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Wise Guy Snaps Off Senior One Pocket

Ronnie Wiseman, Ray Hansen, Bogies Owner Cody Parish and Nick Varner

Thirty one players came from all over the country to Bogies Billiards & Sports Bar in Houston, TX for the 7th Annual Senior One Pocket Championship.

My favorite tournament of the year, I couldn’t wait to see my longtime friends. “Tall Jeff” Sparks stopped by on the first day as well as Keith Thompson, the 1970 Johnston City All-Around champ. Texas legend, Jerry Prado, was supposed to play in the tournament but had car trouble – he showed up for the last two days to see everyone anyway. 

My friends Linda Martin, Samm Rubin, LoreeJon Ogonowski-Brown, Julie Mason-Comitini, Chris Fields, Kelly Isaac were there as well as Phil Windham, Carl Honey, Big Tyme’s Jim Henry, Todd Comitini, Bogie’s House Pro Roberto Gomez and Alex Calderon. The Taiwan contingent including Cheng Yu-hsuan (“Kevin Cheng”) and Chang Jung-lin was also in town making a pit stop before heading to Atlantic City for the US Open Pool Championship. There was even a little ten ball action between Roberto and Alex and a couple of the Taiwanese players after the finals on Sunday night. 

Presented by PoolActionTV, Bogies Billiards, Aramith, Simonis, Diamond Billiard Products and the Fort Worth Billiards Superstore, owner Cody Parish & Manager John Rizzo welcomed players such as BCA and One Pocket Hall of Famer Nick Varner, James Christopher (“The Sniper”), Moises Pouncey (“Gabby”), Scott Kitto, Ronnie Wiseman (“Wise Guy”), “Jumpin’ Sammy Jones, Erman Bullard, “Tyler Bob” Valliere, Joey Aguzin (“Joey A”) and Robert Newkirk (“Newk”) to the fray.

Among several first time players were Perfect Pocketz’ Mark Gregory (“Mags”) and “Colonel Bille” Miller as well as the returning northern California contingent – Bob Beaulieu, Ed Neves, Lee Wallick and Al Markasky. Warren Ruth, Tad Sowa, Larry Landsman, Mark Dimmick, Jim McCary, Ronn Rutan, Gary Urinowski, Kent Berthelot, Bob Hayes, Wayne Catledge, Mike Hoyt, James Christensen and Louis Vickio rounded out the field.

Dealing with health issues and sorely missed were former champs Billy Incardona, Jerry Matchin, John Henderson and James Davis Sr. It just wasn’t the same without you guys! Sure hope to see you next year!

The $3,000 added double elimination event had a $200 entry fee with races to 4/3 and alternate breaks. The player auction was pretty healthy with Wiseman going as the first blind bid and Varner the second. The auction was followed by the players meeting, the draw and one round of play. 

Shaking off the rust and slicing through the top part of the bracket was Perfect Pocketz’ Mark Gregory. “Mags” is better known today for his beautiful restorations of the classic Brunswick Centennial and Anniversary tables as well as perhaps the best table mechanic on the planet. Mark sent both Al Markasky and Ronn Rutan west with identical 4-1 scores and skunked Warren Ruth 4-0. 

Plowing through the other part of the bracket was Iowa native Scott Kitto – also known as “911.” Along with Mark Wilson and Jeff Carter, the trio dominated pool in the Midwest in the eighties. Scott blitzed both Gary Urinoski and Larry Landsman 4-zip and “Joey A” 4-2 before running into Gregory. Gregory made short work of Kitto – score 4-1. Scott headed for the scenic route while Mark locked up his seat in the hot seat match.

On a collision course in the upper part of the bottom bracket was the “Kentucky Colonel,” Nick Varner and Ronnie Wiseman. Player of the Year in 1980, 1982, 1989, 1994 and 1999, Nick is one of the best all-around players of all time with over one hundred career titles beginning with ACUI Collegiate National Championships (representing Purdue University) in 1969 and 1970, as well as back to back US Open Nine Ball titles. Nick has also won world titles in nine ball, eight ball, straight pool, one pocket and bank pool and has represented Team USA eight times at the Mosconi Cup – four times as the team captain. 

Originally from Windsor, ON, Ronnie Wiseman made his debut at this event. Although Ronnie played in tournaments here and there – even winning a few including the 2005 Reno Open, the “Wise Guy” is considered to be one of the smartest – if not THE smartest – action guys in the pool biz.

Nick blitzed both Ed Neves and Sammy Jones 4-0 while Ronnie toasted “J-Tom Pilot” 4-1 and skunked “Colonel Bille” 4-0. In a match that was closer than the score indicated, Ronnie sent Nick west 4-2. His next match was Moises Pouncey – the legendary player with a silky stroke. He was tagged “Gabby” early in his career for standing like a statue – never saying a word. Gabby mowed down “Newk” 4-0 and edged out Mark Dimmick 4-3. His next match was Jim McCary – score 4-2. Ronnie then made short work of Gabby 4-1 and met Gregory in the hot seat match.

Mark took the first two games over Ronnie and was on his way to winning game three when he picked out two different shots out of the stack, fired them in and ended up frozen to another ball in both cases with no shot. Ronnie clawed his way back and won four in a row over his frustrated opponent and locked up his seat in the finals. Mark headed to the one loss side to await an opponent.

After losing his second match, Sammy Jones battled his former running mate, James Christopher, and escaped with a 3-2 win. He then ran through both Warren Ruth and Mark Dimmick 3-0 before running into Gabby. That one went down to the wire also and Gabby survived with a 3-2 win. Varner spanked both Ronn Rutan and Jim Tomassoni 3-0 and then outlasted Kitto in an eight hour marathon 3-2. 

Returning the following day at noon, Nick ground out a 3-1 victory over Gabby. He finished in fourth place. Next up was Mark Gregory – he went down with a 3-0 pounding. Mark finished in third place.

Since this tournament was double elimination, Nick had to defeat Ronnie twice to win the event. This title has eluded Varner for the past few years and he wanted it badly but it was not to be. Wiseman moved out quickly winning the first two games. Back to the grind, Nick managed to take the next two and tie it up.  2-2! Bearing down, Ronnie won the next and was on the hill. Methodically making one ball at a time, Nick stayed in the game – keeping it close. It looked like he was going to tie it up and then he scratched! Wiseman, needing one, leaped out of his chair and got down on the spot shot. He stood up and then got back down and rifled it in! Boom! And we had a new champion!

Congratulations to Ronnie for snapping off the title on his first attempt with his beautiful Steve Lomax custom cue! Great effort, Nick!

