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Gorst goes undefeated to claim 1st Annual Hannah Choi Memorial Title

Fedor Gorst, Shane Wolford, Kristina Tkach, Paul Oh and room owner Anthony Luong

There are times when words are insufficient to the task that they have been set out on a page to perform. So it is with reporting on the B & L Billiard Tournaments’ 1st Annual Hannah Choi Memorial, a $10,000-added event that drew 64 entrants to First Break Sports Bar in Sterling, VA last weekend (June 11-12). Spearheaded by a trio of Hannah Choi’s close friends – Paul Oh, Kristina Tkach and Fedor Gorst – the memorial was organized to commemorate Choi, who went missing from her home in early March and was discovered dead in a Maryland park weeks later. The person currently being sought in connection with her death, classified as murder, has still not been apprehended. 

Choi was an active player at Street Light Billiard Academy in Alexandria, VA, where Tkach, Gorst, Ruslan Chinakhov and other members of “Roy’s Basement,” along with players like Shane Van Boening, Efren Reyes and Nick Varner would gather along with Academy members, offering clinics, challenge matches and exhibitions.

“Hannah became Kristina’s handler, like a family member,” said Oh. “Hannah wasn’t like a professional player, although she was an APA 6, and she became close to Kristina. She was probably Kristina’s closest friend, lived with her whenever she was in-country.”

As a loosely-organized group engaged in the Virginia (and surrounding areas) pool community, the players would discuss any number of things around meals, table practice and tournaments. On more than one occasion, Choi had mentioned to the group the idea of organizing a Virginia-based ProAm tournament, which, for a variety of different reasons, had never really advanced beyond casual talk about it being a good idea.

“We’d had conversations about it,” said Oh, “wanting to hold a tournament in the area, so when Hannah passed, it was a no-brainer.”

Oh reached out to B&L Billiard Tournaments, in the persons of Brian Kilgore and Lai Li, within a matter of days after Choi’s passing. In less than three months, the circle of friends that had known Choi personally, organized the 1st Annual event that would bear her name.

“It meant a lot to Paul, Fedor and Kristina, who was her best friend,” said Kilgore. “Kristina talked to the players (at length) before the tournament began, telling them all of the things that Hannah Choi had done for her.”

Kilgore and the 64-entrant field were all on-hand to hear Tkach’s impassioned words. In retrospect, Kilgore regretted that the moments had not been recorded. Tkach did, though, write about Choi’s passing in an on-line post.

“I didn’t lose my best friend,” she wrote. “No…I lost so much more than that. I lost my soulmate, my partner, life mentor, my whole world.”

“But you didn’t leave me, right?” she went on to ask. “No, it just can’t be… you are somewhere here now, by my side, kindly looking at me, smiling, listening to me just like you always did.”

Tkach continued, eventually confronting the chasm of grief that lay before her; “the pain that doesn’t go away no matter what you do, eating you up from inside.

“But I can’t give up,” she added. “I have to keep grinding, growing and trying to be the best I can possibly be, because that’s what you would want me to do. I promise you will be proud of me.”

At the risk of presumption, one can only imagine that Hannah Choi would have accepted the need and impetus to discuss her passing and the memorial tournament arranged on her behalf, and then, expected all of us to proceed; “grinding, growing, trying to be the best that we can possibly be because that’s what (she) would want us to do.”

The 64-entrant, double elimination bracket that opened the proceedings had a proverbial ‘boat load’ of pool talent on board, including the very people responsible for the tournament’s existence; Paul Oh, Kristina Tkach and Fedor Gorst. Two of those three (Tkach and Gorst) would advance to the single elimination phase of the event and Gorst would win it. Things were set up through the event semifinals for Tkach and Gorst to square off in the final match, but Shane Wolford stepped in and left Tkach in the tie for 3rd place.

In one of the more entertaining matches of the event, Gorst opened up the double-elimination phase against junior competitor, Joey Tate. Live-streamed (as were selected matches throughout the weekend) by Omega Billiards, Tate encountered some early issues, arguably brought on by an initial concern that he might not make it to the event at all. He’d called Brian Kilgore to relate some ‘timing’ issues and assured him that though he was running late, he would be there in time. He made it on-time, by a matter of minutes and found himself facing Gorst in his opening round.

In the early going, Tate missed some ‘9’s and ‘10’s and found himself in a 3-1 hole after four. But he fought back to be within a single game at 6-5. Gorst prevailed and Tate would go on to lose his first loss-side match. 

