Tom Walter wins NCS 14.1 Qualifier & NY State 14.1 Championship

Tom Walter and Lyn Wechsler

Diamond Eight Billiards in Latham, NY was the gracious host on the weekend of May 16, 2009 of the New York State 14.1 Championships & National Championship Series (NCS) 14.1 qualifying round. The NCS is holding qualifiers to the NCS 14.1 National Championships throughout the USA in one of pool & billiards most challenging disciplines also referred to as the game of masters, 14.1 continuous or more commonly known as straight pool. The 14.1 National Championships will be held July 31-August 2, 2009 at Comet Billiards in Parsippany, NJ. Comet Billiards is also host room to the Accu-Stats Arena where Pat Fleming will be streaming the event live. 64 of the USA's best 14.1 players will qualify through the NCS qualifiers in attempt to capture the title of National Champion. For the list of qualifier events and more info please visit

Straight pool enthusiasts made the trek from four states in attempt to capture the title of 2009 New York State 14.1 Champ and earn a qualifier spot to the big dance, the National Championship in July. The double elimination format tested the players endurance and ability to stay focused as tournament director Kevin Vidal kept the pace swift & continuous throughout the tournament. The format was 100 points on both the winners and losers side, with the finals being one game to 150 points for the cheese. At the strike of midnight we had 2 players left standing and we were ready to see who could dig down deep to capture the first annually planned NY State 14.1 Championships & NCS Qualifier.

From the winners side bracket into the finals was Long Islands Tom Walter. Tom played spectacular throughout the tournament to go undefeated into the finals. Tom's only close battle in the winners bracket was wagged by tournament director Kevin Vidal, with Kevin leading 74-73 Tom had Kevin on 1 foul and stuck to the rack with several loose balls on the table. Kevin rolled the cueball away from the rack to a tough spot and took a second foul in hopes of Tom either taking a flyer on an off angle combo or rolling it back into the rack in hopefully a better spot for Kevin to try a safety attempt to avoid 3 fouls, Tom instead kept looking at the 1 ball that may or may not have had half a pocket to shoot into. Determining he didn't have enough of the edge for a clean shot, Tom spun around the blocker ball with some inside english and pocketed the 1 ball into the pocket that was half blocked by another ball, an amazing shot at that point in the game. Tom proceeded to run out the game and send Kevin to the losers side 100-74. Next up for Tom in the hot seat match was Rochester, NY native and lifelong 14.1 enthusiast Lyn Weschler. Lyn had been making his way steadily through the winners bracket with convincing wins as well. But this match would see Tom Walter on his game and take this match for his seat in the finals 100-27, Lyn would have to take a seat on the one loss side and wait for a challenger to come through the one loss side bracket.

On the one loss side it was local player Jeff Smolen making his way steadily through the bracket after an early loss. Jeff's 9 ball experience was also evident as he was making tough angled shots and long shots look routine. He was figuring out the patterns for straight pool and playing very tough. Although he was met with some tough challenges on the one loss side from Chuck Hill, John Babravich, Hal Hughes and Kevin Vidal, Jeff made his way for the waiting Lyn Weschler and chance to make the finals. This proved to be a tough match with neither player able to take a commanding lead, but Lyn's 14.1 experience showed through in the end and ending Jeff's tournament in 3rd place 100-79. Congrats Jeff Smolen on a great tournament and hard fought 3rd place finish.

At midnight the stage was set for the one game to 150 final match to determine the 2009 NY State 14.1 Champ and earn a spot in the NCS National Championships between Tom Walter and Lyn Weschler, fittingly both New York State residents. The match started off with the players trading 25-30 ball runs, but a ball hung in the jaw for Lyn on a very thin cut and left Tom with a wide open table. Tom took full advantage of the opportunity to put together a 45-50 ball run and grab the lead. Although Lyn would give it a great effort when he got back to the table, Tom came again with another 30-35 ball run on his next turn that started with all the balls in a very difficult position, Tom built a nice 80 ball lead but would not relax as he knew full well Lyn was capable of running out if given the chance. After having to come around the full table for position Tom got stuck to the back of a ball and left with no shot and no safety,  he wound up leaving Lyn a tough cut into the side pocket on a safety attempt, Lyn smoothly made the shot and his attempt to make a comeback was on the way. But it was not to be today, as Tom was able to get back to the table with a shot and took home the NY State 14.1 title and NCS National Championship qualifier spot 150-67. Congrats Tom Walter on a great win and congrats to Lyn Weschler on a fine effort and 2nd place finish! Honorable mention for high run of the tourney went to 5th place finisher & tournament director Kevin Vidal with a 68 ball run.