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Hogue goes undefeated to claim 2022 Sandcastle Open in Edison, NJ

Greg Hogue and Danny Olson

Conflict between expectations and event reality stirs controversy 

Greg Hogue of Tulsa, OK, has had two good (recorded) earning years at the tables. They stand as bookends to a 15-year pool career that began in 2006, which remains on record with us here at AZBilliards as his best earnings year. It continues with what is now his second-best earnings year, this one, thanks in large measure to his undefeated performance at the 2022 Sandcastle Open last weekend (June 4-5). The $2,500-added event drew 32 entrants to Sandcastle Billiards in Edison, NJ.

Hogue had to face South Dakota’s Danny Olson twice in this event. Olson, as it happens, is in the midst of his best recorded earnings year since he first showed up in our player database back in 2011. At the end of the Sandcastle Open, while Hogue had moved up to a career-high spot on our AZB Money Leaderboard (#100), Olson moved up to his career-high spot on the board to #72.

They met first in the winners’ side second round. As Hogue was working on an opening round, 7-4 victory over Alex Vangelov, Olson had his hands full with a double hill fight against one of the top players in the world, Jayson Shaw. Olson won that battle, only to be sent west by Hogue 7-4. Hogue advanced to win his third straight 7-4 victory, over Levie Lampaan and pick up Jonathan Pinegar (aka Hennessee from Tennessee) in one of the winners’ side semifinals. Meanwhile, Oscar Dominguez from the West Coast had been busy downing his young protege Adrian Prasad, Alex Osipov and Josh Thiele to arrive at his winners’ side semifinal battle against Raymond Linares.

Dominguez added another 7-4 win to the batch of them, downing Linares to earn his spot in the hot seat match. Hogue joined him after sending Pinegar to the loss side 7-5. Hogue sent Dominguez to the semifinals, claiming the hot seat 7-5.

On the loss side, Pinegar picked up Danny Olson, four matches into the seven-match, loss-side streak that would end in the finals against Hogue. He’d recently eliminated Mhet Vergara 7-2 and Shane Wolford 7-3. Linares drew Derek Daya, who was working on a six-match, loss-side streak that included victories over Lampaan 7-5 and knocked Jayson Shaw out of the tournament 7-4.

Daya chalked up his sixth in a row against Linares 7-5, while Olson was defeating Pinegar 7-3. Olson then stopped Daya’s run 7-3 in the subsequent quarterfinals.

Olson punched his ticket to the finals with a 7-5 win over Dominguez in the semifinals. Though Olson would chalk up one more rack than he’d managed against Hogue in the second round, Hogue claimed the Sandcastle Open title 7-5.

Old story, new day . . .

The 32-entrant field, which resulted in the promotional, expected figure of ‘$5,000-added’ being reduced to the reality of ‘$2,500-added,’ didn’t sit well with the players who showed up. Sandcastle Billiards owner, Ed Liddawi, wasn’t too happy about it either. Prior to the event, 55 players had registered to compete. By the time the event started, that number had dwindled to 32, with only two of the 23 players who did not compete, providing reasonable explanations regarding their inability to attend.  The flyer promoting the event made it clear that the ‘$5,000-added’ figure was contingent upon a field of 64 entrants and in the end, Liddawi returned the entry fees to all of the players who had submitted an entrance fee, to include some who reached out to him, in less than reasonable ways, while he was in the middle of conducting the event they had failed to attend.

In comments that surfaced on our own AZBilliards Forums, some players made the point (in a variety of ways) that financial considerations dictate whether or not someone is going to sign on to compete (entry fees, green fees, calculated travel and living expenses, weighed against the potential for winning enough cash to offset those expenses and hopefully, more). Thus, plans to compete are often contingent on there being sufficient money at stake to make attendance worthwhile. A subsequent and substantial reduction in the amount of prize money available has a way of altering the cost/benefit analysis to the point where not only might a player have to face the reality of not making any money, he/she might end up losing money.

That said, room owners, tour directors and event promoters, like Ed Liddawi, are conducting the same sort of cost/benefit analysis built on the financial burdens they have to assume when considering the creation and promotion of a given event. When, through no fault of their own, some of the math is thrown off track, then they, too, have to face the reality that instead of an event, that as planned, was designed to benefit their own financial expectations, as well as the  expectations of the players, they have to make hard decisions that inevitably impact both sides of the financial equations. Just like the players, they can end up losing money, too. 

Not an ideal set of situations for anybody. 

The debate, articulated in the Forums and in some cases, personally to us here at AZBilliards is not new and in a polarizing way, familiar to anyone who follows politics these days. It’s not enough apparently to just state a given case, it becomes necessary to demonize one’s opponents; to call a room owner/event promoter ‘greedy,’ or complain, in general, about how much ‘these people’ work toward making a player’s life miserable by ‘stealing’ from them with no regard as to what they, the players have to deal with, or, conversely, that players ‘don’t understand or care’ about what it takes to organize and ultimately run an event and are ‘only interested in themselves.’

Those are NOT quotes from any particular individuals, merely examples of the sort of close-minded debate that contributes little or nothing to the solution of a central problem that has plagued pool longer than AZBilliards has been around. Part of the problem is, of course, that there have been in the past and continue to be room owners/event promoters who are greedy, cheat players out of money and act in bad faith, caring little about the fate of the players they’re hosting at a given event. But there are also players who act out of bad faith, too, assume they’re being cheated and start with that as a premise when they engage in any sort of discussion about a specific controversy.

The specifics of this decades-old controversy, to include actual quotes from players and room owners can be found in our Forums, stretching back over the years, with a great deal of regularity. Complaining falls under the umbrella of individual and “inalienable rights,” afforded to greedy room owners/event promoters and self-centered, whining pool players alike. But you can’t paint all room owners/event promoters and players with the same brush. It should be noted, as well, that many room owners are players themselves at varied levels of proficiency (Jayson Shaw and Oscar Dominguez, who attended this event, as two examples, and Ed Liddawi, who put it on). Responsible, reasonable room owners/event promoters and responsible, reasonable players do not tend to join the acrimonious debate, especially when it devolves into senseless name-calling and baseless accusations. It is not anyone’s intent to censor the commentary or the Forum community, but it should be incumbent on individuals in both ‘camps’ to seek reasonable solution(s) to the varied and apparently intractable problems represented in the debates themselves.   

