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Caesar double dips Fracasso-Verner to capture NE 9-Ball Series’ 2020 Winter Classic

(l to r): Lukas Fracasso-Verner, TD Marc Dionne, Josh Caesar & Ryan Lineham

Until this past weekend (Jan. 25-26), Josh Caesar had cashed in exactly five events on the New England 9-Ball Series. His name started cropping on our database (generally indicative of cash winnings) in January of 2018, when he finished 9th in that year’s Winter Classic. He cashed in only one other event that year (that we know about), the 2018 Tour Championship in September. Last year, he cashed in three of the tour’s events, winning one of them in February and tripling his recorded cash earnings from the year before.
 
In the finals of this year’s Winter Classic, held this past weekend, Caesar faced an opponent who’d cashed in three times as many events as he (Caesar) did last year and earned nearly six times as much money. Lukas Fracasso-Verner had won two stops on last year’s tour, was runner-up in the Player’s Championship and overall, had cashed in seven tour events. He’d also won the Predator Pro Am Tour’s Empire State Championship and was third at the Ocean State 9-Ball Championship, held under the auspices of the Joss NE 9-Ball Tour. All in all a prodigious resume for a player with somewhat limited experience to be facing in the finals of an event.
 
Caesar faced Fracasso-Verner three times in this event; battling for the hot seat and twice in the finals. He took the last two of those three to claim the 2020 Winter Classic title. The $2,000-added Winter Classic drew 127 entrants (15 more than it did last year) to Snooker’s in Providence, RI.
 
Working initially from the lower (FargoRate) bracket, Caesar opened his trek to the hot seat match with three, straight-up races to 5 in which he defeated Matt Caissie 5-2, shut out Mike Zingarella and sent Dennis Boucher to the loss side 5-3. He then downed three straight opponents, double hill, to get into that hot seat match – Kyle King, Phil Walton, and in the winners’ side semifinal, Bob Campbell. Fracasso-Verner, in the meantime, got by Billy Lanna 6-3, Jay Duffin 8-2, Beau Powers 6-2 and then, like Caesar, won two straight double hill matches against Kerry McAuliffe and Roarke Dickson to get into his winners’ side semifinal against Derrick Cunningham. Unlike Caesar, though, Fracasso-Verner shut Cunningham out in his winners’ side semifinal, and then, claimed the hot seat 8-2 over Caesar, who was racing to 4.
 
On the loss side, which was still featuring separated upper and lower bracket matches, Cunningham drew RYan Lineham, who’d eliminated Roarke Dickson 5-2 and Chad Avallone 6-1 to reach him. Campbell picked up Scott Reynolds, who’d recently defeated Ed Cortney, double hill and Philip Walton 4-2. Lineham and Reynolds advanced to the quarterfinals, after handing Cunningham and Campbell their second straight loss; Lineham 5-1 over Cunningham and Reynolds, shutting out Campbell.
 
Lineham, who battled and defeated Fracasso-Verner in the finals of a Second Chance 10-Ball event at last year’s Classic, was in the midst of a six-match, loss-side winning streak that he no doubt assumed would give him a shot at Fracasso-Verner in the hot seat and potentially, the 2020 Winter Classic title. He won his sixth loss-side match in the quarterfinals, surviving a double hill battle against Reynolds, but the much-lower-handicapped Caesar ended the streak 4-2 in the semifinals (Reynolds racing to 8).
 
Caesar started and would play the true double elimination final with four ‘beads on the wire’ in a race to 8. He chalked up his first four racks while holding Fracasso-Verner to two and claimed the opening set. Fracasso-Verner put up a hell of a fight in the second set, forcing an 11th and deciding game. Caesar won it to claim his second NE 9-Ball Series title and his first Winter Classic.
 
Tour director Marc Dionne thanked the ownership and staff at Snooker’s, as well as title sponsor Predator Cues, BCAPL, USAPL New England, Fargo Rate, Bert Kinister, AZBilliards, Inside English, Professor Q-ball’s National Pool and 3-Cushion News, Delta 13 Racks, MJS Construction, Bob Campbell with Lease Fundings, Master Billiards, OTLVISE Billiard Mechanics of America and Piku Tips. The next stop on the New England 9-Ball Series (#13), scheduled for Feb. 15-16, will be the $1,000-added Mark Young Memorial, hosted by Straight Shooters in Fall River, MA.

D’Alfonso and Ruzzano split top prizes on New England 9-Ball Series stop in Fall River, MA

Adam Blair, Tom D’Alfonso & Mark Ruzzano

It’s rare on the New England 9-Ball Series, but splits of the top prizes do happen. Case in point:  Stop #7 (2019-2020), hosted by Straight Shooters’ Family Billiards in Fall River, MA on Saturday, November 23. Tom D’Alfonso and Mark Ruzzano battled in the hot seat and were scheduled to meet again in the finals. They allowed their hot seat result to stand as the definitive answer to ‘who won,’ split the top two prizes, and left the undefeated D’Alfonso as the official winner. The $500-added event drew 48 entrants to Straight Shooters.

D’Alfonso was far and away the highest FargoRated player at the tables on this particular day. At 737, he was 102 points ahead of the next highest-ranked player in the field; Dennis Levesque at 635 and he didn’t play against him. In his six matches (to include Ruzzano twice), he faced an opponent-average FargoRate of 552.8. His highest-ranked opponent through six matches was Roarke Dickson (588) in a winners’ side quarterfinal, in which Dickson was awarded ‘four beads on the wire’ in a race to 8 and only added two, for an 8-2 actual score, or 8-6 handicap victory for D’Alfonso.

D’Alfonso advanced to face Antero Tavares (560) in one of the overall winners’ side semifinals (the tour keeps upper and lower rated players separated in the early matches). Mark Ruzzano, in the meantime, squared off against Adam Blair (505). D’Alfonso moved on to the hot seat (and what proved to be his final) match with his only double hill win of the day, 8-3, arriving at the hot seat match having given up only six racks through 39 games. Ruzzano, in a straight-up race to 5 sent Blair to the loss side 5-1. D’Alfonso claimed the hot seat 9-2.

On the loss side, two long loss-side streaks were about to come to an end. Tavares picked up Jim Prather, who, in the lower bracket, had been defeated in the opening round by Mark Ransom and was in the midst of a seven-match, loss-side winning streak that would take him as far as the overall quarterfinals. Along the way, he’d wreaked his vengeance on Ransom with a double hill win that left Ransom in the tie for 13th. Prather then downed Roarke Dickson and Matthew Rezendes, both 5-1, to meet Tavares.

Blair drew Mourad Idrais, who’d also been defeated in the event’s opening round (he was shut out by Mike Negrelli) and was on his own six-match, loss-side winning streak that was about to end. He’d recently defeated Souheil Muraby, double hill, and in a serious ‘vengeance is sweet’ scenario, returned the shut out ‘favor’ to Negrelli to meet Blair.

Prather downed Tavares, double hill (5-3) and in the quarterfinals, faced Blair, who’d ended Idrais’ loss-side streak 4-2. Blair then ended Prather’s run 4-2 (Prather racing to 6).

In a straight-up, race-to-5 semifinal, which proved to be the final match of the night, Ruzzano ended Blair’s short loss-side visit 5-3. He and D’Alfonso opted out of the final and as the undefeated occupant of the hot seat, D’Alfonso claimed the official event title.

Tour director Marc Dionne thanked the ownership and staff at Straight Shooters, as well as sponsors Predator Cues, BCAPL, USAPL New England, Fargo Rate, Bert Kinister, AZBilliards, Inside English, Professor Q-ball’s National Pool and 3-Cushion News, Delta 13 Racks, MJS Construction, Bob Campbell with Lease Fundings, Master Billiards and OTLVISE Billiard Mechanics of America. The next stop on the New England 9-Ball Series, scheduled for Thanksgiving weekend (November 30 – December 1), will be a $1,000-added event, hosted by Legends Billiards in Auburn, ME.

Dinh returns from semifinals to down Deocharran in Eastern States Amateur Championships

Quoc Dinh, Tim Strunk, Tim Perry and Troy Deocharran

A double hill hot seat match sent Quoc Dinh to the semifinals of the 3rd Annual Eastern States Amateur Championships, held on the weekend of August 13-14. Dinh returned to face and eventually defeat Troy Deocharran in the finals. The $1,000-added Amateur event, held under the auspices of the Predator Tour, The Ride the 9 Tour and the New England 9-Ball Series, drew 76 entrants to Snookers, in Providence, RI. A concurrently-run Open/Pro event, won by Jayson Shaw (separate story), drew 31 entrants to the same location.
 
Deocharran and Dinh had a relatively easy time in their respective winners' side semifinal matches; Deocharran sending John Francisco to the loss side 7-2, as Dinh was sending Tim Perry over, 7-3. Their first meeting was a double hill affair, eventually won by Deocharran, who sat in the hot seat awaiting Dinh's fateful return.
 
On the loss side, Francisco picked up Tim Strunk, who'd been sent to the loss side by Mike Demarco, and was in the midst of a six-match, loss-side run that would take him all the way to the semifinals. Wins #3 and #4 came against Dan Martis (7-4) and Roarke Dickson (double hill), which set Strunk up to face Francisco. Perry drew John Ortiz, who'd eliminated Richard Senna 7-4 and Dan Faraguna 7-3.
 
Strunk chalked up a second straight double hill win, advancing to the quarterfinals over Francisco. He was joined by Perry, who'd eliminated Ortiz 7-4. Strunk won his last match, defeating Perry 9-4 in those quarterfinals.
 
Dinh stopped Strunk's loss-side run 9-4 in the semifinals, for a second shot against Deocharran in the hot seat. Dinh used some semifinal momentum to defeat Deocharran in the finals 9-5. 
 

Pavao goes undefeated on J. Pechauer Ride the 9 Tour

Ty Speedwell took Danny Pavao to double hill twice, but Pavao came out on top both times to claim the May 19 stop on the J. Pechauer Ride the 9 Tour. The $1,000-added event drew 27 entrants to Bo's Billiards in Warwick, RI.

 
They met first among the winners' side final four, with Pavao sending Speedwell west in their first of two double hill matches. Bill Cote defeated Bill O'Mara double hill, as well, to meet Pavao in the hot seat match. Pavao claimed the hot seat from Cote 5-1 and waited on Speedwell's return.
 
Speedwell moved over and picked up Tim Perry, who'd defeated Ranulf Tamba in a double hill match, and Kerry McAuliffe 5-2. O'Mara drew Choneyi Tenzin, who'd gotten by Charles Matarazzo 8-2 (Matarazzo racing to 4), and Roarke Dickson 6-1. Speedwell embarked on his three-match march back to the finals with a 5-2 win over Perry, as Tenzin was busy shutting out O'Mara.
 
The tour veteran quarterfinal went double hill before Speedwell prevailed to face Bill Cote. Speedwell shut Cote out in the semifinals for a second chance against Pavao. Pavao and Speedwell locked up in their second double hill match, and Pavao prevailed again to claim the event title.
 

Bauccio goes undefeated to take J. Pechauer Ride the 9 Tour stop in RI

Kevin Bauccio chalked up his first 2012 event victory with an undefeated showing at the J. Pechauer Ride the 9 Tour stop on Sunday, March 11. The event drew 28 entrants to Bo’s Billiards in Warwick, RI.

From among the winners’ side final four, Bauccio faced Bill Bassi, as his eventual finals opponents, Scott Reynolds, squared off against Roarke Dickson. Bauccio sent Bassi west 6-3, and got into the hot seat match against Dickson, who’d defeated Reynolds 5-4. Bauccio got into the hot seat with a 5-4 victory over Dickson, and waited for Reynolds to complete a three-match streak on the loss side to meet him in the finals.

First up for Reynolds on the loss side was Ty Speedwell, who’d defeated Tony Ruzzano 5-4 and Jeff Darosa 6-3 to reach him. Bassi drew Tim Hoffacker, who’d gotten by Jamie Forcier 4-2 and Bob Mills 4-3. Reynolds dropped Speedwell into the tie for fifth place with a handicapped 5-5 win, and in the quarterfinals, met Hoffacker, who’d ended Bassi’s tournament bid 4-2.

Reynolds then defeated Hoffacker 5-3, to pick up a re-match versus Dickson in the semifinals. He gave up only a single rack against Dickson and moved into the finals against Bauccio. Bauccio gave up only two against Reynolds, completing his undefeated day with a 5-2 win.

Tour director Gloria Magnano thanked the owners and staff at Bo’s Billiards for their hospitality, as well as sponsors J. Pechauer Custom Cues, Cueshark, Mueller’s, Magic Rack (CSI), Narragansett Beer and 9-Ball (The Movie). Next stop on the J. Pechauer Ride the 9 Tour, a $600-added event, is scheduled for April 22 at Snooker’s in Providence, RI. According to Magnano, nearly a third of the field has already registered for this event, and she recommends that interested players should communicate with her (gloriajean71@verizon.net) to assure a spot. 

Dupuis picks up last-minute win on J. Pechauer Ride the 9 Tour stop in RI

With a mandatory closing time creeping up on them during the latest stop on the J. Pechauer Ride the 9 Tour, on Sunday, January 15, Joey Dupuis and Nelson Oliviera played a quick, race-to-2 second set that handed Oliviera his second defeat and earned Dupuis the tournament title. The event drew 49 entrants to Bo’s Billiards in Warwick, RI.

From among the winners’ side final four, Dupuis sent Bill Roberge west with a 7-2 victory, as Danny Pavao was busy shutting out Steven Kang. Dupuis moved into the hot seat with a shutout over Pavao, and waited for Oliviera’s return.

Oliviera, in the meantime, was in the midst of an eight-game, loss-side winning streak that would get him back to the finals. With three in his rearview mirror, he defeated Roarke Dickson 5-1, and Ray Marotto 5-3, to pick up Roberge. Kang drew Richie Britt, who’d gotten by Jeff DeRosa 6-2 and Stacie Bourbeau 6-1. Oliviera downed Roberge 7-3, and was joined in the quarterfinals by Britt who’d eliminated Kang 5-3. 

Oliviera dropped Britt into fourth place 5-2 and then shut out Pavao 6-0 in the semifinals. He took the opening set of what was to have been a true double elimination final 5-3. In light of an approaching closing time, the race-to-2 second set was devised and Dupuis won both games to secure the event title.

Tour representatives thanked Bo’s Billiards’ owners Joshua and Steve Soulliere for their continued hospitality over four years of association with the tour. They also thanked sponsors J. Pechauer, CueShark, Magic Rack (CSI) and Narragansett Beer. Next stop on the J. Pechaeur Ride the 9 Tour will be a $700-added event, scheduled for February 12 at Snookers in Providence, RI.

Kaulenas stops loss-side run by Gormley to win J. Pechauer Ride the 9 stop

Joe Kaulenas went undefeated on the J. Pechauer Ride the 9 Tour stop on Sunday, December 11, and stopped a seven-match, loss-side winning streak by Josh Gormley to do it.  The $1,000-added event drew 63 entrants to Rhode Island Billiards Bar & Bistro in Providence, RI. 

From among the winners’  side final four, Kaulenas defeated Paul Torri 3-3 (Torri needing to reach four games), as his eventual hot seat opponent, Roarke Dickson, was sending Ian McKelvey to the loss side 4-1. Kaulenas got into the hot seat on the heels of a second 3-3 victory, with his opponent (Dickson) needing to reach four games.  

Over on the loss-side, Kaulenas’ eventual opponent in the finals, Gormley, was in the midst of his seven-match winning streak. Following his third and fourth win, against Tim Perry and Cleiton Rocha, he squared off against the man who’d sent him to the loss side, McKelvey. Torri drew Dave Gavrish, who, like Gormley, had been sent west by McKelvey, and then defeated Mike Minichello and Rob Piersa

Every match from that point through the single set of the finals turned into a double hill battle. Gormley wreaked his vengeance on McKelvey that way, and in the quarterfinals, faced Gavrish, who’d eliminated Torri that way, as well. Gormley took his last hurdle into the finals with his third straight, double hill win. 

Gormley engaged in his fourth double hill battle in the opening set of the finals. His seven-match winning streak ended there, with Kaulenas’ third straight, 3-3 victory to capture the event title. 

Tour director Gloria Magnano thanked Rhode Island Billiards Bar & Bistro owner, Anthony Costanzo, for his hospitality and money-added to the prize pool. Cleiton Rocha was the raffle winner of a J. Pechauer Cue, valued at $500.