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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.