Once again, PoolActionTV.com would like to thank Bogies owner Cody Parish, Manager John Rizzo and their staff for making all of us feel so welcome.

We’d like to thank our commentators for a fine job. They included One Pocket Hall of Famer Cliff Joyner, Mary Kenniston, Jeff Sparks, Joey Aguzin, Ronn Rutan and Ray Hansen.

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

Our next event is the One Pocket Champion Challenge featuring Tony Chohan and Alex Pagulayan with $100,000 plus in the middle! Hosted by Buffalo’s Billiards in Jefferson, LA, the dates are October 19th-22nd. Hope to see you there! 

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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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Spain Brothers Are 2020 Joss Junior 9-Ball Champions

18 & under, Frank Spain III and 12 & Under D’Angelo Spain

Congratulations to our new 2020, Joss Junior 9-Ball Champions Frank Spain III in the 18 & under division and D’Angelo Spain in the 12 & under. Both players dominated their respective divisions to claim their titles. Also congratulations to our second place finishers, Amber Kolchew (18 & under) & Alena Hahn (12 & under). Both of these young ladies were very impressive players as well. Frank Spain III and his younger brother D’Aangelo both went undefeted to earn their championships. Our formats for both divisions this year were, round robin group play with the final four playing off in single elimination play to determine the champions. Once again Tim Berlin deserves much thanks for allowing us the use of his beautiful Sharp Shooters Billiards & Sposrt Pub in Amsterdam NY.

It was a fun day of pool watching these 32 talented youngsters compete with some as young as 8 years old. There were 18 in the 18 & under division and 14 in the 12 & under. Most were playing in their first tournament ever. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves even though they were very serious in trying to win. Some even made a long weekend out of it by having a pizza, wings & pool (swimming) party at their motel! All players were treated to a table full of donated items to choose from, plus free raffles for the larger items. Many thanks go out to the many people and companies that generously donated products and their time to help. Our generous sponsors are, in no particular order: Sharp Shooters Billiards & Sports Pub (Tim & Julie Berlin), Joss Cues (Debbie, Dan & Stephen Janes), James Sinclair (Rhythm Custom Cues), CJ & Peggi Wilkinson (Baltimore City Cues), Don Kerns, Iwan Simonis (Ivan Lee), Aramith (Ivan Lee), Phil Capelle (Billiards Press), Mark Kulungian, Andrea Duvall (Utica Billiards On The Boulevard), Matt Tetreault, Steven W. Smith, Dave Dreidel, Bill Cote, Josh Burbul, Don Kennedy & Steve Lillis. And thank you to anyone I may have missed and everyone else involved. Hopefully we will be doing this for years to come. I am now accepting donations for our 2021 Joss Junior 9-Ball Championships. Product and monetary donations can be made by contacting Mike Zuglan at 518-356-7163.
Here are the official results for both events:
18 & Under:
1st Frank Spain III (Joss Cue & case, trophy)
2nd Amber Kolchew (trophy & Rhythm Cue & case – raffle)
Also competed – in no particular order
Tim Svitak (Alex Kazakis autographed Pro Cup cue ball – raffle)
Dalton Johnson (Shane Van Boening autographed Pro Cup cue ball – raffle)
Samantha Given (Nick Varner cue & case – raffle)
Andrew Wolanske (Nick Varner cue & case – raffle)
Anthony Wolanske (Simonis Crest Banner autographed by top 8 at Turning Stone XXXIII event – raffle)
Michael Floyd (Shane Van Boening autographed Pro Cup cue ball – raffle)
Joey Berlin (Mizerak Cue & case – raffle)
Ulysses Taylor Jr. (Mizerak Cue & case – raffle)
Winter Dempsey (Simonis Crest Banner autographed by top 8 at Turning Stone XXXII event – raffle)
Hunter Hallock (Alex Kazakis autographed Pro Cup cue ball – raffle)
Adrianna Henderson
Ava Lucas
Kailey Bombard
Courtney Wood
Evan Sternquist
Jeffrie Martinez
12 & Under:
1st D’Angelo Spain (Joss Cue & case, trophy, plus Alex Kazakis autographed Pro Cup cue ball – raffle)
2nd Alena Hahn (trophy)
Also competed – in no particular order
Jacob Sternquist (Rhythm Cue & case – raffle)
Makayla Lettieri (Mizerak Cue & case – raffle)
Olivier Payne (Jayson Shaw autographed Pro Cup cue ball – raffle)
Dominick Henderson (Shane Van Boening autographed Pro Cup cue ball – raffle)
Alie Thompson (Earl Strickland autographed Pro Cup cue ball – raffle)
Blake Bombard (Mizerak Cue & case – raffle)
Erika Barbera
Daishawn Witchley
Colin Given
Jeremy Wolfe
Logan Bombard
Paul Hahn

Chinakhov shuts Pagulayan down to win American 14.1 Straight Pool Championships

Ruslan Chinahov

Alex Pagulayan moved into the finals of the American 14.1 Straight Pool Championships on Saturday night, October 26 at Q Master Billiards in Virginia Beach, VA, displaying his usual measure of confidence and humor. Assuming his victory, he made note of the height differential between himself and his opponent, Ruslan Chinakhov (who’s taller by about a foot), and during player introductions, let the assembled crowd know that he’d be giving the Russian a chance, later. 
 
“When we’re done,” said The Lion, “we’re going to play some basketball.”
 
Well, that hoop encounter never happened, because Chinakhov took advantage of two odd break mishaps by Pagulayan to defeat him 175 to -2 and capture the event title.
 
Pagalayun’s shaky start, from which he failed to recover, followed a semifinal match in which he took aim at a winning shot to pot his 150th ball, and though it dropped, he’d placed so much draw on the cue ball that it rolled back and dropped into a corner pocket, almost literally right under his nose. So instead of winning the semifinal match at the tail end of an 86-ball run, he dropped two points down to 148, as Marco Teutscher stepped up and started a serious run of his own. 
 
Teutscher went on a 79-ball run that gave Pagulayan a lot of nerve-wracking time to think and though Teutscher’s run ended at 127 and Pagulayan returned to the tables to drop the two he needed to advance to the finals, it may have given him pause as he entered the finals. Characteristic of him, as noted above, he showed no signs of it having affected him.
 
Chinakhov’s quarterfinal and semifinal path through to the finals demonstrated why he’s nicknamed The Siberian Express. In his quarterfinal match versus one of the three players who emerged undefeated from the tournament’s round robin phrase, Max Lechner, Lechner sunk 13 balls before Chinakhov stepped to the table and ran 150. Quickly.
 
