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Turning Stone Classic XXXV – Jonathan Smith vs Eric Cloutier

WPBA Stars Continue Success at Turning Stone Classic XXXIII

Caroline Pao, Jennifer Barretta and Jia Li (Erwin Dionisio)

For three of the match winners from day one at the Turning Stone Classic XXXIII, it is just a continuation of the success they had a week earlier at the WPBA Ashton Twins Classic in Calgary.

Jennifer Barretta, Jia Li and Caroline Pao all turned in top 10 finishes in Canada and will enter day two of this week’s Turning Stone Classic on the winner’s side.

Barretta, currently ranked #1 on the WPBA tour, was in prime position to win the Canadian event after she took the hot-seat from Allison Fisher, but she would settle for second place after dropping the final match to Fisher. Barretta started out her Turning Stone campaign with a dominating 9-3 win over Eric Cloutier.

Jia Li survived a hill-hill battle with Randy Labonte on day one at Turning Stone, but the path won’t get any easier as she faces Johnny Archer in her first match of the day on Friday.

Caroline Pao scored a convincing 9-5 win over Devin Buttle on Thursday and will face Len Gianfrate in her first match of the day on Friday.

The Turning Stone Classic XXXIII takes place at the Turning Stone Resort & Casino in Verona, NY with 128 players competing for over $40,000 in prize money. Fans can watch select matches as part of the online streaming coverage presented by Upstate Al, and AzBilliards is providing online brackets and real time scoring for the duration of the event.

Turning Stone Classic XXXII – – Jorge Rodriguez vs Eric Cloutier

Turning Stone Classic XXXI Day Two Complete

Jia Li, Kevin West and Annie Flores (Photos courtesy of Erwin Dionisio)

Day two is complete at the Turning Stone Classic XXXI, and what day one might have lacked in surprising results, day two more than made up for. 


One player who has drawn her share of attention is Jia Li (top). Li opened her day with a match against Sean Morgan that saw her race to an early lead. At 7-0 though, the wheels seemed to come off and Morgan won seven racks of his own to tie things at 7-7. Li dug down from there and won the next two games for the 9-7 win. There was no problems at all in Li's late match, as she ran over Eric Cloutier 9-2. She will face Tommy Tokoph on Saturday afternoon.


Fresh off of her win last weekend in the NAPL championship, Annie Flores (bottom right) is proving that she belongs here. Flores won a hill-hill battle over The Queen of the Hill Loree Jon Hasson in her early match, but fell to Canadian champion Erik Hjorleifson in her evening match. Flores will either face Hendrick Drost or Brent Boemmels in an Afternoon match.


Kevin West (bottom left) started her tournament on Thursday with 9-2 win over Paul Dryden, but he looked to a tougher hill to climb on Friday when he faced World Champion Thorsten Hohmann. It turned out that match wasn't a problem at all for West, as he cruised over Hohmann 9-4. West then finished off his Friday with a 9-5 win over Jay Goyer. West will face Zion Zvi (fresh off sending Johnny Archer to the one loss side) on Saturday.


AzBilliards has online brackets and real time scoring for the duration of the event, and Upstate Al is streaming the event on Facebook. All of the links are available on our live page