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Shaw wins final battle versus Appleton in Open NineBall Pro Players Championship

Jayson Shaw

Nearly 2,000 entrants, with some event crossovers, compete in Amateur events

As of March 31, three weeks before the Super Billiards Expo opened its doors, the Diamond Open NineBall Professional Players Championship was designated as an Official Nineball World Ranking event, and while it did not literally draw its entrance field from everywhere, there was a very evident sense of international competition. The final 16 featured representation from the US (five) and 11 competitors from seven foreign countries – Austria, Germany (2), Russia, the UK (2), Canada (2), the Philippines and Hong Kong (2). The international ‘feel’ of the event was most evident in what was easily among (if not “the”) most anticipated matchup of the four-day event, between the UK’s Jayson Shaw and Russia’s Fedor Gorst. The matchup, which occurred in the single-elimination quarterfinals, lived up to its billing, as the two battled to double hill before Shaw advanced. More on this later, along with the final matchup between Shaw and Darren Appleton, which waited until the 17th of its potential 21 games before Shaw pulled away to win the next two and claim the title. 

There were quite a few “wish I coulda been there” matches throughout the event’s four days, up to and including matches among the final 16, which were, for obvious reasons, witnessed by the SBE’s largest crowds in the Pro arena. Pre-single-elimination, there was the double hill battle between Shaw and Billy Thorpe, which moved Shaw into the final 16, the Fedor Gorst and Ralf Souquet (new school/old school) match that sent Gorst to the final 16, and Appleton’s two straight double hill matches; one win (Jeff Beckley) and one loss (Mhet Vergara), which sent “Dynamite” to the loss side, where a single win, over Bucky Souvanthong, sent him (Appleton) to the final 16. And, as always, any match featuring Earl Strickland as a competitor is always entertaining, whether because of exuberant antics or just plain rock-solid shooting.

The Shaw/Gorst match followed a Shaw “Sweet 16” victory over John Morra 11-6 and a Gorst win over Thorsten Hohmann 11-8. Gorst opened with two straight racks and kept that as a minimum lead until rack #17. By the 12th rack, Gorst was leading by four. Two straight racks that featured Shaw dropping a combination shot that dropped the 9-ball cut that lead in half. Gorst went three-up at 9-6, but Shaw came right back with a break and run that reduced it to two again.

Off a Gorst break, Shaw narrowed the lead to one until that 17th rack, when Shaw came within one. Shaw broke the 18th, but turned the table over briefly, before, with a second chance, he dropped a 3-9 combination that yielded the match’s first tie. Gorst dropped two balls on his break, but Shaw came through to get on the hill with his first lead of the match. Gorst, with a scratch-on-the-break assist from Shaw, made it interesting by winning the 20th, double hill rack.

Gorst broke dry in the deciding rack, but Shaw turned the table back over to Gorst, who promptly scratched shooting at the 2-ball. Shaw ran to the 8-ball and Gorst conceded the game and match. 

Moving into the semifinals, Shaw drew Mario He, who’d earlier defeated Jonathan Pinegar 11-7 and Oscar Dominguez 11-9. Appleton’s path to the finals from the final 16 started out against Earl Strickland. He got by him 11-6 and then downed Joseph Spence 11-3. In the semifinals, Appleton drew Billy Thorpe, who’d recently eliminated Robbie Capito 11-9 and Souquet 11-8. 

Shaw downed He 11-7, as Appleton was busy dispatching Thorpe 11-4. The all-UK battle was on.

In the early going of the finals, it appeared as though neither of them was going to win a rack off their own break. Appleton won the lag, broke dry and Shaw ran the table to take a 1-0 lead. Shaw broke, dropping two balls and scratching. Appleton set up a 1-9 combination to tie it up. They went back and forth like this, winning the other’s break to a single game lead for Shaw at 4-3.

Shaw broke the 8th rack, dropped one, and after giving the table back to Appleton briefly, won the rack, his first off his own break, to take the game’s first two-game lead. He made it a three-game lead (his first of two), before Appleton chalked up two in a row to make it 6-5. Shaw used a terrific jump shot at the 2-ball to maintain his run of rack #12. On Appleton’s break of rack #13, he dropped one ball, but almost immediately gave the table to Shaw, who missed hitting the 1-ball, completely. Shaw saw an obvious 1-9 combination awaiting Appleton’s arrival at the table, so, gentleman that he was, he picked up the cue ball and placed it in the position it needed to be for Appleton to make the combination. He did so without handling the cue ball Shaw had set for him.

Shaw dropped two balls on the break of rack #14 and used another terrific jump shot to jumpstart his third win off his own break and then, off Darren’s break, established his second three-rack lead at 9-6. Appleton fought right back, winning the next two and including his own terrific jump shot at the 1-ball that started his 8th game win.

Ahead by a single rack at 9-8, Shaw broke and ran the 18th (his fourth win off his own break) to reach the hill first. Darren broke the 19th rack, sinking one ball, but couldn’t see the 1-ball. He pushed (the one and only time that happened all match) and Shaw finished the game to claim the event title. 

Amateur events draw 35 shy of 2,000 entrants

Not including the two junior events for ages 17/Under and 12/under, the total entrants for which were not recorded, the nine amateur events of the 2022 SBE drew a total of 1,965 entrants (with some crossover between events). This brought the total number of participating pool players to 2,101. The two Pro events (73 Open and 63 Women) thus represented just 6% of the total number of players who competed this year. Trying to detail 9 events, especially the 996-entrant Open Amateur would be unwieldy, so we offer some information about and congratulations to the 94% percent who were the largest participating contingent of pool players at the 2022 SBE.

