past the 7/8 matches.  Jesus Atencio, who finished 5th/6th in the inaugural event, was to have faced Davis twice in this one, but they opted out of a final match and split the top two prizes. This second event of the series, called “Tha (sic) Iron Masters Matches” (the first was called “The Invasion of the Triangle”) was a $2,000-added event, hosted by Rockhouse Tavern and Billiards in Gastonia, NC.

Davis advanced through the field to face Atencio the first time in a winners’ side semifinal, as BJ Hucks and Jacob Brooks squared off in the other one.

Davis advanced to the hot seat match 7-5 over Atencio and faced Hucks, who’d sent Brooks to the left bracket 7-4. Davis claimed the hot seat 7-5 over Hucks and for all intents and purposes, his night was over.

On the loss side, Atencio picked up Kevin Hall, who’d recently defeated Kelly Farrar 7-4 and knocked Ussery out 7-3. Brooks drew Brian Francis, who’d eliminated Brian White, double hill and Jimmy Tanner 7-5 to reach him.

Atencio stopped Hall’s loss-side streak 7-3 and in the quarterfinals, faced Francis, who’d sent Brooks home 7-5. Atencio then dropped Francis 7-5 in those quarterfinals and in what proved to be the event’s last match, the semifinals, defeated Hucks 7-3. Davis and Atencio agreed on the split and joined the rest of the homeward bound.

Tour director Xzavia Boykin thanked the ownership and staff at the Rockhouse for their hospitality, as well as sponsor Classic Billiards. The dates for the next stop on the Player Madness Tournaments series, the NC State 8-Ball Championships, have not been officially set. Visit the Player Madness Tournaments Facebook page for further information.

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Wilkie goes undefeated to claim inaugural B & L 2022 Open 10-Ball Championship

Brian Kilgore, Shaun Wilkie and Lai Li

Inaugural events in the pool world, can be fraught with any number of issues. It takes a clear idea of what needs to be done and an extraordinary amount of perseverance and assistance to assure that it does. It requires the patience of a saint and the temperament of a seasoned psychiatrist, especially when the inaugural event draws a long list of Atlantic coast pool veterans, as the inaugural $5,000-added B & L Open 10-Ball Championships did this past weekend (Feb. 19-20), drawing 106 entrants to Center Pocket Café and Billiards in Bowie, MD.

“I think they did a great job,” said the event’s winner, Shaun Wilkie, who went undefeated to claim the title, downing runner-up, Raphael DaBreo twice; in the fourth round and again, in the finals.

Wilkie noted that while the inaugural B & L Open 10-Ball Championships weren’t Kilgore and Li’s ‘first rodeo,’ from his perspective, their previous tournament experience tended towards smaller venues and decidedly smaller crowds. The Center Pocket Café and Billiards venue helped, too, in that with 29 tables, they were able to keep matches moving throughout the two-day event.

“Those extra tables can get you more players, moving through the bracket,” said Wilkie. “Speeds it up.”

“Sometimes, too, you get pool rooms wanting their tables back (for use by the general public),” he added, “but the room made sure that all of the tables were available. We had tables available for the whole first day.”

Runner-up Raphael DaBreo, who has, as he put it, “dabbled’ in the experience of running tournaments himself, noted that the B & L organization was “very punctual and professional the way they ran it.”  

“From the player meetings right on through getting everyone playing by noon,” he said. “They were super transparent, too, and if they keep going in the direction of their inaugural event, they have a bright future ahead of them, in my opinion.”

DaBreo also noted that the ongoing proliferation of tournaments and operators is likely a reaction to what players in these tournaments perceive about them; that they’re not done well, and that they, personally, could do a better job.

“I’ve always felt that you wouldn’t have so many tournaments and operators, if someone was doing it right,” he said. “But sometimes you run into situations where it’s not being done well; funds are disappearing or there are discrepancies with skill levels or with local tournaments, maybe someone hasn’t paid. There always seems to be something that comes up.”

“They did it right,” he added of B & L’s inaugural efforts at a much larger event.

They join a wealth of tournament organizations, promoters and tournament directors who get it right, as well, more often than not. Once established, though, the good ones rarely get the credit they deserve. Their efforts can be taken for granted in tournament narratives that focus on the players, so here and now, at B & L’s inaugural ‘big’ event, credit where credit’s due. 

