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Foldes goes undefeated, downing Dominguez twice, to win 23rd Annual ‘Swanee’ Memorial

Vilmos Foldes, TD Tim Kovacs and Oscar Dominguez

The annual Jay Swanson (‘Swanee’) Memorial has a way of drawing the country’s top pool talent to the West Coast, or thereabouts. Not that players need much of an incentive to play out there, but the list of previous winners includes players who are recognizable by their last or just a single name; Orcollo (2013, 2014), The Lion (2011, 2012), Parica (2010), and Archer (2008), for example. Last year (2018), Canada’s Erik Hjorliefson grabbed the title, though he did not compete this year. This year’s finalists, Hungarian Vilmos Foldes and West Coast native and West Coast Tour director Oscar Dominguez played in last year’s quarterfinals, won by Dominguez. This year, Foldes and Dominguez met twice, in the hot seat and finals, with Foldes winning both. The $3,000-added, 23rd Annual Jay Swanson Memorial, held on the weekend of February 23-24, drew 64 entrants to Griff’s Bar & Billiards in Las Vegas, NV.
 
Foldes’ path to the winners’ circle went through Butch Barba, Brian Begay, Peter Horton and Fach Garcia before arriving at a winners’ side semifinal matchup against Bret Huth. The younger Dominguez (Oscar, with his father, Ernesto, moving in his general direction on the winners’ side) got by Jay Mulimbayan, Marshall Jung, Robin Figueroa and Ian Costello to arrive at his winners’ side semifinal matchup against ‘young gun’ Christopher Robinson-Reinhold, who’d just spoiled Oscar’s opportunity to play his father by defeating him 8-6 in a winners’ side quarterfinal (father and son would not have played, they never do; Ernesto always forfeiting matches in which he’s pitted against his son).
 
Foldes got into the hot seat match 8-4 over Huth. Oscar Dominguez joined him after an 8-2 victory over Robinson-Reinhold. Foldes took the first of his two against Dominguez 8-5 and claimed the hot seat.
 
Over on the loss side, Robinson-Reinhold picked up Nick DeLeon, who, after his defeat at the hands of Bret Huth in a winners’ side quarterfinal, had eliminated Tuan Tran 7-3 and Fach Garcia 7-1 to reach him. Huth, in the meantime, drew Mitch Ellerman, who was in the midst of a six-match, loss-side winning streak that included the elimination of Ernesto Dominguez and Ian Costello, both 7-2.
 
Huth ended Ellerman’s run 7-5 and in the quarterfinals, faced Robinson-Reinhold, who’d defeated DeLeon 7-5, as well. Robinson-Reinhold took one more step, shutting Huth out in those quarterfinals.
 
Oscar Dominguez, no doubt eager for a second shot at Foldes in the hot seat, got his chance with a 7-4 win over Robinson-Reinhold in the semifinals. Foldes, though, in a final race to 11, claimed the 23rd Annual Swanee Memorial title 11-8 over Dominguez.
 
Event representatives thanked Mark Griffin and his staff for their hospitality, as well as sponsors Predator Cues, JB Cases, Simonis Cloth and Discount Custom Apparel. 

Hjorleifson goes undefeated to win 22nd Annual Jay Swanson (Swanee) Memorial

(l to r): Manny Perez & Eric Hjorleifson

It’s hard to know what causes the roller coaster of some careers in pool. Jobs, family, and a host of other influences can impact pool earnings in significant ways, including the distinct possibility of incomplete information. What may look in a given database (our own, included) like a severe drop in a player’s level of participation, may, in fact, just be just a gap in the information reported on his, or her activities.
 
