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First Triple Crown Women’s Invitational In The Books

Joann Mason-Parker and Monica Webb

This past week, the legendary Q-Masters Billiards of Virginia Beach, VA hosted StraightPoolEye’s Triple Crown Women’s Invitational. The brainstorm of StraightPoolEyes’ founder, Eric Nelson, the $10,000 added event had three divisions – Straight Pool, Ten Ball and One Pocket. Twenty three ladies paid a $450 entry fee for all three divisions.

A players meeting, players auction and draw was held on Sunday night while play in the Straight Pool division started on Monday. All preliminary rounds were fifty point matches while the final match was to one hundred points. Monica Webb defeated Janet Atwell to advance to the finals against the undefeated Joann Mason Parker. Janet finished in third place.

Monica took advantage of a couple of Joann’s missed break shots to shoot out to a big lead. Joann clawed her way back and by the last few racks of the finals, it was neck and neck. The final rack was a nailbiter as both players played cat and mouse but it was Monica who pocketed the last few balls to take the match 100-94. Congratulations, Monica! Good tournament, Joann! Thanks to Straight Pool Tournament Director, Ron Shepard, for running a fine event!

Now, on to the Ten Ball! The tournament played down to the hot seat match which featured the new versus the old guard. Veteran and former US Open 9 Ball Champion Joann Mason Parker was sent west by the straight shooting Kaylee McIntosh. There, Joann faced another veteran player, Liz Taylor. The match went down to the wire 5-4 with Liz moving on to the finals. Joann finished in third place.

Liz Taylor and Kaylee McIntosh

Racing to seven, the final match was a battle between Kaylee and Liz. As this was true double elimination, Liz would have to defeat Kaylee twice to claim the title. Liz won the first set 7-4 to force a second set. It was a squeaker going down to the case game! Liz pocketed the final ball to win the Ten Ball division 5-4! Congratulations, Liz! Good tournament, Kaylee! Thanks to the Ten Ball Tournament Director, Rho Reyes, for doing a first class job!

The final event of the Triple Crown was the One Pocket division. The hot seat match featured Monica Webb and Julie Melman Cone with Monica claiming her seat in the finals. Julie then faced Janet Atwell to vie for the remaining seat in the finals. Julie prevailed leaving Janet with another third place finish. Good job, Janet!

Racing to three, the One Pocket title was claimed in the first set by the undefeated Monica Webb 3-0. Congratulations, Monica! Good tournament, Julie! Thanks to the One Pocket Tournament Director, Alex Shapsevich, for a great job!

StraightPoolEyes would also like to congratulate our first Master of the Table, Joann Mason Parker! Fantastic performance, Joann!

StraightPoolEyes and PoolActionTV.com would like to thank the Behrman family, owners of Q-Masters, General Manager Gary Ornoff his staff for rolling out the red carpet for all the players fans.

We’d also like to thank the Triple Crown tournament sponsors for a fantastic inaugural event! They include becue, Simonis, Aramith, LS2 Helmets, the Punch Zaddy Band, Hanshew Jump Cues, IPKT, BulletproofEnterprise.com, Contractor Equipment & Supply, Olympic Technologies, Inc. and Fort Worth Billiards Superstore of Fort Worth, TX.

PoolActionTV.com would like to thank Jeremy Jones, Larry Schwartz, Mary Kenniston and Justin Cone for their topnotch commentary.

We’d also like to thank our sponsors. They include Acme Cases, Durbin Custom Cues, Clutch Shot Billiards Apparel, Digital Pool, Hanshew Custom Cues, Diamond Billiard Products, Aramith, Simonis, Lomax Custom Cues, Fort Worth Billiards Superstore of Fort Worth, TX and The Action Palace of Dayton, OH.

Our next event is The Rematch of the Battle4TheBorder – Team Michigan vs. Team Ohio! To be held at the Causeway Bay Hotel & Conference Center, the dates are December 3rd-5th. Hope to see you there!!!

Fisher goes undefeated to claim Diamond Open Ladies title

Allison Fisher

It seemed to be pretty clear right from the start, or at least as clear as it can ever be in the often-unpredictable world of professional pool, that Allison Fisher was going to claim the Hanshew’s Ladies 9-Ball title at the inaugural Diamond Open. She arrived at one of the winners’ side quarterfinals, having not given up a single rack to any of her first three opponents. Her fourth was Jeanette Lee, who was making her first professional appearance since being diagnosed with ovarian cancer seven months ago. Fisher went on to complete a seven-match, undefeated run to claim the title, downing Russia’s Kristina Tkach in the finals. The $3,000-added Hanshew Ladies event drew 38 entrants to The Rack & Grill III in Aiken, SC.

Once Fisher got by Katherine Cool, Ashley Rice and Sonya Chbeeb, she turned her attention to the winners’ side quarterfinal that was easily the most anticipated match of the entire six-day Diamond Open that featured the return of Jeanette Lee to the tables. In a match, detailed in an earlier post, Fisher downed Lee 7-2 and advanced to a winner’ side semifinal against Mary Tam. 

Monica Webb, in the meantime, looking for her first major win (of which we are aware) since she won the Women’s Austrian Open, seven years ago, got by Kelly Cavanaugh, Jennifer Berzinski and Janet Atwell to arrive at her winners’ side semifinal versus Caroline Pao. The eventual runner-up, Kristina Tkach, had won her opening match versus Pia Filler and then fell, double hill, to April Larson in the second round. Pao sent Larson west just prior to meeting up with Webb.

Fisher got into the hot seat 7-2 over Tam and was joined by Webb, who’d sent Pao over 7-5. Fisher claimed the hot seat 7-4 over Webb and waited for Tkach to finish her loss-side run.

That run, by the time it met up with Pao, had eliminated Lily Pham, Tam Trinh, Bethany Sykes and in her final match of the event, Jeanette Lee 7-2. Tam picked up April Larson, who followed her winners’ side loss to Pao with loss-side victories over Chris Fields 7-4 and Janet Atwell 7-5.

