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Gorst goes undefeated to claim 1st Annual Hannah Choi Memorial Title

Fedor Gorst, Shane Wolford, Kristina Tkach, Paul Oh and room owner Anthony Luong

There are times when words are insufficient to the task that they have been set out on a page to perform. So it is with reporting on the B & L Billiard Tournaments’ 1st Annual Hannah Choi Memorial, a $10,000-added event that drew 64 entrants to First Break Sports Bar in Sterling, VA last weekend (June 11-12). Spearheaded by a trio of Hannah Choi’s close friends – Paul Oh, Kristina Tkach and Fedor Gorst – the memorial was organized to commemorate Choi, who went missing from her home in early March and was discovered dead in a Maryland park weeks later. The person currently being sought in connection with her death, classified as murder, has still not been apprehended. 

Choi was an active player at Street Light Billiard Academy in Alexandria, VA, where Tkach, Gorst, Ruslan Chinakhov and other members of “Roy’s Basement,” along with players like Shane Van Boening, Efren Reyes and Nick Varner would gather along with Academy members, offering clinics, challenge matches and exhibitions.

“Hannah became Kristina’s handler, like a family member,” said Oh. “Hannah wasn’t like a professional player, although she was an APA 6, and she became close to Kristina. She was probably Kristina’s closest friend, lived with her whenever she was in-country.”

As a loosely-organized group engaged in the Virginia (and surrounding areas) pool community, the players would discuss any number of things around meals, table practice and tournaments. On more than one occasion, Choi had mentioned to the group the idea of organizing a Virginia-based ProAm tournament, which, for a variety of different reasons, had never really advanced beyond casual talk about it being a good idea.

“We’d had conversations about it,” said Oh, “wanting to hold a tournament in the area, so when Hannah passed, it was a no-brainer.”

Oh reached out to B&L Billiard Tournaments, in the persons of Brian Kilgore and Lai Li, within a matter of days after Choi’s passing. In less than three months, the circle of friends that had known Choi personally, organized the 1st Annual event that would bear her name.

“It meant a lot to Paul, Fedor and Kristina, who was her best friend,” said Kilgore. “Kristina talked to the players (at length) before the tournament began, telling them all of the things that Hannah Choi had done for her.”

Kilgore and the 64-entrant field were all on-hand to hear Tkach’s impassioned words. In retrospect, Kilgore regretted that the moments had not been recorded. Tkach did, though, write about Choi’s passing in an on-line post.

“I didn’t lose my best friend,” she wrote. “No…I lost so much more than that. I lost my soulmate, my partner, life mentor, my whole world.”

“But you didn’t leave me, right?” she went on to ask. “No, it just can’t be… you are somewhere here now, by my side, kindly looking at me, smiling, listening to me just like you always did.”

Tkach continued, eventually confronting the chasm of grief that lay before her; “the pain that doesn’t go away no matter what you do, eating you up from inside.

“But I can’t give up,” she added. “I have to keep grinding, growing and trying to be the best I can possibly be, because that’s what you would want me to do. I promise you will be proud of me.”

At the risk of presumption, one can only imagine that Hannah Choi would have accepted the need and impetus to discuss her passing and the memorial tournament arranged on her behalf, and then, expected all of us to proceed; “grinding, growing, trying to be the best that we can possibly be because that’s what (she) would want us to do.”

The 64-entrant, double elimination bracket that opened the proceedings had a proverbial ‘boat load’ of pool talent on board, including the very people responsible for the tournament’s existence; Paul Oh, Kristina Tkach and Fedor Gorst. Two of those three (Tkach and Gorst) would advance to the single elimination phase of the event and Gorst would win it. Things were set up through the event semifinals for Tkach and Gorst to square off in the final match, but Shane Wolford stepped in and left Tkach in the tie for 3rd place.

In one of the more entertaining matches of the event, Gorst opened up the double-elimination phase against junior competitor, Joey Tate. Live-streamed (as were selected matches throughout the weekend) by Omega Billiards, Tate encountered some early issues, arguably brought on by an initial concern that he might not make it to the event at all. He’d called Brian Kilgore to relate some ‘timing’ issues and assured him that though he was running late, he would be there in time. He made it on-time, by a matter of minutes and found himself facing Gorst in his opening round.

In the early going, Tate missed some ‘9’s and ‘10’s and found himself in a 3-1 hole after four. But he fought back to be within a single game at 6-5. Gorst prevailed and Tate would go on to lose his first loss-side match. 

Gorst advanced and ran into an immediate double hill battle against Atlantic Coast veteran Steve Fleming. He survived that battle as well, and then shut out Kevin West to become one of the eight winners’ side competitors advancing to single elimination. He was joined by fellow ‘winners’ side’ competitors Warren Kiamco, Greg McAndrews, Manny Chau, Roberto Gomez, Shane Wolford, Brandon Shuff and Chris Hansen. From the loss side, Rafael Reyes, Danny Mastermaker, Deo Alpajora, Kevin West, Dylan Spohr, BJ Ussery, Jr., Mhet Vergara and Kristina Tkach advanced to the final 16. Tkach, sent to the loss side by Manny Chau, had worked her way through William Moon, Lukas Fracasso-Verner and Roger Halder to join the loss-side’s group in the final 16.

Tkach got by Roberto Gomez in the opening round of single elimination and in the quarterfinals, drew Kevin West, who’d eliminated Chris Hansen. Gorst defeated Mhet Vergara and picked up Manny Chau, who’d sent Greg McAndrews home. Wolford, in the meantime, had knocked out Brandon Shuff and faced BJ Ussery, who’d defeated Rafael Reyes to reach him. Kiamco got by Deo Alpajora in the single-elimination opening round and squared off against Dylan Spohr, who’d ended Danny Mastermaker’s run.

Tkach downed West 9-7 and in the semifinals, drew Wolford, who’d defeated Ussery 9-7. Gorst eliminated Chau 9-4 and picked up Kiamco, who’d defeated Spohr 9-4. 

Wolford put an end to speculation and hopes for two of Hanna Choi’s best friends to meet in the finals with a 9-6 win over Tkach. Gorst downed Kiamco 9-5. In the extended race-to-9, Gorst and Wolford came within a game of double hill. Gorst pulled out in front in the end to win by two, 11-9. 

The 1st Annual Hannah Choi Memorial was in the books, with Gorst and Tkach proud to have played their part in making it a success. Paul Oh, though less than pleased with his finish ‘out of the money,’ as it were, was pleased at how well the entire affair had been arranged and executed, as was Brian Kilgore.

“It’s amazing to me how it turned out,” said Oh, noting that it was a combined effort on the part of the group of friends around Hannah Choi, who, over the years, “had eaten together, travelled together and worked together,” to include Anthony Milanesi (who’d donated a cue that he’d made for one of the raffles that helped bring money to the event), Ken Tranh and his wife, Linda, Joonick Jun and of course, the central trio of Tkach, Oh and Fedor Gorst. 

That core group along with Brian Kilgore and Lai Li thanked Anthony Luong and his First Break staff for their hospitality and a portion of the added money, as well as Cuetec Cues. They applauded the efforts of all 64 players who’d made Hannah Choi’s first memorial a memorable occasion. As something of an extended tour-promotion unit, they are already looking forward to the 2nd Annual Hannah Choi Memorial. While it’s a bit too early to determine how that will shape up, there is consideration being given to another Open event, as well as a Women’s tournament.

