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Turning Stone Classic Day Three Underway

Earl Strickland

Saturday play at the Turning Stone Classic XXXV is underway and the field has been cut in half from 128 players down to just 64 remaining players. Saturday play will cut that field down to just eight players. 

Most of the usual suspects who were expected to excel at this event have lived up to their expectations so far. Players still on the winners side include Shane Van Boening, Jayson Shaw, Mika Immonen, Earl Strickland, Jeremy Sossei, Donny Mills, Bucky Souvanthong, Kevin West and Danny Hewitt. Those players are going to start running into each other today, with Van Boening facing Sossei and Shaw playing Strickland at 2pm ET.

Fans who can’t make it to Turning Stone can watch selected matches online as part of Upstate Al’s Free streaming coverage, and can watch online brackets and live scoring courtesy of AzBilliards and Digital Pool. 

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Turning Stone Classic XXXV Underway

The Turning Stone Classic XXXV is underway at the Turning Stone Casino and Resort in Verona, NY.

Jayson Shaw is back and looking to win a record 8th Turning Stone Classic title. He will have to get by Shane Van Boening, who is looking to match Shaw’s current record of seven Turning Stone titles. Other top players competing in this event include Earl Strickland, Mika Immonen, Jeremy Sossei, Donny Mills, Bucky Souvanthong, Danny Hewitt, Frankie Hernandez and Matt Krah.

Fan’s who can’t make it to Turning Stone can watch selected matches online as part of Upstate Al’s Free streaming coverage, and can watch online brackets and live scoring courtesy of AzBilliards and Digital Pool.

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Turning Stone XXXV On Tap for September 1st – 4th

Mike Zuglan‘s Joss Northeast 9-Ball Tour and Turning Stone Resort Casino are proud to present our 2021/2022 Season Finale, The $25,000 Added “Turning Stone Classic XXXV 9-Ball Open” on September 1-4, 2022. Turning Stone has once again invited us to compete in their beautiful and spacious Event Center which is most definitely one of the best arenas in the world. There is not a bad seat in the house and multiple matches can be viewed comfortably from everywhere. The intimate layout in this world class arena allows you to mingle with your favorite players and lets you feel like you are a part of the action as well. Turning Stone Resort Casino is a full service resort with everything needed for a relaxing, fun filled and enjoyable experience. Check them out and look for our ad notice at www.turningstone.com

Our 35th Turning Stone Classic will once again have a full roster of 128 players competing for the title. The field will include a wide range of talent from our regular tour players to some of the best in the game. Some of the notable players signed up to play include Jayson Shaw, Shane Van Boening, Johnny Morra, Mika Immonen, and our own regulars Jeremy Sossei and Bucky Souvanthong. These are just a few to be in attendance along with many other notable and not so notable but great players nonetheless. The complete player will be posted later at www.joss9balltour.com . Until then anyone can contact me and I will be glad to tell you if your favorite player(s) is in. mzjosstour@aol.com This promises to be yet another memorable event in our long running Turning Stone Classic series. Our $25,000 added “Turning Stone Classic XXXVI 9-Ball Open” is scheduled for January 5-8, 2023 and could possibly be a Mosconi Cup qualifying event once again. I will begin taking entries for that event at the September 1-4, 2022 TS event but not before. FYI, there is every reason to believe that the event will fill to capacity many months prior to the event, so seriously interested players need to sign up early to avoid being shut out as I am not able to wait for anyone. Also, I am raising the future TS entry fees as follows: $200 for current season members or $250 for all others. This will allow me to raise first place to $10,000 as well as raising some of the other pay outs. Please keep in mind that I am no longer in a position to give “free” seasonal memberships to those that prepay for a TS event. The only way to become a seasonal Joss Northeast 9-Ball Tour member is to come and play in any pool room event and pay the $40 seasonal fee. Our complete schedule can be found at www.joss9balltour.com

Once again at Turning Stone there will be a second chance tournament on Sunday September 4th at 10AM. This is an event for those Non Pro level players (I will decide) eliminated from the main event. The event format will be as follows: $60 Entry Fee – 32 Player Max – same rules as main event – Single Elimination – Races to 4, best 2 of 3 sets, with the deciding set being a single game sudden death. This means that if each player wins a race to 4, there will be a lag for the break and a 1 game playoff to determine the match winner. Entries will be taken for this tournament as players are eliminated from the main event and will be treated as first paid – first in until the event is full.

The equipment for our world class event will once again be 16 Diamond Pro Tables covered with 860 Simonis (“The Cloth Of Champions”) tournament blue cloth and Aramith balls. Once again only the best equipment in the world will be used at our event!

As always, fans coming to Turning Stone for our event will be treated to Free Admission, Free collectible posters while supplies last, and some of the best pool you will ever see. All of this is brought to you courtesy of Turning Stone Resort Casino and the Joss Northeast 9-Ball Tour!

Included in the Event Center at Turning Stone is a full service snack bar serving all of our favorite foods and adult beverages. There will be billiard product vendors and on site cue repairs available for all your needs. Mike Burton of www.josscues.com will have a wide range of Joss Cues and Joss Northeast 9-Ball Tour Shirts. Andrea Duvall, owner of Utica Billiards on The Boulevard, will be here with an extensive cue, case and supplies display. Mark Rosner will be on hand with his cues and expert on site cue repairs. Feng Zhao of www.lite-systems.com will be there with his custom LED billiard lighting and other billiard products and Victor Conte will be on site promoting his new game as well. I will also have a collection of Phil Capelle’s books for sale at 20% off the cover prices.

Dan, Debbie and Stephen Janes of Joss Cues, have once again upped the ante and provided us with two gorgeous, custom engraved Joss cues for raffle. These cues are valued at $1,900 each and will be raffled off on Saturday just before the 8 PM matches, and the second will go on Sunday immediately prior to the final match at approximately 7 PM. Dan, Debbie and Steve can’t be thanked enough for everything they have, and continue to do for all of us!!

We invite everyone to come to Turning Stone Resort & Casino September 1-4, 2022 for a great experience, and 4 full days of some of the best pool you will ever witness. If for some reason you are unable to make it, there will be free live scoring and a free live stream expertly provided by Alan Leon, aka Upstate Al and Mike Howerton at www.azbilliards.com , the Joss Northeast 9-Ball Tour and Turning Stone Resort Casino. Match times are as follows: Thursday at 4,6,8 & 10pm. Friday at 10am, noon, 2,4,6,8 & 10pm. Saturday at 10am, noon, 2,4,6,8 & 10pm. Sunday at 11am, 1,3,5 & the final match at 7pm. The second chance tournament on Sunday will begin at 10am and run continuously until completed.

I would like to ask all of you to please publicize our event through social media etc. so more people may be informed about this great and free event. And, as always, I remind all of you how important it is to please frequent your local billiard parlors and promote and utilize the fine products of our most generous sponsors listed below. They are the backbone of our sport!

I hope to see all of you at Turning Stone

Mike Zuglan

The Joss Northeast 9-Ball Tour Is Proudly Sponsored By;

Joss Cues – http://www.josscues.com
Turning Stone Resort Casino – http://www.turningstone.com 
Simonis Cloth – http://www.simoniscloth.com
Poolonthenet.com – http://www.poolonthenet.com
AzBilliards.com – http://www.azbilliards.com
Aramith – http://www.aramith.com
Billiards Press – http://www.billiardspress.com
World Class Cue Care – http://www.jnj-industries.com

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Gorst chalks up his 10th victory, 13th first- or second-place finish and 18th cash payout in 2022

John Morra and Fedor Gorst

Brendan Crockett Memorial draws 182 entrants to Hard Times Billiards in Sacramento.

Russia’s Fedor Gorst is about as close to a ‘sure bet’ at the tables that one has or is ever likely to see. This year alone, he has won or placed second in almost 75% (.7368) of the events in which he has cashed (19). It puts him at the top of the AZB Money Leaderboard, which would certainly make him the current ‘best bet’ of the year and while, as with all players, he doesn’t win them all, the chances of him finishing, as an example, 17th in an event are somewhere between remote/slim and none. That said, 17th is exactly how he finished at the Derby City’s 9-Ball tournament in January, so caveat emptor, as they say, when you consider a bet.