6-Ball Amateur Players Championship (200) – 1st Danny Mastermaker, 2nd Fred Goodman III, 3rd Jared Demalia/Daniel Dagotdot

Early Bird Super Seniors (58) – 1st Ike Runnels, 2nd Martin Ciccia, 3rd Al Muccilli/Flaco Rodriguez

Open Amateur (996) – 1st Chris Bruner, 2nd Pat McNally, 3rd Jomax Garcia/Derick Daya

Senior Amateur (364) – 1st Raymond McNamara, 2nd Chris Sutzer, 3rd Javier Perez/Efrain Morales

Super Seniors (149) – 1st Gene Rossi, 2nd Ed Matushonek, 3rd Frank Sorriento/Ace Aughty

Women’s Amateur (166) – 1st Tina Malm, 2nd Ashley Benoit, 3rd Nicole Nester/Bethany Tate

Junior (12 & Under) – 1st Jim Powell, 2nd D’Angelo (“Jaws”) Spain, 3rd Noah Majersky, 4th Evan Demelo

Junior (18 & Under) – 1st Brent Worth, 2nd Payne McBride, 3rd Landon Hollingsworth, 4th Yan Pena

ProAm BarBox (32) – 1st Joe Dupuis, 2nd Alan Rolan Rosado, 3rd Bart Czapla/Joey Tate

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Wolford & Keeney Make Sweet Music at Music City

Shane Wolford

The 34th Annual Music City Open was once again hosted by JOB’s Billiards in Madison, TN – a suburb of Nashville. Played on seven foot Diamonds, $7,000 was added to the event. Owner Ricky Gamble and his staff went all out to welcome all the players and fans.

Kicking off the event on Wednesday evening was a single elimination open 9 ball mini tournament. Sixty four players joined the fray – format was races to seven, winner breaks.

Directed by our own Ray Hansen, the field was whittled down to four players. Manny Perez handily beat Josh O’Neal 7-0 while James Davee beat Jeremiah Petty 7-3 to move into the finals. Due to the late hour, Manny and James decided to split the pot.

The $6,000 added Open 9 Ball division began the following evening. 127 players paid their $100 entry fees into this double elimination event. Races were to eleven with winner breaks. Following the players meeting, a rousing players auction and draw, play began.

Notable matches in the first round action saw John Gabriel thump Chris Baskerville 11-1 as did Shane Wolford over Raed Shabib 11-3. Brian Bryant had a bit of a tougher time with cuemaker Mike Durbin – the final score was 11-7. Young guns Sergio Rivas smoked Tracy Blevins 11-2 while Manny Perez defeated Steve Legace 11-3. John Hennessee blitzed Bob Ferrell 11-0 and Dave Matlock notched a forfeit over Jesse Couch.

In the second round and still having a fairly easy time of it, Tulsa’s John Gabriel then defeated Dominick Iraggi 11-3. Shane Wolford, owner of the Wolf’s Den in Roanoke, VA made short work of Mark Nanashee 11-4 and Jeremiah Petty skunked Brandon Andre 11 zip. Manny Perez claimed victory over Chris Busby 11-5 and Hennessee spanked Michael Williamson 11-3. Robert Hall defeated Ron Frank 11-7, James Davee outran Andrew Stroup 11-8 and Mike Gann forfeited his match to Josh O’Neal.

Legendary bar box king Dave Matlock had his hands full with the straight shooting Sergio Rivas. Hoping for a flashback, Dave played well but Sergio took him down 11-7.

Third round action saw John Gabriel run into a buzz saw named Shane Wolford. Catching up to the great breaking Shane a couple of times, Wolford finally pulled away to a 10-6 lead. No slouch himself, John clawed his way back to tie it up at ten apiece! In a heartbreaker of a game, a relieved Shane finally edged him out.

Other matches from that round had Rivas easing past Tab Pranee 11-5 as Chuck Raulston eased past Steve Cruse 11-2. Seemingly unable to find his game, Manny Perez was smoked by Rusty Jackson 11-3 and Hennessee from Tennessee took care of Anthony Gunn 11-5. Joey Yarbrough was no threat to Robert Hall – he lost 11-2 while James Davee wrestled Lee Uhles for an 11-8 win.

With both the Open and Ladies event in full swing, Saturday night was ground zero for the Midnight Madness nine ball mini. Eight players put up a $500 entry fee. Format was single elimination with races to eleven and winner breaks. Shane Wolford and Hennessee were the last men standing – they also decided to split the pot.

After a scare in his previous match with John Gabriel, Shane Wolford cruised to an 11-2 victory over Scott Roberts and Rivas was in the zone with an 11-1 win over Gene Drerup. Raulston sent Kevin Ping packing – same score – 11-1.

After his big win over Manny Perez, Rusty Jackson had his hands full with Hennessee – he lost 11-7. James Davee also survived a tough one – he defeated Joey Yarbrough 11-9.

Playing great, Wolford swept past Chip Gaither 11-2. Same great play by Rivas got him past Chuck Raulston 11-6 while Hennessee sent Davee west 11-6.

As the Open 9 Ball played on, the $1,000 added Ladies Division began on Friday night. Forty two players entered this double elimination event – format was races to seven with winners break. As always, there was a players meeting and auction followed by the draw.

The ladies played down to the final four on the winners side. Nicole Keeney defeated Amanda Huff 7-3 and Amy Theriault was defeated by Edie Dean. Edie & Nicole advanced to the hot seat match where Nicole breezed through the match and locked up her berth in the finals 7-1. Edie headed west to await an opponent.

After losing her first match, Laura Kanov’s run to the finals was finally thwarted by Julie Skirpac 7-3. Laura finished in fourth place. Julie then went on to face Edie Dean but lost 7-5. She finished third – Edie would get another shot at Nicole in the finals.

Since this was a double elimination event, Edie would have to win two sets to claim the title. She won the first two games but Nicole came roaring back to win the next four. Edie managed to put two more games on the board but it wasn’t enough – Nicole took the match and the title 7-4! Fantastic tournament for both players!!!