Gorst advanced and ran into an immediate double hill battle against Atlantic Coast veteran Steve Fleming. He survived that battle as well, and then shut out Kevin West to become one of the eight winners’ side competitors advancing to single elimination. He was joined by fellow ‘winners’ side’ competitors Warren Kiamco, Greg McAndrews, Manny Chau, Roberto Gomez, Shane Wolford, Brandon Shuff and Chris Hansen. From the loss side, Rafael Reyes, Danny Mastermaker, Deo Alpajora, Kevin West, Dylan Spohr, BJ Ussery, Jr., Mhet Vergara and Kristina Tkach advanced to the final 16. Tkach, sent to the loss side by Manny Chau, had worked her way through William Moon, Lukas Fracasso-Verner and Roger Halder to join the loss-side’s group in the final 16.

Tkach got by Roberto Gomez in the opening round of single elimination and in the quarterfinals, drew Kevin West, who’d eliminated Chris Hansen. Gorst defeated Mhet Vergara and picked up Manny Chau, who’d sent Greg McAndrews home. Wolford, in the meantime, had knocked out Brandon Shuff and faced BJ Ussery, who’d defeated Rafael Reyes to reach him. Kiamco got by Deo Alpajora in the single-elimination opening round and squared off against Dylan Spohr, who’d ended Danny Mastermaker’s run.

Tkach downed West 9-7 and in the semifinals, drew Wolford, who’d defeated Ussery 9-7. Gorst eliminated Chau 9-4 and picked up Kiamco, who’d defeated Spohr 9-4. 

Wolford put an end to speculation and hopes for two of Hanna Choi’s best friends to meet in the finals with a 9-6 win over Tkach. Gorst downed Kiamco 9-5. In the extended race-to-9, Gorst and Wolford came within a game of double hill. Gorst pulled out in front in the end to win by two, 11-9. 

The 1st Annual Hannah Choi Memorial was in the books, with Gorst and Tkach proud to have played their part in making it a success. Paul Oh, though less than pleased with his finish ‘out of the money,’ as it were, was pleased at how well the entire affair had been arranged and executed, as was Brian Kilgore.

“It’s amazing to me how it turned out,” said Oh, noting that it was a combined effort on the part of the group of friends around Hannah Choi, who, over the years, “had eaten together, travelled together and worked together,” to include Anthony Milanesi (who’d donated a cue that he’d made for one of the raffles that helped bring money to the event), Ken Tranh and his wife, Linda, Joonick Jun and of course, the central trio of Tkach, Oh and Fedor Gorst. 

That core group along with Brian Kilgore and Lai Li thanked Anthony Luong and his First Break staff for their hospitality and a portion of the added money, as well as Cuetec Cues. They applauded the efforts of all 64 players who’d made Hannah Choi’s first memorial a memorable occasion. As something of an extended tour-promotion unit, they are already looking forward to the 2nd Annual Hannah Choi Memorial. While it’s a bit too early to determine how that will shape up, there is consideration being given to another Open event, as well as a Women’s tournament.

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Shaw wins final battle versus Appleton in Open NineBall Pro Players Championship

Jayson Shaw

Nearly 2,000 entrants, with some event crossovers, compete in Amateur events

As of March 31, three weeks before the Super Billiards Expo opened its doors, the Diamond Open NineBall Professional Players Championship was designated as an Official Nineball World Ranking event, and while it did not literally draw its entrance field from everywhere, there was a very evident sense of international competition. The final 16 featured representation from the US (five) and 11 competitors from seven foreign countries – Austria, Germany (2), Russia, the UK (2), Canada (2), the Philippines and Hong Kong (2). The international ‘feel’ of the event was most evident in what was easily among (if not “the”) most anticipated matchup of the four-day event, between the UK’s Jayson Shaw and Russia’s Fedor Gorst. The matchup, which occurred in the single-elimination quarterfinals, lived up to its billing, as the two battled to double hill before Shaw advanced. More on this later, along with the final matchup between Shaw and Darren Appleton, which waited until the 17th of its potential 21 games before Shaw pulled away to win the next two and claim the title. 

There were quite a few “wish I coulda been there” matches throughout the event’s four days, up to and including matches among the final 16, which were, for obvious reasons, witnessed by the SBE’s largest crowds in the Pro arena. Pre-single-elimination, there was the double hill battle between Shaw and Billy Thorpe, which moved Shaw into the final 16, the Fedor Gorst and Ralf Souquet (new school/old school) match that sent Gorst to the final 16, and Appleton’s two straight double hill matches; one win (Jeff Beckley) and one loss (Mhet Vergara), which sent “Dynamite” to the loss side, where a single win, over Bucky Souvanthong, sent him (Appleton) to the final 16. And, as always, any match featuring Earl Strickland as a competitor is always entertaining, whether because of exuberant antics or just plain rock-solid shooting.

The Shaw/Gorst match followed a Shaw “Sweet 16” victory over John Morra 11-6 and a Gorst win over Thorsten Hohmann 11-8. Gorst opened with two straight racks and kept that as a minimum lead until rack #17. By the 12th rack, Gorst was leading by four. Two straight racks that featured Shaw dropping a combination shot that dropped the 9-ball cut that lead in half. Gorst went three-up at 9-6, but Shaw came right back with a break and run that reduced it to two again.