Wilkie and DaBreo ran through a gauntlet of the aforementioned Atlantic coast’s best to reach the finals. The five competitors Wilkie defeated on his journey to the hot seat match could have been the final five in any number of Atlantic coast tournaments over the past decade. Wilkie opened against Brian Dietzenbach and Joey Mastermaker, defeating them both 7-2, before running into DaBreo, whom he sent to the loss side 7-4. And as if that wasn’t enough, he drew BJ Ussery in a winners’ side quarterfinal. Ussery got to within a game of double hill, but Wilkie finished it at 7-5 to draw Thomas Haas in one of the winners’ side semifinals. 

Kang Lee, in the meantime, got off to a shaky start, with Josh Thiele battling him to double hill. Lee prevailed to send Coen Bell, Henry Cha and John Moody, Sr. to the loss side and face Thomas Zippler in the other winners’ side semifinal.

Wilkie downed Haas 7-4, as Lee dispatched Zippler 7-5. Wilkie gave up just a single rack in the battle for the hot seat and waited in it for DaBreo’s return.

On the loss side, the two Thomases (Haas and Zippler) ran right into their second straight loss. Haas had the relative misfortune of running into DaBreo, who was four matches into his loss-side streak, that had most recently included the elimination of John Moody, Sr. 6-2 and Derek Benavides. 6-3. Zippler picked up a re-match against Paul Krimes, who’d sent him to the loss side in a match that kept Krimes out of the winners’ side quarterfinals. Krimes won five straight to get to the rematch, including victories over Justin Muller 6-4 and to the surprise of many (likely, his opponent among them), BJ Ussery 6-4.

DaBreo downed Haas 6-1, while Krimes was wreaking his 6-1 vengeance on Zippler for the earlier defeat. Krimes’ satisfaction with the results of his rematch was short-lived, as DaBreo didn’t grant him a rack in the quarterfinals that followed.

The semifinals weren’t really the ‘pre-party’ to the finals that DaBreo was hoping for. Lee battled tooth and nail to double hill before DaBreo prevailed for his second shot against Wilkie, waiting for him in the hot seat. 

The finals weren’t too much of a ‘party’ for DaBreo, either. Wilkie completed his undefeated run with a 7- 2 win over DaBreo to claim the inaugural B + L 10-Ball Championship title.

It was Wilkie’s first win since he won the MD State Bar Table 10-Ball Championship this past November. A tumultuous couple of months followed that saw him place 25th in Turning Stone XXXIV last month (Jan. 6-9). On January 25, the man who’d started him playing pool, his grandfather, passed away. He’d been spending a lot of time, before and especially after, with his grandmother, and in a way, brought his grandfather with him to the tournament.

“I had him in my heart the whole time,” he said, “and I was really happy to pull it off, for me and him.”

Brian Kilgore and Lai Li thanked the ownership and staff at Center Pocket for their hospitality, as well as all of the players who signed on to make their inaugural B & L 10-Ball Championship a success. 

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Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour launches series of seasonal Open events

Lisa Cossette

Martin and Cossette take Open and Ladies events at inaugural Winter Classic

In the future, there’ll be a Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall Classic on the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour. They are a component of a larger plan that tour director Herman Parker is initiating to feature more Open (non-handicapped) events on the tour schedule. In the inaugural Winter Classic, held this past weekend (Feb. 5-6), Justin Martin and Lisa Cossette went undefeated through the Open and Ladies fields to claim the two titles. 

“I want to attract the culture of people who want to play in Open events, rather than handicapped events,” he said, following the completion of the Winter Classic. “I’m planning on 10-12 this year and my goal, down the road is to have it be 50-50; that’d be ideal.”

“I don’t know if it’ll get there,” he added, “but this year, I want to do, on average, about one (Open event) a month.”