World Police and Fire Games Day Three

Dan Madden, Michael Grosso, John O’Sullivan, Eric Cloutier and Eric S. Townsend

Day 3 of the Pocket Billiards competition from the World Police and Fire Games has finished. Competitors locked up in a traditional double elimination bracket in modified straight pool.
In the classic movie The Hustler, “Minnesota Fats” (played by Jackie Gleason) outlasts “Fast Eddie” Felson (played by Paul Newman) in an overnight tussle of straight pool. The game that was once beloved in the United States has since fallen in popularity due to its deliberate pace and unusual rules. For one day, an experiment in its resurrection experienced its share of ups and downs. 
Preliminary matches were advertised as races to 75 points or a time limit of 1 hour (whichever came first). A stipulation was added during the players’ meeting (and agreed upon by the field) that any “neck-and-neck” match whereby both competitors were in the 60s would be played out regardless of the time limit. Rounds were begun and ended as a group by announcement from tournament administrator Dan Madden. A ten-minute warning was offered.
While some struggled with the notion of playing this game to a clock, the cream mostly rose to the top (as is generally the case in timed, televised matches on ESPN). One competitor who had qualified for the final 8 in 9Ball but was eliminated from the straight pool field after two quick losses was Doug Moreau (Canada). “This is no way to play the game,” declared Moreau. 
Parameters were raised for the hot seat match, a face off between undefeated Eric Cloutier (Canada) and Michael Grosso (USA). This was now a race to 100 or a time limit of 1.5 hours (whichever came first). The neck-and-neck stipulation was not specifically re-stated to these players before the match but assumed to be in play by sport coordinator Eric Townsend.
Cloutier stormed off to a lead in the match (+30 points) and seemed to be well on his way to victory. Grosso picked up his pace and began chopping up racks expertly. It was an impressive show that overtook his opponent and left him within 9 points of victory. It was then that the American began to slow his pace, in an effort to milk the clock. He surrendered the table with less than two minutes remaining. 
The French Canadian began a run but came to a halt to consider the tailend of it. Time limit was called. Cloutier stood in shock. “We are both within 15 points of 100,” stated the Montreal-based serviceman. This fact was lost on everyone but the players. Cloutier had just entered the 15-point margin at 88 points, and straight pool scores are tallied at the end of each rack. Townsend moved to sort the developing dispute. Grosso became heated at the implication that his victory could be delayed or denied. He claimed that because the neck-and-neck stipulation was not specifically repeated for the extended match to 100 and 1.5 hours, it was not in effect. Townsend reminded the American that the spirit of the ask remained the same. It was Grosso who had introduced the stipulation for consideration during the players’ meeting. Frustrated by Grosso holding his ground, Cloutier walked over and shook his hand — effecting a concession. It was an unfortunate turn, as Townsend was planning to return the players to the table to complete the match from 91-88. It would now go down as a Grosso win, advancing him to the gold medal round.
“I’m here to compete, but also to have fun,” shared Cloutier. Fairfax County police officer Scott Davis, who saw the dispute unfold, was visibly irritated and approached the Canadian to offer an apology. “In America, we shouldn’t look to win this way,” underlined Davis.
Despite the setback, Cloutier remained in position for at least the bronze medal. As he waited, John O’Sullivan (Ireland) built a sizable lead in the second-to-last match on the one-loss side, eliminating Wesley Beins (Singapore) in 4th place. O’Sullivan would repeat the feat with Cloutier, denying his rematch with Grosso for the gold. Instead, it would be the Irishman from the one-loss side versus the American, with O’Sullivan needing to win twice to eliminate Grosso.
After stumbling out of the starting blocks, O’Sullivan found himself in a 45-6 hole. For the next hour, Ireland would find more than hope. O’Sullivan put in the performance of the tournament with a comeback for the ages, overcoming the American 125-72. For those who know straight pool, the Irishman “hit a gear.” For those new to the discipline, Grosso became a psychology study. First, his knees started to bounce to improve circulation. Stretching exercises began. The American went to his comb to keep the sweat from his eyes. He switched out his shaft to check the readiness of his equipment. Lastly, there were the one-shot misses when he was finally given the table. It was back to the stool to stew. Many players in this game can recount stories of being “put on ice” by their opponent in straight pool, as O’Sullivan enforced for over an hour of this match.
The subsequent and final match of the discipline pitted the two against each other in a resolving act of attrition. Each now had one loss for the tournament and was noticeably worn down. Grosso was against the ropes after the rough treatment doled out by O’Sullivan in the first set. This time, O’Sullivan jumped out to an early lead. The American showed great heart in locking things up at 51. Unfortunately for him, the leveling was short-lived. Ireland would have repeat gold in straight pool (Belfast, Fairfax), as O’Sullivan made the most of his mulligan in polishing off a 125-99 victory.
In addition to the police and fire matches, players who were eliminated in the afternoon had the chance to shoot racks and trade stories with Lucasi-sponsored professional player Shaun Wilkie. The pro even jumped into the commentator’s chair for the evening to call the final two matches of the event.

World Police and Fire Games Day Two

Michael Grosso, Shaun Wilkie, Wesley Beins and John O’Sullivan (Photo courtesy Bob Lerch)

FAIRFAX — Day 2 of the Pocket Billiards competition from the World Police and Fire Games has been completed. The final 8 competitors squared off in races to seven with medals on the line.


In the end, it was gold for Wesley Beins (Singapore), silver for John O’Sullivan (Ireland), and bronze for Michael Gross (USA). 


Here’s how we got there.


In the round of 8, the results were Wesley Beins (Singapore) def. Jordan Greenhaw (USA), 7-5. Mike Grosso (USA) def. Doug Moreau (Canada), 7-5. Eric Cloutier (Canada) def. Joe Rodrguez (USA), 7-5. John O'Sullivan (Ireland) def. Genadijs Kaminskis (Latvia), 7-6. Greenlaw, Moreau, Rodriguez, and Kaminiskis were eliminated from medal contention.


In the final four, it was Wesley Beins (Singapore) def. Mike Grosso (USA), 7-3. John O'Sullivan (Ireland) def. Eric Cloutier (Canada), 7-6. Beins and O’Sullivan headed to the gold-silver match, while Grosso and Cloutier landed in the bronze-4th place contest.


In the finals, O’Sullivan bolted to a quick 3-1 lead. As Beins hit stroke, The Irishman grinded to a slim 5-4 advantage. It would prove to be short-lived, as the steady Singaporean took three racks in a row to claim gold, 7-5. “I’m happy with my performance today,” shared Beins, in understated form.


In the bronze medal match, Grosso surprised himself in pulling out a tough decision, 7-5. “I worked very hard to beat a strong player, and I did not see this coming,” admitted the American. Cloutier, was noticeably disappointed. After being the second to qualify for the final 8 on Day 1, he had lost two matches in a row to finish the 9Ball competition. “I didn’t play my best today, though I was able to get within five balls of playing for the gold,” recounted the French Canadian.


Here are the stat lines for the medal winners:


Beins (SGP), gold, 6-0 W/L, won 36 of 55 racks, .636 WPCT.

O’Sullivan (IRL), silver, 5-2 W/L, won 36 of 70 racks, .514 WPCT, losses: Cloutier (3-5), Beins (5-7).

Grosso (USA), bronze, 6-2 W/L, won 367 of 65 racks, .569 WPCT, losses: Garcia (4-5), Beins (3-7).


Lucasi-sponsored pro Shaun Wilikie was on hand for five hours in the afternoon to warmup and chat with eliminated players before Wednesday’s straight pool brackets. While the change in format will be dramatic, we expect more of the same great play that we saw for two days in the 9Ball event.


World Police & Fire Games Day One

Photo courtesy Paul Helms

FAIRFAX — Day 1 of the Pocket Billiards competition from the World Police and Fire Games is in the books. Competitors battled in a quadruple-qualifying format administrated by Dan Madden.


The field has been narrowed to the final 8 players for Day 2, and they are: Wesley Beins (Singapore), Eric Cloutier (Canada), Doug Moreau (Canada), Genadijs Kaminskis (Latvia), John O'Sullivan (Ireland), Joe Rodriguez (USA), Michael Grosso (USA), and Jordan Greenhaw (USA). 


“I was pleasantly surprised today by the quality of play representing these games,” offered commentator George Hammerbacher, who’s witnessed many of the top amateurs in recent years through his work for the Action Pool Tour (USA).


In addition to the police and fire matches, players who have been eliminated will have the chance to warmup for the next event (straight pool) with Lucasi-sponsored pro Shaun Wilkie. He will also provide a talk at day’s end, sharing 9Ball tips and experiences from his billiard career.


“I'm happy to be considered and given the opportunity to participate in this event. Thanks goes to Eric Townsend for inviting me to join his team,” added Wilkie.


Matches resume tomorrow from Breakers Sky Lounge in Herndon, Virginia at 12 noon. Medal winners will be awarded at 6pm. Enjoy this great event through the live stream available on the away channel at