Finally down to four on the winners side in the Open event, Wolford made short work of Brian Bryant 11-5 while Rivas outlasted Hennessee 11-7. Sergio and Shane headed to the hot seat match – their opponents slogged over to the one loss side of the chart.

The hot seat match was all Shane Wolford. He kept Rivas pretty much nailed to his chair and moved undefeated into the finals – 11-4.

On the other side of the brackets, Bryant and Mike Gann battled – Gann was eliminated 11-8. On the other table, Josh O’Neal and Hennessee took it down to the wire – Josh was eliminated 11-10. After escaping his previous match, Hennessee tortured Brian Bryant 11-1 – Brian finished in fourth place.

Fighting to claim the remaining berth in the finals and looking to avenge his previous loss to Rivas, Hennessee was taking no prisoners this time. Hennessee defeated Sergio 11-6 and headed to the finals. Sergio finished in third place.

As this was double elimination, Wolford would have to be beaten twice for Hennessee to win the tournament. By mid-match, it was tied at five apiece. Shane won the next three games – making it 8-5. Could he run out the set?!!!

Nope!!! Hennessee rallies and ties it up at eight!!! Wins the next game and takes his first lead of the match!!! His lead didn’t last long though as Shane tied it up again at nine games each but once again, Hennessee won the next game. He was on the hill – 10-9. Could he win this last game and force a second set?

Not so fast!!! He scratched on the break!!! A dejected Hennessee slowly walked back to the chair to watch Shane run out the rack making it 10-10!!!

Making the one on the break, he had a wide open rack! Methodically running the balls but leaving himself a little long on the seven, he took a deep breath and rifled it in to win the event!!! Great tournament for both players!!!

PoolActionTV.com would like to again thank Ricky Gamble and local sponsor Action 24/7 for another fabulous event. Tournament Director Jason Hill – ably assisted by Steve McDonald – did an excellent job coordinating the various events.

We’d like to thank commentators Larry Schwartz, Mary Kenniston and Jeremy Jones – great job!

We’d also like to thank our sponsors and fans. Our sponsors include JB Cases, Hanshew Jump Cues, StraightPoolEye, Lomax Custom Cues, Diamond, Durbin Custom Cues, Simonis, Aramith, the Action Palace of Dayton, OH and Fort Worth Billiards Superstore of Fort Worth, TX.

Our next stop is the long awaited Derby City Classic in New Albany, IN – dates are January 21st-29th. As always, we hope to see you there and in our Aramith Action Room!!!

Pinegar wins second 2019 Bar Table title at Midwest Bar Table Classic in Indianapolis

Jonathan Pinegar

Orcollo takes top prize in 10-Ball Saturday Night Midnight Madness
 
In what has been something of a slow year for him, Jonathan Pinegar (the ‘artist’ formerly known as “Hennessee from Tennessee”) recently chalked up his second 2019 Bar Box title. In late March, Pinegar won the 32-entrant, Super Billiards Expo’s Pro Am Bar Box Championships and on the weekend of October 13-14, he went 7-1 through a field of 128 competing at the $7,500-added 39th annual Midwest Bar Table Classic, hosted by John Wayne’s Bar and Grill in Indianapolis, IN. He lost the opening set of a true double elimination final to runner-up Jason Klatt. Pinegar’s only other recorded earnings for the year stemmed from his participation in the 2019 Derby City Classic at which he finished in the money in three separate disciplines; 9-Ball (17th), One Pocket (21st) and 9-Ball Banks (91st).
 
As if a 128-player field wasn’t madness enough, the Midwest Bar Table Classic included a 10-Ball Saturday Night Midnight Madness tournament, which featured a single elimination ‘winner and runner-up take all’ format. It drew an extraordinarily short field of 10 entrants and lasted (no surprise) until 3 a.m., which might have had something to do with why the winner, Dennis Orcollo, finished in the eight-way tie for 17th place in the main event to take home $1,500. Tommy Stephenson was the $500 runner-up.
 
The main event saw a number of ‘marquee’ players eliminated earlier than anticipated (by themselves probably more than anybody). These included 2020 Mosconi Cup Team USA member, Billy Thorpe and the Midwest Bar Table Classic’s defending champion, Alex Olinger, both of whom shared in the four-way tie for 13th. Also out early (among others) were Dennis Hatch (25-32), Justin Bergman (17-24) and Shane McMinn (9/12).
 
Pinegar faced separate opponents in the hot seat and finals; one of them, having sent the other to the loss side. Josh Roberts sent Jason Klatt to the loss side in a winners’ side quarterfinal from where Klatt would launch a five-match winning streak that would earn him a shot against Pinegar in the finals. Roberts advanced to a winners’ side semifinal against Jordan Davis, as Pinegar squared off against Chris Szuter in the other one.
 
Pinegar downed Szuter 9-6, as Roberts was busy sending Davis to the loss side 9-5. Pinegar claimed the hot seat 9-5 over Roberts and waited on Klatt’s return.
 
Klatt opened his loss-side campaign with a victory over Can Salim, who’d been responsible for sending Dennis Orcollo to the loss side (Kevin Hall would eliminate Orcollo). Klatt then went on something of a ‘tear’ as he shut out his next two opponents; Robert Frost and (fresh from his loss to Pinegar) Szuter. Davis picked up and defeated John Morra 7-5; Morra having been responsible for eliminating Shane McMinn and Jeremy Seaman.
 
Klatt took the quarterfinal match over Davis 7-2 and then, in a match that came within a game of double hill, downed Roberts 7-5 in the semifinal.
 
Klatt and his sidekick, Momentum took the opening set of the true double elimination final 9-6. Pinegar came back to win the second set 7-4 and claim the Midwest Bar Table Classic title.
 
Event directors John Klotz and Miranda Babcock thanked John Wayne’s Bar & Grill owner Chuck Thomas and his staff for their hospitality, as well as sponsors Meucci Cues, Simonis Cloth and for the live streaming, BilliardNet.TV. The next Midwest Bar Table Classic has been scheduled for April 3-5, 2020.

