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Hunt goes undefeated, downs Kirshnitz twice to claim NE 9-Ball Series title

(l to r):George Palmer, Gabriel Kirshnitz & Gene Hunt.

According to our records, while Gene Hunt has been competing at the tables for about a decade now, he hasn’t had a payout at a regional tournament since May of 2016, when he finished 9th at a stop on the Predator Pro Am Tour. Those same records now indicate that on Saturday, June 1, Hunt chalked up an undefeated win on the New England 9-Ball Series, downing Gabriel Kirshnitz twice to claim the event title. The event (stop #21) drew 56 entrants to Crow’s Nest Pub and Grill in Plaistow, NH.
On his way to his first meetup versus Kirshnitz in the hot seat match, Hunt, working in the event’s upper bracket, dispatched Phil Russo and Javier Fantauzzi to the loss side, before facing one of the event’s two highest Fargo-rated players, Kerry McAuliffe (648). The highest Fargo-rated player at this event was Ryan Cullen (673), who’d show up later on the loss side. Hunt (559) battled McAuliffe to double hill before sending him to the loss side 5-6. He then defeated Soel Quinones 6-2 to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal match against Steve Sutton.
Kirshnitz (488), in the meantime, working in the lower bracket got by Don Roy, Kim Orr, Mark Pulsifer and shut out Chris Richard to draw George Palmer in the other winners’ side semifinal.
Both of the winners’ side semifinals went double hill with Hunt, in a straight-up race to 6, downing Sutton and Kirshnitz, in a straight-up race to 5, sending Palmer to the loss side. The battle for the hot seat went double hill, as well. With Hunt racing to 6 and Kirshnitz to 5, Hunt claimed the hot seat 6-4.
On the loss side, it was Sutton who drew the event’s top Fargo-rated player, Cullen, who was in the midst of a six-match, loss-side winning streak that was about to end. He’d recently shut out Quinones and picked up a forfeit win from Eric Lim. George Palmer drew Mark Small, who, like Cullen, was in the midst of a six-match, loss-side winning streak that was about to end. He’d most recently defeated Chris Richards, double hill and shut out Catherine Ong. Small’s elimination of Ong and Cullen’s forfeit over Lim sent Ong and Lim, who are married, home at the same time, with the same $80 payout for the two-way tie for 7th place.
Sutton and Palmer got right back to work. Sutton downed Cullen 4-4 (Cullen racing to 6) and Palmer eliminated Small, double hill (4-3). With Sutton racing to 5, Palmer then defeated him 4-2 in the quarterfinals.
In a straight-up race to 4 in the semifinals, Kirshnitz earned himself a second shot at Hunt in the hot seat with a 4-1 victory over Palmer. In a repeat of their hot seat match, Hunt and Kirshnitz battled to double hill a second time, with the same result. Hunt claimed his first NE 9-Ball Series title.
Tour director Marc Dionne thanked the ownership and staff at Crow’s Nest for their hospitality, as well as sponsors Predator Cues, USAPL New England, Fargo Rate, Bert Kinister, AZBilliards, Inside English, Professor Q-ball’s National Pool and 3-Cushion News, Delta 13 Racks, MJS Construction, Bob Campbell with Lease Fundings, Master Billiards and OTLVISE Billiard Mechanics of America. The next stop on the New England 9-Ball Series (#22), scheduled for July 14, will find the tour back at Crow’s Nest in Plaistow, NH.

Burns and Kirshnitz go undefeated to win NE 9-Ball Series 8-ball partners event

(l to r): Gabe Kirshnitz & Andy Burns

Handicapped tournaments are always an exercise in numbers; different handicaps yielding uneven races, usually leveled by allowing a lower handicap a game or two ‘on the wire’ in a race to a single number. When it comes to partners tournaments, that numbers game gets even more complex. The handicaps of the two players in one partnership are added, and then, divided in half to come up with the working handicap for the team; a ‘6’ and a ‘4’ make for a ’10,’ divided by 2 yields a team that plays as a ‘5.’ This could be disconcerting to the ‘4’ who’ll be playing a little above his/her normal skill level, while the ‘6’ is going to be happier, playing just below his/hers. Then, there are the uneven numbers – ‘11’ for example – which, in the absence of a ‘5.5’ handicap, gets rounded up to compete as a ‘6.’
On Saturday, May 19, Stop #25 on the New England 9-Ball Series was an 8-ball partners tournament which hosted 42 teams of two with a dizzying array of individual and partner handicap numbers. Emerging from the pack to go undefeated were Andy Burns and Gabe Kirshnitz, who, as C+ players individually, had a combined handicap of ’10,’ and played as a ‘5’ team. Their finals opponents – Andy Kuang and Ming Xu – played as a ‘5’ team, as well, although instead of two ‘5’s, they were a ‘6’ (Kuang) and a ‘4’ (Xu). Kuang/Xu won five on the loss side to challenge Burns/Kirshnitz in the finals. The event was hosted by Buster’s Billiards in Somersworth, NH.
Burns and Kirshnitz emerged from the event’s lower handicap bracket, in which they went undefeated. They faced John Files and Steve Downs in the lower bracket finals and shut them out to earn their place in the hot seat match against Jodie Thompson and Javier Fantauzzi, from the upper bracket, who’d defeated Bill Fassett and Jose Pardo 3-2 (Fasset/Pardo racing to 5). Burns/Kirshnitz then shut out Thompson/Fantauzzi to claim the hot seat and wait for what turned out to be the team of Kuang and Xu.
On the loss side, Kuang and Xu began their loss-side trek to the finals with a 3-2 victory over Justin and Jay Cunningham (Cunninghams racing to 4), and then defeated Mike Waldon and Freddie Salazar, double hill, to draw Fassett/Pardo. Files/Downs picked up Daves Morrison and Kirchner, who’d eliminated Tyler Campbell and Amanda MacDonald 3-1 and the team of Carlos Augliar and Don Gagnon, double hill.
Kuang/Xu defeated Fassett/Pardo 3-5 (Fassett/Pardo racing to 6), and in the quarterfinals faced Files/Downs, who’d eliminated Morrison/Kirchner 3-2 (Morrison/Kirchner racing to 5). Files/Downs managed only a single rack in the quarterfinals, advancing Kuang/Xu to the semifinals against Thompson/Fantauzzi, racing to 4. Kuang/Xu earned their slot in the finals with a 3-2 win over Thompson/Fantauzzi.
With identical handicaps (10), both sets of finalists were competing in a straight-up race to 4. Burns and Kirshnitz allowed Kuang/Xu only a single rack in those finals and claimed the event title.
Tour director Marc Dionne thanked the ownership and staff at Buster’s Billiards, as well as sponsors Ozone Billiards, Molinari, Bert Kinister,, Inside English, Professor Q-Ball’s National Pool and 3-Cushion News, Delta 13 racks, MJS Construction, Bob Campbell, Championship Cloth and OTLVISE Billiard Mechanics of America. The next stop on the NE 9-Ball Series – Stop 26 – has been cancelled due to a scheduling conflict. Stop #27, scheduled for July 15, will be hosted by Crow’s Nest, Plaistow, NH.