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Gorst goes undefeated in delayed 14th Bob Stocks Memorial

Fedor Gorst and Shane Wolford (TTMD)

There were a lot of events going on this past Easter weekend, particularly on the East Coast and the multiplicity of them led to a few crossover competitors, reducing the numbers here, increasing them there. This past weekend’s 14th Bob Stocks Memorial (April 16), usually held on an annual basis, came two years after the last one in 2019. Formerly held under the auspices of the Action Pool Tour, ThinkTechMD picked up the reins for this year’s edition. Initially capping the field at 64, that number fell to 52 for a variety of different reasons, and when it began, there were only 30.

Fedor Gorst went undefeated through the field, advancing first on the winners’ side of a double elimination bracket and then, winning four matches in a single elimination bracket to claim the title. Gorst and junior competitor Shane Wolford advanced through the winners’ side of the double elimination bracket and were one of the eight chosen from that side of the bracket to compete in the single elimination phase of the event. Had the double elimination bracket continued, they would have faced off in a winners’ side quarterfinal. As it turned out, after the redraw to single elimination, they showed up at opposite ends of the single elimination bracket and met, for the first and last time, in the event final. The $1,500-added event drew its 30 entrants to First Break Sports Bar in Sterling, VA.

Gorst played two matches on the winners’ side of the double elimination bracket, downing Rafael Reyes (1) and Matt Krah (0) by an aggregate score of 14-1. Wolford advanced through Lenny Valley (4) and Thang Nguyen (3) to arrive at the same winners’ side spot. Joining the eventual finalists in the single elimination phase were, from the winners’ side, Chris Hansen and Nathan Childress, Derick Daya and Manny Chau, as well as Kristina Tkach and Scott Haas.

The last eight left standing on the losers’ side and advancing to single elimination were Thomas Haas, Eric Heiland, Dylan Spohr, Rafael Reyes, Matt Krah, Brandon Shuff, Bart Czapla and John Moody, Sr.

Heiland and Spohr advanced to the event’s final eight after defeating Daya and Childress, respectively. Gorst got by Reyes and was joined in the final eight by Chau, who’d defeated Thomas Haas. Moody, Sr. and Shuff advanced as well, eliminating Scott Haas and Kristina Tkach. Wolford downed Matt Krah, and was joined among the final eight by Chris Hansen, who’d defeated Czapla.

The winners in the four, quarterfinal matches advanced by an aggregate score of 48-16. Shuff and Wolford downed Moody, Sr. and Hansen by the same 11-5 score. Gorst eliminated Chau 11-4 and Spohr gave up only two racks versus Heiland.

The semifinal matches pitted Gorst against Spohr and Shuff against Wolford. Gorst eliminated Spohr 11-5. Shuff gave Wolford a run for his money, coming within a game of forcing a twenty-first deciding game, but in the end, Wolford pulled out in front, advancing to the final against Gorst 11-9.

The final match was an extended race-to-13. Though similar in age (early 20s), the combatants were quite different in how far each had come to this point in their pool careers; Wolford, more or less just starting out and Gorst, already a recognized world-class professional player. Though Wolford would chalk up twice as many racks against Gorst as any of his previous challengers (Reyes and Spohr had managed five against him in races to 11), Gorst got out ahead of Wolford and closed the 14th Bob Stocks Memorial with a 13-10 victory to claim the title. 

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Ussery comes from the loss side to take VA State 10-Ball Championships

Manny Chau and BJ Ussery

Junior competitor Precilia Kinsley takes Ladies title

There were times, as the 2022 VA State 10-Ball Championships, held under the auspices of the Action Pool Tour, were playing out, that one might have thought they’d taken a wrong turn somewhere and ended up at an event on the Junior International Championships (JIC). In both the concurrently-run Open and Ladies tournament, held this past weekend (April 9-10), there was strong representation from the up-and-coming crowd of junior competitors.

Precilia Kinsley (15) won the Ladies event and though the Open event was won by BJ Ussery, Jr., it was a different kind of junior (Nathan Childress) who sent him to the loss side. Three of the five matches he played after that to get to the finals put him up against Childress a second time and two other prominent male juniors on the JIC roster, Joey Tate and Landon Hollingsworth. All four and Brent Worth, another player on the JIC, competed in the Open event. Kinsley went two-and-out, while Worth went three-and-out in that division. The event drew 46 Open competitors and 20 Ladies to Diamond Billiards in Midlothian, VA.

Ussery’s path to the Open finals was rolling along smoothly through his first three matches, in which he’d given up only one rack, against Luther Pickeral (0), Shane Buchanan (1) and Larry Kressel (0). Then, he ran into Childress, who defeated him 8-5. Childress advanced to a winners’ side semifinal against Manny Chau. Hollingsworth became the second junior competitor in the winners’ side semifinals, having, on his way, given up only three racks, once, and two racks twice before facing Danny Mastermaker, who’d given up that many racks in his previous winners’ side quarterfinal win over Mac Harrell.

Mastermaker advanced to the hot seat match, sending Hollingsworth to the loss side 8-6. Chau joined him after downing Childress 8-4. Chau claimed the hot seat 8-1 over Mastermaker and waited on what he, with good reason, might have assumed was one of the three junior competitors still at work on the loss side.

On that loss side of the bracket, Childress drew Scott Roberts, who’d lost his opening match to Larry Kressel and was working on a seven-match, loss-side winning streak that was about to come to an end. He’d recently survived two straight double-hill matches against Mac Harrell and Chris Bruner. Hollingsworth drew Ussery, who was working on his own loss-side streak and had recently defeated Reggie Jackson 7-1 and JIC competitor Joey Tate 7-3.

Ussery defeated Hollingsworth 7-3 and advanced to his quarterfinal rematch against Childress, who joined him after putting a stop to Roberts’ loss-side streak 7-1. A little older by a matter of hours and presumably a little wiser, Ussery, Jr. stepped to the proverbial ‘plate’ and battled Childress to a deciding 13th game, his only double hill match of the tournament, before eliminating him.

Ussery then defeated Mastermaker 7-3 in the semifinals and claimed the VA State 10-Ball Championship title with a 9-6 victory Chau in the finals.

Precilia Kinsley and Liz Taylor

Six from JIC (30% of the field) compete, Kinsley comes from the loss side to take the title

Like Ussery, Precilia Kinsley had to come from the loss side to win the Ladies division of the VA State 10-Ball Championships. The winners’ side semifinals in the Ladies tournament featured two juniors against each other in one and two veterans in the other.

Kinsley was one of the juniors. She’d gotten by Cheryl Pritchard and Buffy Jolie to face fellow junior competitor, Bethany Tate in their winners’ side semifinal. Liz Taylor, who, at the same venue, won last October’s VA State Ladies 9-Ball Championship, ran a sort of JIC young ladies’ gauntlet. Four of her five total opponents in the event were JIC competitors. She opened with a victory over Courtney Hairfield (who’d finished 5th/6th in the last JIC 18U Girls division event, two weeks ago) and Hayleigh Marion (double hill) before stepping into her winners’ side semifinal against someone much closer to her in age, Lisa Cossette.

Tate downed Kinsley 6-4, as Taylor was working on a 6-2 win over Cossette. Taylor claimed the hot seat 6-2 over Tate and waited on the return of her last junior competitor.

On the loss side, that competitor, Kinsley, drew fellow JIC competitor Hayleigh Marion, who’d recently eliminated Britt Faries 5-2 and yet another JIC competitor, Savanna Wolford, double hill. Cossette picked up Buffy Jolie, who’d survived a double hill fight versus Courtney Hairfield and defeated Bethany Sykes 5-2 to reach her.

Cossette downed Jolie 5-3 and in the quarterfinals, faced Kinsley, who’d survived a double hill match against Marion. Kinsley defeated Cossette 5-3 and in their semifinal rematch, eliminated Tate 5-3, as well. Kinsley and Taylor came within a game of double hill, but in the end, the youngster edged out in front of the woman who owns a number of VA State titles. Kinsley downed Taylor 7-5 to claim her first. 