His 10th 2022 victory came at the $10,000-added, 4th Annual Brendan Crockett Memorial 10-Ball Open tournament this past weekend (July 30-31), where he and 181 of his fellow competitors gathered at Hard Times Billiards in Sacramento, CA to do battle. Gorst had to come from the loss side of the bracket, though not very far, to dislodge Canadian John Morra from the hot seat. Gorst, with a Fargo Rate of 827, faced nine opponents in 10 matches (Morra twice) with a combined Fargo Rate average of 690. Translated, in the winners’ side races to 9, his opponents had an average 2.5% chance of defeating him, although individually, the one opponent who did – Morra, with a 778 Fargo Rate – had a slightly higher than a one-in-four chance of doing so.

Gorst made it to his first matchup against Morra in one of the winners’ side semifinals, with an aggregate score of 35-5. The opponent he met in the hot seat, Oscar Dominguez, arrived at his winners’ side semifinal against Margaret Fefilova Styer with a 35-12 aggregate score.

Morra sent Gorst to the loss side 7-1. Dominguez sent Styer over 7-2. Morra played what would prove to be his last winning match, sending Dominguez to the semifinals 7-5 and claimed the hot seat.

On the loss side, Gorst picked up Max Eberle, who was working on a four-match, loss-side streak that had recently eliminated Jeremy Sossei in a shutout and Skip Nikakis, double hill. Styer drew Nick DeLeon, who had chalked up five on the loss side, including recent wins over Chris Gentile 7-3 and Spencer Ladin, double hill.

Gorst ended Eberle’s streak 7-3 and in the quarterfinals, faced DeLeon, who’d defeated Styer 7-4. Gorst ended DeLeon’s run 7-4 in those quarterfinals and then, in a manner of speaking, brushed aside Oscar Dominguez with a shutout in the semifinals.

Gorst/Morra parte deux did not begin or end well for Morra. Gorst jumped out to a 5-0 lead, at which Morra began to chip away (as generally recommended), one rack at a time. Morra got on the board with one, but Gorst re-established his five-rack lead with a win in game #7. Morra then took the next three, narrowing Gorst’s lead to two at 6-4. Gorst took games #11 and #12 to reach the hill first at 8-4. Morra took one more swing, winning rack #13, but Gorst walked it off with his ninth rack to claim the 4th Annual Brendan Crockett Memorial title. 

Event representatives thanked the ownership and staff at Hard Times, as well as all 181 competitors, who, through their participation, paid homage to the memory of Brendan Crockett and his brother, Jeff, who, travelling together, were killed in an automobile accident in 2016. An annual scholarship fund was created a year later to benefit a junior player who excelled in academics. 

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Two tour veterans, each seeking first Joss NE 9-Ball title, battle it out in finals of season finale

Pete Bowman, Mike Zuglan, Snookers manager Paul Troxell and Ray McNamara

Oldest player to win on tour,’ Bob Darigis, wins Second Chance event

He’d be the first to tell you that it’d been a long time coming. But it did show up. This past weekend (June 4-5), after 20 years of attempts, Ray McNamara (generally known on the tour as ‘Ray Mac’) claimed his first Joss NE 9-Ball Tour title, using the last regular season event of the tour’s 2021-2022 season to do so. In an effort that began (as far as we know) with a 7th place finish at a stop in Bristol, CT in October of 2002, McNamara went on to compete regularly on the Joss and other tours, and more recently, won the 364-entrant Amateur Senior event of the Super Billiards Expo this past April. The $1,500-added, 15th stop on the 2021-2022 Joss Northeast 9-Ball Tour drew 53 entrants to Snooker’s in Providence, RI.

In addition to crowning a first-time champion, the event played host to another event champion, whom tour director Mike Zuglan described as “the oldest person (he could) think of who won any of (their) events.”  A $500-added Second Chance tournament that drew 14 entrants was won by 71-year-old Bob Darigis.