In the semifinal round, against Albin Ouschan, who’d run out against his quarterfinal opponent, Thorsten Hohmann, Chinakhov emerged from early safety play to run 141. Albin stepped up and dropped 17 before Chinakhov returned and completed the run to 150.
 
The finals drew a crowd, although the table was isolated into a corner of Q Master Billiards’ Tournament Room and only about 15 or so of them were in the bleachers directly in front of the table. The crowd spilled out into the general area, or into an adjacent room, where they glanced through a glass wall to check out the action. Many of them missed the early drama of the opening shot by Pagulayan.
 
He made a legal break, but scratched. This meant that he started the game out at minus-one, and Chinakhov would begin with ball in hand behind the line. Chinakhov, though, asked for a re-break of the rack. Pagulayan expressed doubt that this was the prevailing rule. However, when tour founder, Peter Burrows, was asked, he affirmed it and Pagulayan broke a second time, again, failing to sink a ball, though leaving Chinakhov a shot, from which he launched a run. That run was interrupted once, during which Pagulayan fouled a second time, sinking to -2 on the scoreboard. Chinakhov came back to the table and completed the final run to 175 balls and claimed the event title.
 
Like Thorsten Hohmann, who was eliminated in the quarterfinals, Ruslan Chinakhov had come to Virginia Beach on the heels of two straight tournaments at Steinway Billiards in Queens, NY – The 7th Steinway Classic, a 10-Ball event and the subsequent Grand Masters Division of the NYC 8-Ball Championships. Both of those events were won by Hohmann. Chinakhov figured strongly in the 8-ball event. Defeated by Hohmann in an early round, Chinakhov won seven on the loss side to challenge him a second time in the finals. Unsuccessfully, as it turned out, but the runner-up finish had a way of encouraging the Russian as he made his way south to Virginia.
 
Straight pool is not, he noted, his favorite game, but he was in a ‘good place’ when he arrived.
 
“I like straight pool,” he said, as he decompressed at Q Master’s bar after claiming the straight pool title, “but I don’t like it as a tournament game. I like it as a practice game, because I actually don’t like to sit on a chair for an hour to watch my opponent while he’s on a run.”
 
He is reminded that his time at this year’s 14.1 Straight Pool Championships was not spent that way; that, in fact, it was his opponents who spent their time sitting.
 
“Yeah,” he said, “this time, not, but it’s not always like this.”
 
He’ll be competing at the International 9-Ball Open, about 20 miles west of Q Master Billiards at the Norfolk Waterside Hotel in Norfolk, VA beginning (with a players’ meeting) tomorrow (Sunday, Oct. 27) and continuing until next Saturday. 
 
“I’m in good shape right now,” he said of his aspirations for the upcoming 9-ball tournament. “Finally, during this week, I feel like I found my game. Maybe not even ‘mine,’ maybe even better than mine.”
 
Event founder and Chairman Peter Burrows thanked Q Master owners’ Barry Behrman’s son Brady and daughter Shannon Paschall, as well as general manager Gary Ornoff for their hospitality, as well as director Andy Lincoln, Vice Chairman Michael Frank, and the assistance of Kristine Jagdeo. The list of sponsors took up an entire page of the event program and included Bob Jewett, Billiards Digest and Mike Panozzo, the Derby City Classic’s Straight Pool Challenge, Nick Varner Cues and Cases, J. Pechauer Custom Cues, Predator Cues. Simonis Cloth and Aramith Billiard Balls.
 

Derby City Classic Day Six

John Schmidt (Photo courtesy of Dave Thomson – Mediumpool.com)

Derby City Classic XXI, January 25 – February 2nd, 2019
 
LIVE from the Horseshoe Southern Indiana Casino, Elizabeth IN.
 
DIAMOND DCC ONE POCKET CHAMPIONSHIP
 
410 entrants are now reduced to 24.
 
One Pocket; Chess with Balls.
 
Just like chess, One-Pocket is about knowing the moves. It is, also, said that the “mover” will out-play the shotmaker. As shotmakers have the need to pocket balls, One-Pocket players, “Tie ‘em up, stick ‘em in the stack, leave ‘em stuck.”
 
This strategy, knowingly, exercises patience that, eventually, frustrates the fast and loose shooters into firing at will. Actually, as the trap has been set, it really is firing unwillingly.
 
If you are looking to reinforce the maxim “revenge is sweet,” just ask Skyler Woodward. With a 3 zip result, just like had been administered to him in Banks (twice), he eliminated Billy Thorpe from the One-Pocket division.
 
The result puts Skyler in position to threaten the Master of the Table, or All-Around Champion, $20,000 bonus prize money.
 
Not to worry, Billy is still deep in it, too.
 
The player with the most points accumulated from DCC’s 3 qualifying events, Banks, 1-Pocket, and 9-Ball, will earn the honor.
 
It’s way too early to tell, but, if Skyler, with his 3rd/4th finish in Banks, climbs to there or better in One Pocket, he will challenge Billy’s current dominance with his 120 point advantage for the Bank Pool title.
 
If you thought that must be the match of the day, think again.
 
Opening the action on the Accu-Stats TV table was young Filipino gun, James Aranas in contest with veteran John “MR 400” Schmidt.
 
What unfolded was a stunning come-from-behind performance.
 
They were tied 2-2. In the decider, Aranas took an intentional foul, -1. Not to be outdone, John took 5 intentional fouls!
 
Soon, James, having nabbed a few, was in the plus side with 3. John was still at -5.
 
For those of you in-the-know, John, “Mr 400,” has been vigorously involved playing 14.1. He’s intent on beating Willie Mosconi’s 60+ year record high-run of 526 balls.
 
With the added incentive of a sweet bonus from his sponsor, Easy Street Billiards, Schmidt set up his video camera and went to work. For around 2 weeks John shot century after century and, tho,’ he didn’t out-run Mosconi, he did beat his own recorded 403 record by 31 balls. John has now the highest run on camera with 434!
 
That 14.1 skillset came into play today. At -5, he needed to pocket 13 balls in the same hole to overthrow Aranas.
 
When his onslaught commenced, in around 3 innings, John completely reversed his position and had James on the ropes. Ahead at 5-3, one more turn at the table was all it took to secure the set.
 
John’s “cueball” was exemplary, both in defense and offense. His know-how, compounded with the will to win, has set the standard of the year’s championship.
 