Pinegar wins 2019 SBE Pro Am Bar Box Championship

Jonathan Pinegar (Photo courtesy Super Billiards Expo)

Davis tops largest SBE field of 1,024 to win Amateur Open
 
In its multi-discipline, varied-skill format that, with some overlap among 11 events, drew over 3,000 pool players to the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center at Oaks, PA over the weekend of March 28-31, the Super Billiard Expo’s Pro Am Bar Box Championships has always existed as something of a challenge. In 2018, they used the challenge in promoting the event, asking potential participants a simple question – How good do you really think you are?
 
Open to all levels of competitors, without restriction, its field is capped at 32 players, who play a ‘best of three set’ format with races to 6 in each set (all other Amateur events utilized the same format, although with races to 5 in each set). While encouraging and expecting a wide variety of players from the amateur to the pro, this year’s ProAm Bar Box Championships featured a field that was tipped somewhat toward the amateur end of things. Not completely, because it was won by 20-year veteran Jonathan Pinegar, who’s been winning and cashing in amateur and semi-pro events for nearly 20 years. Known throughout most of his career as “Hennessee from Tennessee,” Pinegar has, in recent years, been signing on to events with his given name. At this year’s SBE, he signed in as John Pinegar. This year’s runner-up was Demetrius Jelatis.
 
The posted brackets on the SBE Web site for all of the amateur events (including the ProAm Bar Box) do not indicate the scores of the individual sets, which masks the give and take of game-by-game scoring. Instead, each player is seen to have won their individual matches by only one of two possible outcomes; 2-0 or 2-1. There is no way of knowing, therefore, a given player’s game-winning percentage, only his or her set-winning percentage.
 
Pinegar won 10 of 12 sets he played over five matches. He opened with a 2-1 win over Alex Olinger, went 2-0 against Kevin West and allowed Scott Haas a single set in the third round, which brought him to a semifinal matchup against Justin Espinosa. Jelatis, in the meantime, won eight of the 12 sets he played over five matches. He opened with two straight 2-0 set victories over Shane Clayton and Alan Rolan, before giving up a set to Ryan McCreesh. This set him (Jelatis) up against Jorge Rodriguez in the other semifinal. Rodriguez is another one of those competitors who’s been competing at the semi-pro and pro-level for years.
 
Pinegar got into the finals with a 2-0 set victory over Espinosa. Jelatis joined him after a 2-1 set victory over Rodriguez. Pinegar completed his undefeated (in sets) run with a 2-0 victory over Jelatis.
 
Davis goes undefeated in his individual bracket, advances to win Amateur Open
 
In the largest field of the SBE, the Amateur Open, 1,024 entrants initially split up into 16 brackets of 64 players each. Each of those brackets delivered a single player to a Final 16 bracket. Phil Davis didn’t lose a single set (best of three sets in races to 5) in his initial bracket, going 2-0 against Chris Garrett, Matt Clatterbuck, Mark Alicea, Paul Swinson, Richard Anderson and in his bracket’s finals, Jason Balas. He gave up his first set in the opening round of the single-elimination final 16 bracket, going 2-1 against Joe Wright. He went back to his 2-0 pattern against Mark Nanashee in the second round, which moved him into the semifinals against Julio Burgos.
 
Raed Shabib, in the meantime, gave up his first set, in the opening round of his 64-player bracket, to Christopher Balderson. He didn’t give up another one until his bracket finals, having gone 2-0 against Abel Rosario, John Hoge, Bill Mason and Randy Tate. He took the bracket final 2-1 over James Adams. He opened the Final 16 portion of his run with a 2-1 victory over George Crawford and then downed Brett Stottlemeyer 2-0, to arrive at a semifinal against Chris Bruner.
 
Davis and Shabib advanced to the finals with identical 2-1 set victories over Burgos and Bruner, respectively. Davis completed his undefeated run with a 2-1 victory over Shabib in the finals.
 
Amateur highlights
 
The next highest attended Amateur tournament was the Open Seniors event (for 50+), which drew 384 entrants. Originally split into eight preliminary brackets, yielding a single winner, the event was won by Bobby Connor. He advanced through the Final 8 field with set wins over Oscar Bonilla and Dennis Spears, both 2-1. He was met in the finals by Efrain Morales, who’d defeated Joe Armeni 2-1 and Chuck Ross 2-0. Connor didn’t give up a set in claiming the Open Seniors title.
 
Next up, with 192 entrants, was the Super Seniors (65+), who started in four initial brackets, yielding a very short final field of four. Ed Matushoneck downed Tom Acciavatti 2-1 to claim his spot in the finals, and was joined by Ronny Park, who’d defeated Nelson Rivera 2-1. Matushoneck claimed the Super Seniors title with a 2-0 win over Park.
 
The Amateur Ladies drew 188, just four less than the Super Seniors. Combined, those two events would have yielded an enormously entertaining field with just four less than the Open Seniors event. As it was, the 188 ladies, like the Super Seniors, started with four initial 64-player brackets (with a number of opening round byes) and ended with a final field of 4. Rachel Lang and Michelle Jiang advanced to the finals without giving up a set to either Marie-France Blanchette and Stacey Tonkin. Lang downed Jiang in the finals two sets to one.
 
In the 12 and under Juniors event, which drew 56 entrants, Parker Jakubczak downed 2018 11 & under Junior National Champion Kyle Yi in the finals 2-1. In the 17 & under category, which drew 76 entrants, two-time 14 & under National Junior Champion Nathan Childress defeated Ivo Linkin in two straight sets.

Mobley downs Leonard twice to capture his first Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball title

Daniel Mobley

While the annual Super Billiards Expo (SBE) appeared to have drawn a large majority of the pool playing public to the Philadelphia area on the last weekend in March (nearly 3,000 attended), it didn’t draw everybody. It did, though, have a way of dampening attendance at relatively nearby tournaments scheduled on the same weekend, like the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour. On Saturday, March 30, Buck’s Billiards in Raleigh played host to a tournament that drew 21 entrants, and saw Daniel Mobley go undefeated through that field to win his first stop on the tour.
 