“Ray Mac and Bob were both around in the days when me, Larry Lisciotti and Joe Tucker were still playing around,” said Zuglan.

Ray Mac’s trip to the winners’ circle had to go through another Joss NE 9-Ball veteran, also looking for his first (recorded with us) win on the tour, Pete Bowman. They met twice; hot seat match and finals. Mac had gotten by Nick Coppola, Lida Mullendore, Clyde Matta and Ryan Cullen to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal match against Bob Madenjian, who, it should be noted, finished in the four-way tie for 5th place behind McNamara in the SBE’s Amateur Senior tournament in April and would end up in the same position at this event. Peter Bowman sent Aro Majumber and Brandon Coley to the loss side before encountering the later-to-be winner of the Second Chance event, Bob Darigis, who battled him tooth and nail to double hill before he sent him over, as well. Bowman then downed Darren Jevons to pick up Kerry McAuliffe in the other winners’ side semifinal.

Mac sent Madenjian west 9-2, while Bowman was defeating McAuliffe 9-3. McNamara claimed the hot seat 9-5, which was, as far as we know, his first.

On the loss side, McAuliffe picked up Steve Mack, who’d lost a winners’ side quarterfinal to Madenjian and jumped onto the loss-side wagon with victories over Rich Kravetz 7-5 and Dan Sharlow 7-3. Madenjian picked up Francisco Salas, who’d also lost to Madenjian on the winners’ side (3rd round) and was working on a seven-match, loss-side streak that would take him as far as the semifinals and include the double-hill elimination of Jeremy Sossei, followed by wins over Darren Jevons 7-2 and Frankie Hernandez 7-3.

Mack did his part to secure a rematch versus Madenjian with a 7-4 win over McAuliffe, but Salas took Madenjian out 7-5 and then eliminated Mack 7-3 in the quarterfinals. 

Bowman closed out Salas’ run with a 7-3 win in the semifinals to earn his second shot at Ray Mac, waiting for him in the hot seat. Though Salas would chalk up three more racks against Ray Mac in the finals than he had in the hot seat, Ray Mac prevailed 9-5 to claim his first Joss Northeast 9-Ball title, closing the ‘long time coming’ door behind him.

The final standings in tour points were headed up by Bucky Souvanthong, who appeared in nine of the season’s 15 events, winning five of them. Ron Casanzio finished in 2nd place, based on 10 appearances, with a single win. Jeremy Sossei was in 3rd place, having won three of his five appearances. Len Gianfrate placed fourth, just ahead of Aaron Greenwood. Rounding out the top 10 on the 2021-2022 tour were Jamie Garrett, Dan Sharlow, Frank Hernandez, Mhet Vergara and Bruce Carroll. 

Tour director Mike Zuglan thanked Regina and Steve Goulding and their Snookers’ staff for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor Joss Cues, Turning Stone Resort Casino, Simonis Cloth, Poolonthenet.com, AZBilliards, Aramith, Billiards Press and World Class Cue Care. The next event, the tour’s season finale, scheduled for Sept. 1-4, will be the $25,000-added Turning Stone Classic XXXV 9-Ball Open, hosted by the Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, NY

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Joss NE 9-Ball Tour at Snookers in Providence on June 4th – 5th

Players & Fans,

Congratulations to Stop # 14 event winners at Raxx, Jeremy Sossei ($1,050 main event), Holden Chin ($300 second chance) & $1,900 Joss Cue raffle winner, Jeremy Sossei

Stop # 15, our final regular season event of the Joss Northeast 9-Ball Tour, will take place on June 4 & 5 at Snookers Billiards Sports Billiards Bar & Grill in Providence RI. This will once again be our third event at Snookers this season and we all owe owners Regina & Steve Goulding many thanks for their continued generous support. With this $2,000 added they have again added a total of $10,000 to our events this season. Thanks again from all of us! All that remains of the current season is our finale, The $25,000 Added, Turning Stone Classic XXXV 9-Ball Open, September 1-4 2022. Make sure to come see us at Turning Stone for this world class event with free spectator admission as always!