“James played smarter than I thought he did,” John considered after his win. ”How come these young kids know so much about One-Pocket?” 
 
By watching you John; watching you.
 
Lee Vann Corteza wasn’t so much out-moved by  Shane Van Boening as he was out-shot. Referring to the aforementioned Shooter principal, Shane has always been the exception to the rule.
 
His confidence, compounded by experience, knows no bounds. He attacks balls that old school one-holers would consider suicidal. His touch and speed allowed the tight-cut pro pockets to accept balls that, if missed, would surely leave Vann Corteza victorious.
 
Instead, at 3-1, Van Boening moved forward. Lee was delivered to the buyback booth.
 
Francisco Bustamante’s 3-1 over Joshua Filler was, somewhat, expected but Bustey shouldn’t be too confident next year. Scroll down to see Filler’s 14.1 coverage.
 
Players are running more 8 balls and out’s this year than ever. Roberto Gomez, not exactly known as a one-holer from -2, ran 10. Then, another 8, 2-0. Jeremy Jones ran 8, 2-1. Then, they grind until the cold roll stopped Double J’s ball one quarter of a revolution from dropping in the hole. Gomez stole Jeremy’s shape, back-cut it straight in his hole, and it’s 3-1.
 
13 players are still undefeated including, Omar Al Shaheen. With his 100 points as runner-up in Banks, has his eye on the All-Around prize. There’s, also, Justin Bergman, Taiwan’s Kevin Cheng, Corey Deuel, Scott Frost, Thorsten Hohmann. Evan Lunda and,  Alex Pagulayan.
 
One Pocket matches will air on accu-stats.com at NOON. EDT.
 
DIAMOND DCC 9-BALL CHAMPIONSHIP
  
407 entrants; Another DCC attendance record broken!
 
Race to 9. 3 balls, minus those pocketed, must make the kitchen on the break.
 
Johnny Archer was in superlative form as he caught Canada’s John Morra napping. Down 6-0 is certainly a wake-up call but John was so deep in the hole that he couldn’t recover. Scrambling, he mustered a few but, the dominant Archer soon shot Morra beddy-bye. 9-3.
 
Jung-Lin Chang, still on a 10-Ball roll, thought he was on a bar-box. Alex, who’s 168 ball run just missed the 14.1 cut, was in better stroke and managed 7 games.
 
Much more to come.
 
THE DIAMOND STRAIGHT POOL CHALLENGE is streaming at billiardnet.tv!
 
The high-run contest is manned by 14.1 aficionados Dennis Walsh and Bill Maropulis. Bob Jewett, the event creator, continues to support and contribute to the event.
 
Our thanks to Rich Klein for his daily scoring updates.
 
it took only ’til the second day, for Scotsman Jayson Shaw’s 247, two year, DCC high-run reign to be overthrown by Chris Melling, an Englishman. 244 became the number to beat.
 
Fortunately, as the upset to took place on American soil, an international incident was averted.
 
As Wednesday was the closing day for the runs to be tabulated, by early afternoon Bill Maropulis considered, “Even although the standard of play has been exceptional this year. It will take something extraordinary for Chris’ run to be beaten.”
 
Along came Orcollo, a previous tournament winner. Bang, 260!
 
Meanwhile, newly crowned 2018 World 9-Ball Champion Joshua Filler entered the room. Being German, Josh is no stranger to Straight Pool. 14.1 is part of the pool education program. Bang, bang, bang, 285!
 
Now there are 5 runs over 200 in the final 8 who will been drawn for a single elimination play-off to determine the champion.
 
Here are the high-run finalists.
 
Joshua Filler, 285
Dennis Orcollo, 260 
Chris Melling, 244
John Schmidt, 216
Mika Immonen, 201
Shane Van Boening, 198
Lee Vann Corteza, 183
Niels Feijen, 179.
 
This Just In! Here’s a sneak peak at the draw:
 
Filler vs. Feijen
Schmidt vs. Immonen
Melling vs. Van Boening
Orcollo vs. Corteza
 
ONE POCKET HALL OF FAME DINNER
 
Wednesday, 30th, Jan. 6 pm.
 
Diamond Lounge; On the Boat at Horseshoe Southern Indiana Casino, Elizabeth IN.
 
Onepocket.org, under the auspices of Steve Booth, inducted Frost and James Walden.
 
Interestingly, the 2 players honored this year had quite a history together.
 
Road players are always on the hunt for new talent to skulk around with in search of the cash.
 
Walden had observed Frost as a talented kid and was awed by his dedication to learn and his taste for adventure.
 
Away they went. Frost’s forte (still is) was One-Pocket. James excelled in 9-Ball.
 
Exercising rule number 1 of the road, neither exposed their true expertise. Until they lost. Then one would announce, “Try him some.”
 
That’s how it’s done.
 
Scott Frost is now a jubilant member of the the One Pocket Hall of Fame!
 
James Walden has the honorable mention of “Lifetime Pool in Action!”
 
One Pocket Hall of Famer Shannon Daulton emcee’d the evening’s festivities, while fellow members Nick Varner John Brumback and Jeremy Jones entertained the one-hole fans with personal encounters with the honorees.
 
Accu-Stats thanks its Arena Sponsors: Diamond Billiards, Simonis Cloth, Cyclop Balls, Cuetec Cues, Lucasi Custom, MEZZ Cues, McDermott Cues, National Billiard Academy, and Samsara Cues.
 

Dechaine, from the loss side, and Fracasso-Verner split NE 9-Ball Players’ Championships

(l to r): Anthony Petruzelli, Mike Dechaine & Lukas Fracasso-Verner

In the end, it was a battle of generations. Though Mike Dechaine hasn’t got enough years on his resume to be considered a member of any ‘older’ generation (in the vein of Earl Strickland, Nick Varner, or Shannon Daulton, as examples), he has certainly earned the title of veteran player. At 16, Lukas Fracasso-Verner is still young enough to be considered a ‘Junior,’ although he’s been competing against fellow juniors, veterans and the Pros for over three years now.
 
The two met in the finals of the $2,000-added New England 9-Ball Series Players’ Championships. Held on the weekend of March 17-18, the event drew 56 entrants to Yale Billiards in Wallingford, CT. To the surprise of many, although not, apparently, to Dechaine himself, Mike lost his opening match to Lance Lisciotti. This launched a 10-match, loss-side winning streak for Dechaine that allowed him to challenge Fracasso-Verner in the finals. Dechaine took the opening set of the true double elimination final, before he (with a three-hour drive ahead of him) and Fracasso-Verner (more or less in his own backyard), both at that stage with a single loss, opted out of a final match and split the top two prizes.
 