A five-entrant Second Chance tournament was won by Chris Bruner, who took home $80 for the effort. Brian Sewell ($20) was runner-up

Tour directors Kris Wylie and Tiger Baker thanked the ownership and staff at Diamond Billiards, as well as sponsors George Hammerbacher and Haselman & Hunt, D.D.S., P.C. Family Dentistry (Haselman & Hunt.com). As the Action Pool Tour works on adding two more events to their 2022 calendar, the next scheduled event, to be held on the weekend of November 19-20, will bring the tour back to Diamond Billiards for the VA State 8-Ball Championships. 

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Midwest Open II In The Books

Fedor Gorst (Pool Action TV)

Some of the best players in the world were at Michael’s Billiards in Fairfield, OH this past week for the Midwest Open Billiard Championship II. 

Everywhere you looked there were recognizable faces! Milling around the spacious room was recent Scotty Townsend Memorial champ Alex Pagulayan, Music City Open champ Shane Wolford, Iron City Open 9 Ball Champ Tony Chohan, Derby City Open Ring Game champ Billy Thorpe as well as this year’s Derby City Open One Pocket Champ & Master of the Table Fedor Gorst! And then there was Roberto Gomez, John Morra, Omar Al shaheen, Sanjin Pehlivanovic, Louis Demarco, Jesus Atencio, Shane Winters, Mike DeLawder, Dee Adkins, Robert Frost, Shannon Murphy, Jason Miller and Manny Chau in addition to ladies stars Kristina Tkach and April Larson – way too many to mention! This year’s pool extravaganza was modeled after the legendary Derby City Classic and featured 9 Ball Banks, One Pocket & Ten Ball divisions with an All Around Champion Award. A Bank Ring Game, Ladies 8 Ball Tournament and a Pro Ten Ball Invitational were held as well. There was something for everyone! 

Sponsors for this $19,000 added event included Joseph Long Attorney At Law, Greg Sullivan, Aramith, Simonis, Meyer Custom Cues, Ryan Meyer Cues, Seyberts.com, Diamond Billiard Products, Fort Worth Billiards Superstore, PoolActionTV.com and Michael’s Billiards. 

Things kicked off on Tuesday evening with a 66 player field for the $3,000 added Bank Pool event. The format was double elimination, race to three with alternate breaks. 

Tuesday evening also featured a Banks Ring Game. The two finalists were Billy Thorpe and Mike DeLawder – Billy took top honors! Now back to the banks event! 

After many rounds of play, the field was pared down on the winner’s side to Tony Chohan and Louis Demarco. The hot seat match was all Tony as he sent Louis west with a 3-1 score. 

After being defeated in the fourth round by young gun Jesus Atencio 3-1, Fedor Gorst had methodically picked his way through the field to face John Morra on the one loss side – John had been upset by Chicago’s Michael Eck 3-2. 

After he got past John, Fedor then defeated Louis Demarco 3-1 leaving him in third place. Fedor then moved into the finals but with his eyes firmly affixed on the prize, the match was again all Tony as he blitzed Fedor 3-0 to claim the first event! 

Wednesday was a busy day at the Midwest Open! It was the start of the One Pocket, the Pro Ten Ball Invitational as well as the Ladies 8 Ball events! 

Tony Chohan (Pool Action TV)

The $10,000 added One Pocket event had 47 players vying for the title. As in the Banks event, the format was double elimination with a race to three and alternate breaks. Red hot Tony Chohan tore through the field leaving Jesus Atencio, Jeff Lawrence, Cody Myers, Dee Adkins and Jason Shearer in his wake. 

On the bottom half of the chart, Alex Pagulayan opened with a bye and then defeated Leo Kincannon, Jeremiah Stanfield and Can Salim before edging out the always tough Fedor Gorst to reach the hot seat match. 

And again, Tony was a man on a mission as he spanked Alex 3-1 to claim his spot in the finals. Alex headed west to await an opponent. 

In a battle of the young guns, Shane Wolford took down Gorst 3-1 to face Alex for a spot in the finals. Alex, however, was having none of it as he put Shane on ice and won the match 3-0! Fedor finished in fourth place while Shane finished third. 

The finals began between the two giants of the one pocket world. Alex won the first set 3-1 forcing a second for the title. The final set saw both players grinding it out to a 2-2 tie. However, it was again Chohan as he claimed his second title at the Midwest Open! 

April Larson (Pool Action TV)

The $500 added Ladies 8 Ball Championship had 29 players – double elimination format with races to 4/3 and alternate breaks. Angela Mears swept through the field undefeated to face April Larson in the finals. April prevailed leaving Angela with a runner-up finish and Danielle Lunsford in third place. 

The $1,000 added 10 Ball Invitational had ten players – the format was single elimination with races to thirteen and alternate breaks. Fedor Gorst and Jesus Atencio advanced to the finals. It was a close match all the way but Fedor closed it out to claim the title with a 15-12 score. Tony Chohan and Kashton Keeton tied for third place. 

And finally, Event #3 – the $3,000 Ten Ball! Featuring 106 players and played on seven foot Diamonds, the format was double elimination, races to 9/7 with alternate breaks. 

In contention with Tony Chohan for the Master of the Table crown, a determined Fedor Gorst plowed through the field and notched out wins over Todd Michael, Steve Anderson, edged out Shane Wolford, then Willie Butler, Mike DeLawder & finally Billy Thorpe to arrive at the hot seat match. 

Meanwhile, in the lower portion of the bracket, Sanjin Pehlivanovic also made his mark as he defeated Clay Carman, Tommy Stephenson, Koka Davladze, reigning Midwest Billiards bar box champ Kristina Tkach, Dee Adkins and Louis Demarco. 

Fedor and Sanjin battled it out in the hot seat match but it was Gorst who locked up his seat in the finals 9-6. 

After losing her match to Sanjin in the third round, Kristina Tkach survived her matches with Jerry Arvalaez, Can Salim, Matthew Carman, Mike DeLawder and Louis Demarco before she finally succumbed to Alex Pagulayan 7-6! Don’t think this lady can’t play! She finished in a hard earned fourth place. 

Alex and Sanjin then battled to the end before the Lion was slayed 7-6. He finished in third place as Pehlivanovic moved on to the finals. 

Always in the lead, Fedor went on to take Sanjin down 9-4 and claimed not only the Ten Ball title but also Master of the Table! 

Congratulations to this year’s champs – Fedor Gorst, Tony Chohan, Billy Thorpe and April Larson!!! And again, congratulations to Fedor for taking his second Master of the Table crown of the year! 

Thanks go out to owner Michael Medley and his staff for going the extra mile to make both players and fans welcome. We’d also like to thank Tournament Director Jason Hill and his assistants Robert Frost and Cody Myers for ably running the many events. 

PoolActionTV.com would like to thank Jeremy Jones, Larry Schwartz, Mary Kenniston, Alex Pagulayan, Dee Adkins and Ray Hansen for their excellent commentary. 

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

Our next stop is Griff’s in Las Vegas, NV for the US Open 10 Ball, US Open 8 Ball, US Open One Pocket and the US Open Bank Pool Championships! Dates are April 3rd-14th! Sure hope to see you there!!!

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Gerson Martinez & Mary Rakin Tam Crowned Texas Open 10 Ball Champs

Gerson Martinez (Pool Action TV)

Skinny Bob’s Billiards & Sports Bar in Round Rock, TX was the venue for the 7th Annual Texas Open 10 Ball Championships. 

Produced by Cue & A Promotions, this event featured three divisions – the $2,000 added Scotch Doubles, the $2,000 added Ladies 10 Ball and the 10,000 added 10 Ball Open. A total of $15,750 was added to the prize fund.

Local sponsors included Mints Amusements, Hanshew Jump Cues, Austin Pro Siding, Windows & Roofing, GAF, DigitalPool.com and ABC Supply Co., Inc.

The tournament began on Wednesday night with a $500 added 10 Ball mini tournament. This $25 entry single elimination race to three event had a full field of 64 players. Hailing from Sarajevo, Bosnia, Sanjin Pehlivanovic took the cheese. Defending US Open Pool champ Carlo Biado took second while Lima, Peru’s Gerson Martinez and Roland Garcia each tied for third place.

Following a players meeting and auction, play commenced on Thursday afternoon in the Jack & Jill Scotch Doubles 10 Ball Championship. Twenty three teams posted $125 entry fees to play in this double elimination, race to seven event. 

Continuing his hot streak, Carlo Biado and his partner, Mary Rakin Tam took first place over Alex Pagulayan and April Larson.

Thursday evening also featured the $500 added Banks Ring Game. At the end, Denmark’s Mickey Krause, John Morra and Manny Chau did a three-way chop of the cash.

Carlo Biado and Mary Rakin Tam (Pool Action TV)

Friday began with both a $500 added Open Ring Game and a $250 added Ladies Ring Game. John Morra won the Open Ring Game and the Ladies was won by Jenna Bishoff.

Later that evening, a players meeting and auction kicked off the main event. 125 players paid their $150 entry fees into this double elimination, race to seven with alternate break format. Play began the following day.

Meeting in the first round, Roland Garcia edged out Josh Roberts 7-6 and Alex Pagulayan defeated Evan Lunda 7-3.

Second round action saw Lee Vann Corteza spank John Gabriel 7-2 as Gerson Martinez squeaked by Sergio Rivas 7-6. Robbie Capito eked out a 7-6 win over recent Music City Open champ Shane Wolford, Singapore’s Sarik Sayed trounced local favorite Justin Espinosa 7-2 while Pagulayan toughed out his match with Pehlivanovic 7-5. 

In the third round, straight shooting veteran Tommy Sanders shot down Blaine Barcus 7-3 as did Biado over Krause with an identical score. Gerson Martinez sent Lee Vann west 7-4 while Sean Black upset the legendary David Matlock 7-5.  John Morra blistered Shane McMinn 7-2 while Manny Chau sent Michael Yednak packing 7-3. Fellow Houstonians Roberto Gomez and Tommy Tokoph duked it out with Tommy emerging the victor 7-3 and Sayed lost to Pagulayan 7-4.

Matches in the fourth round saw Sanders bow to Krause 7-4 and Chris Reinhold lose to Gerson Martinez by the same score. Morra toasted Sean Black as did Chip Compton versus Nicholas De Leon – both matches were 7-3. Sending another Houstonian to the one loss side, Tokoph bested Chau 7-5 – Capito went down to Pagulayan 7-4.

Round five had Gerson Martinez mowing down Krause 7-4 and Tokoph easing past Christopher Teves 7-3. With identical 7-1 scores, Pagulayan bested Souto as did Tokoph over Christopher Tevez.

Now down to four players on the winners side, Gerson Martinez defeated Morra 7-5 while Pagulayan beat Tokoph 7-3. Both Alex and Gerson moved into the hot seat match as their opponents headed west.

Saturday evening saw the players meeting and auction for the Ladies 10 Ball event. A full field of 32 players posted a $100 entry – same format as the Open 10 Ball.

Notable first round matches included perennial favorite Ming Ng’s victory over Kelly Durbin 7-5 with both Kim Sanders edging out Mary Avina and Margaret Fox over Tam Trinh 7-6. 

Second round action saw Jenna Bishoff eke out a win over Jennifer Kraber 7-6 as Mary Rakin Tam defeated Ng by the same score. Sanders defeated Emily Sumrall 7-3 and Melissa Rushton took care of Fox 7-4.

After skunking her two previous opponents, April Larson had a bit of a tougher time with Kim Pierce – April won 7-3. Tam sent Bishoff packing 7-5, Chris Fields pummeled Rachel Hurst 7-1 and Rushton notched another win over Sanders 7-5.

Down to four on the winners side, Tam sneaked past Larson 7-5 and Fields beat Rushton 7-4. Both Tam and Fields advanced to the hot seat match. Mary handily beat Chris 7-2 and claimed her seat in the finals. Chris headed west to await an opponent.

On the one loss side, Bishoff defeated Rushton 7-4 while Larson eliminated Trinh 7-5. Larson won her match with Bishoff 7-4 leaving Jenna in fourth place. April then defeated Chris 7-2 to move into the finals. Chris finished with a third place finish.

Since this was true double elimination, April would have to defeat Mary twice to claim the title. However, it was not to be as April was relegated to a well-deserved second place finish and Mary went undefeated to claim her first Texas Open 10 Ball title!!! 

Meanwhile, the Open 10 Ball was winding down to its last few players! In the hot seat match, Gerson Martinez mowed down his last opponent to lock up his berth in the finals. Pagulayan lost 7-4 and headed to the other side of the chart to await an opponent.

Lee Vann Corteza ended Tommy Tokoph’s hopes for the title 7-3 as John Morra did the same to Jonas Souto 7-3. Lee Vann and John locked horns and battled it out to a 7-6 result. Leaving Lee Vann in fourth place, Morra’s next opponent was fellow Canadian, Alex Pagulayan. Also a tough one, John emerged to take on Gerson for the title. Alex finished in third place.

Again, as this was true double elimination, Morra would have to defeat Martinez twice to win the title. The match started out close until John pulled away to close out the first set 7-4. The final set was also close but this time, Gerson pulled away to put him one game away from the title – 6-4. John clawed back to win another game but that was it. Gerson won the final game & the title leaving John with a well deserved runner-up finish!  

Congratulations to both Gerson Martinez and Mary Rakin Tam – this year’s Texas Open 10 Ball champions!!!

PoolActionTV.com would like to thank owners Kim and Tracy Sanders as well as their General Manager, Shayla Neris, and their staff for rolling out the red carpet for all of the players and fans.

Thank you to Tournament Director Jason Hill for doing an exemplary job juggling all the various events.  

We’d like to thank Blake Kamiab, Clint Palaci and David (“Doc”) Reyes for running the DFW Tour setup broadcasting the ladies event on our free channel. 

We’d also like to thank Larry Schwartz, Michael Yednak, Alex Pagulayan, Mary Kenniston and Ray Hansen for their expert commentary.

And, last but not least, we’d like to thank our sponsors and fans. Our sponsors include JB Cases, Hanshew Jump Cues, StraightPoolEye, Lomax Custom Cues, Diamond Billiard Products, Aramith, Simonis, Durbin Custom Cues, the Action Palace of Dayton, OH and the Fort Worth Billiards Superstore of Fort Worth, TX. 

Our next event is the 5th Annual Scotty Townsend Memorial in West Monroe, LA featuring three divisions – Pro One Pocket, Open 9 Ball and Women’s 9 Ball. The dates are March 1st-6th. Hope to see you there!!!

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Gomez, Filler, Immonen and Alcaide Bigfoot Wins Spotlight Derby Day Two

David Alcaide (David Thomson – Medium Pool)

Diamond Derby City Classic XXIII, January 21-29, 2022

Caesars Southern Indiana, Elizabeth, IN

David Thomson

The Diamond BIG Foot Challenge

LIVE from the Accu-Stats TV Arena

Format: Race to 11, single-elimination, alternate break, foul on all balls, no jump cues. 10-Ball caroms and combos win. Mosconi Cup captains Jeremy Jones and Mark Wilson are in the Accu-Stats’ commentary booth: Enjoy and learn.

Accu-Stats is happy to report that re consummate commentator Danny DiLiberto’s recent health issues, he is well on the way to full loquacity.

Saturday’s action commenced with 2012 DCC Bank Pool master John Morra and 2018 BIG Foot maestro Roberto Gomez.

Morra couldn’t quite find his Mr. Smooth stroke while Gomez caught a gear that led to a convincing 11-7 win.

Joshua Filler, always in “Killer” stroke, made it near impossible for Alex Kazakis to find his. 11-6 tells all.

Mezz Cues sponsored, former World 9-Ball and back-to-back US Open Champion Mika Immonen in a heated contest with 2-time World 14.1 semi-finalist Max Eberle.

Eberle had the better of the opening racks and was truly living up to the title of his respected instructional, “Playing in the Zone.”

His Accu-Stats’ TPA was 1.000 until Mika finally was allowed to the table. Then, the battle began. Back-and-forth they traded racks until Mika was first to the hill at 10-9.

Max was well on his way to tying it up until leaving precariouss position on the 9-Ball. Safety not being an option required cutting the dodgy 9 then, spinning the cue-ball 4 to 5 rails round the horn to arrive near the 10 lying a few inches from the bottom cushion.

Max stroked firmly thru the cue ball and the yellow stripe powered crisply into the corner.

What lies 3.5 rails ahead? The corner pocket. The new Diamond spotted orb kept rolling, and rolling, and rolling until, around its final rotation, it dropped into the bucket.

See the brutal conclusion for yourself: The Accu-Stats PPV OnDemand service.

Multiple DCC titlist and newly bespectacled Alex Pagulayan went toe-to-toe with 2-time World Pool Master and regular Mosconi Cup member David Alcaide.

Alex knows better than to take the Spaniard lightly though his entertaining spirit could not be suppressed.

While Alex was down on a shot, a spectator’s cell phone blared. Without missing a beat, he declared, “I told you to call when he shooting: Wrong game plan.”

Soon they were 9-9. Then, with Alcaide running out on the hill, and Alex a little slumped in his seat, it looked like it was over.

Wait; daylight. Alcaide missed a combo that left the 7 buried deep in the Diamond pro-cut pocket..

Pagulayan sprang from his chair. He now had a seemingly, simple combo on the buried orb. He rolled the connecting ball so slowly that it didn’t have enough power to drop the 7.

Alas, that’s all she rolled.

Their very respectable, Accu-Stats TPAs tell all: .924 and .891 respectively.

David moves on to meet Mika in the Semis.

Diamond BANK POOL CHAMPIONSHIP

Short Rack. Race to 3.

From 457 now 50 remain in round 7 at press time on Sunday.

EFREN REYES will have to return next year to resume his DCC Bank Pool Champion aspirations, In round 6, he was ousted by a very pleased Kevin Ping.

A revived John Morra is still undefeated as are Tony Chohan, Fedor Gorst, Mieszko Fortinski, Shannon Murphy, Manny Chau, Tim DeRuyter,  Pijus Labutis, Alex Pagulayan, Shane Van, Lee Vann, Francisco Sanchez Ruiz and, MC Cup US team member Chris Reinhold.

The Semis and Finals will be live-streamed via Accu-Stats PPV OnDemand on Tuesday evening.

DIAMOND BIG FOOT 10-BALL CHALLENGE: Fri. Jan. 21 – Sun. Jan 23. 2022.

Diamond Derby City Classic BANK POOL Championship: Fri. Jan. 21 – Sun. Jan. 23. 2022. Semis and Finals in the Accu-Stats TV Arena: Tuesday evening, Jan 25.

Diamond Derby City Classic ONE-POCKET Championship: Sun Jan. 23 -Wed. Jan. 26. Semis and Finals  in the Accu-Stats TV Arena, Thursday evening, Jan 27.

Diamond Derby City Classic 9-BALL Championship: Wed. Jan 26 – Sat. 29.

And the cream of the mafch-ups available via the Accu-Stats Pay-Per-View OnDemand, 4-camera HD production. Approximately, 60 action-packed hours of pro-pool is projected, PLUS reruns. After each match concludes, it is uploaded and available to you. With PPV OnDemand, you choose when you view, no matter what you’re timezone.

Don’t miss a stroke: Visit accu-stats.com. Enjoy.

Fedor Gorst vs Francisco Sanchez Ruiz: 11-6
Darren Appleton vs Roland Garcia: 11-7
Jayson Shaw vs Omar Al Shaheen; 11-4
Shane Van Boening vs Lee Van Corteza; 11-5
John Morra vs Roberto Gomez 7-11
Alex Kazakis vs Joshua Filler 6-11
Max Eberle vs Mika Immonen 9-11
Alex Pagulayan vs David Alcaide 9-11

New Champions Launch at Space City Open IX

Roberto Gomez

Gomez, Bayaua, Compton, Almaraz, and Martinez, III Earn Titles

Roberto “Superman” Gomez captured the Space City Open IX, 128-player 9-ball division, defeating John “Mr. Smooth” Morra in the finals, 9-2, 7-5, taking home his first 9-ball division title. Gomez earned a well-deserved, $1,500 bonus, and new “All-Around” title, for his stellar play across all three divisions. Taking home first titles, Houston’s Ernesto Bayaua showed off his skills, defeating Alex Calderone in the one pocket division final, 4-3, while Oklahoma’s Chip Compton ousted Las Vegas’ Gary Lutman in the 9-ball banks division final, 4-3. In the ladies open 9-ball division, Mille Almaraz went undefeated, besting Ming “The Empress” Ng in the finals, 7-4. Finally, in the junior 9-ball division, Lazaro “Little Laz” Martinez, III, defended his 2019 title, marking up three consecutive title wins in his division. 

The Derby-like, Space City Open IX, was held December 2nd-5th, 2021, at Big Tyme Billiards in Spring, Texas, with four days of free live streaming provided by Southern Streaming. The event featured 178 players, competing in five divisions, over four days. The event drew players from Oklahoma, New Mexico, Nevada, and even Canada. Roberto Gomez returned to defend his 2019 one pocket title, along with champions John Morra, Chip Compton, Tommy Tokoph, Ernesto Bayaua, Manny Chau, Alex Calderone, Charlie Bryant, and WPBA Touring Professional, Loreejon Jones, all vying for a piece of the $56,195 payout and $1,500 “All-Around” bonus. 

Space City would like to thank those who were instrumental in the production of this event; John Newsome, Kim Newsome, Ruth Paine, Chuck Adams, Mike Fabacher with Southern Streaming, owners and staff at Big Tyme Billiards, Mike McDonald and Alamo Billiards, Poison by Predator Cues, Predator Cues, Outsville Billiards, Jerry Olivier, and Brutal Game Gear. Vendors for this event included Jerry Olivier Cues and Cue Repair, Joe Salazar Connoisseur of Custom Cues, and Brutal Game Gear. Special “thanks” to Jerry Olivier Custom Cues and Cue Repair and Brutal Game Gear who added an additional $500 to this year’s junior division. 

The open, ladies, and junior 9-ball divisions were played on twenty-four, Diamond bar tables. The one pocket and banks were played on six, nine foot tables. Predator Arcos II ball sets and Accu-Racks were used on all tables, supplied by event sponsors Predator Cues and Outsville Billiards, respectively. Big Tyme Billiards provided a smoke-free environment, and some of the best playing equipment Texas has to offer, for the billiard extravaganza.

Roberto Gomez (Chris Castaneda)

The true double elimination, 128-player open 9-ball division kicked off Saturday morning at 10am, and concluded on Sunday evening. In the final sixteen on the winners’ side, Ernesto Bayaua sent Manny Chau west, 9-2, Eric Aicinena overwhelmed Felipe Yniguez, 9-4, and John Morra overpowered Joey Bourgeois, Jr., 9-3. Las Vegas’ Scott Kitto slid by Andy Jethwa, 9-7, Roberto Gomez denied Kenneth Price, 9-5, and Austin’s Justin Espinosa eased past Steve Lenz, 9-8. Derek Fontenot beat Eric Cantrell, 9-4, and San Antonio’s Rick Moreno outplayed Jessie Moore, 9-4. The next round witnessed Aicinena oust Bayaua, 9-4, Morra deny Kitto, 9-3, and Gomez detour Espinosa, 9-3. Rounding out the final four, Fontenot bested Moreno, 9-3. 

Advancing to the hot seat, Morra thwarted Aicinena, 9-2, while Fontenot upset Gomez, 9-4. Morra defeated Fontenot in the hot seat match, 9-6. On the one-loss side, Steve Lenz fought his way into the final eight with wins over Charlie “Hillbilly” Bryant, 7-3, Price, 7-3, and Bayaua, 7-2. Blaine Barcus eliminated eight players, including Cantrell, 7-3, Moore, 7-2, and Kitto, 7-4. Chau dusted off New Mexico’s Donivan Pedroncelli, 7-3, Cesar Arrechiga, 7-2, and Espinosa, 7-2, while Moreno ended Bourgeois, Jr., 7-3. Barcus maintained momentum, ousting Lenz, 7-4, but falling to Gomez by the same score. Chau handily beat Moreno, 7-2,  and Aicinena, 7-4. Gomez defeated Chau, 7-2, and Fontenot, 7-1, to meet Morra in the finals. In the first set, Morra could not gain ground, while Gomez had the break down cold. Gomez dominated the first set, 9-2. In the second set, Morra seemed to regroup, but Gomez inched ahead to capture the second set, 7-5, and his first, Space City, open 9-ball division title.

Ernesto Bayaua

In the single elimination, 38-player one pocket division, teeing off in the final eight, Alex Calderone defeated Roberto Gomez, 4-2, while Kenneth Price made quick work of J.C. Torres, 4-1. Ernesto Bayaua slid past John Morra, 4-3, and John Gabriel overwhelmed Mark Nanashee, 4-1. Final four action witnessed Calderone eliminate Price, 4-1, and Bayaua escape Gabriel, 4-3. In the final match, it was a fight to the finish for Calderone and Bayaua. Players traded safeties and games, for hours, until a determined Bayaua pulled ahead to close out the set, 4-3, earning his first Space City, one pocket division title.

In the single elimination, 36-player 9-ball banks division, final eight action witnessed Chip Compton defeat Alex Calderone, 4-1, and John Morra shut out Kenneth Price, 4-0. Local favorite, Tommy Tokoph, curbed Mark Nanashee, 4-1, and Gary Lutman sent Gabriel packing, 4-1. Down to the final four, Compton struck a blow against Morra, 4-2, and Lutman upset Tokoph, 4-3.  In the final match, Compton edged out Lutman, 4-3, to win his first, Space City, 9-ball banks division title.

Mille Almaraz

The 34-player, ladies open 9-ball division, featured defending champion, Ming Ng, returning champion, Natalie Rocha, Indiana’s Toni Tucker, and Canadian, WPBA Touring Professional, Suzanne Peters. Making their way to the winners’ side, final four, La Le overcame Mary “Princess” Avina, 7-6, Michelle Yim, 7-4, and Suzanne Peters, 7-2, while Ming “The Empress” Ng passed Michelle Abernathy, 7-3, Toni Tucker, 7-4, and Christy Grigsby, 7-4. Mille Almaraz detoured Ruth Paine, 7-3, Yvonne “The Casher” Asher, 7-1, and Natalie Rocha, 7-6. Laurie Clouette came on strong, with wins over Sara Bork, 7-4, Brandi Scott, 7-5, Loretta Miller, 7-2, and Teresa “Princess of Pool” Garland, 7-6. On the west side, reaching the final eight, Tucker shut out Rocha, 5-0, while Garland took out McHaney, 5-3. Peters overwhelmed Pierce, 5-2, and Petrosino sent Grigsby home, 5-3. On the winners’ side, Ng bested Le, 7-2, and it was Almaraz over Clouette, 7-2. In her hot seat match debut, Almaraz took down the defending champ, 7-5, further securing her position in a very tough field. Back on the one-loss side, Tucker took out Garland, 5-2, and Le, 5-3, while Petrosino ended Peters, 5-3, and Clouette, 5-0. Tucker claimed five matches before Petrosino stopped her run, 5-3. This was Petrosino’s eighth, match win, an incredible run to reach the final three, after losing her very first match to Melissa Smith, 7-5. Petrosino was forced to settle for third place, after suffering a 5-3 loss at the hands of Ng. The rematch between Almaraz and Ng was set in motion. A confident Almaraz took control of the first set, and did not look back. She defeated Ng, 7-4, to capture her first, Space City, women’s open 9-ball division title.

Lazaro Martinez III

The junior 9-ball division commenced on Sunday, featuring 13 competitors from across Texas. On their way to the winners’ side, final four, Gabriel Martinez defeated Aniyah Maldonado, 7-2, and Ace Smith, 7-2, while Lazaro “Little Laz” Martinez, III, bested Vania Davila, 7-0, and Jayden Holt, 7-1. Mary Grigsby outran Makenzlee Cameron, 7-4, and Cameron King, 7-4, while Kevin Gallegos slid past Nathan Garay, 7-6, and Eva Grigsby, 7-4. On the one-loss side, after suffering a first round loss to Holt, Tyler Miller was on a mission, eliminating Davila, 5-2, King, 5-0, and Maldonado, 5-3. Holt dusted off Cameron, 5-1, while Smith ended Garay, 5-2. Smith vanquished Holt, 5-2, and along with Miller, reached the final six, and the money. On the east side, the Martinez brothers faced off in the final four, with Gabriel advancing, 7-1, while M. Grigsby lost her bid for the hot seat to Gallegos, 7-2. G. Martinez made quick work of Gallegos, 7-0, to capture the hot seat. On the west side, Laz ousted Miller, 5-2, and M. Grigsby defeated Ace, 5-3. Laz went on to eliminate Grigsby and Gallegos, to meet brother Gabriel in the finals. Gabriel gave it his best shot, but was outmatched by Laz, suffering a two-set defeat. With this victory, Laz secured his third, consecutive, Space City, junior 9-ball division title.

The Space City Open is the largest pool tournament in Texas, featuring five divisions, and is held annually, the first week in December. For more information, visit www.SpaceCityOpen.com. 

Kiamco wins 5th Behrman Memorial that brought past US Open 9-Ball competitors back home

Dexter Real, Warren Kiamco, Q Masters Manager Gary Ornoff and Manny Chau

At times, it felt like a high school Homecoming weekend. The $5,000-added, 5th Annual Barry Behrman Memorial Tournament, held this past weekend (April 24-25) at his former pool hall, Q Master Billiards in Virginia Beach, VA offered free entry to Past US Open 9-Ball Championship winners. Though it was a bit of a surprise that only three past champions took advantage of this $200 courtesy – Rodney Morris (’96), Johnny Archer (’99) and Mika Immonen (’08 & ’09) – it was not as much of a surprise that two of them ended up among the event’s final four standing. Immonen and Archer finished 3rd and 4th, respectively (Morris was eliminated by Shaun Wilkie, ending just out of the money in the tie for 17th).

What helped create the homecoming atmosphere was exemplified by the competitor who went undefeated to claim the event title, Warren Kiamco. He was among the 56 entrants at this event and one of a number of competitors who had, over the years, made appearances at the US Open, but didn’t win. Since he first finished in 5th place at the 1998 US Open, Kiamco has cashed in 11 of them, including his best finish, 3rd in 2008. According to records, runner-up, Manny Chau, who lost his first match to the Iceman, Mika Immonen and then won nine on the loss side for a shot at Kiamco in the hot seat, has only cashed in two US Opens (’09 & ‘10). It’s likely that he, like so many others at this event, competed in many others and they all contributed to the ‘coming home’ kind of feeling, including, but not limited to Brandon Shuff, Jeremy Sossei, Matt Krah, Mhet Vergara, Shaun Wilkie, Daniel Dagotdot, Reymart Lim, Tommy Tokoph, Eric Moore and Jeffrey De Luna.

Kiamco opened his nine-match winning campaign with a 9-2 victory over Tom Czaplicki and then ran right into a double hill battle against The Scorpion, Johnny Archer. Kiamco sent Archer on the seven-match, loss-side trip that would end in the quarterfinals, as he advanced to down Daniel Sardoncillo 9-3 and then, in a second double hill fight, Jeffrey De Luna. This put Kiamco in a winners’ side semifinal match against Reymart Lim. 

The Iceman, in the meantime, downed Joe Blackburn 9-1 and sent Manny Chau to the loss side, where he’d win nine in a row against some of the event’s toughest opponents and battle Kiamco in the finals. Iceman advanced to defeat James Davee, double hill, and Brandon Shuff (winner of the debut Barry Behrman Memorial in 2017) 9-4, to draw Jeremy Sossei in the other winners’ side semifinal.

Kiamco defeated Lim 9-4 and in the hot seat match faced Immonen, who’d sent Sossei off 9-3 to an immediate match against the streaking Johnny Archer. A double hill battle for possession of the hot seat followed. In the deciding 17th game, the Iceman had the final two balls in sight, neither of them, nor the positioning necessary to win the match were challenging, except to the extent that all shots are challenges. The 8-ball rattled in a corner pocket and rattled him, as well. It was the first of two straight losses that would leave him in third place. Kiamco was one match and a few hours away from claiming the title.

Archer, in the meantime, working on the loss side, had defeated Bill Mason, Jared Pitts, shut out Garret Vaughn, and eliminated Mhet Vergara, Jimmy Bird and Jeffrey De Luna, to draw Sossei. Chau had navigated his loss-side way through Dylan Carr, Don Perryman, Tommy Tokoph, Eric Moore, ‘young gun’ Shane Wolford, and fought a tough, double hill battle versus Brandon Shuff, to draw Reymart Lim.

Archer and Sossei battled back and forth to a 5-5 tie before Archer began a four-rack streak that would advance him, looking strong, precise and very Scorpion-like, into the quarterfinals. He was joined by Chau, who’d (alliteratively) eliminated Lim 9-5. Chat room commentary and support was split between the two veterans, Archer and Chau. Chau, though, pulled ahead to win it 9-6 and advanced to his re-match against Immonen. Displaying varied levels of frustration that only increased as his semifinal rematch against Chau moved on, Immonen was unable to overcome the steady and competent play of Chau, who won 9-5, earning a shot against Kiamco in the finals.

Though Kiamco and Chau have been around the proverbial block a few times, competing in any number of hot seat matches, loss-side runs and semifinal wins and losses over the years, one might have assumed that the gritty play and consistent time-at-table as Kiamco waited, would have given Chau a bit of an edge in the finals that followed. Kiamco dusted off whatever ‘cobwebs’ that might have formed during his multi-hour wait and opened those finals with three straight racks; a lead that would never really be challenged.

Chau won the 4th rack, but Kiamco came back to increase his lead by four of them at 5-1. Chau chalked up another one, but Kiamco came right back to run four more. Even as Kiamco moved ahead by seven at 9-2 in the race to 11, chat room and stream commentary by Ra Hanna (and others) kept predicting a run by Chau that would close the gap. It came in rack 12, when Kiamco scratched and Chau ran the table to make it 9-3. 

Chau won two more, setting the chat-o-sphere buzzing, before Kiamco responded with the rack that put him on the hill. In what proved to be the final rack, Kiamco cleared the table and lined up a straight-on shot at the 9-ball. Chau conceded at that point. Kiamco stood up when Chau gestured his concession, acknowledged the courtesy and got back down to aim. He changed his mind about the straight-on shot and in a sort of punctuation move, hit the 9-ball hard and watched it travel three rails and fall into a side pocket.

Tournament director Dexter Real thanked the ownership and staff at Q Master Billiards, as well as Virginia Novelty, Holt, MW Designs Fences and Decks, National Billiard Academy, Nick Varner Cues, Diamond Billiard Products, team straight pool eye and Littman lights. He also thanked Ra Hanna and his On the Wire Creative Media crew for an excellently commentated stream throughout the weekend.   

World-class trio of Orcollo, Kiamco & Bustamante go 1, 2, 3 at 6th Annual Texas Open 10-Ball

Kraber goes undefeated to win her second Texas Women’s 10-Ball Championship

(l to r): John Palmore, Dennis Orcollo & James Davis, Sr.

Being Texas, it’s never enough to just hold an Open and Ladies 10-Ball tournament every year. Instead, Skinny Bob’s Billiards in Round Rock, TX hosts a six-day extravaganza (this year, from Feb. 12-17) that has a way of feeling like a month-long extravaganza, headlined by the annual Texas 10-Ball Open and Ladies 10-Ball Championships.

Things got underway on Wednesday, Feb. 12 with a 10-Ball mini-tournament, as more or less of a warm-up for events to come. On Thursday, the activity was a Scotch Doubles tournament that was eventually won by the team of Warren Kiamco and Ellen Robinson, who downed John Gabriel and Ellen Jones in the finals. Later in the day, a Banks/Rails game was won Sergio Rivas, who defeated John Demet in the finals. On Friday, an Open Ring game was won by Jeffrey DeLuna, with Sky Woodward as runner-up and John Gabriel in third place.

In the absence of a defending champion (Alex Pagulayan), a few relatively well-known Filipino competitors stepped in to fill the gap at the $4,000-added 6th Annual Texas Open 10-Ball, which got underway on Friday evening. Dennis Orcollo ended up going undefeated through the field. He downed Warren Kiamco twice (hot seat and finals) and waited patiently as Kiamco eliminated Francisco Bustamante in the semifinals. We’ll get back to them in a while, but first. . . the ladies.

The $1,000-added Ladies 10-Ball Championship, which drew 20 entrants, got underway on Saturday. Unlike the Open Championship, the Ladies event featured its defending champion, Gail Eaton. It was won by its 2018 champion, Jennifer Kraber, who went undefeated through the field, downing Courtney Peters twice, hot seat and finals.

Following victories over Kim Pierce, Kelly Jones and Rachel Hurst, Kraber moved into a winners’ side semifinal against Ming Ng. After being awarded an opening round bye, Peters downed Latonia Taylor and Michelle Yim, to draw Nicole McDaniel in the other winners’ side semifinal.

Kraber and Ng locked up in a double hill fight that eventually advanced Kraber to the hot seat match. She was joined by Peters, who’d defeated McDaniel 7-1. Kraber won the first of two versus Peters 7-3 and waited in the hot seat for her return.

On the loss side, Nicole McDaniel drew Kim Sanders, who’d recently eliminated defending champion Gail Eaton and Rachel Hurst, both 5-3. Ming Ng picked up Michelle Yim, who’d defeated Ellen Robinson 5-3 and Kelly Jones 5-2 to reach her.

Yim and Sanders handed Ng and McDaniel their second straight loss; Yim, 5-3 over Ng and Sanders shut McDaniel out to join Yim in the quarterfinals. Yim then did unto Sanders that which Sanders had most recently done to McDaniel; shut her out to advance.

In the semifinals that followed, Yim became the third shutout victim in a row and gave Peters a second shot at Kraber in the hot seat. Peters chalked up two more racks in the finals than she’d chalked up against Kraber in the hot seat match, but they weren’t enough, as Kraber completed her undefeated run 7-5 to claim the Ladies 10-Ball title.

Orcollo backs up Derby City Master of the Table title with undefeated run at Texas Open 10-Ball
It’s only February and Dennis Orcollo has pocketed money that would be the envy of most pool players to earn in an entire year. He finished 16th in the Derby City’s One Pocket Division, 3rd in the 9-Ball Division and won the 9-Ball Banks, all of which earned him the coveted Master of the Table title. All of this followed his victory at the Music City’s Midnight Madness Tournament and his runner-up finish (to Skyler Woodward) in the Music City’s Open Division. He didn’t get a chance to meet Woodward in this event, although Warren Kiamco did.

Robocop (as they call him) got by Kenny Loftis, John Gabriel, Justin Hall, Kevin Guimond and Junior Jueco by an aggregate score of 35-12, giving up just over two racks per match (on average). Orcollo drew Naoyuki Oi in one of the winners’ side semifinals.

Warren Kiamco, in the meantime, started his campaign out with back-to-back shutouts of Thomas Smith and Pat Castro. He then defeated Josh Roberts 7-1, Robert Gomez 7-3 and won a knock-down, drag-out, double hill match versus Sky Woodward (this event’s 2016 champion) to arrive at his winners’ side semifinal matchup with a 35-10 aggregate score and having given up an exact average of two racks per match. Kiamco squared off in his winners’ side semifinal against a very familiar opponent, Francisco Bustamante, who’d sent this event’s 2015 and 2017 champion, Manny Chau to the loss side.

Orcollo sent Oi to the loss side 7-2 and was joined in the hot seat match by Kiamco, who’d defeated Bustamante 7-4. Orcollo and Kiamco played an entertaining double hill hot seat match that eventually sent Kiamco to the semifinals and left Robocop in the hot seat.

On the loss side, Naoyuki Oi drew James Davis, Sr. (known as Strop, because he’s originally from Bastrop, TX), who’d recently defeated two strong opponents in a row to reach him; first Josh Roberts 7-4 and then, Sky Woodward 7-5. Bustamante picked up Roberto Gomez, who’d defeated Junior Jueco 7-1 and Sergio Rivas 7-3 to reach him.

Strop and Oi locked up in a double hill fight, eventually won by Strop. Bustamante joined Strop in the quarterfinals after eliminating Gomez 7-4. Bustamante then sent Davis, Sr. home 7-3 in those quarterfinals.

Those who thought that Bustamante and Kiamco would get into a double hill fight for a shot at Orcollo in the hot seat were disappointed. Kiamco gave up just a single rack and advanced to the finals 7-1 over Bustamante.

One might have been forgiven for believing that with that 7-1 momentum, the final rematch between Kiamco and Orcollo would have been something of an epic struggle. It wasn’t, really. Orcollo shut Kiamco out 7-0 to claim the event title.

Tour directors John Palmore and James Davis, Sr. thanked John and Sue Cielo and their Skinny Bob’s staff for their continued support of this event, to include their hands-on assistance with varied aspects of running the tournament; entries, money management, etc. In addition, noted Palmore, “Kaye Watson is the glue that holds everything together for (Davis) and I. She helps with bracket management and most importantly, that all the the money is correct coming in and going out.” They also thanked event sponsors Simonis, Hanshew Jump Cues and Sleep Inn.

Orcollo and Gomez repeat as winner and runner-up at 29th Houston Open

(l to r): Dennis Orcollo, Legends co-owner and tournament director Mindy Cohen & Roberto Gomez

Dennis Orcollo and Roberto Gomez repeated their performance at the 28th Houston Open by finishing as winner and runner-up at the 29th Houston Open, held this past weekend (Sept. 7-8). Gomez decided to spice things up this year. Instead of advancing to a winners’ side semifinal, being sent to the loss side (by Francisco Bustamante), winning three there and challenging Orcollo in the finals as he did last year, Gomez lost his second match to Orcollo 9-2 and then proceeded to win 11 on the loss side to meet Orcollo in the finals. That part of their 2018 meeting stayed the same, albeit with Gomez chalking up a few less racks (9-6 in 2018, 9-2 in 2019). The $7,500-added event drew 93 entrants to Legends Billiards in League City, TX.
 
Orcollo was awarded an opening round bye and sent Gomez on his loss-side journey in the second round, before navigating his way through two straight double hill wins over Sajal Ghimire and Josh Roberts. He then defeated John Morra 9-3 to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal against what Legends Billiards co-owner and tournament director Mindy Cohen called a “blast from the past,” an older Filippino player, Edgar Acaba.
 
Robb Saez, in the meantime, who’d finished in the tie for 7th place last year, when defeated by Warren Kiamco, followed an opening round bye with victories over Ray Hansen, Manny Chau, Jerry Alvarez and Leon Contreras, before squaring off in the other winners’ side semifinal against Alex Calderon.
 
Orcollo downed fellow countryman Acaba 9-5 and in the hot seat match faced Saez, who’d sent Calderon west 9-6. Orcollo then sent Saez off to the semifinals 9-4 and waited in the hot seat for Gomez to finish his somewhat epic loss-side journey.
 
With six notches on his loss-side belt, Gomez defeated Leon Contreras 7-1 and chalked up a surprising strong victory against Josh Roberts 7-3 to draw Acaba in his first loss-side match. Calderon drew John Morra, who’d defeated Brian Sanders 7-3 and Jerry Alvarez 7-5 to reach him.
 
Gomez and Calderon advanced to the quarterfinals on the heels of identical 7-5 victories over Acaba and Morra, respectively. And then, building momentum, Gomez chalked up loss-side win #10, eliminating Calderon 7-4.
 
Gomez reduced his opponents’ number of racks by an additional one, as he spoiled Saez’ bid for a rematch against Orcollo 7-3 in the semifinals. In a ‘déjà vu all over again’ scenario, Gomez and Orcollo greeted each other as finalists at the Houston Open for the second straight year.
 
Second verse, same as the first. Gomez needed to defeat Orcollo twice. He only chalked up two racks in the first set, eliminating the need for a second. Orcollo walked away with his second straight Houston Open title.
 
In addition to paying out the top 24 finishers in the event, the Houston Open paid $150 to the top female finisher in the event, which proved to be three women who tied for the prize. They were all from the same family and split the money – Madonna Springs, Gayla Toms and Shyenne Toms (age 12).
 
Co-owners of Legend Billiards and tournament directors Mindy Cohen and Ted Dean thanked their entire staff for their cooperation and assistance during the weekend run of the tournament, as well as Jerry Olivier Cues for contributing the $1,200 cue that got raffled and was won by Elizabeth Sturges. Cohen and Dean also thanked Ray Hansen and his entire PoolActionTV staff for streaming selected matches of the event all weekend.