Take Canada’s Erik Hjorleifson, for example, who just went undefeated to win the 22nd Annual Jay Swanson (“Swanee”) Memorial, held on the weekend of February 24-25. Fourteen years ago, he finished in the four-way tie for ninth place at the US Open 9-Ball Championships with three competitors well-known enough to be recognizable by their first names – Earl, Tony, and Ralf (Strickland, Robles and Souquet). A couple of years later (2006; his best recorded earnings year, to date, according to our records), Hjorleifson won two stops, back to back, on what’s known as the Canadian 30K Tour, and here in the US, finished runner-up to Dennis Hatch at a stop on the Joss NE 9-Ball Tour. He won another Canadian 30K Tour stop the following year, and cashed in 10 other events, including Turning Stone VIII (17th). And then, though he continued to appear on payout lists, there were no major tour victories of any kind until he showed up as the winner of the Canadian Championship Men’s Open 10-Ball in 2014.
 
Though he hasn’t been inactive or absent from payouts lists since then (second to Mika Immonen at Turning Stone XXV in 2016, for example, and 25th at both Turning Stone XXVII and XXVIII in 2017), Hjorleifson does appear to have experienced a drop in competitive frequency. Whether his victory at the recent Jay Swanson Memorial is a sign that his personal roller coaster is rising again, remains to be seen, but it was definitely a significant move in the right direction. He went undefeated through the field of 128 entrants that split a $10,000 prize pool. The event was hosted by OnCue Billiards in La Mesa, CA.
 
Following victories over Naiel Tito, Victor Ignacio (double hill), Jose Mendoza, Ben Hrabina (all, save Ignacio, 8-4), and the patriarch of the Dominguez clan, Ernesto 8-6, Hjorleifson moved into a winners’ side semifinal match against Dave Hemmah. Manny Perez, in the meantime, the eventual runner-up, was looking for what would be his first major event victory. He got by Johnny Kang, Marshall Jung, Steven Choy, Justin Marks and the “Swanee” Memorial’s defending champion, Brian Parks, to face Hungary’s Vilmos Foldes (7th in the event last year) in the other winners’ side semifinal.
 
Perez got into the hot seat match with an 8-4 victory over Foldes, and was joined by Hjorleifson, who’d sent Hemmah to the loss side 8-6. Hjorleifson claimed the hot seat 8-4 over Perez and sat in it to await his return.
 
On the loss side, Foldes picked up Mitch Ellerman, who, after being downed by Hemmah in a winners’ side quarterfinal, had gotten by Justin Marks 7-3, and Fach Garcia 7-4 to reach him. Garcia had previously eliminated the elder Dominguez, Ernest, which kept him (Ernesto) from an approaching match versus his son, Oscar (a matchup that the elder Dominguez traditionally forfeits). Hemmah picked up the son, Oscar, who, after his defeat at the hands of Foldes, in a winners’ side quarterfinal, had eliminated Mika Immonen 7-2 and Brian Parks 7-4.
 
Foldes advanced to the quarterfinals 7-2 over Ellerman, and was joined by Oscar Dominguez, who’d defeated Hemmah 7-5. Oscar eliminated Foldes in those quarterfinals and then, locked up in a double hill fight against Perez in the semifinals; a fight won by Perez to earn himself a second shot against Hjorleifson in the finals.
 
Hjorleifson completed his undefeated run. A repeat performance of the hot seat match 8-4 over Perez secured it.
 

Beau Runningen Wins First Annual Brendan Crockett Memorial

Beau Runningen (in Brendan Crockett’s favorite jacket) and Vilmos Foldes

Beau Runningen recovered from a second round loss, and went on to win the 1st Annual Brendan Crockett Memorial 10-Ball Tournament held at On Cue Billiards in La Mesa, California on June 10th – 11th. 