Dechaine’s opening round loss was a 5-6 victory for Lisciotti (as a Pro player, Dechaine was racing to 10). Asked if the loss came as a bit of surprise to him, Dechaine said that it hadn’t.
 
“No,” he said. “Lisciotti is capable of playing well, and he played well.”
 
Later in the tournament, Dechaine had the opportunity for a re-match, and the results were quite different. It should also be noted that in Dechaine’s 10-match, loss-side run, he won just over 89% of the games he played, with an aggregate score of 110-13.
 
As Dechaine began work on the loss side, Fracasso-Verner (an A player) and Anthony Petruzelli (C+) were advancing through their respective upper- and lower-bracket fields for a meetup in the hot seat match. Verner won four to meet Ryan Urso (a B Player) in one winners’ side semifinal, while Petruzelli won his four to face fellow C+ player, Jimmy Gonzalez in the other one. Fracasso-Verner and Petruzelli gave up only two racks between them (one each, to Urso and Gonzalez) to move into the hot seat match. Fracasso-Verner was even stingier in the winners’ side final, giving up none at all to sit in the hot seat.
 
Meanwhile, back at the (loss-side) ranch, Dechaine was mowin’ ‘em down, one by one. Opening loss-side wins of 10-1, 11-1, and 11-3 brought him into the money rounds, where he defeated Bobby Hilton by shutting him out and then, in his re-match against Lisciotti, sent him home 10-2. This set him up to face Urso, coming over from the winners’ side semifinal. Gonzalez’ first opponent on the loss side was Jack Cooper, who’d shut out Ralph Caton in the first money round, and then survived a double hill fight against Darryl Helm (5-5; Helm, as a C+, racing to 6) to reach Gonzalez.
 
Dechaine and Cooper handed Urso and Gonzalez their second straight loss. With Urso racing to 4, Dechaine eliminated him 11-1. Cooper gave up only one to Gonzalez in a 5-1 victory (Gonzalez racing to 6). Dechaine took the quarterfinal match 13-1 over Cooper, and completed his loss-side run with a 12-2 victory over Petruzelli in the semifinals.
The final match actually dropped Dechaine’s winning-game percentage down a notch, from its 89.4% after the semifinals to 88% at the end of the first double-elimination set. Dechaine won it 10-2, and then, in consultation with Fracasso-Verner, opted out of trying to make it two in a row.
 
Tour director Marc Dionne thanked the ownership and staff at Yale Billiards, as well as sponsors Ozone Billiards, Molinari, Bert Kinister, AZBilliards, Inside English, Professor Q-Ball’s National and 3-Cushion News, Delta 13 Racks, MJS Construction, Bob Campbell, Championship Cloth, and OTLVISE Billiard Mechanics of America. The next stop on the New England 9-Ball Series (#20), scheduled for the weekend of March 24-25, will be a $500-added, 8-Ball event, to be hosted by Legends Billiards, in Auburn, ME.

29th Annual BEF Junior Nationals Rolls Ahead in Las Vegas

The most respected, skilled and academically brilliant minded junior cueists from across the United States were just in Vegas competing in an action packed week of billiards. A few miles south of the Vegas strip the Billiard Education Foundation (BEF) had presented and concluded the 29th Annual Junior National 9-Ball Championships. This challenging co-event was held Wednesday-
 
Saturday August 2nd- 5th, 2017, having returned to the family friendly South Point Hotel, Casino & Spa in Las Vegas, Nevada. Showcased at one end of the Billiard Congress of America (BCA) Billiard & Home Leisure Expo was the BEF junior national’s arena. The competition area boasted 20 professional 9-foot Diamond tables. This junior event is the only opportunity for U.S. billiard student-athletes to qualify to compete at the World Pool-Billiard Association (WPA) World Junior 9-Ball Championships being held this year Oct 31st – Nov. 5th, 2017 in Moscow, Russia.
 
On Tuesday, the registration process was in full motion with the noise and bustle of last minute preparations for the tournament and expo grand openings. There, the junior players received BEF sponsor gifts and a 2017 tournament memorabilia shirt. The junior events kicked off that evening with the highly anticipated and popular annual Adult-Youth Scotch Doubles tournament, which gave parents and juniors the chance to showcase their skills for a doubles fun-filled night and prizes. Even the pros were actively seeking to be recruited to fill in and play. BEF Tournament director Earl Munson remarked, “Big grins everywhere. The pros were playing like kids and the kids were playing like pros!” BCA Hall of Famers and multi world champions Nick Varner & Loree Jon Hasson along with Mosconi Team USA and doubles silver medalist in World Cup of Pool, Skyler Woodward & Shane Van Boening joined with the junior players. Former 2002 junior national champion Beau Runningen was eagerly paired and proved he still had game, and fellow 2017 Team USA member Manny Perez matched up as well. Parent’s skill levels ranged in doubles competition from yikes (Where is the instructor quick?), to wow (Did you see that parent play?!). Eventually the fun night ended with all the pros/junior teams converging to the semi-finals. 1st Place was Skyler Woodward & Trenton White, 2nd Place Nick Varner & Justin Toye, 3rd Place Loree Jon Hasson & Xavier Hultze, 4th Place Beau Runningen & Spencer Ladin.
 
Wednesday, the players meeting and group photo opened the 3 pm start of the first five rounds of the 2017 BEF Junior National 9-Ball tournament. This year’s tournament format incorporated the WPA World Junior style of preliminary double elimination brackets qualifying to a seeded single elimination finals bracket. The format also allows for the larger fields sizes, table and time constraints. This year’s field represented: 167 players, ranging from 7 to 18 years of age, from over 30 qualifying events, more than 25 states and including the U.S. Virgin Islands. There were four participating divisions included 18 & Under Boys (18UB), 18 & Under Girls (18UG), 14 & Under Boys (14UB) and 14 & Under Girls (14UG). The divisions played in 64, 64, 32 and 32 double elimination brackets respectively. The top 25% of players from each division then moved to single elimination brackets with the winners seeded and the one-loss players listed by a blind draw. Without a doubt match play all week was exciting and intense as all players vied to make it to their respective finals single-elimination brackets.
 
On Friday night before the finals, the packed banquet night was held. The banquet comfortably seated all juniors, family members, pros, sponsors, and BEF staff and volunteers to enjoy a great meal, laughs, heartfelt speeches, recognitions, remembrance, awards and honors.
 