Snookers, in case you already didn’t know, is one of the premier rooms in the United States and TWICE named the #1 room in the country by Billiards Digest Magazine! Snookers comes complete with 15 Gold Crowns covered in 860 Simonis (The Cloth Of Champions), is a world class sports bar, and has some of the best food in RI which is evident by the usual large crowds. So why not come to Snookers to play or watch, have a great meal and show your support to those who most generously keep supporting us. You might even win a custom engraved Joss Cue valued at $1,900 in Snookers cue raffle. The cue drawing will take place immediately before the final match on Sunday and, as always, you do not have to be present to win!!

This event at Snookers will consist of a $1500 added Saturday and Sunday Main Event (entry Fee $120 for pro level or $70 for non pro level) and a $500 added second chance event on Sunday ($20 Entry Fee) for those non pro players eliminated from the main event on Saturday.

If in need of accommodations, the Woodsprings Suites Providence at 181 Corliss St, Providence RI 02904 is offering 10% off your lowest rate. Call them at 401-519-9691 and mention Snookers.

For those of you coming to play, please arrive on Saturday June 4, BEFORE 11:00 AM, and in proper dress please. Yes, jeans and sneakers are permitted in our billiard parlor events. But please, no T-shirts, tanks, shorts or sweats. Complete tour info can be found on our site www.joss9balltour.com

I am currently scheduling events for our 2022 – 2023 (Our 26th!) season. So if you know of, or own a billiard parlor here in the Northeast that may like to hold one of our events, Please contact me NOW at 518-356-7163. Potential sponsors who would like to be a part of our tour are also urged to do the same. I will be finalizing the schedule soon so it is important to contact me now.

Once again I ask all of you to please frequent your local billiard parlors and utilize the services of our most generous sponsors who are the backbone of our sport. Thank You & I hope to see all of you Snookers.

Mike Zuglan

The Joss Northeast 9-Ball Tour Is Proudly Sponsored By;

Joss Cues – http://www.josscues.com
Turning Stone Resort Casino – http://www.turningstone.com 
Simonis Cloth – http://www.simoniscloth.com
Poolonthenet.com – http://www.poolonthenet.com
AzBilliards.com – http://www.azbilliards.com
Aramith – http://www.aramith.com
Billiards Press – http://www.billiardspress.com
World Class Cue Care – http://www.jnj-industries.com

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Sossei takes two out of three over Kiamco to win Joss NE 9-Ball Tour stop on Long Island

Warren Kiamco, Raxx Owner Holden Chin and Jeremy Sossei

It was Jeremy Sossei’s third, and second straight, win in four attempts on the 2021-22 Joss Northeast 9-Ball Tour this past weekend (May 14-15). It was Warren Kiamco’s first appearance on the tour this year, and with it being a long way from the man’s ‘first rodeo,’ he got as close to winning it as possible; facing Sossei three times, battling to double hill twice, but winning only the first set of the true double elimination final. The $1,500-added event drew 42 entrants to Raxx Pool Room, Sports Bar & Grill in West Hempstead, NY.

Going into Stop #14, Bucky Souvanthong and Ron Casanzio were the tour’s top two points leaders (#1 & #2), way out in front of the field, based on the number of times they’ve competed in the 2021-22 season and on their finish positions each time they did so. They didn’t compete in Stop #14, which left a door open for Sossei, who obligingly walked in, won his second straight stop on the tour and promptly moved himself into third place in the tour-point standings. Kiamco was probably a ‘wild card’ that Sossei had not expected in the deck.

Sossei ran into some immediate trouble when he opened his run in a double hill battle against Ron Piontkowski. Once over that hurdle, he downed Chuck Allie 9-5 and shut out Chris Lazaravitch, before facing Mhet Vergara in a match that came within a game of double hill. He survived that to draw John Francisco in one of the winners’ side semifinals. Kiamco drew a bye in his opening round and went on to send Troy Deocharran (4), Alex Osipov (2) and Ray Lee (2) to the loss side, picking up Mike Renshaw in the other winners’ side semifinal.

Kiamco got into the hot seat match with a shutout over Renshaw, while Sossei sent Francisco to the loss side 9-4. In his first of three versus Kiamco and the first of two straight double hill matches, Sossei claimed the hot seat.

On the loss side, Francisco drew a rematch against Yesid Garibello, whom he’d sent to the loss side in a third-round, double hill fight. Garibello moved over to engage in a four-match winning streak that had recently eliminated Lazaravitch 7-2 and Caroline Pao, double hill. Renshaw drew Mhet Vergara, who’d followed his winners’ side quarterfinal loss to Sossei with wins over Jay Plonski and Mike Salerno, both 7-4.

Garibello wreaked his vengeance on Francisco 7-5, while Vergara was eliminating Renshaw by the same score, and, as it turned out, by the same score that Vergara eliminated Garibello in the subsequent quarterfinals.

Vergara was one step away from a rematch against Sossei, who’d sent him to the loss side, five matches ago. Unfortunately, for him, it was Warren Kiamco who was in his way in the semifinals that followed. Kiamco was the one who earned the rematch, downing Vergara 7-4.

For the second time, Sossei and Kiamco locked themselves up in a double hill fight, in the opening set of the true double elimination final. This time, though, it was Kiamco who won. The ‘wild card’ was on the table and very much in play. Sossei, though, had his own hand to play and did so in the second set, defeating Kiamco 7-3 to claim title to the 14th stop on the 2021-22 Joss NE 9-Ball Tour.

A $500-added Second Chance tournament drew eight entrants and was won by Raxx Pool Room, Sports Bar & Grill’s owner, Holden Chin. Chin shut out Sly Vachiro in the hot seat match and in the true double-elimination final, faced Mike Callaghan, who’d lost his opening match to Vachiro, won two straight double hill matches to begin his four-match trip back to the finals and then shut out Vachiro in their semifinal rematch. He then took the opening set of the true double elimination final, before Chin came back to shut him out in the second set. 

The next stop on the Joss NE 9-Ball Tour, scheduled for the weekend of June 4-5, will be a $1,500-added event, hosted by Snookers Sports Billiards, Bar & Grill in Providence, RI. The season finale of the 2021-22 season – Turning Stone Classic XXXV 9-Ball Open – is scheduled for September 1-4 at the Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, NY.

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Joss NE 9-Ball Tour at Raxx in West Hempstead May 14th – 15th

Congratulations to Stop # 13 winners Jeremy Sossei ($1,100 main event), Ryan Cullen ($300 second chance) & our $1,900 Joss Cue raffle winner Crystal Atkinson.

Stop # 14 of my Joss Northeast 9-Ball Tour will take place on May 14 & 15 at Raxx Pool Room Sports Bar & Grill in West Hempstead NY. Raxx is one the Northeast’s largest rooms complete with a huge 50 foot bar, Great food, 21 9ft tables & 6 7ft tables making for a fun time for everyone. Our good friend and owner Holden Chin, deserves much credit and thanks for being so generous in allowing us the use of his beautiful facility and adding $2,000 for this free spectator event. Much more info about Raxx can be found on Face Book & their web site raxxpoolroom.com  So why not come down and show Holden your appreciation and support by playing in, or just to watch, yet another great event with some of the games top players. While there, you could even win a gorgeous custom engraved Joss Cue valued at $1,900 in their cue raffle. Anyone can enter and you Do Not need to be present to win! The cue drawing will be immediatelyprior to the final match of the main event.

This event at Raxx will consist of a $1500 added Saturday and Sunday Main Event (entry Fee $120 for pro level or $70 for non pro level) and a $500 added second chance event on Sunday ($20 Entry Fee) for those non pro players eliminated from the main event on Saturday.

For those of you coming to play, please arrive on Saturday May 14, Before 11:00 AM, and in proper dress please. Yes, jeans and sneakers are permitted in our billiard parlor events. But please, NO T-SHIRTS, TANKS, SHORTS OR SWEATS. Complete tour info can be found on our site www.joss9balltour.com

Please remember to spread the word to frequent your local billiard parlors and utilize and promote the world class products of our most generous sponsors. They are the backbone of our sport and deserve our support now more than ever!!

Thanks, and I hope to see you all at Raxx.