According to our records, Mobley had cashed in an event only once before and it was on the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour four years ago at a stop hosted by Borderline Billiards in Bristol, TN. Mobley finished fifth in the event that was won by Jonathan Pinegar, who, while Mobley was working on his first major victory this past Saturday, was in the midst of the SBE’s Pro Am Bar Box Championship that he would go on to win.
 
In the meantime, Mobley and Zac Leonard were working their way through the field at Buck’s Billiards where they’d meet twice to determine the event winner. They met first in the hot seat match, once Mobley had sent Matt Clifton to the loss side 5-2 in one of the winners’ side semifinals, and Leonard had downed Matt Raden 7-2 in the other one. Mobley claimed the hot seat over Leonard 5-4 (Leonard racing to 7).
 
On the loss side, Clifton and Raden ran right into their second straight loss. Clifton drew Ricky Dickson, who’d defeated Dave Brown 5-4 (Brown racing to 8) and Greg Speight 5-3. Raden drew a re-match against JT Ringgold, the tour’s most prolific winner, who, after his defeat at Raden’s hands, launched a six-match, loss-side winning streak that would take him as far as the semifinals. Ringgold had most recently survived a double hill fight against Robbie House (11-6) and eliminated Elton Howard by the same score.
 
Ringgold won the re-match against Raden 11-3 and moved into the first-money-round quarterfinals against Dickson, who’d survived a straight-up race to 5, double hill match against Clifton. Ringgold won his last match in those quarterfinals, 11-3 over Dickson.
 
The Ringgold-Leonard matchup in the semifinals was predictably tight. Leonard, with the lower handicap started the match with four on the wire in a race to 11. Ringgold made it to 9, one game away from a double hill, deciding match, but Leonard chalked up his seventh rack to end it.
 
In the finals, it was Leonard playing with the higher handicap, looking to unseat Mobley, who started the match with two on the wire in a race to 7. To his credit, Mobley improved on his 5-4 victory in the hot seat match by giving up only a single rack to Leonard and claiming the event title 5-1.
 
Tour directors Herman and Angela Parker thanked the ownership and staff at Buck’s Billiards, 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 6-7), will be a $500-added event, hosted by Speakeazy Billiards in Sanford, NC.

Dechaine comes out of ‘retirement’ to win SBE Open 10-Ball Pro Players Championship

Mike Dechaine – Photo courtesy of Erwin Dionisio

Aranas wins 32-entrant, Pro-Am BarBox Championships
 
He never actually left. Although “Fireball” Mike Dechaine has cut back, way back, on the number of tournaments in which he competes, he’s kept his hand in, so to speak. In fact, he’s won four of the last eight tournaments he’s entered – The Robert Dionne Memorial (NE 9-Ball Series) in January of 2017, the Gotham City Pro Classic in October, the New England 9-Ball Series’ Tour Championships just last month, and now, on the weekend of April 12-15, the $16,000-added Diamond Open 10-Ball Professional Players Championship, part of the annual Super Billiards Expo at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center IN Oaks, PA. Dechaine went undefeated through the field of 64, competing for $48K in prize money, and in the end, got by, in order, Thorsten Hohmann, Earl Strickland, and Jayson Shaw, before meeting and defeating Danny Olson in the finals.
 
According to Dechaine, being away from the sport and focused more on a regular job, has allowed him to approach the occasional tournaments in which he now participates with a different, if not downright better attitude. It’s an attitude, he said, that decreases the influence of expectations.
 
“I go into every tournament expecting to do well,” he explained, “but I think part of me winning these days is having a job now; a foundation (which) allows me to approach a tournament without expectations, (other than) just to enjoy myself and have fun.”
 
Aiding and abetting this somewhat new approach for the “Fireball” was an RV in which he and a group of friends were able to travel from Maine to Philadelphia in about six hours, and then, to stay, throughout the course of the weekend.
 
“The RV belonged to a friend of mine (John),” he said. “The (Greater Philadelphia Expo Center) was about 10 steps outside of the door, so we could come back, relax, take a nap if we wanted to. We had a blast.”
 
The indoor ‘blast’ got underway on Thursday, April 12. For both eventual finalists (Dechaine and Olson) the path to victory went through Thorsten Hohmann. Following a victory over Xavier Libby, Olson faced him in his second match and was sent to the loss side, from which he would eventually emerge as one of the eight loss-side finalists. Hohmann would go on to be among the eight winners’ side finalists. Dechaine, in the meantime, advanced on the winners’ side, defeating Lee Kang and Martin Daigle, before facing Tommy Kennedy, in what he (Dechaine) would describe later as his toughest match of the tournament.
 
“He played tremendous,” said Dechaine of Kennedy’s double hill effort. “The change was that his break started not working for him. I fought back and got lucky.”
 
The victory advanced Dechaine into a pool ‘dream team’ of eight final winners’ side competitors, including Shane Van Boening, Jayson Shaw, Skyler Woodward, Mika Immonen, Alex Pagulayan, Earl Strickland, and Hohmann, whom Dechaine met first.
 
On the losers’ side, Olson, following victories over first, Jorge Rodriguez, then Nick Charrette had to face Johnny Archer for the right to be among the losers’ side final eight. He defeated Archer, and joinEd Martin Daigle, John Morra, Jonathan Pinegar, Oscar Dominguez, Zion Zvi (who’d just eliminated Tommy Kennedy), Lee Vann Corteza and Roberto Gomez in the single elimination final 16.
 
Dechaine downed Hohmann 13-6, and then, faced Earl Strickland; a matchup that in bygone days might have seen a few ‘fireworks’ as the “Fireball” met the Pearl. Not this time around, however.
 
“Earl was a complete gentleman,” said Dechaine later. “It was good to see and it was fun to watch him.”
 
