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Cha double-dips Goberdhan to win 25th Predator Tri-State Invitational

John Leyman, Henry Cha, Dan Cintron, Jason Goberdhan and Todd Fleitman

Since he first began showing up on the tri-state New York area’s payout lists two years ago, Henry Cha has been making steady progress, earning a little more each year since then. He earned more in 2021 than he did in 2020 (which, full disclosure and thanks to Covid, pretty much everybody did) and now, midway through 2022, he’s already surpassed last year’s earnings. He won his first Predator Tri-State Tour stop in back in March and this past weekend, (June 25-26), he chalked up his second Predator Tri-State win, coming from the loss side to down Jason Goberdhan twice in the true double elimination final of the tour’s $3,800-added, 25th Invitational Tournament. The annual event, which signals the end of one tour season and the start of another (in this case, ‘20/’21 to ‘21/’22) drew 63 entrants to Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY. 

Cha’s trip went through Lidio Ramirez, Raymond Lee and Julian Tierney to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal versus Mike Pruitt. Goberdhan, in the meantime, downed Nick Persaud, Jay Chiu, Nick Torraca and Anil Dhenraj to face Linda Cheung in the other winners’ side semifinal.

Cha got into the hot seat match with a 7-3 win over Pruitt and was joined by Goberdhan, who sent Cheung to the loss side, double hill. Goberdhan, looking for his first win on the tour since four days before Christmas last year, claimed the hot seat 7-5 in what would prove to be his last win of the weekend.

On the loss side, Jaydev Zaveri, who’d lost his second round, winners’ side match to Tierney and then got by Hunter Sullivan and Basdeo Sookhai in the first money round, got a second shot at Tierney. They battled to double hill before Zaveri advanced to defeat Frank Rodriguez, also double hill, and drew Mike Pruitt, just over from the winners’ side. Chueng arrived on the loss side to draw a rematch against KC Clayton, whom she’d defeated in a winners’ side quarterfinal and who’d gone on to defeat Marc Lamberti 6-4 and Anil Dhenraj 6-3.

Zaveri defeated Pruitt 7-4 and in the quarterfinals, faced Cheung, who’d eliminated Clayton, double hill. Zaveri ended Cheung’s run 9-7 in those quarterfinals. 

Zaveri’s run ended immediately thereafter. Cha defeated him 7-5 for a second and necessary third shot at Goberdhan in the hot seat. Cha took both sets of the true double elimination final 8-5 to claim the Predator Tri-State 25th Invitational Tournament. In addition to the prize money they earned, Cha took home a Predator Cue, while Goberdhan and Zaveri each were awarded a Poison Break Cue. 

Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff at Steinway Billiards for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor Predator Cues, Ozone Billiards, Sterling-Gaming, Kamui Tips, Phil Capelle, Pool & Billiards, Professor Q Ball, Bender Cues, Paul Dayton Cues, Bloodworth Ball Cleaner, Joe Romer Trophies and Quick Slick. The next stop on the Predator Tri-State Tour scheduled for the Saturday, July 30, will be a $500-added, A-B-C-D 10-ball event, hosted by Clifton Billiards in Clifton, NJ. 

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Cha chalks up his first Predator Tri-State Tour win

Henry Cha

The first-place prize in this past weekend’s (March 12) stop on the Predator Tri-State Tour, combined with the cash he pocketed for finishing 17th at the B & L Open 10-Ball Championship in Maryland last month, put Henry Cha just over halfway toward a goal of surpassing his 2021 earnings at the tables; his best year of three in which he has recorded payouts. It was also his first win since he earned his first cash payout, taking the September, 2020 season opener of the Mac Attack Tour. The $1,000-added Predator Tri-State stop this past weekend drew 26 entrants to Cue Bar in Bayside (Queens), NY. 

Cha opened his campaign against Dave Callaghan, who gave him a double-hill run for his money, before Cha prevailed to advance. Cha then faced and defeated Robert Calton (6-3), who’d defeated him at a Predator Tri-State tour stop twice last May, at the same location, in the hot seat and finals. Cha then sent Mikhail Kim to the loss side 6-4 to draw Tommy Schreiber in one of the winners’ side semifinals. In the meantime, KC Clayton’s march to the hot seat match began with a bye, after which he downed Linda Cheung 5-2 and Carlos Duque 5-3 to arrive at his winners’ side semifinal against Jay Chiu.

Cha downed Schreiber 6-4, as Clayton got by Chiu 5-3. In his second recorded hot seat match since he’d lost to Calton, two years ago, Cha sent Clayton to the semifinals 8-4.

On the loss side, Schreiber drew Kim, who, following his defeat versus Cha in a winners’ side quarterfinal, had downed Julian Tierney, double hill and Kevin Shin 6-4. Chiu picked up Duque, who’d lost his winners’ side quarterfinal to Clayton and advanced to eliminate Suzzie Wong and Cheung, both double hill.

Chiu ran right into his second straight loss, which advanced Duque to the quarterfinals 5-3. Schreiber joined him after eliminating Kim 6-4.

Schreiber and Duque locked up in a quarterfinal, double hill fight (the fifth of the event’s final 14 matches) that sent Schreiber to the semifinals against Clayton. The sixth double hill fight among the final 14 eventually sent Clayton back for a rematch against Cha, waiting for him in the hot seat. 

The finals brought the total number of double hill fights to half of the final 14. Clayton was looking for his first recorded victory after his best recorded earnings year (2021), in which he’d finished either 4th or 5th (three each) at six stops on the Predator Tri-State Tour. He had to settle for his first runner-up finish on the tour because Cha dropped the last 9-ball to claim the event title.

Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff at Cue Bar, as well as title sponsor Predator Cues, Ozone Billiards, Sterling Billiards, Kamui, Quick Stick, Bloodworth Ball Cleaner, Joe Romer Trophies, Phil Capelle Publications and Pool and Billiards. The Predator Tri-State Tour will return to Cue Bar, for a formerly cancelled stop, on the Sunday, April 3.

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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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Schreiber benefits from late forfeit to chalk up his first win on Predator Tri-State since 2019

Thomas Schreiber

You have to go back to the week between Christmas and New Year’s in late 2019 (his best recorded earnings year) to find the last time Thomas Schreiber won an event on what was then just the Tri-State Tour but is now the Predator Tri-State Tour. This past weekend, however (Saturday, Aug. 28), he recorded his first victory since that holiday weekend two years ago. He advanced to the hot seat match, where he was defeated by Solomon Brown. The final never happened. Brown forfeited the final match, citing a family emergency, and the event title was assigned to Schreiber. The $1,000-added event drew 28 entrants to Cue Bar Lounge & Billiards in Bayside (Queens), NY.

Schreiber and Brown advanced through the field to face opponents in the two winners’ side semifinals; Schreiber versus Kevin Shin, while Brown took on Jake Chiu. Brown shut Chiu out, as Schreiber sent Shin to the loss side 7-2. Though Schreiber would check in with some late racks to make the hot seat match a little closer than it appeared it was going to be when Brown had a 6-1 lead, Brown did persevere and claim the hot seat 7-5, in what would prove to be his last match.

On the loss side, Shin and Chiu walked right into their second straight losses. Shin drew Henry Cha, who’d defeated Thomas Hagan 7-5 and Josh Friedberg 7-4 to reach him and then, defeated him, double hill, to advance to the quarterfinals. Chiu picked up K.C. Clayton, who’d eliminated Jason Goberdhan 6-3 and Esteban Morell, Jr., double hill, before downing Chiu, double hill, as well.

Cha got out in front of Clayton in the quarterfinals that followed and won 9-5, for a shot at Schreiber in the final match of the event, the semifinals. The last match was another double hill affair, with Schreiber dropping the last ball, and thanks to Brown’s forfeiture of the finals, claiming his first event title in almost two years.

Tour representatives thanked the Cue Bar owners and staff, as well as title sponsor Predator Cues, Ozone Billiards, Sterling Gaming, Kamui Tips, Phil Cappelle, Blue Book Publishing, Human Kinetics, Pool & Billiards, Romer Trophies and Professor Q Ball. The next stop on the Predator Tri-State Tour, scheduled for the weekend of Sept. 25-26, will be a $1,250-added, 10-ball event, hosted by The Spot in Nanuet, NY.

Calton goes undefeated, downs Cha twice on Predator Tri-State Tour

Robert Calton and Henry Cha

Last September, Robert Calton and Henry Cha squared off in the hot seat match of the inaugural tournament of the Mac Attack Tour. Launched by Mac Jankov to accommodate the hundreds of pool players who, in the absence of the Tri-State Tour and the Predator Pro Am Tour due to the pandemic, had been left high, dry and without competition in the tri-state New York City area. Cha sent Calton to the semifinals in that nine-months-ago hot seat match, but did not face him a second time. At the end of the quarterfinals in that event, Calton, Cha and Nishant Narang opted out of playing both a semifinal and a final match and split the top three prizes. 

Fast forward to this past weekend (May 22-23). Tony Robles had moved to Florida and the Predator Pro Am Tour came to a complete stop. The Tri-State Tour resurfaced last month, having sought and obtained sponsorship from Predator, and became the Predator Tri-State Tour.

And there, in the hot seat battle, and this time, in the finals, were Robert Calton and Henry Cha. Only this time, it was Calton who claimed the hot seat and then, defeated Cha a second time in the finals to claim his first event title. The $1,000-added event drew 63 entrants to Cue Bar in Bayside (Queens), NY.

Calton’s path to the winners’ circle went through Paolo Valaverde, Philip Pearce, Adrian Daniel and Tri Chau to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal matchup versus Todd Trent. Cha opened his campaign up against Basdeo Sookhai and then sent Eddie Kwok, Duc Lam and Jimmy Acosta to the loss side, picking up Hunter Sullivan in the other winners’ side semifinal.

Calton got by Trent 7-5, as Cha was busy sending Sullivan over 7-3. Calton claimed the hot seat 7-4 over Cha and waited on his return.

On the loss side, Sullivan picked up Doug Youmans, who’d recently defeated Jimmy Acosta 7-5 and Jimmy Gutierrez 10-5. Trent drew KC Clayton, who was working on a seven-match, loss-side winning streak that had just eliminated Diana Rojas 6-3 (#5) and Adrian Daniel 6-4 (#6).

Sullivan advanced to the quarterfinals 9-5 over Youmans. Clayton took one more step to join him, downing Trent 7-4. Sullivan stopped Clayton’s run 6-3 in those quarterfinals.

In what proved to be the only double hill match of the entire tournament, Cha defeated Sullivan in the semifinals, earning a second shot at Calton, waiting for him in the hot seat. Calton took the opening set of the potential two, 7-4, and claimed the event title.

Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff Cue Bar for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor Predator Cues, Ozone Billiards, Sterling Billiards, Kamui, Quick Stik, Bloodworth Ball Cleaner, Joe Romer Trophies, Phil Cappelle Publications and Pool and Billiards. The next stop on the Predator Tri-State Tour, scheduled for the weekend of June 12-13, will be hosted by The Spot in Nanuet, NY.


Jankov Takes Matters Into His Own Hands, Launches Series of Tri-State New York Area Tourneys

Robert Calton, Henry Cha and Nishant Narang

Cha, Calton and Narang share inaugural spotlight with 11-year-old who defeats her Dad

Mac Jankov, a tri-state New York area pool player and a competitor on both the Tri-State Tour and Predator Pro Am Tour got a little tired of waiting for those tours to re-start. One of them (the Predator Pro Am) had shut down completely and Jankov was not only looking for competition himself, but was aware of many fellow players looking, as well. He’d noted the proliferation of virtual ‘ghost’ challenges playing out on the Internet, but like many fellow competitors, it was not enough.

“The pool community in New York/New Jersey is huge and has been growing all the time, thanks to the Tri-State and Predator Pro Am tours,” he said. “Ghost tournaments are not the same as being in a real competition with other real players, in the same room, playing on the same table.”