Each year players are nominated by their peers at the junior nationals to recognize sportsmanship on and off the table. This special award is in remembrance and recognition of one of BEF’s alumni’s, Brendan Crockett, who was more than just a talented young player taken early from life. Brendan grew from an eager teen-ager to an intelligent, charming gentleman with true character and humility. His humor, willingness to work hard and ability to lead have been an important part of our programs. The 2017 Brendan Crockett Character Award Recipients were: Eric Roberts from Crossville, Tennessee and Eliana Rodriguez from Brooklyn, New York.
 
The Special Guest Speaker at the banquet this year was “The Colonel”, Nick Varner. He humorously recounted his junior moments in the game and he jokingly had some great advice to share. “If you bet twice as much, you will learn twice as fast.” Varner has long been an enthusiastic supporter of the juniors and also stated, “This event is amazing and a great showcase of our (nations) top junior players”.
 
Newly inducted 2017 BCA Hall of Famer Tom “Dr. Cue” Rossman also made his 24th appearance at the junior nationals. Dr. Cue, presented the 2017 Artistic Pool awards to this year’s champions, Timmy Bly (Bettendorf, IA), Michelle Jiang (Harvard, MA), Joey Tate Raleigh, NC) and Lana Keith (Dyersburg, TN).
 
The banquet night again amassed much of the junior field with the coveted title of “Academic All American” (AAA) when awards were presented. Of the entire 167 player field, an incredible 45% of this year’s participants (75 players!) earned school GPA’s of 3.5 and 31.6% of the AAA field earned 4.0 GPA’s, to receive recognition! The sport of billiards is definitely attracting, developing, and maintaining academic excellence! The banquet concluded with words of optimism and change from longtime BEF Trustee Tom Riccobene, “Each of us can take home what we have learned here this week and share with the people we love and meet. You’re all champions and we are honored to learn from you”, Riccobene said.
 
The finals play for all divisions was held on Saturday Aug. 5th. In an effort to stay more aligned with the WPA World event, the BEF awarded Gold, Silver and Bronze medals to the top four finishers of each division.
 
All medalists in the 18UB & 18UG divisions along with the gold and silver medalists from the 14UG & 14UB divisions have been nominated for the 2017 WPA World Junior 9-Ball Championships October 31st to November 5th in Moscow, Russia.
 
This junior national was a year of competitive upsets. A trio of past back-to-back champions made up of Nathan Childress (14UB from North Chesterfield, VA), April “The Grinder” Larson (18UG from Bloomington, MN), and Ashley Fullerton (14UG from Lake Park, MN) all sought to become three-peat champions but fell short and all new gold medalists emerged.
 
Larson drew a bye sliding her to the winner side where she then matched up and defeated Katelin Ballou and then Abigail Reese to move her to the 18UG finals 8 bracket. In the semifinals match April was determined to move on but rival Michelle Jiang from Harvard, MA ended her bid to claim her 3rd straight 18UG’s title earning Larson a bronze medal instead for her effort. Gracie Davis from Decatur, IL with her great play also joined Larson for the bronze. Jiang battled it out in the 18UG finals match against Alex Booth from Mount Ayr, IA with Jiang excitedly getting her first 18UG gold medal win with Booth taking the very respectable silver. Jiang has been playing very strong the last few months with her now qualifying for her 4th Junior Worlds. Jiang will head to Moscow, Russia with her fellow Team USA members on Oct 31st, 2017.
 
In the 14UG division it was also a battle to maintain the championship reign, as the 2016 14UG Champion Fullerton from Lake Park, MN tried but failed to make the 14UG’s final bracket losing her first match to Tatum Cutting from Diamond, OH and her second to Vivian Liu from Harvard, MA. Liu and Cutting would eventually become opponents in the bronze medal round where Liu moved on leaving Cutting with the bronze. Gracie Davis from Decatur, IL matched up with Savanna Wolford from Troutville, VA in the other half of the semis with Davis also getting the bronze and earning Wolford a match up with Liu in the finals. The 14UG finals match played at 11am on Saturday spotlighted the two young quiet and upcoming players in Liu and Wolford. Both played well with Liu edging out the win with her first gold medal and Wolford proudly taking home the silver.
 
The title of 18UB champion was newly earned this year by Austin Summers from Metropolis, IL. Summers started out strong winning his first two matches only to come up short against Graham Swinson to earn a spot on the final 16 bracket winner seeded position. Needing only a single match win on the one loss side gave Summer’s his spot on the Final 16 single elimination 18UB bracket. Taking down Lukas Fracasso-Verner in a rescheduled reprieve match due to a disqualification sent Summer’s to play Ricky Evans in the semifinals. Evans from St. Peters, MO was last year’s 18UB champion but Evans struggled to keep Summer’s from finally advancing to gold earning Evans the bronze medal this year. Summers traded wins with Kaiden Hunkins from Waukesha, WI until the match was over with Austin Summers winning gold and Hunkins taking the silver medal for being runner-up in this year’s 18UB division. Thomas Haas from Lancaster, PA also took the bronze medal losing in the semifinals to Hunkins.
 
As always the 14UB’s is a very competitive division with high levels of play even for that age. As in the 18UG and 14UG, defending national champion Nathan Childress from North Chesterfield, VA was chasing his third consecutive championship. But Childress ran into a wall this year from a veteran BEF tournament player from Crossville, TN named Eric Roberts. Roberts knocked the defending champion, in a resounding statement of 6-0, to the one loss side where they would again meet up on the blind draw of the 14UB finals bracket. Again Roberts took Childress out this time for good with another convincing 6-2 win. Roberts would go on to win again in the quarterfinals against Jayden Liu from Harvard, MA only to eventually lose to Joey Tate from Lake Villa, IL in the semifinals earning Roberts his first medal ever with the Bronze. The very skilled Gabriel Martinez from New Braunfels, TX also earned a bronze medal after Joshua Shultz from Stedman, NC defeated him. Shultz earned a finals match with Joey Tate. Tate with 2X Junior Worlds experience under his belt was at an advantage in the high- pressure match for the gold with Shultz. After the last 9-ball was pocketed for the match wins the entire five-players strong Tate family, applauded with joy as their brother was crowned the BEF 2017 14UB Gold Medal Champion and Shultz as runner-up Silver Medalist.
 
The future is very bright for our BEF junior program members as there are now more than ever before, so many high level competitive opportunities at the local, state, national, and international level.
 
