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NYC Scotch Doubles 8-Ball Championships Crown Four Winners

Tony Robles and his team at Silent Assassin Productions welcomed 164 players to Steinway Billiards on August 3rd – 4th for four divisions of the 3rd Annual NYC Scotch Doubles 8-Ball Championship. 
The Leisure Division saw the smallest field, twelve teams, competing for first prize. This division saw Amanda Andries & Henry Chan redeem themselves after a 5-2 loss to Kendall Nunn & Radames Marimon for the hot-seat. Andries & Chan bounced back with a hill-hill win over Cesar Becerra & Maxwell Musser in the semi-final match, and then another hill-hill win in the extended final match over Nunn & Marimon.
The Open Division drew a field of thirty seven teams and there was no late tournament redemption in this one, as the team of Artur Trzeciak & Sebastian Karwas went undefeated with a 6-3 hot-seat win over Charlene Capers & Jerry Alexander and then a 6-0 win over Capers & Alexander in the finals. 
The Advanced Division’s eighteen teams played a tight final few matches with John Durr & Ken Batal taking the hot-seat with a 6-4 win over Quang Nguyen & Jimmy Tran. Nguyen & Tran then lost to Chris Schmidt & Kevin Scalzitti in the semi-final match 5-2. The extended final match was another close one, with Durr & Batal winning the hill-hill match for first place. 
The absolute top players competed in the sixteen team Master Division, where Miguel Batista & Wilberto Ortiz were undefeated with wins over Zion Zvi & Duc Lam for the hot-seat 7-4 and again in the finals 7-5. 
Robles wished his thanks to UpState AL and his team for hosting the free live stream courtesy of Blatt Billiards, John Leyman for being the official referee, tournament assistants Julie Ha, Tommy Schreiber and Irene Kim,  Erwin Dionisio for his fantastic photography, and Steinway Billiards, National Amateur Pool League (NAPL) and Predator Cues for their sponsorship.  He also wished a huge thanks to all of the players for their enthusiasm and support of the event.  
Robles and his team will be back at Steinway Billiards on October 19th – 20th for the six divisions of the NYC 8-Ball Championship Singles Championships.

Toomey and Mazzeo split top prizes on Tri-State Tour’s 2019/2020 season opener

(l to r): Bob Toomey & Joe Mazzeo

Negotiations for opting out of a tournament’s final match are often, though not always, conducted, if not secretly, at least away from the person who is sometimes holding the cash for its eventual distribution. And sometimes, hearing or reading about it afterwards, can make you wonder whose idea it was. A person who was defeated in the hot seat match, as a random example, is generally motivated to take a second shot against the opponent who sent him/her to the semifinals. Reasons for the cash split at the end of a long day can range from the practical (a long drive home, a work shift that begins late at night, or even early the next morning) to the personal (the opponents drove to the tournament together and agreed upon arrival that if faced with a final match, they’d split).
On Sunday, July 14, the Tri-State Tour opened its 2019/2020 season with a $1,000-added 8-Ball event that drew 29 entrants to Clifton Billiards in Clifton, NJ, where the 2018/2019 season had ended almost exactly a month ago. At the end of the tournament, Bob Toomey, the tour’s 2018/2019 Sportsman of the Year, was sitting in the hot seat, waiting to see whether the opponent he’d defeated in the hot seat match, Jason Blanchard, was going to make it back from the semifinals. He didn’t. Instead, Joe Mazzeo, who’d lost in the event’s second round and then embarked on a seven-match, loss-side winning streak, downed Blanchard and was presented with the opportunity to face Toomey in the final. Mazzeo, according to tour representatives, “decided to take second and end the day,” leaving the undefeated hot seat occupant (Toomey) as the event’s official winner.
Toomey’s path to the hot seat featured five matches, three of which went double hill. He downed Amanda Andries 5-2 and ran into his first double hill match against Rick Rodriguez. He then defeated Allison LaFleur 5-3 to draw Artur Trzeciak in one of the winners’ side semifinals. Blanchard, in the meantime, got by Chris Schmidt, Sam Hoffman, and Raphael Castillo, who’d sent Mazzeo to the loss side in the second round, to pick up Joe Ganguzza in the other winners’ side semifinal.
Toomey chalked up his second double hill win of the day, over Trzeciak, as Blanchard defeated Ganguzza 6-2 to join him in the hot seat match. In what would prove to be the event’s ‘title match,’ battling for the hot seat, Toomey won his third double hill battle and sent Blanchard to the semifinals.
On the loss side, Mazzeo was working on his seven-match, loss-side winning streak. He’d gotten by Chris Schmidt 6-3, John Durr, double hill, Nick Serino 6-2 and Teddy Lapadula 6-4 to draw Ganguzza. Trzeciak picked up Manny Gomez, who’d recently shut out Allison LaFleur and defeated Mike Strassberg 5-2.
Mazzeo advanced to the quarterfinals with a 6-3 win over Ganguzza. He was joined by Trzeciak, who’d eliminated Gomez 5-3. Mazzeo took the quarterfinal match over Trzeciak 6-3 and completed his loss-side run (and the tournament) with a 6-2 victory over Blanchard in the semifinals. He opted out of a final match, leaving Toomey as official winner of the Tri-State Tour’s season opener. 
Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff at Clifton Billiards, as well as sponsors Ozone Billiards, Sterling Billiards, Kamui, DIGICUE OB, John Bender Custom Cues, Billiards Digest, Human Kinetics, Blue Book Publishing, Joe Romer Trophies and Phil Cappelle Publications. The next stop on the Tri-State Tour, scheduled for Sunday, June 21, will be a $1,000-added 9-ball event, hosted by Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY.

Sookhai goes undefeated to take first of last three 2018/2019 Tri-State events

(l to r): Basdeo Sookhai & John Durr

With the end of the Tri-State Tour’s 2018/2019 season a mere two weeks/events away, the end-of-season invitational picture is becoming clearer. At the conclusion of an event at Clifton Billiards in Clifton, NJ on Saturday, June 15th, the Tri-State Tour will assess each of six different ranking categories to determine the top 16 players in each of those categories to determine who’ll be in attendance at the season-ending  Invitational Tournament, scheduled for the weekend of June 29-30 at Steinway Billiards. Typically, in these last weeks before the Invitational Tournament every year, players in all six divisions look to solidify their spot among the final 16, which has a way of creating a few ‘bubble’ matches between players at or near the cutoff point. In some cases, players among a particular division’s top 16 are unable to attend the season-ending Invitational, opening the door to players in the 17-20 range of a given division.
On the weekend of June 1-2, at a $1,500-added event that drew 32 entrants to Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY, Basdeo “Shawn” Sookhai solidified his place among the tour’s A/A+ players by going undefeated through the field and taking home the event title. Sookhai came into the event in 8th place among the tour’s A/A+ players and barring any catastrophic circumstances, will be invited to attend the Invitational. Geovanni Hosang, who did not compete in this most recent event, is close enough in points to overtake him for the 8th slot on the A/A+ list if he competes in one or both of the remaining two events, but Sookhai is pretty much a lock to be invited.
Not so with Sookhai’s opponent in the hot seat match and efinals, one John Durr, who entered the tournament right at the #16 spot on the tour’s list of B players. Just below him in the 17th spot was Pashk Gjini, whom he met in a winners’ side quarterfinal. Durr sent Gjini to the loss side 7-5 and advanced to face Kunami Chau in one of the winners’ side semifinals. Sookhai, in the meantime, who’d gotten by Lidio Ramirez (double hill), Raphael Castillo and Amir Rashad Uddin, squared off against Liran Rabin in the other winners’ side semifinal.
Sookhai moved into the hot seat match on the heels of an 8-3 victory over Rabin. Durr joined him after downing Chau 7-3. Sookhai and Durr battled to double hill before Sookhai prevailed 7-6 to claim the hot seat.
Over on the loss side, Rabin picked up Raphael Castillo, who’d defeated Amir Rashad Uddin 7-5 and Bob Toomey 6-2. Chau drew Michael Fedak, who’d defeated Debra Pritchett 5-2 and Luis Lopez 6-2 to reach him. Lopez had previously eliminated Pashk Gjini, who finished in the four-way tie for 9th place, which might be enough to allow him to hold on to his 17th spot among the tour’s B players and possibly, if someone among the top 16 is unable to compete in the Invitational, give him the chance to compete.
Castillo and Fedak handed Rabin and Chau their second straight loss; Castillo 6-3 over Rabin and Fedak 6-1 over Chau. Castillo and Fedak fought to double hill in the quarterfinals that followed before Castillo advanced to meet Durr in the semifinals.
Durr ended Castillo’s day 7-5 in those semifinals and then, fell to Sookhai a second time, 7-5 in the finals. In the absence of any of his fellow B players, above him on the list, Durr’s runner-up finish should notch him up a step or two on that list, certainly above Frank Sieczka, who was tied in ranking points with Durr going into the event, and did not compete.
Tour representatives thanked Manny Stamatakis and his Steinway Billiards staff, along with sponsors Ozone Billiards, Sterling-Gaming, Kamui Tips, Phil Capelle, BlueBook Publishing, Human Kinetics, Pool & Billiards, Professor Q Ball, Bender Cues, DIGICUE OB, and Hustlin’ USA. The next stop on the Tri-State Tour, the second-to-last in the season, is scheduled for Sunday, June 9 at Cue Bar in Bayside (Queens), NY.

Feliz-Forman goes undefeated to win (*) her first Tri-State Tour stop since 2012

Yomaylin Feliz-Forman

Yomaylin “Smiley” Feliz-Forman’s first and most recent appearance in the AZBilliards database came as the result of winning a stop on the Tri-State Tour. Her first came in October of 2009, when she defeated Paul Everton in the finals of a stop at Master Billiards in Queens, NY. Her latest happened this past weekend (Sat., May 11), as she went undefeated (*) at a $1,000-added event that drew 46 entrants to Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY. This most recent victory is her first victory on the Tri-State Tour since 2012, although in the interim, she did win stops on the Predator Pro Am Tour in 2014 & 2015.
She’s cashed in two other events this year, marking the end of an extended, four-year ‘leave of absence’ from the tables, undertaken to get married to Brian Forman and have two children. Just to stay in touch (so to speak), her second child shares a birthday with Predator Pro Am Tour director Tony Robles. She is, more or less, back, although she continues to coordinate child-care activities. She practices on an 8-ft. table in her building during the hour or so she gets to herself when the two children nap.
“I shoot until they wake up,” she said, leaving open the question of how she was lucky enough to have two children under the age of four, who nap at the same time, for the same amount of time.
She has found, like others before her have found, that while children certainly bring disruption and a reduction in TAT (time-at-table), they also have a way of grounding a player in a way that eventually improves their game.
“It does change your mind-set,” she said. “You go into this Mama Bear mode.”
“Coming back,” she added, “I felt braver, (had) more heart; something in me ignited.”
In this most recent event, she and Jimmy Acosta played a double hill, winners’ side semifinal match that sent Acosta to the loss side. The suggestion that they might opt out of playing a final match was discussed early-on in the process, though the decision was not actually made until Acosta had defeated Ryan Dayrit in the event semifinals. At that point, dawn was creeping up over the East River, and both “Smiley” and her friend, Acosta were very tired, and “Smiley,” in particular, wanted to get home to her children. Though glad to accept the ‘asterisk’ title as the undefeated occupant of the hot seat, she is also aware that her ‘return’ to former form, may take a little while.
“My brain is strong,” she said, “but my game hasn’t really come back from the absence yet.”
She opened her undefeated run with a 7-5 victory over Greg Matos and followed it up with wins over Amy Yu 7-0, and Ed Medina 7-5, before running into Acosta for the aforementioned double-hill winners’ side semifinal that sent Acosta to the losers’ bracket. Dayrit, in the meantime, faced and defeated Stewart Warnock, Sr. 6-3 in the other winners’ side semifinal. “Smiley” and Dayrit played a double hill hot seat match that eventually sent Dayrit to the semifinals.
On the loss side, Acosta picked up Eddie Medina, who, after his loss to “Smiley,” had chalked up two straight double hill wins over Amy Yu and Amir Rashad Uddin. Warnock, Sr. drew Joe Mazzeo, who’d shut out John Durr and defeated Jim Gutierrez 7-5 to reach him.
Medina’s third straight double hill match proved not to be the ‘charm’ he was hoping for, as Acosta, double hill, eliminated him. Mazzeo and Warnock, Sr. battled to double hill as well, with Mazzeo advancing to join Acosta in the quarterfinals.
Acosta eliminated Mazzeo 7-4 and then, locked up in a battle against Dayrit in the semifinals, which came within a game of double hill (9-7). Acosta and Feliz-Forman agreed to the split and left to greet the dawn.
Tour representatives thanked Manny Stamatakis and his Steinway Billiards staff for their hospitality, as well as sponsors Ozone Billiards, Sterling Gaming, Kamui Tips, Phil Capelle, BlueBook Publishing, Human Kinetics, Pool & Billiards, Professor Q Ball, Bender Cues, and DIGICUE OB. The next stop on the Tri-State Tour, scheduled for Sunday, May 19, will be hosted by Cue Bar in Bayside (Queens), NY.

