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Mashburn goes undefeated (*) to take Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball title

Barry Mashburn

When things got underway, early on Saturday afternoon, April 6, at Speakeazy Billiards in Sanford, NC, Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour directors Herman and Angela Parker had every expectation that it would be over, no later than the bar was scheduled to close officially at 1 a.m. on Sunday morning. It didn’t turn out that way.
As Saturday night was turning into Sunday morning, with about 10 matches left to play, it was clear that some of the 29 entrants who’d signed on to compete in the $500-added tournament would be coming back later in the day on Sunday to finish it. And they did. When it came down to the finals on Sunday afternoon, Barry Mashburn and Anthony Mabe were set to square off for their second match against each other; the first having played out in the battle for the hot seat on Saturday night. The two are close friends and initially decided that rather than just agreeing to split the top two prizes, they’d play a final match. Before it was over, though, they’d both invited their respective girlfriends in to play and it devolved into a Scotch Doubles match that no one seemed to remember, or care, who won. Mashburn and Mabe did split the final two prizes, and with Mashburn occupying the hot seat at the time, he became the event’s official winner.
Speakeazy Billiards is a seven-table room, built in what looks to be, originally, a warehouse; just one part of a yellow, metal wall facility that stretches for a city block and embraces a separate-building dance studio on one end, a private storage space for Speakeazy’s owner, Jimmy Bullis, the room itself, and just beyond the far end, a cell phone tower which tends to make cell phone reception extraordinarily clear in the room. The whole arrangement sits behind a Burger King off North Horner Boulevard in Sanford.
At present, Speakeazy Billiards consists of the single room, though in a tour of the facility, Bullis showed the ongoing development of an adjacent second room, which will house two additional tables that he’d like to put to use for One Pocket events. Beyond that planned second room, currently with unfinished walls and floors and two under-construction tables, is a set of glass wall segments, with a door at one end, housing and showcasing Bullis’ 1960 black Cadillac that looks long enough to land an airplane on, with a new engine that looks as though it came off a manufacturing line about two months ago. The original vehicle came off its assembly line the year that Bullis was born.
The current playing area features pool memorabilia on every available wall, including, but not limited to a framed poster from 1991, advertising a Legends of One Pocket tournament. Another announcing a Seminole Senior Open tournament in Naples, FL, a variety of early 20th century prints, featuring elegant women in formal clothes in the vicinity of a classic pool table, holding cues. There are also the ‘required’ film posters for both The Hustler and The Color of Money,   as well as one advertising a film called Guns, Sin and Bathtub Gin; from 1979, with, among others, Robert Conrad, Louise Fletcher and Christopher Lloyd, about the 1930s and “an idealistic farm girl becoming the moll of infamous gangster, John Dillinger.” Somewhat incongruous in the mix of wall hangings is a black-and-white charcoal sketch of Al Pacino as Tony Montana in Scarface. The charcoal portrait was drawn by Bullis’ son, Jimmy, when he was a senior in high school.
It’s clear, early on in this tournament, that many of the 29 entrants knew each other, have known each other, in fact, for years. And as they scoot around the state of North Carolina (and other states), showing up at stops on the tour, they’ve developed both a sense of respect for each other, and an equally healthy sense of no-holds-barred rivalry. There’s good-humored trash talk and the occasional gripe about an opponent’s ‘clearly’ under-rated handicap, but overall, the atmosphere was relaxed, congenial and almost deadly serious when action moved to the tables. The event occurred as the NCAA Final Four was playing out on the room’s only flat screen, hung above the bottles in the bar, and virtually no one paid any attention to either of the games.
Full disclosure: I attended this event and entered it, just more or less to see what would happen. What happened at the outset was that I drew BJ Ussery as my first opponent; the competitor that players in the room and spectators chose as the most likely player to win. I’d ‘known’ Ussery for over a decade, covering him through tour reports over the years, but we’d never met. When the meeting part was over, I was granted six ‘beads on the wire’ at the start of a race to 11. I didn’t win a single rack, even though, at one point, Ussery scratched, giving me ball in hand, with three balls left in a simple enough pattern at one end of the table (“I tried,” he said to Herman Parker. “Gave him ball in hand with only three on the table.”). Not my finest hour. Later, on the loss side, I would compete against Hank Powell, who won a stop on the tour a month ago at The Clubhouse in Lynchburg, VA. Powell gave me two ‘beads on the wire’ in a race to 7, and though this time, I’d manage to win two racks, one of them was with a 1-9 combination that Stevie Wonder could have managed, and the other resulted from Powell scratching, after sinking the 9-ball. Just saying. . .
I was done by the time Mashburn and Mabe had advanced to the hot seat. Mashburn had sent Kelly Farrar to the loss side 9-3 in one of the winners’ side semifinals (Farrar had just sent Ussery to the loss side). Mabe had defeated Shaun Apple 7-3. Mashburn grabbed the hot seat with a 9-3 win over Mabe.
On the loss side, Apple picked up Stevie McClinton, who’d defeated Jeff Abernathy 7-5 and Billie Spadafora 7-3. Spadafora had previously eliminated Zac Leonard with whom, earlier in the day, he’d exchanged a few trash talk ‘pleasantries,’ to which Leonard had responded (to me) “You have to kill ‘em with silence.” For all the good it did him. Farrar showed up on the loss side for a second match against Ussery, who’d defeated Dale Lloyd 11-3 and survived a double hill, 11-9 battle against Justin Martin.
Apple and Ussery advanced to the quarterfinals; Apple 5-4 over McClinton (racing to 7) and Ussery, giving up just a single rack in his rematch against Farrar. Already into Sunday afternoon, Ussery gave up only two racks to Apple in the quarterfinals, but then, in a double hill fight (7-10), lost to Mabe. The final match was begun and played until it became the aforementioned Scotch Doubles, just-for-fun match. Mashburn and Mabe split the top two cash prizes and Mashburn went home with the event title.
Tour directors Herman and Angela Parker thanked Jimmy Bullis and his Speakeazy staff for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor Viking Cues, Bar Pool Tables, Delta 13 Racks, AZ Billiards and Professor Q-Ball. The next stop on the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour, scheduled for this weekend (April 13-14), will be hosted by Steakhorse Restaurant & Billiards in Spartanburg, SC.