 
Runningen’s weekend started off on the right foot with a 7-2 win over Reid Fleming, but was quickly derailed in his second match when he lost a 7-5 decision to Ramil Gallego. After that loss, Runningen went on an impressive seven match winning streak that included notable wins over Fach Garcia, Oscar Dominguez, Dave Hemmah, Ernesto Dominguez, Rodney Morris and Tyler Styer
 
Runningen rode that winning streak into the finals, where he faced previously unbeaten Vilmos Foldes. Vilmos’ run through the winner’s side includes wins over Michael Robinson, Melissa Herndon, Rey Lorenzo, Dave Hemmah, Rodney Morris and Tyler Styer. The final match started off close with the player tied at 1-1, but an uncharacteristic miss on the 10-ball in rack three seemed to start Foldes’ game unravelling. Runningen controlled the match from that point and easily defeated Foldes 11-4 for first place. 
 
While the tournament drew a field of 87 players, those players and the fans weren’t just there for the thrill of competition. They were all gathered to remember the short life of Brendan Crockett, who passed away almost a year ago with his brother Jefferson, in a car accident. 
 
Brendan was a regular competitor on the West Coast and the idea to hold a memorial tournament came together by Melissa Herndon and Desiree Dominguez pretty quickly. Herndon commented on the emotional weekend, “It was incredibly moving to see so many players show up to celebrate Brendan and play in the inaugural memorial tourney.  I heard a bunch of new stories about him, and it really felt like the weekend was about him and not just another tournament.  Brendan loved competition, and 10-ball was his favorite.  His friends, the sponsors, On Cue Billiards, and the players all came together to make this event into an event that Brendan would've loved…and we look forward to making the 2nd Annual Brendan Crockett Memorial 10-Ball Open an even bigger, badder tournament that draws more top name players! “
 
To help raise money at the event, Brendan’s father Bill raffled off a Bill Stroud Joss West cue from his personal collection. Bill Crockett is a cue collector and plans on raffling off a cue at this event each year. The tournament raised nearly $1500 for the Brendan Crockett Scholarship Fund. More information on this fund can be found online at Brendancrockett.org

Morris wins Mezz West State Tour Stop 2

Rodney Morris

The Mezz West State Tour held its second stop in beautiful Northridge, CA over the weekend of May 9th and 10th. This 9 ball event attracted 90 players, including Mika Immonen, Oscar Dominguez, Rodney Morris and Vilmos Foldes. This event was held at Plush Pocket Billiards, which is an old school style pool room which has 17 nine foot tables and 3 Diamond bar tables. 
 
The event started with a heavy hitter top and bottom bracket. The top bracket held big gun players; Brian Parks, Fach Garcia, Oscar Dominguez, Mika Immonen and Johnny Kang. Making their way through the top half of the upper bracket was Fach Garcia who had wins over Justin Marks, Jaden Brock, Al Moreno and Attile Corsba. He was met in the final four winners by Oscar Dominguez who had wins over James Harris, Laurie Butera, Sal Butera, and Mika Immonen. Garcia was up early leading 7-2. But in true Dominguez style Oscar grinded back to eventually win 9-7 sending him to the hot seat match. 
 
The lower bracket was even tougher with heavy hitters like Rodney Morris, Melissa Herndon, Vilmos Foldes, Danny Gohkul, Dave Hemmah and Ernesto Dominguez. Melissa Herndon showed her dominance with wins over Dave Hemmah, Shaun Smallwood, Manny Herrea, Henry Bodt and Aaron Estrada. She was met in the final four winners by “Rocket” Rodney Morris who had wins over Dave Martineau, Jeremy Long, Danny Gohkul and Vilmos Foldes. This was tight match with it tied at 3, 4 and 5. Eventually the “Rocket” took off, winning 9-6.  
 
Meanwhile on the losers side, Beau Runningen, Billy Dyke, Brian Parks, Jerry Lin, Johnny Kang, Ernesto Dominguez and Dave Hemmah were all duking it out. Beau Runningen made a tough fight winning four matches on the losers side before being beaten by Attila Corsba, forcing him to settle for 9th-12th. Attila then moved on to face “Iceman” Mika Immonen who was on fire and ran through him 9-3.  Mika would continue his streak by beating Melissa Herndon and then Dave Hemmah. Dave Hemmah had a great run with wins over Fach Garcia, Aaron Estrada, Vilmos Foldes, Johnny Kang, Sal Butera, Lawerence Rocheda and Mark Anthony. His loss to Immonen forced him to settle for 4th place. 
 