Dechaine won that match 13-1 and turned to face Jayson Shaw. In the losers’ side bracket, Olson, who’d defeated Daigle 13-5, and Morra 13-3, picked up Oscar Dominguez. Dechaine advanced to the finals with a 13-9 victory over Shaw. Olson joined him after defeating Dominguez 13-10.
 
Still at work enjoying himself and having fun, Dechaine stepped into his first major event final since last October, when he’d squared off against Yu-Lung Chang in the finals of the Gotham City Pro 9-Ball Classic (aka The Sharon ‘Sam’ Fagnoni Memorial).
 
“It was nerve-wracking being in the finals, of course,” he said, “but I was just trying to push through and play the best that I could.”
 
“Danny (Olson),” he added, “is an up-and-comer, and he’s going to be around for a while.”
 
Dechaine completed his undefeated run with a 13-10 victory over Olson. As he ponders his participation in future events, he is cognizant of the degree to which his somewhat lowered expectations have provided him with a key that might lead to further success.
 
“Focusing on one shot at a time,” he said. “Being the best that I can be.”
 
Pros and Amateurs mixed in Pro-Am Bar Box Tournament, won by Zoren James Aranas
 
“How good do you really think you are?” was the question posed on the Super Billiards Expo’s Web site Details and Registration page for the Pro-Am Barbox Championships.
 
“Take your best shot in this challenging 32-player event,” it suggested further.
 
And so they did. Though invited, there were no women among the single-elimination event’s 32-entrants. At stake was $10K in total prize money.
 
Zoren James Aranas went undefeated through five opponents to claim this event’s title, downing Jorge Rodriguez in the finals. Aranas got by Justin Martin, Shaun Wilkie and Benjamin Warblan to face Nathan Rose in the event semifinals. Rodriguez, in the meantime, had downed Cory Young, Jeff Jones and Nick Cipiti to draw Dee Adkins in the other semifinal.
 
In races to 6, best 2 out of 3 sets, Aranas advanced to the finals in two sets; 6-3, 6-1, over Rose. He was joined by Rodriguez, who’d been tested in his first match against Adkins, but hung on to win 6-5, and then eliminated him 6-4 in the second set.
 
Aranas won the first set of the finals 6-2. Rodriguez fought back in the second set to double hill. Aranas completed his undefeated run by finishing it.

More Stars Hit the Doors at U.S. Open

Earl Strickland (Photo courtesy of Erwin Dionisio)

Shane Van Boening proved a one man wrecking crew yesterday as he took both K.L. Hsu and Ronnie Alcano out of the tournament with scores of 11-4 and 11-7. Jonathan Pinegar took out Imran Majid 11-10 and then lost to Joshua Filler 11-7.
 
It was Nick Van Den Berg who exited Oscar Dominguez 11-8 and Dennis Orcollo took down Johan Chua 11-9. Today Orcollo must face Warren Kiamco.  Wu Jia-Qing ended the run for Ko-Pin Yi 11-8 and Mika Immonen sent Johnny Archer packing 11-7. Justin Bergman came out on top over James Aranas 11-9.
 
Earl Strickland had two  close shaves but prevailed in both matches 11-10. His first victim was Gabe Owen and the  second was Kevin Cheng, our 2015 U.S. Open Champion. Earl has been in gear all week and faces Chris Melling next.
 
Skyler Woodward is shooting unbelievably well. He can’t seem to miss. Yesterday he dominated Dennis Hatch 11-4 and will  face Martin Daigle next. 
 
Still undefeated in the field are Francisco Sanchez-Ruiz and Naoyuki Oi. Oi defeated Alex Pagulayan who made a heroic comeback after being down 7-0 only to lose 11-10. Eklant Kaci continues his spotless record with an 11-8 win over Darren Appleton and Corey Duel sent Albin Ouschan left 11-6. P.C. Ko and Thorsten Hohmann are both still spotless but will face one another next.
 
Jayson Shaw took down Akagariyama 11-3 and will play Billy Thorpe today after a controversial win by Thorpe. Thorpe was playing Carlo Biado when the play-by-play announcers announced he had fouled the six ball. But the referee was unable to confirm the foul as he was unable to see it and so escaped the foul call. He went on to win 11-10 over a very disheartened Biado who felt he had been cheated in the match.
 
Today all the matches are great ones. Follow the coverage at Accu-Stas.com for the live stream and right here on AZB for the live scoring and brackets.
 

Chapman stops Pinegar to pick up his 1st major win on Viking Cues’ Q-City 9-Ball Tour

Given the theory, supported by anecdotal evidence, that competing against stronger opponents improves one's own pool game, the allure of handicapped tournaments is easy to understand. Handicaps in such situations are designed to give lower-ranked players something of a fighting chance against seasoned (higher handicapped) veterans.
 
On the weekend of June 17-18, at a stop on the Viking Cues' Q City 9-Ball Tour, Michael Chapman, looking for his first major tournament win, made it to the hot seat. In the finals, he faced Open/Pro player Jonathan Pinegar, aka Hennessee from Tennessee, who'd lost his opening match and won eight on the loss side to reach those finals. With Pinegar racing to 12 and Chapman racing to 6, Pinegar took the opening set in the true double elimination final. Chapman, though, obviously improving on the spot, as it were, came back to win the second set and claim his first major title.  The event drew 27 entrants to a new venue on the tour, Billiards and Brews in Knoxville, TN.
 
In the event's opening round, Pinegar faced Ricky Bingham, who was racing to 8. Bingham won that match 8-9, and eventually advanced to a winners' side semifinal against Jerry Ray Harris. Chapman, in the meantime, squared off against Bryan Walters in the other winners' side semifinal. Harris downed Bingham 5-4, as Chapman was sending Walters to the loss side 6-4. Chapman claimed the hot seat by that same score, and waited for Pinegar to complete his loss-side run.
 