Klein goes undefeated to chalk up his third 2018-2019 Tri-State Tour title

(l to r): Matt Klein & Pashk Gjini

One of the trickier concepts of most regional tour ranking systems is the balance between actual accomplishments and participation. Winning the most event titles does not necessarily guarantee that you’ll be ranked as the tour’s top player in any given division. While your victories might put you ahead in cash, if a fellow competitor has appeared in three times as many events as you, he/she could well be ahead of you in tour ranking points, because he/she was collecting points, sometimes for less notable finishes, when you weren’t competing.
Case in point: Matt Klein, who, two weeks ago, entered a tournament as the Tri-State Tour’s #4-ranked B player. He won that tournament, his second of the tour’s 2018-2019 season, and this past weekend (Sunday, April 28), he added a third Tri-State title with an undefeated run at a $1,000-added event that drew 49 entrants to Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY. Going into this past weekend’s tournament, Klein had not moved up in the B-player rankings, because while the three players ahead of him on the list didn’t compete, they’d participated in more tournaments, overall, and retained their lead in the B rankings. That might change this week, as Klein’s 14th appearance on the 2018-2019 Tri-State season likely edged him closer to or possibly above Tri Chau in third place. Nathaniel Raimondo and B leader, Mike Mele are somewhat out of reach (points-wise) to allow Klein to take the top spot, this week. But stay tuned, as the Tri-State season edges toward its mid-summer conclusion. With three wins to his credit, he could finish the season as its top ranked B player.
Klein faced separate opponents in the hot seat and finals of this most recent event. He sent Tony Kuo to the loss side 7-3 in one winners’ side semifinal, as Bryan Jeziorski (the tour’s #4-ranked B+ player and winner of the previous week’s Tri-State event) downed Pashk Gjini (#27 on the B list) 7-2 in the other one. Klein claimed the hot seat with a 7-3 win over Jeziorski.
It was Gjini who would face Klein in the finals and he began his loss-side trip back to that match, against Jose Estevez, who’d defeated Nick Limbertos 7-4 and shut out Ryan Dayrit to reach him. Kuo picked up John Durr, who’d most recently eliminated “Smiley” Feliz 7-4 and Bianca Martinez 8-3.
Gjini moved into the quarterfinals with a 7-4 victory over Estevez and was joined by Durr, who’d defeated Kuo 7-1. Gjini then defeated Durr in those quarterfinals 7-1 to draw a rematch against Jeziorski in the semifinals.
A somewhat predictable double hill match ensued, with odds in favor of the higher-ranked player, Jeziorski. Gjini, though, prevailed to earn his slot in the finals. There, Klein put an end to his loss-side run 7-1 to claim the event title.
Tour representatives thanked Manny Stamatakis and his Steinway Billiards staff, as well as sponsors Ozone Billiards, Sterling-Gaming, Kamui Tips, Phil Capelle, BlueBook Publishing, Human Kinetics, Pool & Billiards, Professor Q Ball, Bender Cues, DIGICUE OB and Hustlin’ USA. The next stop on the Tri-State Tour, scheduled for this weekend (Sunday, May 5) will be hosted by Clifton Billiards in Clifton, NJ.

Schreiber picks up his first win of the 2018/2019 Tri-State Tour season

(l to r): Thomas Schreiber & Mike Mele

It’s hard to know how the final game in any double hill match is going to affect a player. Some buckle under the pressure, while others rise to the adrenaline-fueled challenge and win. Some, at different times, do one or the other. Thomas Schreiber’s five-year history with the Tri-State Tour suggests that he thrives on double hill matches. It’s difficult to peruse the totality of his recorded history on the tour and determine just how many double hill matches he’s played, but we do know, as one example, that the second time he cashed on the Tri-State Tour, back in December of 2014, Schreiber lost a double hill match in the battle for the hot seat, won a double hill match in the semifinals and though he’d open the finals with four straight, he lost that match, double hill, to finish as runner-up. In a win during the 2017-2018 season, Schreiber got knocked to the loss side in a double hill loss, played two double hill matches to get back to the finals and then defeated hot seat occupant Pashk Gjini double hill to win. Four months later, still in the 2017-2018 season in January of 2018, Schreiber got into the hot seat with a double hill win, and then earned the event title with a double hill win in the finals against Lidio Ramirez.
On Sunday, March 24, Schreiber had a double-hill-free trip through to the hot seat, but in the end, after Mike Mele completed a six-match, loss-side winning streak to face him in the finals, Schreiber got into yet another double hill match that he won to claim the event title. Mele entered the tournament as the Tri-State’s top ‘B’ competitor in its Player of the Year standings, with 22 appearances to his credit since last summer. Schreiber’s a ‘B’ player, as well; seventh on the list, with nine appearances since last summer. The $1,000-added 8-ball event drew 38 entrants to Cue Bar in Bayside (Queens), NY. Schreiber, a two-time winner of the annual NYC 8-Ball Championships (2015/2016), had a bit of an edge in the chosen game category.
Schreiber’s trip to the hot seat saw him win 36 of the 47 games he played, downing Harry Singh, Michelle Brotons, Luis Lopez, and John Durr, before facing David Leggat in a winners’ side semifinal.  Mike Strassberg and Amanda Andries, in the meantime, met in the other one. Mele, at the time, was already at work on the loss side.
Schreiber shut Leggat out to get into the hot seat match. Strassberg survived a double hill match against Andries to join him. Schreiber gave up only a single rack to Strassberg and waited in the hot seat for his eventual double hill matchup against Mele in the finals.
It was Andries who picked up Mele on the loss side, three matches into his loss-side winning streak, which had included recent wins over Joe Romeo 6-2 and Tri V. Chau 6-4. Leggat drew John Durr, who, following his defeat at the hands of Schreiber, had won two straight double hill matches against Jerry Almodovar and Fernando Anderson to face Leggat.
Mele downed Andries 7-3 and in the quarterfinals, faced Leggat, who’d defeated Durr 6-4. Mele and Leggat locked up in a double hill fight, won by Mele, which, in effect, sent him directly to the finals. He leapfrogged over the semifinals when his opponent, Mike Strassberg, had to forfeit that match.
Entering the finals, Mele was looking for his first win on the tour. His closest finish on the tour, to date, came in the season opener of the current 2018-2019 season, last July, when he won six on the loss side to finish as runner-up to Duc Lam. At the tail end of yet another six-match, loss-side winning streak Mele came up against Schreiber and almost predictably found himself in a double hill match for the event title. Schreiber secured it to claim his first Tri-State title since January, 2018, midway through the 2017-2018 season.
Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff at Cue Bar for their hospitality, as well as sponsors Ozone Billiards, Sterling-Gaming, Kamui Tips, Phil Capelle, BlueBook Publishing, Human Kinetics, Pool & Billiards, Professor Q Ball, Bender Cues, DIGICUE OB and Hustlin USA. The next stop on the Tri-State Tour, scheduled for the week after the upcoming Super Billiards Expo (Sunday, April 7) will be hosted by Shooter’s Family Billiards in Wayne, NJ.