The hot seat match between Rodney Morris and Oscar Dominguez was a nail biter, with several break and runs, along with phenomenal safety play. The match went hill-hill, with Rodney Morris coming away with the win. This sent Dominguez to the 3rd place match to face Immonen. This match was heavily one sided and we did not see Immonen in his best performance, allowing Dominguez to win 9-2 and sending him to a rematch with Morris in the finals. 
 
The finals are an extended race to eleven and both Dominguez and Morris both breaking and running almost every rack. Both players played what could have been a 900 Accu- Stats. The match was tied the entire time at 7-7, 8-8,  9-9 and 10-10 (hill-hill). In the hill-hill game Dominguez was breaking. Dominguez broke in 2 balls, but had a tough opening shot on the two. He opted to play safe, but Morris played a great safe back. Dominguez executed an incredible kick-safe. Morris then kicked but accidentally made the two ball and was hooked on the three ball. Morris made an incredible kick and left Dominguez a tough cut on the three down the rail. Instead of trying to fire the shot, Dominguez played a creative safety. Morris made a good hit and left Dominguez still in a tough spot. Dominguez made the three, the four and played safe on the five. Morris then jumped in the five and ran out, winning the hill-hill set. 
 
The Mezz West State Tour would like to thank all their sponsors: Mezz Cues (Miki-Mezz.com), West State Billiard Supply (WestStateBilliards.com), Zan Tips (Zan-Tip.com), Taom Break/Jump Tips (TaomTips.com), Andy Cloth (AndyCloth.com), PiUs Company, So Cal Tap, Kurzweil Country Meats, fast&loose desgins (fastnloosedesigns.com), Contact Point Media, Turtle Rack, NYC Grind (NYCGrind.com) and AZ Billiards (AZBilliards.com). 
 
We would also like to thank owner Steve, along with the entire Plush Pocket Billiards staff for hosting the event. We would also like to thank all the players for coming out and supporting the tour. 

Geronimo wins 19th Annual Jay “Swanee” Swanson Memorial Tournament

Rodrigo Geronimo (Photo courtesy of Ashi Fachler)

Three weeks prior to becoming winner and runner-up of the 19th Annual Jay "Swanee" Swanson Memorial Tournament at Hard Times in Bellflower, CA on the weekend of February 7-8, Rodrigo Geronimo and Vilmos Foldes had met in the finals of a stop on the Mezz West Tour in La Mesa, CA. In the earlier event, which featured an appearance by Efren Reyes (he finished fourth), Rodrigo Geronimo and Vilmos Foldes met first in a winners' side final 16 battle, and then, in a two-set final. Foldes took the opening set of that final, but Geronimo prevailed in the second set to secure his third Mezz West Tour title of the season.
 
At the most recent "Swanee" Memorial, Geronimo and Foldes squared off twice, as well; first, in the hot seat match, and again, in the final. Foldes took the first of those two, but Geronimo won the single match, race-to-11 final to claim the event title. The two-year defending champion Dennis Orcollo was not on hand to defend his title at this year's $4,000-added event that drew 164 entrants to Hard Times in Bellflower.
 
Best friends, road partners and fellow Hungarians Foldes and Attila Bezdan advanced to a winners' side semifinal in this one (they'd met on the loss side at the Mezz West event, three weeks earlier). Foldes took on Brian Parks, while Bezdan faced Geronimo. They would not meet again. While Foldes defeated Parks 7-5, Geronimo sent Bezdan to the loss side 7-4. Foldes then claimed the hot seat 7-4 over Geronimo.
 
As the loss side dwindled down to eight, three familiar names remained in the hunt. Two of them, Rodney Morris and Mika Immonen, had been sent to the loss side by Foldes, and as Bezdan moved over from the winners' side semifinal, he faced an "Iceman" on a 10-match, loss side winning streak that included victories over Oscar Dominguez and a shutout over Corey Deuel, who reportedly was never able to get up from his chair. Parks, meanwhile, drew Morris who'd just eliminated Fach Garcia and given up only a single rack to Chris Rose.
 
Morris and Immonen advanced to the quarterfinals with identical 7-5 victories over Parks and Bezdan. Morris ended the Iceman's streak with a 7-2 quarterfinal victory, and was then, himself eliminated by Geronimo in an entertaining, double hill semifinal. The Philippines trumped Hungary at the 19th Annual "Swanee" Memorial, as Geronimo went on to defeat Foldes 11-6 and claim the event title.

Sambajon Wins Mezz West State Tour Stop

Stop #6 on the Mezz West State Tour headed south to the San Diego area of La Mesa, CA to On Cue Billiards. 96 players from all over California, Nevada, Arizona, and several international players were all in attendance for a chance to grasp their hands on piece of the $6800 prize fund.
 
Leading the top half of the bracket was Phoenix, Arizona native Tim Daniel. Tim had strong wins over Art Garcia, Kevin May, Ramin Bakhtiari, Victor Ignacio, and Chris Fangre all the way to the hot seat match. While on the lower half, Santos Sambajon Jr. slowly but surely snuck his way through players Mike Meeker, Al Garcia, Fach Garcia, Ernesto Dominguez, Tang Hoa, and Amir Shoshan setting up the hot seat match between Daniels and Sambajon. This match would prove to be a lobsided one as Santos' experience and shotmaking took the hot seat with a resounding 9-2 scoreline.
 
After an early defeat, Hungarian native Vilmos Foldes stormed through the losers bracket with 6 wins on the losers side. Tim Daniels finally stopped the former Junior World Champion in his tracks to settle for third place setting up a rematch in the true double elimination finals between Daniel and Sambajon. 
 
The packed house at On Cue was treated to a nail biting finals as Daniels managed to control the first set with uncharacteristic errors on behalf of the diminutive Filipino by a 9-4 score. Santos and Daniels battled toe to toe in the final and concluding second set with Daniels having a very routine out with only 3 balls left on the table. Upon pocketing the 7, Daniels left himself a slightly awkward angle which would prove costly as Daniels failed to manage the carom on the 9 correctly by scratching, only leaving the gift of shooting the 9 ball with ball in hand for Santos. The devastated Daniels consoled himself with runner up prize money of $1000 while Santos took home the title and $1500 first prize.
 
A very special thanks to all of our sponsors; Mezz Cues, West State Billiard Supply, ZAN tips, Turtle Rack, POVPool, NYCGrind, AZBilliards, Kurzweil's Country Meats, Marty Carey Jump Cue, Virtual Pool 4, and Fast & Loose Designs.

Geronimo wins Mezz West State Tour Stop #1

Rodrigo Geronimo and Ramon Mistica

The Mezz West State Tour kicked off its inaugural event this past weekend of August 9th and 10th at the infamous Hard Times Billiards in Bellflower, CA. This $2000 added event brought 91 players from all over California, Nevada, Arizona, and even as far away as from Colorado to take battle on the green. The stacked field of the some of the best players on the west coast grabbed their cues to and headed to Hard Times to fight for the $1,655 first prize and $6,550 in cash prizes.  The format for this tour is unique in that it’s competitively handicapped; Pros race to 9, Semi pros to 8, and open players to 7. There was not a single complaint the entire weekend as favoritism or bias was not a factor in determining a players rating. 
 
Leading the top half of the bracket was former US Open runner up, Tang Hoa, who showed a glimpse of his younger self until he faced Ramon Mistica who sent him to the loser bracket after an impressive performance. Mistica maintained his momentum and defeated Ernesto Dominguez soon after to win the top half of the bracket. Meanwhile, his road partner from the Philippines, Rodrigo Geronimo controlled the bottom half of the bracket with superb play over Los Angeles locals, Fach Garcia and Oscar Dominguez until he faced Ramon for the hot seat.
 
The hot seat match went quickly as Ramon kept his fast and loose style in complete control where he soundly defeated Rodrigo. The victims of these two great Filipino players fought valiantly on the one loss side to make an attempt at redemption. Johnny Kang, a Los Angeles local, displayed his aggressive style and big break until he seemed rather exhausted after so many closely contested matches. He finally succumbed to Rodrigo Geronimo in a 9-4 defeat. After a very long weekend, the two gentleman maintained a fantastic level of play all the way until the last ball dropped around 2 am with Rodrigo Geronimo taking the first place prize of $1655 and Mistica settled for $1220. Johnny Kang received $800 for 3rd and Tang Hoa rounded out the top 4 with $525 for his efforts. 
 
The Mezz West State Tour owners and founders, Desiree Rivera and Oscar Dominguez would like to personally thank every single player, spectator, and staff of Hard Times Billiards for their support all weekend. The Mezz West State Tour would like to acknowledge all of our sponsors and thank them for their generosity; Mezz Cues, West State Billiard Supply, ZAN tips, Fast&Loose Designs, AZ Billiards, and the Turtle Rack by Olive. Next stop is Event #2 at Hard Times Billiards in Sacramento, California. Signups are now being taken and pre register at mezzweststatetour.com 

Van Boening double dips Appleton to claim Andy Mercer Memorial in Vegas

Shane Van Boening

Posting its results on-line, organizers of the 2014 Andy Mercer Memorial at Rum Runners in Las Vegas, opted for a bit of humor. The event's winner, Shane Van Boening, was declared to be its Supreme Champion, while runner-up Darren Appleton was Worthy Adversary. Semifinalist Bernardo Chavez was granted the title of Maybe Next Time.
 
While name recognition can be an unreliable way to predict tournament outcomes (as evidenced by Mercer over Duke in the on-going NCAA basketball tournament), Van Boening and Appleton seemed destined to meet in this $3,700-added (guaranteed) tournament that drew 64 entrants to Vegas on the weekend of March 21-23. While the field had its share of other 'names' like the Dominguez family (Ernesto and Oscar), Ozzy Reynolds and Jason Klatt, it was more clearly represented by Maybe Next Time; Bernardo Chavez hasn't (to our knowledge) ever finished higher than seventh since his name started to appear on payout lists, dating back to 2007. In this tournament, though, he challenged Appleton for the hot seat, and had the misfortune of facing Van Boening in the semifinals.
 
Appleton's path to the event victory went through Joe Canella, Sal Butera, Jim Carmona, and Tres Kane before coming up against Jason Klatt in a winners' side semifinal. Klatt had just sent (in order) Ozzy Reynolds and Van Boening to the loss side. Chavez, in the meantime, had gotten by Roger Bordley, Ramin Bahktiari, Jimmy Moore and Fach Garcia and picked up Oscar Dominguez in the other winners' side semifinal. Appleton sent Klatt over, while Chavez was busy doing likewise to Dominguez. Appleton gained the hot seat over Chavez and sat in it, waiting on Van Boening.
 
Van Boening opened his loss-side proceedings with a victory over Brian Parks, followed it by defeating Bordley and drew Dominguez (Oscar), as a result. Klatt came over to face Walter Glass, who'd eliminated Garcia and the other Dominguez (Ernesto). Klatt and Van Boening advanced to a quarterfinal re-match, won by Van Boening, who then ended Chavez' hopes for a re-match against Appleton. Chavez would go home with almost as much prize money for this one event than he's reported to have earned at the tables over the last four years. 
 
Destiny's hand played out and the two winners of the last four US Open 9-Ball Championships (Appleton in 2010 and 2011, Van Boening in 2012 and 2013) met in a true double elimination final. Van Boening took both sets to claim the event title.