Mike Zuglan

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Sim downs Hohmann in second set of NBL 8-Ball double elimination final to claim event title

Del Sim

Originally from Scotland, the man they call The Highlander – Del Sim – has chalked up two breakout performances in the past two weeks. On the weekend of April 9-10, he finished as runner-up to Jeremy Sossei at Stop #13 on the 2021/2022 Joss Northeast 9-Ball Tour and then, this past weekend (April 16-17), he went undefeated to win the National Billiard League’s (NBL) 8-Ball Championships, hosted by the league’s flagship venue, Sandcastle Billiards in Edison, NJ. Combined, those two finishes have earned Sim more than all of his (reported to us) payout finishes over the past six years. This past weekend was the only victory (reported to us) since he won a stop on the Tri-State Tour in 2016.

“Well, well, well. . . I finally snapped off a title,” he wrote on the NBL’s Facebook page. “Doesn’t happen very often.”

“I feel reborn,” he wrote later, noting that the victory meant a lot to him for reasons that went beyond the tables. In addition to 8-ball being his favorite game among the many available, the win brought back cherished memories of his father, who would “beam with pride” when he would win in league play as a younger player.

“(It’s been) 8 years since he passed, almost to the day,” he added, “and I feel he would have enjoyed this one the most, with lots of drama and high-level play by all.”

Arguably, the highest drama of the event came in the second set of the double elimination final. Having been defeated by Thorsten Hohmann 8-2 in the opening set, Sim stepped to the table, on the hill at 5-3, with all of his striped balls on the table. Six of Hohmann’s solids were ‘running interference’ against any hopes that Sim was harboring of running to the 8-ball and finishing things right then and there.

“I knew this could be my last opportunity,” he would say later, as he provided commentary to a three-minute video clip of the event’s final rack. 

He stepped to the table and ran the rack. Game, set and match.

“Del played a great second set against me,” commented Hohmann, “and made a heck of an out to win.”

That ‘out’ entailed a planned route for the cue ball, which came off striking Sim’s last striped ball. The target ball dropped into a corner pocket, while the cue ball embarked on a journey that ran above, through and below four of the six solid balls still on the table, coming to rest in a position that allowed Sim to line up and pocket the winning 8-ball in the only pocket that it could have been done.

Del Sim and Thorsten Hohmann

The field of 32 for this NBL 8-Ball Championship, which, due to last-minute cancellations,  became 29 by the time it got underway, was drawn from 13 out of 16 scheduled qualifying events that took place around the country over the past few months. It is a formula that was part of the plan from the beginning, according to league founder Ed Liddawi and employed to hold the league’s 10-Ball Championships this past December.

“The three slots that were available,” explained Liddawi, “were filled by a runner-up and two, third-place finishers from the largest-field qualifiers.”

“We ended up with 16 amateurs and 13 Pros,” he added.

The NBL was to have been launched at about the time the country began its ongoing battle against the pandemic. Its start was delayed and as it has slowly begun its re-launch, it has been designed with far fewer qualifiers and main events than originally planned; a circumstance that Liddawi is planning to rectify in 2023.

Everything at this 8-Ball Championship, according to Liddawi, went according to plan, with (as featured in December’s 10-Ball championships) live music, a comedian (Frank Del Pizzo, with, reportedly, some pool humor in his repertoire) and a mixture of amateurs and pros facing off against each other at various points throughout the event. Two amateurs battled for the hot seat, as, on the loss side, Thorsten Hohmann, was finishing up what would be an eight-match, loss-side winning streak that started with a 6-1 loss to amateur competitor Joe Dupuis and eventually, took him to the finals.

Sim’s path to the winners’ circle went through Kenny Tran, Jason Lynch and John Morra to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal against Shane Albaugh. Al Lapena, in the meantime, got by Jerry Dunne, Lukas Fracasso-Verner (double hill), and Frankie Hernandez, to arrive at his winners’ side semifinal against BJ Ussery.

Lapena and Ussery locked up in a double hill fight that eventually sent Ussery to the loss side. Lapena was joined in the hot seat match by Sim, who’d sent Albaugh over 8-5. Sim claimed the hot seat 8-6 over Lapena and watched, no doubt with some level of anxiety, as Hohmann worked through the final stages of his loss-side run.