Tam ended Larson’s tournament run 7-1, and in the quarterfinals, met up with Tkach, who’d downed Pao 7-3. Tkach took the quarterfinals 7-1 Tam and then spoiled Webb’s potential second shot at Fisher by defeating 7-4 in the semifinals.

Tkach, who admitted to being tired when she played with Fedor Gorst as a partner in the Scotch Double final against Van Boening and Fisher the night before, had to have been even more tired at this point on late Sunday night in the Ladies event. And it wasn’t, she had said earlier in the day, just about participating for the last five days, but as she put it, with a bit of laugh, “the whole year.” Regardless of the outcome of the Ladies final on this night, in this place, it would be her 15th cash finish in 10 months, beginning with her win at the Michael Montgomery Memorial in Texas that she won in January, through five wins, two runner-up finishes (one with partner Gorst in the Scotch Doubles the night before) and an appearance, most recently at the US Open 9-Ball Championships.

That and the loss-side run that had brought her to the finals did not, however, put much of a crimp in the style of her competitive spirit. The problem was that she was running into something of a legend, known, almost in spite of her generally easy-going demeanor, as the Duchess of Doom. Tkach fought said Duchess to a 13th and deciding game, but ‘doom’ descended in the final rack and Fisher claimed the title. 

WPBA Pro Monica “The Assassin” Webb signs with N’ The Zone Sportswear Ahead of WPBA Invitational

Monica Webb

Two-time WPBA Champion Monica “The Assassin” Webb has joined N’ The Zone Sportswear’s All-Pro Team of sponsored players.

“I chose Monica because of her personal background and accomplishments as a player,” Jemal Elmore, owner of N’ The Zone said, “Between those two traits, she’s the perfect person to represent the face of my brand.”

In addition to her tournament triumphs, Webb is one of the top 10 players in the WPBA and will be competing in the WPBA Sondheim Kiwanis Invitational coming up in Sept, 2021.

Webb and Elmore collaborated to design the Assassin collection, from which Webb will be wearing The Gladius, featuring the USA’s colors, during her upcoming WPBA appearance. This collection is available for purchase now on N’ The Zone’s online store.

“I can’t wait to compete in a WPBA event! Especially wearing our country’s colors!” Webb said.

Webb, who is an avid hiker and the owner of the Stix Billiards and Sports Bar in Georgia, says that she really loves the designs and quality of the collection.

“I am extremely picky with my clothes. I don’t wear it if it doesn’t feel good, is purposeful for whatever I am doing, and enhances my confidence while wearing,’ Webb said, “This company checks all of those boxes.”

This collection is now available for purchase.

For more information contact:

Jemal Elmore
708-816-4635
admin@nthezonesportswear.com

For more information on Product:
https://nthezonesportswear.com/

Woman’s Poison VG 9-Ball Championship This Week

Neight Mindham, with the Cue It Up Network, is at it again this week. After the success of his VG 10-Ball Championship 2.0, Mindham is back and he is bringing the ladies with him for the Woman’s Poison VG 9-Ball Championship. 

A star studded field of sixteen professional female players will compete against the ghost in four groups of four players with the top player from each group, joined by two wildcard finishers, facing off in a single elimination bracket for over $5000 in prize money. 

The field of players is a who’s who of top 9-ball talent, including World Champion Kelly Fisher, Monica Webb, Wei Tzu Chien, Pia Filler, Margaret Fefilova, Chihiro Kawahara and more. 

Plays kicks off at 1:00 PM Eastern Time on Thursday with Monica Webb, Eugenia Gyftopoulos, Turkey’s Eylul Kibaroglu, and Bulgaria’s Kristina Zlateva competing. 

All of the action will be online at https://www.facebook.com/CueItUpPodcast.

Fisher goes undefeated to win the WPBA’s 9-Ball Ghost Challenge Tournament of Champions

Kelly Fisher

She knew, going into the final day of competition, that she’d already won the WPBA’s 9-Ball Ghost Challenge Tournament of Champions. Kelly Fisher knew this because no one in the lineup of two matches to be played that last day could catch her when it came to points. For its Tournament of Champions, held from September 1-5, the WPBA employed a new format, changing from the double elimination format of the four previous 9-Ball Ghost Challenge events (three of them won by Fisher) to a Round Robin format. This format assigned points, 4 to 7 of them, to each player upon completion of a series of head-to-head ghost challenge matches of 10 games each. 

Though originally planned for eight competitors, work-related circumstances brought that number down to 6 by the time the tournament started and just prior to the start, Line Kjorsvik had to back out for undisclosed reasons. On each of the five days, one of the five remaining competitors was scheduled to compete against Kjorsvik and in her absence, drew a bye. It was Wei Tzu-Chien on Tuesday, Dawn Hopkins on Wednesday, Monica Webb on Thursday, Jeannie Seaver on Friday and Kelly Fisher on Saturday. By that time, Fisher was sporting 23 points to Hopkins’ and Seaver’s 13, Webb’s 14, and Tzu-Chien’s 15. Even with 7 points for defeating an opponent by 40 points or more, none of them could catch Fisher. There was, though, at the end of the day (tournament), a ferocious final battle between Wei Tzu-Chien and Monica Webb upon which hinged three out of the four remaining payout spots (Fisher had already won).

As with the other four preliminary ghost challenge events, a player could score a maximum of 10 or 15 points per rack; 10 points if they ran out after choosing to take ball-in-hand after the break, or 15 points, if they chose to play from wherever the cue ball lay after the break. A miss in any rack would award the player the number of balls they successfully potted in that rack. The highest score of the five-day event was chalked up by Fisher on Friday, when she defeated Monica Webb 107-75. It was one of only four scores over 100. Wei Tzu-Chien tallied the second highest score on the same day, downing Dawn Hopkins 106-59. It was the only victory in the entire event that awarded its winner (Tzu-Chien) the maximum 7 points for a larger-than-40-ball differential in the final score. Fisher had the third and fourth highest score; 105-77 over Hopkins on Thursday and 104-91 over We Tzu-Chien the day before. 

The lowest score in a victory – 89 – happened twice. On Wednesday, Hopkins downed Seaver 89-57. On the following day, Thursday, Seaver scored 89 to Wei Tzu-Chien’s 84. 

At the end of Day 1 on Tuesday, Fisher, having defeated Seaver by her lowest score of the entire event, 91-59, was in the lead with 6 points. Hopkins, who’d defeated Webb in the tightest match of the event, 94-90, had 5, while Seaver and Webb had four points each. Tzu-Chien had not played. Fisher’s single-point lead was never relinquished and by the end of day two, it remained a single-point lead. Webb had added six points with an 89-57 win over Seaver, while Kelly added five points with her 104-91 victory over Tzu-Chien. 

On Day Three, Fisher added six more points with a 105-77 victory over Hopkins, as Seaver and Tzu-Chien locked up in another of the event’s tight battles; an 89-84 win for Seaver. Tzu-Chien had been the only other player to win one of the four preliminary events. Her second loss in this Tournament of Champions, against Seaver, sealed her fate, making an opportunity to catch Fisher a low probability. At the end of Day Three (with one less match), Tzu-Chien was behind by nine points (17-8).

Day Four began at noon on Friday with a match between Fisher and Webb, which Wei Tzu-Chien was likely to have been watching very closely. If Webb pulled off a win, it would stop Fisher’s scoring at 21 points. Fisher, scheduled to play Kjorsvik on Saturday, would receive a bye on that day and if Tzu-Chien could add seven points to her score on Day Four, she’d go into the final day only six points behind (21-15), giving her a chance at tying or possibly winning (with a 40-point differential in her match versus Webb). The first ‘fly in that ointment’ was Fisher, who played her best match of the tournament on Friday, chalking up 107 points to Webb’s 75 and adding six points to finish her efforts with 23 points. Though an hour later, Tzu-Chien would bring her best game of the tournament to the table against Hopkins – a 106-59 win that would add the seven points she was looking to score – it fell short of Fisher’s lead by eight points.

Hopkins and Seaver played the opening match of the final day. Seaver defeated Hopkins 94-66 to add six points to her score, for a (significant) total of 19. Hopkins finished with a total of 17 points. This lent an air of possibility to the tournament’s final match between Tzu-Chien (with 15 points) and Monica Webb (with 14). If Webb won the match by less than 20 points, she’d end up with 19 points, overall, and so would Tzu-Chien, who would receive four points in such a loss. This would have created a three-way tie between Tzu-Chien, Webb and Seaver. 

There was, in other words, something at stake in the final match. The three-way tie would have triggered tie-breaking rules, governed by total ball count. If Webb won the final match, Tzu-Chien would finish in 2nd place (376 balls), Webb would be 3rd (341) and Seaver would finish in 4th (299). But if Tzu-Chien won the match, finishing with 20 points for 2nd place, Seaver would be 3rd with 19 and Webb would finish 4th with 18 points. Financially, the win for Webb wouldn’t have changed anything for Tzu-Chien, who would have finished 2nd in any case, but for Webb, it was a $200 difference between a 3rd or 4th place finish.

The match was correspondingly tight. Midway through the 10-rack match, Tzu-Chien was in the lead over Webb, but only by seven balls (49-42). As Tzu-Chien was organizing her 6th rack, Webb took aim at the 2-ball in her 6th rack. She’d pocketed one on the break and then, opting for ball in hand, she dropped the 1-ball. Looking at a high-percentage shot at the 2-ball (side to side in corner pocket), Webb applied some serious draw to the cue ball, which, on contact, came flying back, fast, for position on the 3-ball. The 2-ball, though, rattled hard in its designated pocket and Webb had to settle for only two balls in that 6th rack. Tzu-Chien broke and, with ball in hand, cleared her 6th rack and suddenly the score was 59-44.

In her 7th rack, Webb opted out of the ball-in-hand option in the hopes of closing in on Tzu-Chien’s lead with 15 points. She dropped two balls on the break and made a long, corner-to-corner shot to make her third ball. She completed that rack to chalk up those 15 points and for a moment, they were tied at 59-59. Tzu-Chien would re-capture the lead when she completed her 7th rack with 10 points to make it 69-59. 

Tzu-Chien checked Webb’s score on her monitor after breaking the 8th rack. She’d dropped four balls on the break and decided not to take ball in hand, looking for an ‘answering’ 15 points. All well and good, but she missed her first shot. At the end of the 8th rack, Tzu-Chien’s lead was  down to four balls at 73-69.

Tzu-Chien opted out of ball in hand again in approaching her 9th rack. Webb took ball in hand for her 9th rack. Kelly Fisher joined commentators Cheryl Baglin and Loree Jon Hasson in the virtual broadcast booth to watch the nail-biting finish to the tournament’s final match. They both ran their racks, but Tzu-Chien was awarded 15 for not taking ball in hand, while Webb added only 10 because she did. The score was now 88-79.

Assuming a runout for both of them in the final rack, Tzu-Chien could not be caught, even if Webb opted to not take ball in hand for 15 points. It made Tzu-Chien’s decision not to take ball in hand for the final rack an easy one. Webb, having dropped the 1-ball on the break was looking at a straight, side-to-side shot at the 2-ball and decided to go for the 15 points anyway. The table was clearing nicely for her until she put a little too much follow on her shot at the 8-ball and the cue ball followed it right in, finishing her match at 87 points. 

Tzu-Chien, with two balls left on the table, stepped to her monitor and noted that Webb had scratched. Already ahead in points by one – 88-87 – she stepped to the table to sink the 8-ball, attempting a sharp cut, and missed the shot, finishing things at 95-87.

“Well done, Wei-Wei,” said Fisher from her ‘virtual’ booth at home when Tzu-Chien and Webb stepped up close to their respective monitors. “It was tight. Close match, exciting.”