Jankov took the proverbial bull by the horns. After hearing from members of the tri-state pool community of a recently re-opened and under-new-management pool room – Breaker Billiards in Clifton, NJ – that was drawing many area players since it re-opened, he approached owner Leonard Morina. On Sunday, September 13, Jankov oversaw the first (and not the last) Breaker Billiards 9-Ball Tournament.

“I created a Facebook page about the event,” said Jankov, “and within six hours, the proposed field of 32 was full, with a waiting list, 15 players deep.”

The field was split into upper (A/B) and lower (C/D) brackets with 15 players in each and things got underway at 11 a.m. on Sunday morning.  Races were basically, with some handicap adjustments, 7 on the winners’ side and 6 on the losers’ side. The event finished when the final three players – Henry Cha, Robert Calton and Nashan Narang – negotiated a split of the top three prizes. Cha, originally from the upper bracket, was in the hot seat at the time and became the event’s official winner.

Cha, a B+ player, had worked his way through Erwin Jao, Chris Schmidt and Tommy Schreiber to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal match against Raymond Paragas, who’d just sent Kevin Scalzitti to the loss side. Scalzitti joined the tournament one day after winning a stop on the Garden State Pool Tour.

Working in the lower bracket initially, Robert Calton had survived an opening round double hill match against Christina Li. He then got by CA Duque, who’d just sent 11-year-old Brooke Nasta to the loss side (more on her and her Dad later). Calton then downed “Scooter” Hilton to draw Nishant Narang in the other winners’ side semifinal.

Calton got into the hot seat match 7-3 over Narang and met up with Cha, who’d sent Paragas over 7-5. Cha played what proved to be his final match in claiming the hot seat 7-5 over Calton.

On the loss side, Narang and Paragas showed up in the first money round. Paragas drew Chris Schmidt, who’d recently eliminated Scalzitti and Christian J. Orque, both 6-2. Narang picked up Christian Taeza, who, showing no mercy for the player responsible for him being there, defeated Mac Jankov 6-4 and Suzzie Wong, 6-2. Two loss-side matches earlier, Wong, one of the Tri-State and Predator Pro Am Tour’s top female and top C players had eliminated the aforementioned 11-year-old, Brooke Nasta, which brings us to the father/daughter match.

Brooke Nasta

11-year-old Nasta faces and defeats her Dad on the loss side

Brooke Nasta, who, at 11, became a championship finalist at the Billiard Education Foundation’s 2020 Junior Nationals and has qualified for league play in Las Vegas, came to this tournament with her Dad, Anthony Nasta. They both signed on to compete and entered the tournament in the C/D bracket. 

Dad won his opening round match against Dave Votta 7-5 and then, was sent to the loss side by Christian Taeza 7-4. Dad opened his loss-side campaign against his daughter, who’d opened her loss-side journey with a 6-4 victory over Christina Li. 

Unlike the Californian father-son duo of Ernesto and Oscar Dominguez, who never play each other because father Ernesto always forfeits to his son, the father-daughter combination competed and Brooke came out on top 7-5. In a way, though, Dad shook his daughter out of a low-heat frying pan and threw her into a fire against Suzzie Wong. Suzzie and Brooke battled to double hill before Wong prevailed. Wong and Brooke exchanged pleasantries after the match, with the elder Wong complementing the younger Brooke on her game play, setting up a potential BFF combination right there on the spot.

Wong played one more match. She defeated Scooter Hilton before meeting and being defeated by Christian Taeza. 

The victory over Wong proved to be Taeza’s ‘swan song’ as he went down to defeat in that first money round 7-5 to Nishant Narang. Chris Schmidt joined Narang in the quarterfinals after eliminating Paragas 6-4.

In what proved to be the last match of the evening, Narang downed Schmidt 6-4. Narang, Calton and Cha negotiated the payout settlement and it was over.

In his first foray into the world of directing pool tournaments, Mac Jankov thanked Leonard Morina and his staff for their hospitality. Jankov has posted videos of this recent tournament at a new site he created on YouTube;

The next independent event, organized by Jankov is scheduled for Sunday, September 27 and will be hosted by Clifton Billiards. Jankov and his ‘crew’ will return to Breaker Billiards for another 9-ball tourney, scheduled for Sunday, October 4.