On the loss side, Albaugh drew Hohmann, who’d recently chalked up loss-side wins #4 & #5 against Frankie Hernandez 6-3 and Dennis Spears in a shutout. Hohmann got by Albaugh 6-4 and in the quarterfinals, faced Morra, who’d survived a double hill match versus Ussery.

Hohmann and Morra (predictably) locked up in a double hill match that did eventually send Hohmann to the semifinals, where he eliminated Lapena 6-2. The Pro vs. Amateur battle was joined. The recent Hall of Fame inductee versus a competitor looking for his first (recorded) win in six years.

Things didn’t look too good for the amateur in the opening set of the true double elimination final. The Hall of Famer took that set 8-2. Sim ‘caught a gear’ in the second set, getting out in front in the shortened race-to-6 and on the hill, two racks ahead at 5-3. In the final rack, which took a little less than four minutes and was later to be commented on by Sim himself, Sim stepped to the table and ran the rack, taking it, as always recommended, one step at a time. He finished with a commendable display of skill and proverbial nerves of steel that earned him the event title. 

That display is on display as an archived match at the NBL Web site. It is recommended that you watch the live stream of it and switch to the NBL Facebook page to watch Sim run the final rack and comment on his thinking, from start to finish.

The NBL will begin its next season in December, with a schedule of to-be-determined dates at 64 sanctioned locations. The plan, as it was originally intended, will feature four Pro/Am main events, fed by a 2-stage series of eight qualifying tournaments. Further information can be found on the league’s Web site at https://www.nblusa.com/ and on the National Billiard League’s FB page. In addition to its immediate success, defined by accomplishing stated objectives with no apparent serious ‘glitches’ in the logistics of it all, this latest 8-Ball Championship is a model for Liddawi’s larger plan for the NBL.

“It was,” he said, “a ‘proof of concept’ event to show that this business model works.” 

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Sossei Over Sim For Joss NE 9-Ball Tour Title

Jeremy Sossei Room Owner Bobby Hilton and Del Sim

Jeremy Sossei avenged his only loss to win his second Joss NE 9-Ball Tour title of the year  at Yale Billiards in Wallingford, CT on April 9th – 10th. 

Sossei cruised through Saturday undefeated, with wins over Chad Esposito, Scott Carter, Rick Bentley and Ryan Cullen. Sossei’s biggest scare on Saturday was a 9-3 win over Carter that was part of an overall record of 36-7 for the day. While Sossei’s Saturday performance was impressive, equally impressive was Del Sim’s Saturday record of 36-9 with wins over Trystan Speedwell, Bob Ohashi, Jamie Gauthier and Bill Kiley. Joining Sossei and Sim on the winners side Sunday morning were Aaron Greenwood and Dan Sharlow. 

Greenwood scored a decisive 9-2 win over Greenwood and Sim matched that with a 9-2 win over Sossei. Sim then won a close 9-7 match over Greenwood to take the hot-seat. 

Sossei was put to the test in his first match on the left side of the board, as last week’s winner Lukas Fracasso-Verner took him to hill-hill before Sossei scored the win. Sossei then moved on to score more comfortable wins over Sharlow (7-2) and Greenwood (7-3) to line up a rematch with Sim in the finals. 

Sossei won the first set of the double elimination finals 9-6 and then flexed his 9-ball muscles a little for a 7-3 win in the second set. It was Sossei’s second Joss Tour win of the season, as he also won the Northeast 9-Ball Open XXXIII back in February. 

Sunday’s second chance tournament saw Ryan Cullen take the hot-seat and then hold off a threat from Jamie Gauthier in the finals. Cullen had wins over Sheikh Ahmed, Roger Lakotko and Mike Renshaw on his way to the hot-seat, but dropped the first set of the finals to Gauthier 3-2. Cullen took the second set 3-1, for the win. 

The Joss NE 9-Ball Tour is off for the rest of April and will hold their next event on May 14-15 at Raxx Pool Room in West Hempstead, NY.

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