Event coordinator Angela Janic joined the remote broadcast ‘party’ and made the results official. Kelly Fisher won the event title with 23 points and a 407 ball total. Wei Tzu-Chien was 2nd with 20 points and a 376 ball total. Jeannie Sever was 3rd with 19 and 299. Monica’s loss in the final match dropped her into 4th place with 18 points and 341 total balls. Dawn Hopkins closed out the field with 17 points and 296 total balls.

“I’m really, really pleased,” said Fisher of her victory. “Very happy.”

She spoke then of what might have been; how she would have liked to “not miss as much” as she had and how, ideally, she and her competitors are always looking to chalk up the “perfect score.”

“We’re all very competitive,” she said, “trying to play the perfect game and be as consistent as we can. That’s what we practice for and all try to do”

“I really enjoy playing the ‘ghost,” she added. “It’s been a part of my practice routine for years. It suits my game because I’m not very good at safety play.”

Fisher thanked the WPBA for a “great event, as always.” She also expressed her enjoyment of the new format.

“ I liked the Round Robin format,” she said. “It’s a good way to make it an open, competitive game.”

The WPBA thanked tournament director Angela Janic, as well as livestream technician Jennifer Hamilton. They also thanked all of the event’s players, sponsors and commentators, to include Janic, WPBA’s President Dean Roeseler, Loree Jon Hasson and Cheryl Baglin. “Stay tuned,” noted the WPBA on its Facebook page for information about future virtual tournaments.

Tzu-Chien spoils Fisher bid for four in a row on WPBA Virtual 9-Ball Ghost Challenge

Wei Tzu Chien

In all, they’ve played against each other five times in the four WPBA Virtual 9-Ball Ghost Challenges. In the opening event of this four-event series, Kelly Fisher and Jennifer Barretta played against each other in the hot seat and finals. In the second event, Fisher won five on the loss side and faced Wei Tzu-Chien in the finals. They squared off again in the third event in the hot seat and finals and this past week, July 20-25, they repeated their hot seat and final routine. This time, though, for the first time, it was Tzu-Chien who came out on top, breaking Fisher’s run of three event wins in a row at this competition format.

The two were (are) clearly the best competitors at this ‘ghost’ game they play, thousands of miles apart. Each player in a match faces 10 racks and can score either 10 or 15 points per rack, depending on whether or not they opt to take ball in hand following the break. If they do take ball in hand, a runout will earn them 10 points (a point for every ball and two for the 9-ball). If they choose not to take ball in hand after the break, a runout will earn them 15 points. A miss in a rack is a win for the ‘ghost’ and the player receives a point for each of the balls they dropped in that loss to the ‘ghost.’ If you run 10 racks, taking ball in hand on the break every time, you’d score 100 points. If you ran 10 racks and did not take ball in hand, ever, you’d score 150 points. There were 12 entrants for this 4th Ghost Challenge and they played a total of 22 matches; 44 different scores (two per match). In the 12 winners’ side matches (24 scores), the average score per player was 73. On the loss side (10 matches, 20 different scores), the average was 63.65. making the overall for the entire event 69.04. The average for a win was slightly higher at 78.59.

Wei Tzu-Chien’s average over her six games was 94.33. Kelly Fisher’s average over her five games was 103.2. There were only four individual scores over 100 among the 44 total scores. Wei Tzu-Chien chalked up the highest of those four (136) in the final against Fisher and the lowest (101) in her winners’ side semifinal match against Mary Rakin Tam. Fisher scored the other two – 122 in her winners’ side semifinal match against Dawn Hopkins and 111 in the finals against Tzu-Chien’s 136.

The lowest score in a win (55) went to Mary Rakin Tam in her second round victory over Sonya Chbeeb (41). The highest score in a loss was Fisher’s (111) in her loss to Tzu-Chien (136) in the finals.

Tzu-Chien opened her campaign with an 83-51 victory over event organizer Angela Janic and downed Jennifer Barretta 84-77 to pick up Mary Rakin Tam in a winners’ side semifinal. Fisher opened with a 93-47 victory over Jeannie Seaver and sent Monica Webb to the loss side 92-67 to draw Hopkins in the other winners’ side semifinal. The second highest score in the event went to Fisher in her 122-62 win over Hopkins. The fourth highest score in the event went to Tzu-Chien in her 101-70 victory over Tam. Fisher claimed the hot seat 98-76.

On the loss side, Hopkins picked up Seaver, who’d eliminated Chbeeb 89-22 and then won the event’s closest individual match by defeating Line Kjorsvik 63-62. Tam drew Monica Webb, who, after being defeated by Fisher, went on to defeat Heather Lakatos 63-32 and then, Angela Janic 69-57. In an unlikely coincidence, both Webb and Janic had defeated their first loss-side opponents by the identical 63-32 score.

Seaver defeated Hopkins 56-53 (second closest match), as Webb downed Tam 80-64. Seaver then eliminated Webb 86-70 in the quarterfinals.
Tzu-Chien, no doubt invested in getting a second shot at Fisher, waiting for her in the hot seat, downed Seaver 86-46 in the semifinals and then, chalked up her and the event’s best individual performance at the ‘ghost’ game with a 136-111 victory over Fisher.

The WPBA’s highly successful series of Ghost Challenge events will get back underway this Wednesday (July 29) with a Virtual 9-Ball Ghost Challenge Tournament of Champions, featuring the top eight players from the recently-completed series of four events.

Fisher, going undefeated, wins third straight WPBA Virtual 9-Ball Ghost Challenge

Kelly Fisher

The Dragon Boat Festival may have been in progress in Taiwan during the event, but the ‘beast’ on display at the WPBA’s third Virtual 9-Ball Ghost Challenge (June 21-June 26) was the UK’s Kelly Fisher. As they’d done in the second Virtual 9-Ball Ghost Challenge (June 1-6), Fisher and Taiwan’s Wei Tzu-Chien met in the finals of this one and for the third straight time, Fisher emerged as the event champion. Fisher had to win five on the loss side to face her in the finals of the previous event, but this time, she and Tzu-Chien battled twice; once, vying for the hot seat and then, in the finals. Fisher won both times, chalking up the second- and third-highest scores of the event (126, 125) while Tzu-Chien chalked up the event’s highest score (130) in the semifinals.

As the two played in the hot seat match on Thursday (June 25), Tzu-Chien was reportedly dealing with a highly distracting scenario in Taiwan, which was celebrating its annual Dragon Boat Festival, featuring all sorts of costumed mythical beasts and spectators having a grand time in the local bars. While the camera focused on the table showed no evidence of the gathered crowd, Tzu-Chien was competing in the midst of a lot of distractions. Fisher, not to be outdone in the distraction department, was playing in an un-air-conditioned room, where the temperature was hovering just above the 80s; a circumstance that played itself out on her brow occasionally.

As with previous events, each rack bore the potential for a player to earn either 10 points (for a runout with ball-in-hand after the break) or 15 points (for a runout played without ball-in-hand after the break). A miss in a rack would score the number of balls pocketed prior to the miss. All matches, until the finals, featured 10 racks. Until the semifinals, Fisher was the only player among the event’s 16, to score over 100 points for a single rack. There were 24 total matches played and only six scores over 100; four of them by Fisher and two by Tzu-Chien. Prior to the finals, Fisher averaged 109.75 points per 10 racks. Tzu-Chien, who was awarded a bye in the opening round, reached the semifinals with an average of 88.6 points per rack, but upped that percentage to 99, when she scored 130 points in those semifinals.

Fisher’s path to the hot seat went through LaLe 111-19, Dawn Hopkins 90-81 and in a winners’ side semifinal, Monica Webb 113-98. After her opening round bye, Tzu-Chien defeated Mary Rakin Tam 97-93 and then, in their first of two, she downed Jennifer Barretta 88-76, in the other winners’ side semifinal. Fisher claimed the hot seat with what was, at the time, the event’s highest score 125-81. She ran all 10 racks; five of them with ball-in-hand after the break and five, including the last two, without.

On the loss side, Baretta picked up Hopkins, who, after her defeat at the hands of Fisher in the second round, had defeated Kia Burwell 53-47 and Kris Bacon 75-26. Monica Webb drew event director Angela Janic, who’d been sent to the loss side by Baretta in the second round, and had gone on to eliminate Cheryl Baglin 53-26 and Mary Rakin Tam 67-64.

Baretta, who still sits atop the WPBA’s year-to-date seeding and ranking list (where Wei-Tzu Chien is #3 and Kelly Fisher is #5), defeated Hopkins 87-57, as Webb was busy eliminating Janic 89-48. Baretta and Webb locked up in a nail-biting quarterfinal that eventually sent Baretta (96-93) to the semifinals against Tzu-Chien.

Tzu-Chien found some kind of second, or possibly third gear in those semifinals. She went on to score what would prove to be the event’s highest single score, downing Baretta 130-27 for a second and (including the previous event) third shot against Fisher.

To no avail as it turned out. Together, they chalked up the event’s second and fourth highest score; Fisher checking in with her fourth 100-plus score and the event’s second highest, downing Tzu-Chien 126-103. Fisher ran 10 racks of the 13 in the final, seven of them with ball-in-hand after the break and three, without. Unlike their previous match in the finals of the second event, Wei Tzu-Chien actually finished ahead of Fisher (generally known as “Kwikfire”) in the finals of this one.

“You were faster than me,” Fisher said, chatting after the match. “How come?”

“Because you’re slow,” said Tzu-Chien.

“Slowfire,” commented Fisher.

“You did it again,” said event director, Angela Janic, congratulating Fisher after the finals. “There’s no question that you dominate this format. This thing is made for you.”

“That’s because I’m not any good at safety play, or getting out, or kicking,” said Fisher with a laugh.

The WPBA’s 4th Virtual 9-ball Ghost Challenge will take place July 19-23 and be followed on the weekend of July 31-August 2 with a Tournament of Champions, featuring the top eight players from the four events.

The WPBA thanked all of its fans for watching and supporting this event over the past week, its tournament director, Angela Janic, its behind-the-scenes technical guru Jennifer Hamilton (who celebrated her birthday on the day of this event’s final), its players, scorekeepers and guest commentators.

Fisher comes from the loss side to win second WPBA Virtual 9-Ball Ghost Challenge

After a slow start in which she won two winners’ side matches and was then moved to the loss side by Jeannie Seaver, UK’s Kelly Fisher came back and won five in a row for a shot at Chinese Taipei’s Wei Tzu Chien, waiting for her in the hot seat. Fisher took full advantage of the opportunity she’d created for herself and won her second straight WPBA Virtual 9-Ball Ghost Challenge, held from June 1-6, primarily in the US, but also from the UK (Kelly), Norway (Line Kjorsvik) and Chinese Taipei (Wei Tzu-Chien).

In addition to winning the event for the second time, Fisher also had the highest individual score in both events (120). Each rack, if run from the break, can represent either 10 or 15 points, depending on whether you take BIH after the break (10) or you don’t (15). If you fail to run the rack, you score the number of balls you did pocket in that rack. In this second event, the field of 16 averaged 64.43 points per rack (3,737 total points over 29 matches featuring 58 players). Though she’d fail to score above 90 points in her first two matches (85, 81) Fisher would finish the event (eight matches, 83 racks) with an average of 94.6 per match, which was achieved, in part, by scoring over 100 in two of her last three matches and 99 in a fourth.

Fisher seemed to be headed in the wrong scoring direction at the outset, as she defeated Kristie Bacon 85-46 in the opening round and was then defeated by Jeannie Seaver 87-81. Wei Tzu-Chien moved into the hot seat match with a 93-59 win over Seaver and was met by Webb, who’d sent Little to the loss side 88-28. In one of only three matches (Fisher scored the other two) that saw either competitor score over 100 points, Chien claimed the hot seat over Webb 107-74.

Over on the loss side, Seaver ran into Line Kjorsvik, who’d been sent to the loss side by Jennifer Barretta in a 74-73 nail biter in the opening round and was working on a three-match, loss-side winning streak that saw her send Dawn Hopkins (97-76), Ashley Burrows (73-63) and Kristie Bacon (61-45) home; check that, they were already home. It was Little who had the misfortune of running into Fisher, working on her (eventual) five-match, loss-side streak, having eliminated Kia Sidbury 86-36, and in a rematch featuring the winner and runner-up of the first event’s hot seat and finals, Jennifer Barretta 93-62.

Seaver advanced into the quarterfinals with a 70-66 win over Kjorsvik. Fisher joined her after eliminating Little 99-34. Seaver ended up as the unfortunate competitor on the other side of the event’s highest score (120-81) in those quarterfinals.

Fisher slipped a little in the semifinals that followed. Her loss side average dropped from 99.5 down to 95.6 when she defeated Webb 80-57 in those semifinals. Though she’d not maintained her high average, she’d prevailed for a chance to win it all.

“I feel good,” said Fisher at the conclusion of her match against Webb. “I had a little trouble in the last couple of matches, but so it goes; a couple of awkward layouts, a couple of unforced errors and a couple of silly errors.

Fisher’s reputation, as represented by her nickname (Kwikfire), was enhanced by her work in the finals. In the extended race to 13 racks, she was done, with a score of 113, as Tzu-Chien was preparing to break her 9th rack, having already scored 68 points. The dynamic of this created something of a nail-biter for Fisher, as she watched Tzu-Chien draw closer in the final racks. Those watching the stream watched Fisher, watching Tzu-Chien.

Tzu-Chien took ball-in-hand at the start of rack #9 and ran the table to bring her score to 78; 35 points away from Fisher with four racks to go and needing to score an average of 9 points per remaining rack to defeat Fisher. Tzu-Chien snookered herself shooting at the 6-ball in rack #10, and missed the shot, giving her 83 points total; 30 points away with three racks to go. If she were to use the ball-in-hand option for the remaining three racks and assuming a successful runout of each of them, she’d tie Fisher at 113 and the event would move to a rack-by-rack tie breaker.

Tzu-Chien took BIH in the 11th rack, but missed a shot after dropping four. Now at 87 points, Tzu-Chien would need to run the final two racks without BIH. Running one rack with and one rack without BIH would net her 112 points, one shy of a tie.

She broke the 12th rack and as it was her only option, she began her run without BIH. With Fisher watching anxiously, she ran to the 9-ball and then missed it. She scored only eight points, for a total of 95, which put the win out of reach. She broke the 13th rack anyway, dropped a single ball and missed the next one to finish the match.

For the second time, Fisher had nothing but praise for the WPBA and the individuals who organized and coordinated this and the previous ghost challenge events.

“I know it’s a tough schedule for you,” Fisher told event organizer Angela Janic and fellow stream commentator, Dawn Hopkins at the conclusion of the week-long event. “We really do appreciate all your hard work. It allows us to play, to do what we enjoy doing, and what we do for a living. Without you guys we couldn’t do that, so we really do appreciate it.”

Fisher and runner-up Wei Tzu-Chien are long-time opponents and friends and noting this friend’s frustration at the end of the match, Fisher suggested to the woman she knows as “Wei-Wei” to not say what she was thinking.

“I can’t speak English, right now,” said Tzu-Chien. “There is an appropriate Chinese term for what just happened.”

“Aiyee ya!!,” she added.

Fisher downs Baretta twice to win first WPBA Virtual 9-Ball Ghost Challenge

There was reportedly very little trouble finding members of the Women’s Professional Billiards Association (WPBA) who were anxious to play some competitive pool with each other, albeit from the comfort of their own home and/or pool room. Based on an idea brought up by Dawn Hopkins, Angela Janic, a relatively new member of the WPBA, volunteered to organize and coordinate the organization’s first (and definitely not the last) Virtual 9-Ball Ghost Challenge during the week of May 10-16. While so-called ‘ghost’ matches and isolated streaming events have been cropping up on the Internet since the restrictions brought on by the pandemic began, this was something relatively new; a 16-entrant, double elimination tournament with prize money that pitted players from around the globe against each other, playing against the ‘ghost,’ a ‘player’ normally only encountered in practice, when a player is alone.

From her home pool room in Dumfries, Scotland, Kelly Fisher went undefeated through the field and downed Jennifer Baretta, playing from her pool room in Brooklyn, NY (Skyline Billiards), twice; once, battling for the hot seat and again, in the finals. Talking to both players, it was apparent that winning or losing wasn’t among the things that resonated in their minds about playing in the tournament.

“It was really good fun,” said Fisher. “I really enjoyed it.”

Baretta had played some ‘ghost’ matches in a recent USA vs. Europe matchup and found the experience to be “kind of nerve wracking.”

“But now,” she said, “I want to play more of them.”

“In practice, I play the ghost all the time,” she added. “I play a race to 7, but I play so that if I miss, I have to kick and/or bank (subsequent balls).”

This WPBA event was based on playing 10 racks, per player, per match. Players were allowed to begin shooting after their break with ball-in-hand. Essentially, each ball was worth one point, though if you ran the rack, you’d get an extra point for 10 points total, available per rack. There were 15 points available for a rack if you chose not to take advantage of ball-in-hand after the break. A number of the 30 matches ended before one of the competitors had completed the 10 racks, because one player had scored enough points to make ‘catching’ that player impossible.

Fisher’s path to the winners’ circle ran through Lonnie Fox-Raymond and April Larson, before coming up against Monica Webb in one of the winners’ side semifinals. Baretta downed Eugenia Gyftopoulos and Canada’s Suzanne Peters to arrive at her winners’ side semifinal against Dawn Hopkins.