Off a Gorst break, Shaw narrowed the lead to one until that 17th rack, when Shaw came within one. Shaw broke the 18th, but turned the table over briefly, before, with a second chance, he dropped a 3-9 combination that yielded the match’s first tie. Gorst dropped two balls on his break, but Shaw came through to get on the hill with his first lead of the match. Gorst, with a scratch-on-the-break assist from Shaw, made it interesting by winning the 20th, double hill rack.

Gorst broke dry in the deciding rack, but Shaw turned the table back over to Gorst, who promptly scratched shooting at the 2-ball. Shaw ran to the 8-ball and Gorst conceded the game and match. 

Moving into the semifinals, Shaw drew Mario He, who’d earlier defeated Jonathan Pinegar 11-7 and Oscar Dominguez 11-9. Appleton’s path to the finals from the final 16 started out against Earl Strickland. He got by him 11-6 and then downed Joseph Spence 11-3. In the semifinals, Appleton drew Billy Thorpe, who’d recently eliminated Robbie Capito 11-9 and Souquet 11-8. 

Shaw downed He 11-7, as Appleton was busy dispatching Thorpe 11-4. The all-UK battle was on.

In the early going of the finals, it appeared as though neither of them was going to win a rack off their own break. Appleton won the lag, broke dry and Shaw ran the table to take a 1-0 lead. Shaw broke, dropping two balls and scratching. Appleton set up a 1-9 combination to tie it up. They went back and forth like this, winning the other’s break to a single game lead for Shaw at 4-3.

Shaw broke the 8th rack, dropped one, and after giving the table back to Appleton briefly, won the rack, his first off his own break, to take the game’s first two-game lead. He made it a three-game lead (his first of two), before Appleton chalked up two in a row to make it 6-5. Shaw used a terrific jump shot at the 2-ball to maintain his run of rack #12. On Appleton’s break of rack #13, he dropped one ball, but almost immediately gave the table to Shaw, who missed hitting the 1-ball, completely. Shaw saw an obvious 1-9 combination awaiting Appleton’s arrival at the table, so, gentleman that he was, he picked up the cue ball and placed it in the position it needed to be for Appleton to make the combination. He did so without handling the cue ball Shaw had set for him.

Shaw dropped two balls on the break of rack #14 and used another terrific jump shot to jumpstart his third win off his own break and then, off Darren’s break, established his second three-rack lead at 9-6. Appleton fought right back, winning the next two and including his own terrific jump shot at the 1-ball that started his 8th game win.

Ahead by a single rack at 9-8, Shaw broke and ran the 18th (his fourth win off his own break) to reach the hill first. Darren broke the 19th rack, sinking one ball, but couldn’t see the 1-ball. He pushed (the one and only time that happened all match) and Shaw finished the game to claim the event title. 

Amateur events draw 35 shy of 2,000 entrants

Not including the two junior events for ages 17/Under and 12/under, the total entrants for which were not recorded, the nine amateur events of the 2022 SBE drew a total of 1,965 entrants (with some crossover between events). This brought the total number of participating pool players to 2,101. The two Pro events (73 Open and 63 Women) thus represented just 6% of the total number of players who competed this year. Trying to detail 9 events, especially the 996-entrant Open Amateur would be unwieldy, so we offer some information about and congratulations to the 94% percent who were the largest participating contingent of pool players at the 2022 SBE.

6-Ball Amateur Players Championship (200) – 1st Danny Mastermaker, 2nd Fred Goodman III, 3rd Jared Demalia/Daniel Dagotdot

Early Bird Super Seniors (58) – 1st Ike Runnels, 2nd Martin Ciccia, 3rd Al Muccilli/Flaco Rodriguez

Open Amateur (996) – 1st Chris Bruner, 2nd Pat McNally, 3rd Jomax Garcia/Derick Daya

Senior Amateur (364) – 1st Raymond McNamara, 2nd Chris Sutzer, 3rd Javier Perez/Efrain Morales

Super Seniors (149) – 1st Gene Rossi, 2nd Ed Matushonek, 3rd Frank Sorriento/Ace Aughty

Women’s Amateur (166) – 1st Tina Malm, 2nd Ashley Benoit, 3rd Nicole Nester/Bethany Tate

Junior (12 & Under) – 1st Jim Powell, 2nd D’Angelo (“Jaws”) Spain, 3rd Noah Majersky, 4th Evan Demelo

Junior (18 & Under) – 1st Brent Worth, 2nd Payne McBride, 3rd Landon Hollingsworth, 4th Yan Pena

ProAm BarBox (32) – 1st Joe Dupuis, 2nd Alan Rolan Rosado, 3rd Bart Czapla/Joey Tate

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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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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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Tkach wins 88% of her games to win APT’s VA State Ladies 10-Ball Championship

Kristina Tkach and Lisa Cossette

Moore and Mastermaker battle twice; Moore takes 2021 VA State Open 10-Ball title

Russia’s Kristina Tkach, fresh off her win at the Michael Montgomery Memorial Tournament in Texas on the last weekend in January, backed that title up with an undefeated victory at the 2021 VA State Ladies 10-Ball Championships on the weekend of February 20-21. Tkach also signed on to the concurrently-run Open 10-Ball Championships, where she was defeated in the opening round and won three on the loss side before being eliminated. Held under the auspices of the Action Pool Tour (APT), the ladies event drew a short field of 11 entrants to Diamond Billiards in Midlothian, VA.

Eric Moore, in the meantime, the APT’s 2016 Tour Champion and the winner of this event that year, as well, was defeated in the battle for the Open 10-Ball hot seat by the event’s 2019 winner, Danny Mastermaker, but came back to down him in the finals. The Open event drew 61 entrants to Diamond Billiards.

Tkach played a total of five matches to claim the ladies’ title. She entered the third round of play without having given up a single rack. She shut out both Soo Emmett and Johnna McDaniel to face Kia Burwell in one winners’ side semifinal. The event’s defending champion, Liz Taylor, downed Shanna Lewis 6-3 in what was their first opening round and faced Lisa Cossette in the other winners’ side semifinal.

Tkach downed Burwell 6-1. Taylor joined her in the hot seat match with a 6-2 win over Cossette. Entering that hot seat match with a 95% game-winning percentage (18-1), Tkach gave up another one of the four racks her opponents chalked up against her and sent the defending champion, Taylor, to the semifinals.

On the loss side, Burwell picked up Shanna Lewis, who, after her defeat at the hands of Taylor had eliminated Soo Emmett, double hill, and Kristen Daniels 5-3. Cossette drew Jacki Duggan, who’d been sent to the loss side by Burwell and downed Amy Williams 5-1 and Johnna McDaniel 5-2 to reach Cossette.

Burwell shut out Lewis. Cossette spoiled the possible rematch between Burwell and Duggan by defeating Duggan 5-2. Cossette and Burwell battled to double hill before Cossette prevailed for a shot at the defending champ in the semifinals. Cossette, on a roll, gave up only a single rack to Taylor and turned to challenge Tkach in the hot seat. 

To her credit, Cossette chalked up more racks against Tkach than any of the young Russian’s previous opponents. In fact, Cossette chalked up as many as all of Tkach’s previous four opponents combined. Downing Cossette 6-2, Tkach claimed the 2021 Ladies 10-Ball title having won 30 of 34 games played, for an 88% game-winning percentage. 

Danny Mastermaker and Eric Moore

Moore and Mastermaker battle twice for Open title

Though Eric Moore did not have to face the Open event’s 2020 champion (BJ Ussery) or its runner-up (Reymart Lim), neither of whom competed for the 2021 title, Moore did face a familiar APT competitor in Danny Mastermaker, twice. Though luck of the bracket draw kept Moore out of the path of a number of previous tour champions and familiar APT faces like Mike Davis, Chris Bruner (2019 tour champion), Shane Wolford (last year’s de facto tour champion in an abbreviated-by-the-pandemic, two-event season) and Brian Dietzenbach, among others, Moore (who finished in 5th place last year) did have to get by Scott Roberts, who finished two slots ahead of him in last year’s two-event standings. 

Moore’s six-match march to the hot seat went through Brent Hensley 7-4, a shutout over Chris Pyle and another 7-4 win, over Mike McPherson, before pulling up to the aforementioned Scott Roberts, who challenged Moore to his first of only two double hill matches. Moore advanced to meet Bobby Chamberlain in one of the winners’ side semifinals.

Mastermaker, in the meantime, got by Kevin Williams and Michael Bumpass, both 7-2 and then gave up only one to Ed Culhane, before chalking up another 7-2, versus David Hunt. This set him up to draw Shane Wolford in the other winners’ side semifinal.

Moore downed Chamberlain 7-5 to get into the hot seat match, where he was joined by Mastermaker, who’d sent Wolford to the loss side 7-3. It was Mastermaker who locked Moore up in his second double hill fight, battling for the hot seat. Mastermaker prevailed and waited on Moore’s return.

On the loss side, Chamberlain picked up the tour’s 2019 champion, Chris Bruner, who’d been sent over by Wolford and was working on an eight-match, loss-side winning streak that would take him as far as the semifinals and had most recently included wins (#5 & #6) over David Hunt 6-4 and Bruce Campbell 6-1 (Campbell, three rounds earlier, had been responsible for eliminating Kristina Tkach). Wolford drew Mike Davis, who’d been defeated by Bobby Chamberlain and was in the midst of a six-match winning streak that was about to end and had recently included wins over Scott Roberts 6-1 and Mark Nanashee 6-2.

