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Watanabe goes undefeated, downs Martinez twice to claim Tri-State Tour title

Max Watanabe & Bianca Martinez

The headline story is about the Tri-State’s top-rated, #1 A player, Max Watanabe, doing battle twice with one of the tour’s top-rated females, Bianca Martinez, who’s currently at #3 in the women’s point standings and #4 in the tour’s overall C standings. The top three in both cases (women and C players) would have been the same (Allison LaFleur, Michelle Brotons and Martinez), had Juan Melendez not slipped into second place among the C players. Watanabe and Martinez battled twice during the $1,000-added, 10-ball event that drew 38 entrants to Cue Bar in Bayside (Queens), NY on Sunday, Feb. 16. Watanabe won both encounters to claim the event title, but not before Martinez battled him twice to the necessity of a single, deciding game.

Watanabe’s trip to the winners’ circle went through Pascal Dufresne, Russell Masciotti and Steve Kalloo to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal against Julian Tierney. Martinez, in the meantime, sent Andre Holder, Naoko Saiki, and Juan Melendez to the loss side before coming up against Jason Goberdhan in the other winners’ side semifinal.

Watanabe downed Tierney 6-4. Martinez joined him in the hot seat match after surviving a double hill fight versus Goberdhan. In their first of two, they fought to double hill before Watanabe prevailed to claim the hot seat.

On the loss side, Tierney picked up Kevin Shin, who’d recently defeated Steve Kalloo, double hill and Sherwin Robinson 6-2. Goberdhan drew Qian Chen, who’d eliminated the aforementioned C player, Juan Melendez 5-1 and survived a double hill fight against Shweta Zaveri (#4 among the tour’s ladies) to reach him.

Tierney shut Kevin Shin out and was met in the quarterfinals by Chen, who’d survived Shweta Zaveri’s second straight double hill match. Tierney won the quarterfinal match 6-4 before having his short loss-side trip ended by Martinez 7-4 in the semifinals.

Second verse, same as the first, as they say. Watanabe and Martinez fought to a second, double hill deciding game. Watanabe prevailed a second time to claim the event title.

Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff at Cue Bar for their hospitality, as well as sponsors Ozone Billiards, Sterling-Gaming, Kamui Tips, Phil Capelle, Pool & Billiards, Professor Q Ball, Bender Cues, Paul Dayton Cues, Bludworth Ball Cleaner, Joe Romer Trophies and Quick Slick. The next stop on the Tri-State Tour, scheduled for Sunday, Feb. 23, will be hosted by Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY.

Dayrit wins five on the loss side to down Saiki in finals of Tri-State stop

(l to r): Ryan Dayrit and Naoko Saiki

Last Sunday’s (Jan. 26) Tri-State Tour stop at Cue Bar in Bayside (Queens), NY featured one of those still-rare, but a lot more frequent than they used to be battles between a male and female in the finals of a regional tour. There was a little bit of ‘David and Goliath’ in the air, too, because Naoko Saiki, who’d only ever cashed in one other event on the tour (9th, two and a half years ago at Steinway Billiards) was going up against Ryan Dayrit, who’d cashed in 13 events last year alone, including one win each on the Predator Pro Am and Tri-State Tours. The woman got into the hot seat, but Goliath came back from the loss side to down the female ‘David’ in the finals. The $1,000-added event drew 26 entrants to Cue Bar.
Dayrit had something of a shaky start. He survived an opening-round, double hill match against Johnny Colon and then fell 7-2 to Chris Luna, which, in a 32-player bracket, happened to be a winners’ side quarterfinal match. Luna advanced to face Nishant Narang in a winners’ side semifinal. Saiki, in the meantime, had her own kind of shaky start; opening with a double hill win over Jose Ramos, she avoided a second double hill scenario by a game, defeating Allison LaFleur 6-4 to face Lionell Swanston in the other winners’ side semifinal.
Saiki chalked up her second double hill win, over Swanston, and in the hot seat match, faced Narang, who’d sent Luna west 6-3. Saiki claimed the hot seat 6-4 over Narang, and waited for Dayrit to finish his loss side run.
Dayrit had opened that run with a 6-1 victory over Juan Melendez and then got locked up in a double hill fight against Qian Chen, before prevailing to draw Swanston. Luna, in the meantime, certainly mindful of a potential rematch versus Dayrit in the upcoming quarterfinals, drew Bob Toomey, who’d survived a double hill fight against LaFleur and eliminated Mike Strassberg 6-2 to reach him.
Dayrit got into the quarterfinals 6-4 over Swanston. Toomey spoiled the Dayrit/Luna rematch with a 6-3 win over Luna.
Dayrit won the next two 6-4, downing Toomey in the quarterfinals and Narang in the semifinals. Though the final match between Dayrit and Saiki see-sawed back and forth through its opening racks, Dayrit eventually pulled out in front to complete his comeback and win it 8-4.
Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff at Cue Bar, as well as sponsors Ozone Billiards, Sterling-Gaming, Kamui Tips, Phil Capelle, Pool & Billiards, Professor Q Ball, Bender Cues, Paul Dayton Cues, Bloodworth Ball Cleaner, Joe Romer Trophies and Quick Slick. The next stop on the Tri-State Tour, scheduled for Saturday, February 1, will be hosted by Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY.