With Allison Fisher and LoreeJon Hasson commentating on the live stream, Kelly Fisher defeated Webb 104-70. Baretta sent Hopkins to the loss side 83-69. In the hot seat match that followed, Fisher chalked up the event’s highest score of 120, when she ran all 10 racks, four of them which she ran without benefit of ball-in-hand at the start.

Upon her arrival on the loss side of the bracket, Dawn Hopkins picked up an immediate rematch against Mary Rakin Tam, whom she’d defeated in the opening round and who was working on a three-match, loss-side winning streak during which she’d eliminated Cheryl Baglin, April Larson and one of the event’s significant organizers, Angela Janic. Webb drew Line Kjorsvik, who’d lost her opening round match to April Larson and was also working on a three-match, loss-side winning streak that had eliminated Lonnie Fox-Raymond, Ewa Mataya Laurance and Suzanne Peters.

Rakin Tam and Kjorsvik advanced to the first money round, the quarterfinals. Tam defeated Hopkins 74-60, as Kjorsvik downed Webb 79-58. Kjorsvik then eliminated Tam 90-75.

The semifinals of this event – Kjorsvik versus Baretta – had a way of demonstrating the best that this particular format had to offer viewers. At the end of their 9th rack, the two were separated by a single point; Baretta ahead by one at 74-73. Baretta refused the ball-in-hand option after her break of the final rack, looking to chalk up 15 points instead of just 10. Unfortunately, she only added three balls to her score; missing the fourth ball and finishing her 10 racks with a score of 77. All Kjorsvik had to do was sink five balls. With two of the five down, she found herself hooked and forced to make a jump shot, which she missed to finish at 74.

In the finals that followed, with the racks-necessary extended to 13, and Jeremy Jones in the streaming ‘booth,’ commentating, Baretta was ahead by seven points after four racks, 45-38. Though Baretta would extend her lead by opting out of ball-in-hand in the 5th rack and running the table to hit 60 points, while Fisher had her 5th rack stopped at 6 balls, the tables started to turn, as Fisher started to pick up speed, reminding everyone of her “KwikFire” nickname.

They would both run racks #6 & 7 without ball-in-hand, leaving Baretta out in front by 16 (80-64). Fisher would go on to opt out of ball-in-hand for racks # 8, 9, 10 & 11 and ran all four, leaving her at 124 when she was through. Baretta, now working two racks behind Fisher, picked up only three in rack #8, and though she ran racks #9 & 10, she was, for the first time since her fourth rack, no longer in the lead, but behind Fisher by six at 109-103.

Fisher closed out her run with two break and runs, opting for ball-in-hand in both to finish her 10 racks with 144 points. In order to defeat Fisher, Baretta, at the time, was preparing to break her 11th rack and would have had to play all three of her last racks without ball in hand. Two without and one with ball in hand (assuming she ran the table) would have left her one point shy of Fisher’s 144 total. Baretta missed a shot in the 11th rack and conceded the victory, punctuating the concession by going down on her knees and bowing. Fisher extended a hand to shake and all smiles, the two of them traded an across-the-ocean-via-Internet handshake.

In some ways, the entire event, to include how quickly it came together and successfully it occurred came as a bit of surprise. Angela Janic thanked particularly Jennifer Hamilton for her work on the live stream, noting that Hamilton had “kept us all organized and just did a fantastic job.”

“Thanks, too,” Janic added,” to everybody on the WPBA, the board and all the players. I had just sent messages out and asked people for help and everybody just jumped in and said yes. I’d read names but there are just too many of them.”

According to Janic, another edition of the WPBA’s Virtual 9-Ball Ghost Challenge will occur on Memorial Day weekend (May 31-June 6) and while no names have been confirmed for participation, she expects another field of 16.

“Nothing’s going to change much,” she said of the upcoming event. “It’ll probably get a little easier.”

After the imaginary handshake, and Janic thanking her for her participation, Fisher added her thanks to all those who’d been involved.

“It was such short notice and it happened so quickly,” said Fisher. “You did an absolute fantastic job putting it together and running it smoothly.”

“It was great for the sport and great for the WPBA,” she added. “Thank you very much for doing this for us.”

Fisher comes back from hot seat loss to down Barretta and claim Ashton Twins Classic in Alberta

Holem, Plowman, Osborn and Lane win four concurrently-run Amateur/Open events

 

Two of pool’s old-school professionals battled in the hot seat and finals of the WPBA’s 4th Annual Ashton Twins Classic over the weekend (Dec. 2-5). Allison Fisher, who entered the tournament as the WPBA's #1 competitor,, and Jennifer Barretta (#3) fought to double hill in the hot seat match, before Barretta prevailed. Fisher came back from the semifinals to meet and defeat her in the finals and claim the 4th Ashton Twins Classic title, her 82nd pro title. Since the event debuted in 2017, it’s been won by two ‘new-school’ professionals, Brittany Bryant (2017, currently #2) and April Larson (2018, currently #23) and in the past two years, by old-school professionals, Vivian Villareal (2019, currently #48) and Fisher this year. The $20,000-added event drew 50 entrants to the Grey Eagle Resort & Casino in Calgary, Alberta.

 

The long weekend also featured four, concurrently-run Amateur and Open events; an Amateur Men’s 9-Ball (51 entrants), a Women’s Amateur 9-Ball (26), a Men’s 8-ball (71; the highest number of the weekend’s events) and a Women’s 8-Ball event (56). A summary of these four events, to include winners and runners-up will follow the Pro event details.

 

While the old-school professionals were represented in this year’s final, the new-school professionals were right there behind them, finishing 3rd (Russia’s Kristina Tkach, #22) and 4th (China’s Wei Tzu-Chien, #4). The tie for 5th place featured one each from the two categories; Janet Atwell (#11), who fell to Wei Tzu-Chien and the event’s 2017 winner, Brittany Bryant, who was eliminated by Tkach. The event’s 2018 champion, April Larson was on hand for this event, as well. She was sent to the loss side by Wei Tzu-Chien and was defeated in her first loss-side match by Kim Newsome (#24). Vivian Villareal did not make the trip to Canada.