The inaugural Winter Classic, featuring its Open tournament and a Ladies event, which, according to Parker, is a side of the tour that he is trying to grow. Three women who competed in the Ladies tournament, also competed in the Open event. The $1,500-added events ($1,000 in the Open and $500 in the Ladies) drew 52 and 18 entrants, respectively, to Break Time Billiards and Sports Bar in Winston-Salem, NC. The 18 women were the largest number of female entrants to ever compete in an Open event on the tour. One of them, 11-year-old Noelle Tate, who finished 4th, became the youngest competitor of either gender to cash in a Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball event in the nine years of its existence.

So, we’ll start there and focus on the 11-year-old for a moment. Noelle Tate is just one member of a family of competitors who are making a name for themselves at the pool tables. Noelle is a younger sister to Bethany and Joey Tate. They were all competitors during last year’s nation-wide series of events, known as the Junior International Championships (JIC), which began its second season just last month. JIC founder, tour director and something of a ‘parental unit’ at JIC events, Ra Hanna, had announced, prior to the start of the JIC’s second season, that part of the second-year plan was to move the junior competitors into the arena of regional tours and Open events. Noelle Tate and (in the Open event) Landon Hollingsworth are manifestations of that plan. Tate came into the event and lost her second-round match to Marianne Merrill. She went on to win four on the loss side, including a 5-2 win over the woman who was favored to win the tournament, Christy Norris. She was eliminated in the quarterfinals by Katie Bischoff 5-3.

The eventual winner, Lisa Cossette, advanced through the field to a winners’ side semifinal against Norris, as Shannon Johnson and Amanda Mann squared off in the other one. Cossette and Johnson, following victories over Norris (double hill) and Mann (7-4), advanced to the hot seat match, at which Cossette prevailed 7-3.

Norris moved to the loss side and ran into Tate, who’d recently eliminated Casey Cork, double hill and Beth Allen 5-2. Mann picked up Katie Bischoff, who’d downed Marianne Merrill and Allie Tilley, both 5-2, to reach her. Tate defeated Norris 5-2 and was joined in the quarterfinals by Bischoff, who’d shut Mann out.

Bischoff eliminated Tate in that quarterfinal (5-3), but not soon enough to keep the 11-year-old out of the money in what was the first money round. Bischoff moved on to defeat Johnson in the semifinals 5-3. An appropriate double hill fight ensued in the single-match finals with Cossette claiming the title over Bischoff 7-6.

Justin Martin

Martin and Ussery battle twice to claim first Winter Classic title

Nine times out of 10, the winner and runner-up of an event, if they’ve competed against each other twice, have done so in the hot seat match and finals. Not so, this time around. Justin Martin and BJ Ussery, both heavily favored as potential winners of the event, met first in the third round. Martin sent Ussery to the loss side 7-1, where he began a seven-match, loss-side winning streak that would offer him a second shot against Martin in the finals.

Martin advanced to a winners’ side semifinal against Graham Swinson, as Corey Sykes and Jeff Abernathy squared off in the other one. Martin shut out Swinson and was joined in the hot seat match by Sykes, who’d sent Abernathy west 7-1. Martin claimed the hot seat in a double hill fight over Sykes.

On the loss side, Swinson drew Ussery, three matches into his loss-side streak, which had recently eliminated Thomas Sansone 7-5 and Josh Padron 7-1. Abernathy picked up junior competitor Landon Hollingsworth, who’d defeated Niko Konkel and Barry Mashburn, both 7-1. Mashburn had been afforded the opportunity to face Hollingsworth when, in the previous round, Christy Norris, one of the three women who competed in the Open event, along with Allie Tilley and Beth Allen, forfeited her match to Mashburn.

Ussery downed Swinson 7-2 and was joined in the quarterfinals by Abernathy, who’d defeated Hollingsworth 7-3. Ussery then eliminated Abernathy 7-2 and in the semifinals, Sykes in a double hill match. Martin defeated Ussery a second time in the finals, this time 7-2 to claim the inaugural Winter Classic.

Tour director Herman Parker thanked the ownership and staff at Break Time Billiards, as well as title sponsor Viking Cues, BarPoolTables.net, Dirty South Grind Apparel Co., Realty One Group Results, Diamond Brat, AZBilliards.com, and Federal Savings Bank Mortgage Division. The next stop on the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour, scheduled for this weekend (Feb. 12-13) will be hosted by Gate City Billiards Club in Greensboro, NC.

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