Goberdhan goes undefeated to claim his first event title on the Predator Pro Am Tour

(l to r): Lidio Ramirez, Shawn Sookhai, Jason Goberdhan & Jim Gutierrez

Whether defined by Fargo ratings or individual tour formulas, handicapped match play is designed to level the playing field so that lower-ranked players can be encouraged to participate. Without handicaps, and a few tours don’t use them (the Action Pool Tour, the J. Pechauer Northeast Women’s Tour, and the Midwest 9-Ball Tour, among others), lower-ranked competitors would have little or no incentive to drop their hard-earned money into competition against obviously superior players. By the same token, players are often encouraged to enter non-handicapped tournaments (to play ‘without a net,’ so to speak), because exposure to straight-up races against superior opponents is one of the many ways that players improve their own game.
According to our records, Jason Goberdhan has cashed in a total of 10 events in the Tri-State New York city area; three on the Tri-State Tour and the other seven on the Predator Pro Am Tour. Until this past weekend (April 6-7), he’d finished as high as 3rd place in both, once. Going into the 6th stop on the 2019 Predator Pro Am Tour, he was rated 6th among the tour’s “C” players. Goberdhan ended up going undefeated through a field of 93 entrants, defeating a B+ player (Shawn Sookhai) to claim the hot seat and an A+ player (Lidio Ramirez) in the finals to claim his first event title. The $1,000-added event was hosted by Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY.
Goberdhan and Ramirez almost met in the hot seat match. Goberdhan faced off against Nick Croce in one of the winners’ side semifinals, as Ramirez met up with Sookhai in the other one. Goberdhan sent Croce to the loss side 7-2, while Sookhai and Ramirez locked up in a double hill fight, eventually won by Sookhai 7-6 (handicap advantages are figured into the score). Goberdhan then sent Sookhai to the semifinals 8-5 to claim the hot seat.
On the loss side, Ramirez picked up Russell Masciotti, who recorded a forfeit win over John Stiles and downed Jimmy Acosta 7-3 to reach him. Croce drew Jim Guttierez, who’d chalked up two straight double hill wins over Ryan Dayrit and Romero Tanglao.
Gutierrez eliminated Croce 7-3 to advance to the quarterfinals. Ramirez joined him after defeating Masciotti 8-6. Ramirez took that quarterfinal match 11-8 for a second shot against Sookhai in the semifinals.
A 7-4 win in that rematch gave Ramirez a first shot at Goberdhan. A somewhat predictable double hill fight ensued, eventually won by Goberdhan 10-9 to claim his first event title.
A Second Chance event drew 13 entrants and was won Jose Kuilan ($130), who survived a double-hill fight against Ashley Burrows ($90) in the finals. Naoko Saiki and Duc Lam pocketed $20 each for their 3rd place tie.
Tour director Tony Robles thanked Manny Stamatakis and his Steinway Billiards staff, as well as title sponsor Predator Cues, Ozone Billiards,, The DeVito Team,, Cappelle (Billiards Press), AZBilliards, Pool & Billiards Magazine, and Billiards Digest. The Predator Pro Am Tour will return to Steinway Billiards for its next stop (#7), this coming weekend (April 13-14), with a $1,000-added ABCD event.

Rosario takes single-game final to capture Predator Pro/Am Tour Championship Amateur title