 

Following an opening round bye, Fisher opened her six-match winning campaign with three victories in which she gave up a combined total of two racks; one each to (first) Stephanie Hefner and (third) Caroline Pao, with a shutout over Laura Smith in between. This set Fisher up to face Wei Tzu-Chien in one of the winners’ side semifinals (old-school/new-school). Barretta, in the meantime, had also been awarded a bye, and though not quite the domineering performance exhibited by Fisher, she did get by Stephanie Mitchell 9-2, June Maiers 9-3 and Monica Webb 9-2 to arrive at her winners’ side semifinal against Brittany Bryant (another old-school/new-school matchup).

 

Bryant chalked up as many racks against Barretta as all three of Barretta’s previous opponents combined, but fell two short, advancing Barretta 9-7 to the hot seat match. Wei Tzu-Chien chalked up three times as many racks as Fisher’s first three opponents combined, but fell three short, advancing Fisher 9-6 to meet Barretta. As befitted their status, Barretta and Fisher locked up in a double hill fight that saw Barretta down 5-8, before mounting a four-match comeback that left her in the hot seat and Fisher headed for a semifinal matchup versus Kristina Tkach.

 

Going into the money rounds on the loss side (17-24), there were still more than just a handful of potential winners vying to get back to the finals. Among them were Janet Atwell, who’d been defeated, double hill, by Caroline Pao and dropped into the loss side’s first money round. She subsequently got by Emily Duddy 9-7, Laura Smith 9-3, Monica Webb 9-6, and Jia Li 9-6, to draw Wei Tzu-Chien, coming over from the winners’ side semifinal.

 

Also lurking on the loss side was Kristina Tkach, who’d lost her first winners' side match (after a bye) to Kyoko Sone, and then launched an eight-match, loss-side winning streak that would take her all the way to the semifinals. After eliminating Ada Lio and Ashley Burrows to make it into the money rounds, she defeated Gail Eaton 9-1, Dawn Hopkins, double hill, Caroline Pao 9-5 and the WPBA’s #1-ranked competitor going into the tournament, Line Kjorsvik 9-2, to draw Bryant.

 

Tkach dispatched Bryant 9-2 and was joined in the quarterfinals by Wei Tzu-Chien, who’d eliminated Atwell 9-7. Tkach finished up her loss-side winning streak with a 9-3 win over Chien.

 

The commentators on the Cue Sports Live stream employed a slightly different vocabulary for the semifinal match, opting to call it a match between the ‘old guard’ and the ‘new guard.’ Fisher won the opening game of the semifinal match, and though Tkach responded to tie it up, she only did that twice and never got out in front. After the tie at the end of game #2, Fisher won three straight. Tkach came back with two, Fisher got another and Tkach won another two to create the second tie at 5-5. Fisher got out in front by two again, before Tkach chalked up her sixth and final rack. Fisher closed it out 9-6 for a second shot against Barretta.

 

The assembled were expecting a second double hill fight between the two ladies left standing. The race to 11 didn’t pan out that way, although it came close. Fisher took advantage of her second opportunity and downed Barretta 11-8 to claim her first (recorded) event title since she defeated Ga Young-Kim in the finals of the WPBA’s Ho-Chunk Classic in September of 2018.

 

From her home in Charlotte, NC a couple of days later, Fisher commented about her win and the prospect of future wins for her and players like her, like Jennifer Barretta, who's eight months younger than she is.

 

"It's like your own personal battle," she said. "You're constantly wondering 'Can you do it again?' 'Is it ever going to happen?' All those things go through your mind."

 

"There's not as much (time) distance (from former major victories) with me," she added, "but I was a prolific winner and as time goes on, you question and doubt. You're competing with yourself in personal growth."

 

Fisher is also assigning value to other considerations in her life; specifically her time at home with her family, which she noted she had not had much of in her past. Now, she's finding herself elevating that time on a priority scale above shooting pool. She has found that this shift in priorities tends to elevate the significance of each accomplishment.

 

"I don't play a lot these days, because some things (events) are not worth the time to be away from my family," she said. "I don't expect to be competing in 10 years time, so any victory is very valuable to me."

 

Concurrent Amateur/Open events take center stage

 

Kudos to Brian Champayne, who coordinated this long and multi-faceted event, which, as noted at the outset, included four other tournaments, including two which drew more entrants than the main event.

 

Up first on Thursday, January 2 were the Amateur Men’s and Women’s 9-Ball events. In the Men’s event, Tyler Edey and Kevin Osborn battled twice to claim the title. Edey won the first 7-1 to claim the hot seat. Osborn came back after downing Joe Spence 6-4 in the semifinals to defeat Edey 9-7 in the final and claim the Amateur Men’s 9-Ball title. Regene Lane went undefeated to grab the Women’s Amateur 9-Ball title. She and Cindy Nana fought a double hill hot seat match that eventually sent Nana to the semifinals, where she defeated Jenny Lucas 5-2. Lane defeated Nana a second time, this time 7-3 in the final to claim that 9-ball title.

 

On Friday, January 3, Tyler Edey was also in the finals of the most heavily-attended event of the long weekend, the Men’s 8-Ball, which drew 73 players. Edey was sent to the loss side in a double hill, winners’ side quarterfinal, as Stephen Holem advanced to the hot seat, downing Mike Robinson 6-1 in the winners’ side final. Edey worked his way back through five loss-side opponents, including a double hill win over Robinson in the semifinals to face Holem in the finals. Holem completed his undefeated run with a 7-4 victory over Edey.

 

In the Women’s 8-Ball event, which drew 56 entrants, Bonnie Plowman and Tasha Thomas battled twice, hot seat and finals, to determine the winner. Plowman, who finished undefeated, took the hot seat match 5-3, and when Thomas returned from a 4-2 victory over Jana Montour in the semifinals, defeated her a second time 6-4 to claim the event title.