Bruner continued his winning streak with a double hill victory over Chamberlain. He was joined in the quarterfinals by Wolford, who’d stopped Davis’ streak 6-4. Another double hill fight ensued in those quarterfinals and eventually advanced Bruner over Wolford into the semifinals. 

Eric Moore put a punctuation mark into ending Bruner’s streak, allowing him only a single rack to earn a second shot at Mastermaker, waiting for him in the hot seat. Eric completed his 2021 10-Ball Championship campaign with a final 8-5 victory over Mastermaker. 

Tour directors Kris Wylie and Tiger Baker thanked the ownership and staff at Diamond Billiards, as well as this event’s sponsors, Haselman & Hunt, D.D.S., P.C. Family Dentistry (www.Haselman & Hunt.com). The schedule for upcoming events on the Action Pool Tour, like so much else at this time, is being curtailed by restrictions associated with individual communities and venues. Wylie and Baker are monitoring the situation as best they can and while they hope that they will be able to announce other APT stops in the future, the only one that is known for sure as of this writing is an event scheduled for July 17-18, which will be hosted by Wolfe’s Den Billiards in Roanoke,VA.  

Mastermaker goes undefeated to win Action Pool Tour stop #11 in Midlothian

Danny Mastermaker & Larry Kressel

In 2013, Danny Mastermaker was everywhere and playing in his best earnings year since AZBilliards began recording his winnings in 2007. He won a stop on the Action Pool Tour and another on the Great Southern Billiard Tour, and cashed in 11 other events, including that year’s VA State 10-Ball Championship (3rd), the George “Ginky” Sansouci Memorial (7th), the Super Billiards Expo’s Amateur Championship (9th), the VA State 9-Ball Championship (9th), the US Open 9-Ball Championships (17th) and Turning Stone XXI (17th).

As he came into stop #11 on this year’s Action Pool Tour, he had only one cash winning to his 2019 credit; he finished 7th at the VA State 10-Ball Championship in February. Mastermaker went undefeated at the Saturday, November 16 10-Ball event to claim his first (recorded) event title since he won the VA State Bar Table 9-Ball tournament in Lynchburg, VA in July, 2014. Oddly enough, Mastermaker downed Larry Kressel in the finals of that bar table 9-ball tournament five years ago and at the Action Pool Tour event this past weekend that drew 30 players to Diamond Billiards in Midlothian, VA, he defeated Kressel in the finals again.

He got by Kressel twice, actually. Mastermaker got by Zach Gladfelder, Adnan Ahsan and John Wright to draw Kelly Farrar in one of the winners’ side semifinals, as Kressel sent Shane Buchanan, Jason Trigo and Dave Hunt to the loss side and picked up Scott Roberts in the other winners’ side semifinal. Mastermaker dominated his match versus Farrar and sent him to the loss side 8-1, as Kressel sent Roberts over 8-5. In their first of two, Mastermaker prevailed 8-3 over Kressel.

On the loss side, Farrar drew Shane Wolford, who’d lost his opening round match and was working on a seven-match, loss-side winning streak that would take him all the way to the semifinals. He’d most recently defeated Dave Hunt 7-3 and Chris Bruner 7-1 to arrive at Farrar. Roberts drew Jimmy Bird, the man who’d sent Farrar to the loss side in the opening round. Bird was on a five-match, loss-side streak that was about to come to an end. He’d most recently eliminated John Wright 7-4 and Josh Craig 7-5.

Wolford shut Farrar out, as Roberts ended Bird’s streak 7-3. Wolford then defeated Roberts 7-5 in the quarterfinals.

Kressel put a stop to Wolford’s run in the semifinals by allowing him only a single rack in a race to 7. Kressel earned his second shot at Mastermaker in the hot seat.

Mastermaker had to chalk up one more rack than he had in the hot seat match in the finals’ race to 9. Kressel duplicated his effort in the hot seat match and Mastermaker claimed the event title 9-3.

Tour directors Kim Wylie and Tiger Baker thanked the ownership and staff at Diamond Billiards, as well as sponsors Predator Cues, Viking Cues, Simonis Cloth, Aramith Balls, Brown’s Mechanical LLC, Kamui, Diamond Billiard Products, Ozone Billiards, CSI, Grant Wylie Photography and George Hammerbacher, Advanced Pool Instructor. The next stop on the Action Pool Tour, scheduled for the weekend of December 7-8, will be the Pineapple Morris Memorial Shootout at Q Master Billiards in Virginia Beach, VA.

Carmona comes back from semifinals to win 7th Annual VA State 10-Ball Championships

(l to r): TD Tiger Baker, Scott Haas & RJ Carmona

Atwell comes back from semifinals to claim her 5th VA State 10-Ball title
 
In the seven-year history of the Virginia State 10-Ball Championships, there have been seven different winners in the event’s Open Division. The most recent winner at the 7th Annual event was RJ Carmona. In that same time frame, there have only been three women who have claimed the title – Tracie Majors (2014), Meredith Lynch (2017) and Janet Atwell, who won the inaugural event in 2013, and claimed the title in successive years, twice; 2015, 2016, 2018, and this past weekend, February 16-17, 2019. Both competitors at this year’s championships, held under the auspices of the Action Pool Tour and hosted by Diamond Billiards in Midlothian, VA, made it to their respective hot seat matches, and lost. They both came back to meet and defeat their hot seat opponent and claim the event title.
 
The Open division of the annual event drew 48 entrants, and only one former champion (Eric Moore, 2016). The Women’s Championship drew 15 entrants, including four-time and defending champion, Atwell. The Open event drew 9 of the top 10 finishers from the APT season opener in January, including that event’s winner (Reymart Lim).
 
Carmona opened his bid for the 2019 title with a shutout over Christopher Wilburn and then, battled to double hill against Del Sim before advancing. He downed Reymart Lim 8-6 and met up with Scott Roberts in a winners’ side semifinal. Carmona’s hot seat and finals opponent, Scott Haas, got by Danny Mastermaker, double hill, in the opening round and went on to defeat Shane Buchanan 8-5, before getting locked up in a second double hill battle against David Hairfield. Haas won that one to advance to a winners’ side semifinal against Brian Bryant.
 
Haas got into the hot seat match with an 8-4 win over Bryant. Carmona joined him after sending Roberts to the loss side 8-2. Haas claimed the hot seat 8-5 over Carmona and waited on his return.
 
On the loss side, Bryant picked up APT veteran/pro player Brandon Shuff, who’d lost a second- round match to Reymart Lim (double hill) and was in the midst of a seven-match, loss-side winning streak that would take him as far as the quarterfinals. He’d most recently eliminated Shorty Davis 7-3 and winner of the APT season opener, Reymart Lim 7-2. Scott Roberts drew Chris Bruner, who’d lost his second-round match to John Newton, and like Shuff, was on an extended loss-side streak (eight matches) that would take him to the seminfinals. He’d most recently defeated David Hairfield 7-5 and Danny Mastermaker 7-4.
 
Shuff and Bruner advanced to the quarterfinals with seven loss-side wins each, once Shuff had eliminated Bryant 7-5 and Bruner had defeated Roberts 7-3. Bruner broke the loss-side match tie with a 7-5 win over Shuff and with some momentum on his side, battled to double hill against Carmona in the semifinals. Carmona, though, finished it for a second shot at Haas in the hot seat.
 
Whatever happened in the Carmona/Haas finals, Reymart Lim was going to retain his top spot on the tour’s (two event) points-leader board, and RJ Carmona would hold on to his #2 spot. Haas, competing in his first 2019 APT stop, would enter the points-leader board at either #18, if he won, or #20, if he lost. Carmona completed his 2019 VA State 10-Ball Championship run with a 10-8 victory over Haas.
 
Atwell goes 3-1 to claim her fifth VA State 10-Ball Ladies title
 
It’s never easy, but short fields make for short runs to event titles. Janet Atwell played four matches and won three of them to claim her fifth VA State 10-Ball title. It was her first appearance on the APT in 2019 and her victory allowed her to enter the tour’s points-leader board at #83 (points are awarded based on a player’s finish and a formula related to the total number of entrants).
 
Atwell was awarded an opening round bye and then defeated Buffy Jolie 7-4 to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal against Marianne Merrill. Liz Taylor, in the meantime, got by Cheryl Pritchard 7-2 and Tina Castillo 7-4 to arrive at her winners’ side semifinal match against Linda Shea (tour director of the J. Pechauer Northeast Women’s Tour).
 
Atwell and Taylor advanced to the hot seat match with identical 7-4 victories over Merrill and Shea. Taylor claimed the hot seat in a double hill win.
 
On the loss side, Shea picked up Lisa Cossette, who’d defeated Kim McKenna and Nicole King, both 6-4, to reach her. Merrill drew Cheryl Sporleder, who’d defeated Dorothy Strater 6-1 and Bethany Sykes 6-4. Shea and Sporleder advanced to the quarterfinals, having given up only three racks between them in 15 games; Shea gave up two to Cossette and Sporleder gave up one to Merrill.
 
Shea gave up none at all to Sporleder in those quarterfinals, only to get locked up in what was most likely a predictable double hill fight between her and Atwell in the semifinals. Atwell prevailed and then in the finals rematch, downed Taylor 8-2 to claim the VA State 10-Ball Ladies title.
 
