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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.

Thompson goes undefeated to capture 12th Annual Robert Dionne Memorial title

Tim Schroeder, Eric Lim and Jodie

Thanks, in part, to the absence of a number of B (and above) players who opted to compete in Turning Stone XXIX, scheduled on the same weekend, Jodie Thompson (C+) began the 12th Annual Robert Dionne Memorial Tournament by competing in the upper bracket, normally reserved for the B (and above) players. He was one of six C/C+ players among the 22 to compete in the upper bracket. None of the B or above competitors made it as far as the winners’ side semifinals, while on the loss side, only two B/B+ players made it to the money rounds. Thompson worked his way, undefeated, through the field of 43, on-hand for the $1,500-added Dionne Memorial, held under the auspices of the New England 9-Ball Series and hosted by Crow’s Nest in Plaistow, NH on the weekend of January 6-7.
Victories over one fellow C+ player, a B and a B+ player put Thompson into the winners’ side semifinal against another C+ player, Buddy Oldham. Tom Schroeder (C), in the meantime, squared off against D+ player, Richard Comeau. Thompson got into the hot seat match with a 5-2 win over Oldham. He was joined by Schroeder, who’d downed Comeau in a double hill match. Thompson claimed the hot seat 6-2 over Schroeder and waited on the return of what turned out to be the last B player, Eric Lim.
Having been sent to the loss side by Xavier Libby in a winners’ side quarterfinal, Lim was in the midst of a seven-match, loss-side winning streak that would take him as far as the finals. He’d defeated Tyler Campbell 6-1 to move into the money rounds, and then shut out Thomas Hood to draw Oldham. Comeau picked up Dan Martis, who’d defeated Ambriory Minyety 5-2 and Matt Eline 5-1 to reach him.
Lim advanced to the quarterfinals with a 6-1 victory over Oldham. He was joined by Comeau, who’d eliminated Martis 4-2 (Martis, as a C+, was racing to 6). As the last D+ representative in the event, Comeau put up a double hill fight, but it wasn’t enough. Lim advanced to the semifinals, where a 7-2 win over Schroeder gave him a shot at Thompson in the hot seat.
Lim had to win one extra game in the finals that followed (a 6-5 race) and he almost made it. They battled to 5-4, before Thompson closed out his undefeated run to win it 5-5 and claim the 12th Annual Robert Dionne Memorial title.
Tour director Marc Dionne thanked the ownership and staff at Crow’s Nest for their hospitality, along with sponsors Ozone Billiards, Molinari, Bert Kinister, AZBilliards, 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 (#12) on the New England 9-Ball Series, scheduled for January 13, will be a $500-added event, hosted by Legends Sports Bar in Auburn, ME.