It was Walters who drew Pinegar, halfway through his eight-match, loss-side winning streak, which included, most recently, a double hill win over Brett Kleinhaus (12-8), and a 12-3 win over Joel Bradshaw. Bingham drew Steve Ellis, who'd downed Angela Gann 6-2 and Rick Rogers 6-4. Pinegar advanced to the quarterfinals 12-3 over Walters, as Ellis spoiled the opportunity for a Pinegar/Bingham re-match with a 6-3 win over Bingham.
 
Pinegar gave up only a single rack to Ellis in those quarterfinals, and then spoiled Harris' hopes for a re-match against Chapman, with a 12-2 win in the semifinals. Chapman put up a double hill fight against Pinegar in the opening set of the true double elimination final, but Pinegar prevailed 12-5 to force a second set. Chapman downed Pinegar in the second set 6-8, completing his undefeated run to claim his first major title.
 
Tour director Herman Parker thanked the ownership and staff at Billiards and Brews, as well as title sponsor Viking Cues, Delta 13 Racks, AZBilliards and Professor Q Ball. The next stop on the Viking Cues' Q City 9-Ball Tour, scheduled for June 24-25, will be the 1st Annual South Carolina State 9-Ball Barbox Championships, to be hosted by Cue Time Billiards in Spartanburg, SC.
 

Woodward takes two out of three versus the Hillbilly to capture 42nd Annual Texas Open title

Skyler Woodward

Over Labor Day weekend, and more precisely, at about 4 a.m., Eastern time, on Tuesday morning, Skyler Woodward snatched the 42nd Annual Texas Open title out of its defending champion, Charlie "Hillbilly" Bryant's hands. But not, as was expected, without a fight. The $7,000-added event drew a full field of 128 entrants to Skinny Bob's Billiards in Round Rock, TX. In a concurrently-run, $2,000-added Ladies event that drew 32 (see separate story), the Texas Tornado (Vivian Villareal) chalked up her third straight Texas Open title.
 
For the male event, early weekend talk at Skinny Bob's and in the chat rooms of PoolAction TV, which live-streamed the event throughout the weekend, centered on Mexico's Ruben Bautista. Bautista, who got by (among others) Richie Richeson, John Gabriel and Alex Olinger, was fulfilling some of those expectations, all the way through until early afternoon on Labor Day, when he ran into the Hillbilly in a winners' side semifinal. In the other semifinal, Woodward, in the meantime, met up with Robb Saez, who, on his way, had sent three-time Texas Open champion ('94, '02, '03) Jeremy Jones to the loss side and was showing some grit. It's safe to say, if not meticulously researched and proven, that a good percentage of figurative and literal money invested into predicting the winner of this event, had just these four squaring off as they did in the winners' side semifinals.
 
Woodward dispatched Saez to the loss side 9-5, as Bryant took care of Bautista 9-3. In a surprisingly good-natured hot seat match (Woodward and Bryant can each be feisty at times), Woodward dominated 9-2.
 
Lurking on the loss side, as Saez and Bautista slid over, were (among others) Jones, Olinger, Joey Gray, Jonathan Pinegar and Justin Bergman, who, after being sent to the loss side by Woodward in the third round, was working on what turned out to be a seven-match, loss-side run. Wins #5 and #6 came at the expense of Jundel Mazon 9-2 and Pinegar 9-5, which set Bergman up against Bautista. Saez drew Gray, who'd eliminated Olinger 9-4 and Brian Sanders 9-5.
 
In two polar-opposite matches battling for advancement to the quarterfinals, Saez drew the 'double hill' card that finished Gray's weekend. In a somewhat surprising turn of events (though not to everyone), Bergman shut Bautista out. Following that victory, very few would have predicted the double hill quarterfinal that followed, and at a guess, it would have been even money for the result, that was 9-8, Saez.
 
The semifinal between Bryant and Saez (who won this event, four years ago) was a re-match from last year's final, at which, on the hill and shooting at the 9-ball, Saez scratched, giving Bryant, in the hot seat, the opportunity to tie and then, break and run, to capture the 2014 title. In the steady, and not overly dramatic re-match, Bryant defeated Saez 9-5 for a second, and potentially necessary third shot at Woodward.
 
It looked, in the early going of the opening set, as if Bryant was going to cruise to a second set. Woodward, who won the lag, was looking at a separate, private payout of $500 if he could break and run the set; a bargain that fell apart on his opening break, when he sunk a single ball, but couldn't see the 1-ball. He rolled out, launching a series of back and forth safety shots that made it look as though it were going to be a longer night than it actually was. Woodward untangled the safety mess by sinking the 4-ball, but he scratched, turning the table over to Bryant, who promptly ran out, and then (winner breaks), chalked up four more in a row, the last of which saw Woodward scratch again, shooting at the 5-ball. 
 
Skyler regrouped to win the sixth rack, but it looked to be a temporary reprieve, when, in the seventh rack, Woodward completely missed a shot that gave Bryant ball in hand. Bryant, though, joined the 'scratch' parade and gave the table back to Woodward, who finished that rack and chalked up three break and runs to tie things at 5-5.
 
Skyler took his first lead at 6-5. Bryant promptly tied it up and added three more to force a second set.
 
Things started a little slower in the second set, with the two trading racks to a 2-2 tie. It was at this point, that in the words of assistant tournament director, and competitor (17th) John Palmore, Woodward "caught a gear," chalking up six straight to reach the hill ahead, way ahead of Bryant. And then, it was Bryant's turn. With the sword of defeat hanging over his head, Bryant chalked up four in a row, which, but for a single shot at the 9-ball, could have been five in a row. 
 
It was, as they say, too little, too late. Woodward closed it out by the same score he'd been defeated by in the first set – 9-6 – to become the second youngest player to win the 42-year-old tournament (by a matter of months, the youngest was Sylver Ochoa; 2007).
 
A final note: Many of the details in this report would not have been possible, had it not been for the as-always professional live stream, offered by Ray "Big Truck" Hansen and his PoolActionTV crew, along with continually-updated, online brackets and regular, graciously-offered conversations with assistant TD and competitor John Palmore.