A Second Chance tournament drew 18 entrants. Greg Sabins and Robert Farmer worked their way through the field and battled in both the hot seat and finals. Farmer claimed the hot seat in a double hill fight, but Sabins came back from a shutout over Graham Swinson in the semifinals to shut Farmer out in the finals and claim the Second Chance top prize of $160. Farmer took home $100 as runner-up. Swinson finished third ($75), Cheryl Sporleder finished in fourth place ($50). Jamie Bess and Andrew Stephan each took home $30 for the 5th place tie.
 
Tour directors Kris Wylie and Tiger Baker thanked the ownership and staff at Diamond Billiards, as well as sponsors Diamond Billiard Products, Viking Cues, Predator, Tiger, Kamui Tips, Ozone Billiards, Simonis Cloth, and George Hammerbacher Advanced Pool Instructor. The next stop on the 2019 Action Pool Tour, scheduled for March 23-24, will be the East Coast Landscaping Bar Box Bash and will be hosted by Peninsula Billiards in Newport News, VA.

Moore comes back from semifinals to win VA State 8-Ball Championships

Reams comes from loss side to win short-field Women's event

Eric Moore solidified his hold on the top position in the Action Pool Tour rankings with a come-from-the-loss-side victory at the VA State 8-Ball Championships, held under the auspices of the Action Pool Tour on the weekend of November 12-13. Sierra Reams, after a loss in one of the winners' side semifinals, came back to claim the VA Women's 8-Ball Championship title. The Open event drew 56 entrants to Diamond Billiards in Midlothian, VA. The women drew an extraordinarily short field of six to the same location.

 
 
Female competitors living in the vicinity of the Northeast Corridor, extending along a two and half hour section of Route 95 from Midlothian, VA to Elkridge, MD (along with others who may have traveled from other areas), had two choices over the weekend. They could attend the VA State Women's 8-Ball Championships in Midlothian, or the season finale of the J. Pechauer Northeast Women's Tour in Elkridge. Combined, the two events drew 26 women, six of whom opted for the APT event in Midlothian. 
 
 
Sierra Reams' trek to the victory in the VA State 8-ball event was extended by two matches, when she was defeated, double hill, in a winners' side semifinal by Kim Whitman. Jacki Duggan joined Whitman in the hot seat match, following a 6-4 victory over Terri Stovall. Duggan claimed the hot seat 6-4 over Whitman.
 
 
On the loss side, Reams downed Vivian Nguyen 5-1 to advance to the quarterfinals. Bethany Sykes downed Stovall, double hill, to join her. Reams took the quarterfinal match over Sykes 5-2, and then locked up in a double hill fight against Whitman in their semifinals re-match. Reams won it for a shot at Duggan in the finals. Reams defeated Duggan 8-6 to claim the title.
 
 
In the Open event, All 10 of the Action Pool Tour's top 10 competitors were on hand to battle for the 8-ball title, all vying (with one event to go) for the top two slots on the season-end ranking list, which will earn those top two players free entry into all three divisions of the 2017 US Bar Table Championships in Las Vegas, and a shared free hotel room during the event. The #1-ranked player, which, with only the one event to go, would appear to be Moore, will earn plane fare to the event, as well.
 
 
Moore's primary nemesis in this event proved to be Max Schlothauer, making a rare appearance on the tour; his first this year (he defeated TD Ozzy Reynolds in the finals of an event a few years ago). Moore and Schlothauer came to the first of their two meetings, in the hot seat match, on the heels of two distinctly different paths. Moore faced four opponents before Schlothauer and gave up an average of 3.5 racks to each of them; overall, 28-14. Schlothauer faced just as many and gave up an average of only one rack to each of his opponents; overall, 28-4.
 
Following victories over Yuta Morooka, Chris Pyle, Chris Bruner, and Danny Mastermaker, Moore squared off against Jamey Mellott in one of the winners' side semifinals. Schlothauer got by Luther Pickeral, Ernie Allen, Alan Duty, and Reggie Jackson to draw Kenny Miller in the other winners' side semifinal. Between them, Moore and Schlothauer gave up only a single rack in the two winner's side semifinals. Moore allowed Mellott one, while Schlothauer advanced to the hot seat match after a shutout over Miller. Moore chalked up as many racks against Schlothauer in the hot seat match, as all five of Schlothauer's previous opponents combined. Schlothauer claimed the hot seat 7-4 and waited on Moore's return.
 
 
On the loss side, Mellott picked up Bruner, who, following his loss to Moore on the winners' side, got by Wai Cho Yee, Bobby Stovall, Reggie Jackson and Yuta Morooka. Miller drew Mastermaker, who'd gotten by Duty, double hill, and Rick Glasscock 6-4 (Glasscock had previously eliminated the tour's #3-player, Shaun Wilkie). Mastermaker downed Miller 6-1, advancing to the quarterfinals against Bruner, who'd eliminated Mellott 6-4.
 
 
It was Bruner who advanced to meet Moore in the semifinals, following a 6-3 win over Mastermaker in the quarterfinals. Moore ended Bruner's six-match, loss-side streak with a 6-4 win in the semifinals. In a reversal of fortunes, Moore was able to chalk up as many racks against Schlothauer in the finals as had been chalked up against him to that point (8). Schlothauer managed only three in those finals. Moore was able to record his third APT victory on the year, and claim the VA State 8-Ball Championship title, to go along with his previous VA State 10-Ball Championship title that he earned back in February.

Karen Corr becomes first woman to win a stop on the Action Pool Tour

Karen Corr

As the Action Pool Tour's seventh stop advanced to its winners' side semifinals, it became possible that not only could a woman emerge as the event champion, there might be two of them in the finals. Only one, Karen Corr, made it, returning from a loss in the hot seat, meeting and defeating Brett Stottlemyer in the finals and becoming the first woman to win a stop on the Action Pool Tour. The event, held on the weekend of September 10-11, drew 66 entrants to Breakers Sky Lounge in Herndon, VA.
 
Corr's seven-match march to the winners' circle was no walk in the park. Though she'd win her first three by an aggregate score of 21-6, defeating Bryan Proctor (3), Jimmy Coleman (2) and Steve Fleming (1), she won her next two 14-9 against Alan Duty (4) and in a winners' side semifinal, Shaun Wilkie (5), both among the tour's top 10 players. In comparison, Stottlemyer's six-match path to the hot seat began with a double hill scare versus Greg Sabins. Things smoothed out a bit, as Stottlemyer went on to defeat Bruce Gardner (3), Eric Moore (2), Amit Kumar (4), and in the other winners' side semifinal, the other woman in the hunt for a first APT championship, Tina Malm (3). As the hot seat match between Stottlemyer and Corr got underway, it was "Advantage Miss Corr" – 35-15 over Stottlemyer 35-18. That changed to "Advantage Mr. Stottlemyer" as he took the hot seat match 7-5 and waited on Corr's return.
 
On the loss side, Malm had the misfortune of opening her bid to become part of an all-woman final against Corr by running into the Action Pool Tour's #1-ranked player, Brandon Shuff, looking for his fourth trip to an APT final and second win of the season. Shuff had been defeated by Eric Moore (the #3-ranked player on the tour) 7-4 in his opening round, and was in the midst of an eight-match, loss-side winning streak that would take him as far as the quarterfinals. Two of the eight went double hill. Wins #5 and #6 came at the expense of Alan Duty and a successful re-match against Moore, both 6-4 wins. Wilkie, in the meantime, the tour's #2-ranked player, picked up Kenny Miller (who'd end up at the conclusion of this stop as the #4-ranked player on the tour). Miller had been sent to the loss side by Malm in a winners' side quarterfinal, and defeated Will Moon and Danny Mastermaker, both 6-4.
 
Shuff chalked up his last win over Malm 6-2, as Wilkie, by the same score, was eliminated by Miller. Miller advanced one more step, defeating Shuff in the quarterfinals 6-4, before running into the apparently determined Corr in the semifinals. She earned her second shot against Stottlemyer, waiting for her in the hot seat, with a 6-3 win over Miller in those semifinals.
 
Combined, Corr and Stottlemyer had been a part of the seven-stop, APT season only three times. Corr was making her first appearance, while Stottlemyer was making his second (he placed fourth in the opening stop). Corr became the first victorious female on the APT tour with a commanding 9-4 win over Stottlemyer in the finals.

Hancock goes undefeated to take Q City 9-Ball stop

Mike Hancock had the good fortune to run into a forfeit victory in the finals of the February 20-21 stop on the Q City 9-Ball Tour. His potential opponent, Brian Bryant, had been defeated in the second round of play, and won nine straight matches on the loss side for the right to meet Hancock, but a family situation forced Bryant to leave and forfeit the final match. The event drew 48 entrants to Clubhouse Billiards in Lynchburg, VA.
 
With Bryant, long at work on the loss side, Hancock advanced to a winners' side semifinal match against Collin Hall. Matt Fiple, in the meantime, met up with Zach Hampton. Hancock defeated Hall 6-5, and in the hot seat match, faced Fiple, who'd sent Hampton to the west bracket 7-4. Hancock claimed the hot seat 6-4 over Fiple, in what would prove to be his last match.
 
Over on the loss side, Bryant was mowing 'em down, one by one. With four notches on his loss-side belt, he defeated Chuckie Brown 9-4 and Scott Largen 9-5 to draw Hall. Hampton picked up Danny Mastermaker, who'd downed his brother, Joey, 10-5 and defeated Beuford Lusk 10-4.
 
Bryant moved on to the quarterfinals with a 9-4 win over Hall. He was joined by Hampton, who'd ended Mastermaker's weekend 9-7. Bryant eliminated Hampton 9-6, and won what proved to be his last match 9-4, over Matt Fiple in the semifinals. His subsequent forfeit left the event title in Hancock's hands.