(l to r): Mac Jankov, Annie Flores, Ron Bernardo & Abel Rosario

As the clock hands edged their way toward 3 a.m. on Monday morning, December 10, it was clear that fatigue was becoming a dominant factor in the last matches of the $9,630-added Predator Pro Am Tour Championships’ Amateur tournament, which had drawn 94 entrants to Raxx Billiards in West Hempstead, NY over the weekend. The 16-entrant, $1,000-added  Open/Pro Division of the Tour Championships at the same location (separate story) were over, won by Jorge Rodriguez. So, too, were the three, $500-added (total) Second (two) and Third Chance events. All that remained were the Amateur semifinals and finals; Annie Flores and Abel Rosario in the former, and whoever won, against hot seat occupant, Ron Bernardo, in the final.
They were all tired. So was Upstate Al in the AZBTv broadcast booth, whose commentary on the semifinal was sparse, to say the least. He let people know he was still there, usually by just saying so, and here and there, a few pertinent comments on possible shot options for the players. 
There was still $11,500 worth of prize money to be allocated among the last three. They could have opted for a three-way split, giving each of them $3,833.33; not a band chunk of change for a weekend of work. But they didn’t. With a difference of $2,500 at stake between 1st and 2nd place, splitting the top two prizes, while clearly an option, didn’t happen either. This, after all, was the Tour Championship, and they’d all worked an entire year to get here. Rosario and Flores played a tight, full race-to-7 semifinal match, which eventually sent Rosario, who won it 7-5,  back for a second shot against Bernardo. What they did do, in deference to the hour and the lurking specter of increased fatigue, which would most certainly have had an effect on the quality of the final match, was to turn the final match into a single game contest. One game for 63% ($6,000) of the remaining marbles.
Abel Rosario won it to claim the Amateur title. He’d entered the tournament as the tour’s #1-ranked B player, and while the tour’s #5-ranked C player (Bernardo) won their earlier meeting – a double hill hot seat match – he had to, and likely, at that hour, was glad to accept the $3,500 runner-up prize.
As is often the case, in many different fields of endeavor, the headlines don’t always indicate the whole story, and among many of the ups and downs encountered by the 94 entrants, Rhio Anne (Annie) Flores’ third place finish, her best on the tour since last November, was among the event’s most notable highlights. She’d flown to London to watch her companion, Alex Kazakis, compete in the 25th Annual Mosconi Cup. While certainly experiencing divided loyalties in her support for Team USA and Kazakis, it couldn’t have been a whole lot of fun to watch Kazakis go down in defeat against Shane Van Boening, in what could have (and from Kazakis’ point of view, should have) been the match that tied the overall match score at 10-10 and led to a single match for the title. She flew back from London and arrived just in time to join the Predator Pro Am’s Tour Championships.
It was Abel Rosario who’d ended Flores’ winners’ side journey, after which she embarked on a six-match, loss-side journey that took her as far as the semifinal. Rosario moved on and eventually arrived at a winners’ side semifinal against Gary Bozigian. Bernardo, in the meantime, squared off against Mac Jankov.
Rosario sent Bozigian to the loss side 7-5. Bernardo downed Jankov 6-4, setting up his first of two against Rosario in the hot seat match. In the deciding game, the 9-ball was jammed into the edge of a corner pocket, with no clear path to get at it, because the cue ball was down there, too. Bernardo executed a massé shot and dropped the 9-ball to claim the hot seat. It guaranteed Bernardo at least 2nd place ($3,500), while Rosario had to settle for a minimum third place finish
“That,” said Tony Robles, when it happened, “was a $1,500 shot,” which guaranteed Bernardo, at minimum, 2nd place ($3,500), while Rosario had to contend with the possibility of finishing 3rd ($2,000). It didn’t turn out that way.
On the loss side, Flores had chalked up four wins, including most recently, a 7-5 win over Juan Guzman and a 7-3 victory over Brian Toolsee, when she ran into Bozigian. Jankov picked up Corey Avallone, who’d most recently shut out Naoko Saiki, and eliminated Esteban Morell, double hill.
Both matches for advancement to the quarterfinals went double hill; Jankov eliminating Avallone 6-5 and Flores defeating Bozigian 7-6. Flores moved on to eliminate Jankov 9-6 in the quarterfinals.
As tired as they both were, going into their semifinal rematch, Rosario and Flores (likely with the added burden of some lingering jet lag) put on quite a back-and-forth show. In the end, though, Rosario pulled out in front to win it 7-5.
The single-game final was on, and among the few that were left, including Tour Director Tony Robles, perched in a seat just outside the perimeter of the TV table’s viewing range, there was a hope that neither of the competitors, Rosario or Bernardo, were in the mood for any kind of protracted ‘safety’ game. They weren’t. In a handful of ‘innings,’ it was over. Rosario sunk the final 9-ball and everybody got to go home.
Robles thanked Holden Chin and his Raxx staff for their hospitality, his own Predator Pro Am staff and title sponsor Predator Cues, Ozone Billiards,, The DeVito Team,, Cappelle (, AZBilliards, Pool & Billiard Magazine and Billiards Digest. The next stop on the Predator Pro Am Tour will be the 2019 season opener, scheduled for the weekend of January 26-27 and hosted by Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY.