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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.

Morganelli goes undefeated through field of 112 to win NE 9-Ball Series Winter Classic

(l to r): Clyde Matta, Dave Morganelli & Robert Piersa

Lineham wins second-tier 10-ball event
There were two distinctly different events at the 12th stop on the New England 9-Ball Series; its annual Winter Classic held on the weekend of January 26-27 and hosted by Snooker’s in Providence, RI. The main event was a $2,000-added 9-ball tournament that was traditionally handicapped with the use of FargoRates to determine the matches and drew 112 entrants. There was also a $500-added, non-handicapped 10-ball tournament with 21 entrants, which was billed as something of a Second Chance event, but offered $1,570 worth of cash prizes for the top four finishers.
Dave Morganelli went undefeated through the field of 112 to take the 9-ball event, downing Rob Piersa twice. RYan Lineham did likewise through the shorter-field 10-ball tournament, defeating Corey Avallone in the hot seat match and Lukas Fracasso-Verner in the final. It took Morganelli seven matches to claim the 9-ball title. Lineham grabbed the 10-ball title in five.
Morganelli was one of 12 competitors in the 9-ball tournament’s lower bracket that was awarded an opening round bye, after which he got by Justin Grant, Chuck Sampson, Mourad Idrais, and Phil Medeiros to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal match against Bob Lucas. Rob Piersa, in the meantime, without a bye in the upper bracket, defeated Rich Senna, Ryan Lineham (the eventual winner of the 10-ball event), Brian Chase and Bill Cote to arrive at his winners’ side semifinal matchup against Kevin Bauccio.
In a straight-up race to 5, Morganelli advanced to the hot seat match 5-3 over Lucas. Piersa joined him after downing Bauccio 7-4 (Bauccio racing to 6). Morganelli, with a FargoRate of 539, started the hot seat match with three on the wire in a race to 7 against Piersa, with his FargoRate of 651. They split the actual games 4-4, but with the handicap, Morganelli claimed the hot seat.
On the loss side, Lucas picked up Adam Blair, who’d defeated Emily Cady 5-2 and Rich Ferrell 5-3 to reach him. Bauccio drew Clyde Matta, who’d eliminated Bill Cote, double hill (7-6) and Mike Demarco 7-4.
In straight-up races to 5 (Lucas/Blair) and 7 (Matta/Bauccio), Blair and Matta handed Lucas and Bauccio their second straight loss; Blair 5-3 over Lucas and Matta 7-5 over Bauccio. Matta took the subsequent quarterfinal match over Blair 7-3.
In a straight-up race to 6, Piersa (651) downed Matta (611) 6-1 in the semifinals to earn himself a second (and potentially, third) shot against Morganelli, waiting for him in the hot seat. Morganelli took the opening and only set necessary 5-2 to claim the NE 9-Ball Series Winter Classic title.
Lineham becomes second person on the weekend to eliminate Fracasso-Verner
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Lukas Fracasso-Verner, 17, has made something of a dangerous habit out of coming from the loss side to claim a number of event titles, including a 12-match, loss-side trip to win last year’s “Ginky” Memorial, and a seven-match, loss-side winning streak to win the NE 9-Ball Series’ Robert Dionne Memorial, two weeks ago. On the weekend of January 26-27, the habit got the best of him at the NE 9-Ball Series’ Winter Classic. He was sent to the loss side in the third round of the main event, and won only one match on the loss side, before being eliminated, out of the money. He rallied a bit in the 10-ball tournament, advancing to a winners’ side semifinal, and then, winning three on the loss side for a shot against Ryan Lineham in the hot seat. Lineham prevailed.
After an opening round bye, Lineham had defeated Kerry McAuliffe and Mike Hurley to arrive at his winners’ side semifinal match against Chad Bazinet. Fracasso-Verner, in the meantime, faced Chad Avallone.  Lineham downed Bazinet 7-5, as Avallone was sending Fracasso-Verner to the loss side 7-4. Lineham claimed the hot seat 7-2 over waited on what turned out to be the return of Fracasso-Verner.
On the loss side, Fracasso-Verner shut out Jon Leandro and in the quarterfinals, faced Bazinet, who’d eliminated Francisco Cabral 5-1. Fracasso-Verner downed Bazinet in those quarterfinals 5-3, for a rematch against Avallone in the semifinals. A double hill fight ensued that eventually sent Fracasso-Verner to the finals.
They could have played a modified race to 5 in the finals, but Fracasso-Verner and Lineham opted to play it out to the normal race to 7. Fracasso-Verner survived the double hill, opening set of the true double elimination final 7-6, but Lineham grabbed the second set 7-5 to claim the 10-ball event title.
Tour director Marc Dionne thanked the ownership and staff at Snooker’s for their hospitality, as well as sponsors Predator Cues, USAPL New England, FargoRate, Bert Kinister, AZBilliards, Inside English, Professor Q-Ball’s National Pool and 3-Cushion News, Delta 13 Racks, MJS Construction, Bob Campbell, Bourgeois Farms and OTLVISE Billiard Mechanics of America. The next stop on the New England 9-Ball Series (#13), will be a $750-added event, scheduled for the weekend of February 16-17 and hosted by Straight Shooters Family Billiards in Fall River, MA.

Shaw Cruises Through Ocean State Championship

Shawn Wilkie, Steve Goulding and Jayson Shaw

Jayson Shaw looks to be in prime Mosconi Cup form, as he crushed a field of 87 players to win his third Ocean State 9-Ball Championship at Snookers in Providence RI on November 17th – 18th. 
Shaw cruised through the winner’s side with wins Tony Masi, Pat Fleming, Pete Bowman, Raphael Dabreo and Ryan Lineham. Over those five matches, Shaw lost only 9 out of 54 racks. 
After a late Saturday loss to Zion Zvi, Shawn Wilkie was cruising through the one loss side. Wilkie had wins over Matt Krah, Lucas Fracasso-Verner, Pete Bowman and Kyle Pepin before getting revenge against Zvi 7-5. Wins over Dabreo and Lineham lead to a match with Shaw in the finals. 
While Wilkie would fair better against Shaw than any other opponent all day, he would only get to 5 in the first set of the finals. 
A field of nineteen players came back on Sunday to compete in the $500 added second chance tournament, where Ryan Urso went undefeated including a 3-2 hot-seat win over Mike Demarco and a 3-1 final match win over Francisco Cabral
The Joss NE 9-Ball Tour will now take a break until the Turning Stone Classic XXXI on January 10th – 13th at the Turning Stone Casino in Verona, NY. That tournament is full and players are urged to contact Mike Zuglan if they want to be added to the waiting list. 

Kazakis Makes It Three In A Row At The Spot

Ruslan Chinakhov and Alex Kazakis (Photo courtesy of Erwin Dionisio)

Alex Kazakis made it “three in a row” with another undefeated run through the field at The Perfect Storm Open event at The Spot Billiards in Nanuet, NY on November 9th – 11th. 
After his undefeated run and victory over Tony Robles in the Grand Master’s division of the NYC 8-Ball Championship at Steinway Billiards on November 3rd – 4th, Kazakis then came from the one loss side to double dip James Aranas at the Sandcastle Billiards’ Player Relief Open 9-Ball event on November 8th. Kazakis kept up his winning ways over the weekend of November 9th – 11th with another undefeated run, this time in the Men’s Pro 10-Ball division at The Spot. 
Kazakis had wins over Ryan McCreesh, Mike Dechaine, RYan Lineham and then Ruslan Chinakhov for the hot-seat. On the one loss side, Chinakhov had a rematch with Casper Matikainen who had lost to Chinakhov in the first round. Chinakhov was successful again in the rematch, but still couldn’t get by Kazakis in the finals. 
The Men’s Pro event was only one of four events that took place at The Spot over the long weekend. A six player round robin Women’s Pro event saw Chezka Centeno come out on top of the field, with Kyoko Sone taking second. The Women’s Amateur division was won by Jia Li, who defeated Borana Andoni for the hot-seat and again in the finals. Finally, the Men’s Amateur division was won by Ryan Lineham, who defeated Mark Nanashee for the hot-seat and then Mhet Vergara in the finals. 
The Spot added $1000 to each Pro event and co-owner Lenore Donovan-Chen was appreciative of everyone for their help managing the different divisions and players on this weekend. She thanked event sponsors Pro Vapes Liquid and Clutch Shot Apparel, Upstate Al for streaming the event and Ariel Roy Francisco from Roy’s Basement for bringing his players out to support the event. 

Bertrand wins battle-of-first-timers vs. Lineham to capture NE 9-Ball Series title

(l to r): Ryan Lineham & Justin Bertrand

According to our records, neither Justin Bertrand nor Ryan Lineham had ever won a major event before they met in the hot seat and finals of Stop #6 on the New England 9-Ball Series. And they represented the opposite ends of a FargoRate spectrum; Bertrand with a lower 482 and Lineham with the higher 651. This gave Bertrand ‘five on the wire’ in their two races to 8 in the hot seat and finals. Bertrand is likely to be edging up the FargoRate scale following his victory in both of those matches, in which he claimed his first (recorded) event victory. The $500-added event, held on Sunday, Nov. 4, drew 56 entrants to Bo’s Billiards in Warwick, RI.
Following a lower-bracket, opening round bye and victories over Charlie Matarazzo and Felix Batista and Tyler Boudreau, Bertrand moved into a winners’ side semifinal against Jason D’Angelo. Lineham, in the meantime, had gotten by Russell Belisle, Josh Christian, Rick Faggioli and Rick Gatta to meet up with Kevin Bauccio in the other winners’ side semifinal.
In a straight-up race to 5, Bertrand downed D’Angelo 5-3. Lineham downed Bauccio 6-3 (Bauccio racing to 5). In their first of two, battling for the hot seat, Lineham managed to erase Bertrand’s ‘five on the wire’ handicap deficit, but not before Bertrand chalked up three racks to win the battle 3-5.
On the loss side, D’Angelo picked up Jason Parker, who’d lost his opening match and was in the midst of a seven-match, loss-side winning streak that would take him as far as the semifinals. He’d most recently shut out Boudreau and downed Cho Loy Yen 3-1 (Yen racing to 5) to meet D’Angelo. Bauccio drew Mark Young, who’d eliminated Gatta 5-3 and TJ Perrino 5-4.
In a straight-up race to 5, Bauccio defeated Young 5-1. He was joined in the quarterfinals by Parker, who’d picked up a forfeit win over D’Angelo. Parker advanced one more step, downing Bauccio 3-5 in those quarterfinals (Bauccio racing to 8). His loss side streak was stopped by Lineham in the semifinals, though not before Parker had forced a double hill deciding match at 8-2.
Lineham came out on the losing end of his second straight double hill match, against Bertrand in the finals. He chalked up seven of the eight racks he needed, but Bertrand chalked up his three to claim the event title.
Tour director Marc Dionne thanked the ownership and staff at Bo’s Billiards, as well as sponsors Predator Cues, USAPL New England, FargoRate, Bert Kinister, AZBilliards, Inside English, Professor Q-Ball’s National Pool & 3-Cushion News, Delta 13 Racks, MJS Construction, Bob Campbell, Bourgeois Farms and OTLVISE Billiard Mechanics of America. The next stop on the New England 9-Ball Series (#7), scheduled for the weekend of Nov. 10-11, will be a $1,000-added event to be hosted by Spin City Billiards & Café in Woodside, NY.

Zvi takes two of three against Dupuis to win 8th Annual NE Hall of Fame/Ray Desell Memorial

Joey Dupuis and Zion Zvi

Zion Zvi backed up an undefeated victory at the 10th Annual Empire State Championships last week (Feb. 25-26), with a single-loss win at the 8th Annual New England Pool & Billiards Hall of Fame/Ray Desell Memorial Tournament on the weekend of March 4-5. Zvi faced a former champion of the event, Joe Dupuis, who won it in 2014, three times; once in the hot seat and twice in the double elimination finals. Zvi came back from a loss in the first meeting to double dip Dupuis in the last two. The $2,500-added event, held under the auspices of the Joss Northeast 9-Ball Tour, drew 86 entrants to Snooker's in Providence, RI.
Dupuis got into the hot seat of this event after a dramatic comeback in a winners' side semifinal against RYan Lineham. Down 6-0, and five racks behind when Lineham reached the hill, Dupuis came back to tie, before simultaneously taking his first lead of the match and winning it. Zvi joined him in the hot seat match following a 9-5 victory over Bruce Nagle. Dupuis has something of a reputation for thriving in fast-paced games. "When he's on his game, racing around the table," noted an AZ report from the 5th Annual Hall of Fame victory in 2014, "he's a sight to behold." He recreated that "sight to behold" phenomenon in the battle for the hot seat, as he allowed Zvi only three racks in the battle to win it.
On the loss side at the time, there were still a few potential winners of this event, including Jorge Rodriguez and Tom "Shorty" D'Alfonso. Rodriguez had been sent to the loss side by Dupuis (9-6) and was in the midst of a six-match, loss-side winning streak that would take him as far as Zvi and the semifinals. He and D'Alfonso met up in one of the four 9/12 matches, with Rodriguez winning it 7-1 (this was the first time that the Joss NE Tour arranged for loss-side matches to be races to 7). Rodriguez went on to defeat Rick Sleeper 7-3 to draw Lineham. Nagle picked up Dave Fernandez, who'd defeated Francisco Cabral 7-4 and Mike Minichello 7-3 to reach him.
Rodriguez and Fernandez handed Lineham and Nagle their second straight loss, both 7-4, before locking up in a double hill quarterfinal that eventually sent Rodriguez to face Zvi in the semifinals. Zvi ended Rodriguez' loss-side run 7-5 in those semifinals, and got the shot he was looking for against Dupuis in the hot seat.
They fought tooth and nail to double hill in the opener, before Zvi finished it, forcing a second set. They came within a game of forcing a second double hill encounter. Zvi pulled ahead late to claim the title 9-7.
"How are you feeling about this second straight win?" asked Upstate AL, commentator on the AZBTv stream.
"Like Jayson Shaw," said Zvi, referencing Shaw's victory at this event in 2016. "It's been a crazy week.
"I missed a lot of shots," he acknowledged. "I was grinding it, because I wasn't used to these tables. I couldn't make a ball on the break, and (Dupuis) kept getting the momentum."
A record-breaking number of entrants (33) signed on to a $500-added Second Chance tournament, available to "non-pros eliminated from the main event." Like the main event, the Second Chance finals went two sets. With Al McGuane in the hot seat, John Francisco (who'd been sent to the loss side by McGuane in a winners' side semifinal) took the opening set 3-2. By the same score, McGuane won the second set to claim the title.  Dave Shlemperis, downed by McGuane in the hot seat match 3-1, finished third, when Francisco followed loss-side victories over Brent Boemmels (3-2) and Bob Madenjian 3-1, and defeated him 3-1.
Joss NE 9-Ball Tour director Mike Zuglan thanked Steve Goulding and his Snooker's staff for their hospitality, as well as sponsors Joss Cues, Simonis, Aramith,, Heidrich Custom Cues, AZBilliards, Billiards Press, and Turning Stone Resort and Casino. The next stop on the Joss Northeast 9-Ball Tour, scheduled for March 11-12, will be a $1,500-added event ($500-added to Second Chance) – The Northeast 9-Ball Open XXIX – hosted by Trick Shot Billiards and Sports Pub in Clifton Park, NY. Zuglan also reminded prospective players about the Turning Stone Finale, set for August 31-September 3, which at present is about two-thirds full. Interested players should communicate with Zuglan soon.