Gold Medals:
 
18UB Austin Summers, (Metropolis, IL)
 
18UG Michelle Jiang, (Harvard, MA)
 
14UB Joey Tate, (Lake Villa, IL)
 
14UG Vivian Liu, (Harvard, MA)
 
Silver Medals:
 
18UB Kaiden Hunkins, (Waukesha, WI)
 
18UG Alex Booth, (Mount Ayr, IA)
 
14UB Joshua Shultz, (Stedman, NC)
 
14UG Savanna Wolford, (Troutville, VA)
 
Bronze Medals:
 
18UB Thomas Haas, (Lancaster, PA) and Ricky Evans, (St Peters, MO)
 
18UG Hailey Fullerton, (Lake Park, MN) and April Larson, (Bloomington, MN)
 
14UB Eric Roberts, (Crossville, TN) and Gabriel Martinez, (New Braunfels, TX)
 
14UG Tatum Cutting, (Diamond, OH) and Gracie Davis, (Decatur, IL)
 
The Billiard Education Foundation proudly recognizes the industry leaders who helped make this year’s event possible.
 
Event Sponsors: Billiard Congress of America. Diamond Billiard Products, TLP Billiards, Simonis, Aramith, Ultimate Team Gear, Jacoby Cues, On the Wire Creative Media, Pechaur Cue, ACS, Champion, Valley, Dynamo, Connelly, FCI Billiards, McDermott, Predator, OB Cues, DigiCue, Presidential Billiards, West State Billiards, OGB Millwork, Professional Billiards Instructor Association, Master Chalk, Tiger, Presidential Billiards Pool & Billiard Magazine, Professor Q Ball, Billiards Digest, AzBilliards.com, Dr. Cue, Billiard University, Dave Alciatore, Bob Jewett, Brett Lewis, Jay Helfert, Jeremiah Gage and Tom Riccobene.
 
The BEF gives special thanks to all the individuals who gave countless hours throughout the year to help make this event possible: Samm Diep-Vidal, Tom Riccobene (BEF Treasurer), Jeremiah Gage (BEF Secretary), Shari Stauch (BEF President), Tammy Jo Leonard (BEF Assistant National Director), Earl Munson (BEF Tournament Director) received the 2017 BCA Presidents Award, Rick Doner (BEF Head Referee), Justin Ballou (Assistant Head Referee), Ed Smith (Referee), Ed Stephens (Referee), Angela Williams (Referee), Dennis & Doris Stotler (Referees), Jim Ladin (Volunteer/Donor), Corey and Trena Wolford, Stephanie Shaw (Volunteer), Steve Strange(volunteer), congratulations to the new 2017 BCA Hall-of-Famer “Dr. Cue” Tom Rossman (Junior Artistic Pool Championship Director), Nick Varner (Pro Guest Speaker), Ra Hanna & Beau Runningen for providing live streaming/scoring/brackets through On The Wire Creative Media and pro commentary by Loree Jon Hasson and Max Eberle, Brian Glasgow and his professional team, all the staff at South Point and a huge thanks to BCA’s Rob Johnson, Chance Pack, and Shane Tyree for all their help and support, and to all the parents and juniors who are so dedicated to the sport we give a hearty thank you and we will see you next year in New Orleans.

8-Ball Takes Center Stage With The World Pool Series

Darren Appleton

Jayson Shaw is the hot favorite as the sport’s newest pool tour gets ready to kick off in New York City.

 

(New York City)–It’s common at big international pool tournaments wherever the greats of the game come together, that a buzz of anticipation courses through the hotel lobby or the arena where the players gather the day before at the players meeting. But at Steinway Billiards in the Astoria, Queens section of New York City on Friday night, that buzz had some noticeable extra juice to it.

 
That’s because the newly formed World Pool Series, a four event tour that begins Saturday and will play out over the course of 2017, seems to have all the ingredients to finally offer long suffering professional pool players something they haven’t had in a long time; a player centric tour with a solid plan for growth. The fact that it’s all been put together by one of the game’s greatest and most respected players, England’s Darren Appleton, has surely boosted players’ belief that this tour will be a major part of their future as players.
 
The first event of the new 8-ball tour, The Molinari Players Championship, kicks off at Steinway Billiards in New York City on January 14 and concludes on Jan. 17.  119 players from 35 countries will be slugging it out in 8-ball for over $100,000 in prize money. The winner will collect $20,000.
 
The next three events, The Aramith Masters Championship, The RYO Rack Classic Championship, and the Predator World Series Championship, tentatively also scheduled to be held at Steinway, will be held in April, July and September respectively, with the final event being billed as the Grand Finale. The total prize fund for the four events will be around $425,000 with $85,000 of that being added money.
 
The WPS is organized as a tour, with rankings points from earlier events carrying over to later events and determining entrants and seeding’s, and even who qualifies for the following year’s tour.
 
It’s no surprise that the betting favorite coming into the Molinari Players Championship is Scotland’s Jayson Shaw. Shaw lit up the pool world in 2016 and began 2017 right where he left off by taking the Turning Stone Classic last week.  Shaw lives only one hour away from New York in Connecticut and is brimming with confidence. The fact that English 8-ball is the Scotsman’s original cue game should serve notice to the rest of the field.
 
With its offensive nature, 8-ball can be highly unpredictable, however, especially at the pro level. A look at the talent gathered today at Steinway represented a who’s who of pool’s greats. Amongst the sea of players were world champions Ralf Souquet, Johnny Archer, Earl Strickland, Thorsten Hohmann, Mika Immonen, Karl Boyes, Alex Pagulayan, Francisco Bustamante and Dennis Orcollo.  A sizeable contingent came all the way from Australia. All of the big names from Europe made the trek, as did a handful of the always tough Filipinos.
 
The tournament will be played in a single elimination format with rounds 1 to 3 being race to 13 alternate break. The quarters and semis will be race to 15, winner breaks, while the final will be race to 16, winner breaks.
 
No matter what happens over the next four days at Steinway, everyone in attendance today was in agreement that this was just the beginning of something very positive for the sport, a tour that can grow and provide regular playing and earning opportunities for the game’s long suffering players. And there was one man everyone wanted to talk about.
 
“Darren is doing this for the players,” Shaw said.” He’s a player himself, so he knows what the players need and the players want, and how to get good sponsors and good prize money in there. He also listens to what the players want, the rules, the right game. I think it’s a good step forward and it’s going to put pool in the right direction.”
 
Hall of famer and pool legend Nick Varner, who will be doing commentary for the live stream of the WPS, believes one of the tour’s strength’s is the tours commitment to showcase  8-ball. And, of course, the fact that Appleton has been the main man pushing the tour forward.
 
“For most people, when you say 8-ball, that means pool,” Varner said. “There’s a lot of strength in that. The public can relate to 8-ball. In the United States you have leagues across the country. You’ve hundreds of thousands, if not millions playing in their local locations every week in an organized league and they mostly play 8-ball.
 
“I’m really excited about this event and tour. Darren is the driving force. I think from his travels around the world and his performances he can get a lot of people’s attention. He does have a great personality and people like him. That opens a lot of doors for him.
 
“Darren has worked really hard and it looks like he’s put together strong sponsorship.  And that’s what it’s going to take. That’s the bridge we’ve never been able to cross in pool, corporate sponsorship. We’re always limited. The purses are mostly made up of player entry fees. We are limited on how high the prize money can really get. And we rely so much on sponsorship from our industry and they can only do so much. We’ve got to get sponsors that the other sports get. If he can be successful in these four events, he can have a good platform to build from.”
 
Manny Stamatakis, the owner of Steinway and a partner of Appleton’s in the WPS, concurred with Varner.
 
“I’m very excited to be working with Darren,” Stamatakis said. “What he understands is that you have to throw money out of the window, in order for it to come back in. That’s what we’re doing. We are not here to make a profit. One day we will, but as of now, it’s all for the love of the game and try to build something beautiful.
 
The sponsors like the vision of it, that it’s four events and it’s just going to grow. It builds, there’s qualifiers. It’s something that is ongoing all year long. These things are what makes this tournament great. There’s not that many events out there that you can play for $20,000 first prize. And that’s just a start.
 
“If it wasn’t for Darren it never would have happened. His reputation is amazing. He’s probably the most loved player in the game. The guy is pure class. The players are going to love it, and that’s the bottom line.
 
*The first event of the World Pool Series, The Molinari Players Championship, takes place at Steinway Billiards in Astoria, Queens, New York City from January 14-17, 2017. The World Pool Series is sponsored by Molinari, Predator, Cheqio, RYO Rack, Aramith, Iwan Simonis, Kamui, Billiards Digest, Ultimate Team Gear, and High Rock.
 
For more information on the live stream, please visit the official website of the World Pool Series at http://www.worldpoolseries.com/
 
Complete online brackets and live scoring can be found here:  https://cuescore.com/tournament/WPS+1st+series+-+Molinari+Players+Championship/1286018
 
The World Pool Series is on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/worldpoolseries/

Jayson Shaw Takes Ownership of Turning Stone

Jayson Shaw

Jayson Shaw has just won the Turning Stone Classic for the fifth time in the last six attempts. We call that domination. And we call Jayson Shaw a player. Rarely do fans get to witness a player who is so hot. We saw it in Greenleaf and Mosconi back in their day, and more recently we saw it with Mike Sigel, Nick Varner, Johnny Archer and  Earl Strickland and most recently with Shane Van Boening (whose streak is coincident to Shaw’s.)  All of these players went through stages where they seemed to win everything they entered. And now we are seeing it with Jayson Shaw. The only question that remains is for how long he will be able to maintain this high level. Some burn out on it, others prosper in the heat.

Shaw defeated Rodney Morris in the finals of Turning Stone13-6. Rodney made a late comeback after trailing 7-1 but this one was in Shaw’s control the whole way. and with the exception of Shaw, Rodney Morris had a very good week. He defeated the likes of Dennis Hatch (9-7)  and Amar Kang (9-4). He then lost the hot seat match to Shaw (9-3) and that sent him way left to take down Dennis Hatch with a convincing 9-3.  

Then he had to go face Shaw again in the finals and that just didn’t work out well at all. Shaw jumped out to a large early lead and while Rodney fought back gallantly he just had too much road to get there by darkness and Shaw seated him in second place 13-6.

See more detailed coverage of this event in the upcoming Billiards Buzz.

Archer Survives Klatt to Take Chattanooga 8-Ball

Johnny Archer

Johnny Archer has won the inaugural Tennessee State 8-Ball Open held at Phil Windham’s Chattanooga Billiard Club. This was a true double-elimination final TD’d by Steve McDonald and Archer had a tough and determined Jason Klatt to overcome in an effort that required both available sets in the finals.

When the last eight players came in to work on Sunday the winner’s side of the charts was still populated by Johnny Archer, Robb Saez, Jeremy Jones, and Jason Klatt. The four representatives from the one-loss side were Ramil Gallego, Antonio Lining, Eric Durbin and Nick Varner.

All four tables were gong at once and two of the players from the one-loss side would be eliminated in this round. Both of these matches were close. Ramil Gallego defeated traveling partner Antonio Lining on the hill at 6-5. Then Eric Durbin ended the run of Nick Varner as he controlled the later stage of the match to win 6-4.

Our winner’s side matches found Johnny Archer besting Robb Saez 6-4 and Jeremy Jones missing nothing as he beat a newly more deliberate Jason Klatt 6-3. Klatt has noticeably slowed his pace but one cannot argue with the results he is getting. He is shooting extremely well as his finish here this week demonstrates.

Our 2:30 round featured the two one-loss matches that would drop our field to only four players. Robb Saez maintained both his table skills and his composure as he cooly won the case game to send Gallego home 6-5. Jason Klatt gave Eric Durbin little air or wiggle room and sent Durbin to the stands with a 6-2.

On the winner’s side we still had both Jeremy Jones and Johnny Archer. In this match Archer found a sure-fire way to beat Jeremy Jones – don’t let him to the table. Archer dominated with run outs and total control so complete that he beat his good friend 6-1 to claim the Hot Seat.

Now only Jones and Klatt were left to threaten Archer. They did battle in our Semi-Finals and gave us yet another epic hill-hill match. Klatt came out on top 6-5 and Jones was resigned to third place.

As mentioned, the finals between Archer and Klatt were true double-elimination. Klatt would have to beat Archer twice in order to win.  The first set saw Klatt go out to a two rack lead at 2-0 only to have Archer win the next two to tie us up. The real difference in this set was the break. Klatt was making balls and shooting while suffering only a single dry break in the entire match while Archer was dry on three of his first four attempts, turning the table over each time. Klatt played cautiously and made no fatal errors. He forced a second set with a double-hill 6-5 win over Archer.

The final set found better breaks from Archer with the exception of a single scratch in rack four. Klatt won the first rack but then Archer won four games in a row. Klatt was unfazed. He just replied by winning the next four racks to take the lead in the match 5-4 and stand on the hill. Archer never flinched. He just went to work, won the next two racks and claimed the Championship.

See more details in the upcoming Billiards Buzz.