What’s Hot at 41st Annual Texas Open 9-Ball Championship

Great 9-ball pool action begins Saturday August 30th  thru Monday September the 1st, 128 elite players from around the US and Texas will be competing for over $10,000 in Open Division prizes at the longest running 9-ball tournament in US history. Saturday night, the ladies’ 9-ball event begins with a 32-player field for top players like returning 2012/2013 Ladies Champion Vivian “The Texas Tornado” Villarreal (San Antonio, Tx) will compete against other marquee ladies. More on that later.


Returning Open division players include 2010 Champion Charlie “Hillbilly” Bryant  (Houston, TX). Last year, Warren Kiamco (Phillipines) had knocked Bryant to the one-loss side. Bryant then defeated Chip Compton in an elimination match to get his re-match as the crowd goes wild. Compton had to come-from behind facing Sylver Ochoa in their elimination match to face Bryant, but Ochoa lost ball-in-hand and the match after Chip broke and got a successful safe on a fortunate 9-ball kiss after a tough 3-ball kick shot in the hill-hill game.


Other returning past Champions include Rob Saez (2012), Jeremy Jones  (2002/2003) and David Henson (2006).  Tournament director James Davis Sr has never won the Texas Open, but he won the BCA Nationals in Las Vegas in July.


The format is double-elimination, race-to-9 wins, winner-breaks and every seat is a great seat. SkinnyBob says the secret is to sit on the top of the bleachers so that you can watch both sides and place bar orders easily.  Spectators enjoy being up-close and personal to the action on the thirteen Gold-Crown III 9’ tables with new blue Simonis 860 HR tournament cloth.


The Texas Open event is a bargain at $10 Wrist-band for the thrill of being up-close to the extreme action all day long, or $25 for a 3-day pass that includes both the Open and the Ladies event. They have a new web-site this year that will allow keeping track of the scheduled matches and results.


People from all over the Texas come to SkinnyBob’s Billiards in Round Rock, TX to get out of the heat. Bob installs extra cooling, stadium seats inside for spectators and hire extra wait staff. Don’t forget the snack bar. PoolActionTV.com streams matches to the internet to its members.  


The public is welcome to bring their wooden cue-stick shafts in to be conditioned by Ron Geyer of The Custom Cue Connection. It is always nice to play with a like-new shaft and Ron is known for his craft of using a lathe to hone the shaft perfectly smooth. There is usually a long line at his booth in the back. Merchants specializing in billiard cues, cases and accessories will have booths in the back.


The Skinny Bob’s Open T-shirt looks great this year and comes in 4 colors in Men’s and Women’s sizes with all the Open winner’s names on the back. 


Again this year they are providing players with the Magic Ball Rackwhich is a diamond-shaped, thin vinyl template that has holes where you place the Aramith Belgium tournament billiard balls and get a perfect rack every time. The table has 2 spots marked on the felt where you align the top and the bottom hole, then just place the ball on a hole, and it self-centers itself to perfect spot. On TV, they have a surrogate racking specialist, but here the loser racks for the winner. It is important to have the head ball (one) touching the two balls directly behind it to get a good solid break. It is required to drive 4 balls to a rail on the break, else it is a foul. 


Thursday night, the warm-up tournament was held and it was won by Tommy Tokoph.  Tommy was working on running his second rack in a row and missed a 9-ball in the 3rd game that would have won the match, but let his competitor James Davis Sr. to the table for a safety and Tommy fouled and conceded the game. In the 5thgame, tied 2-2, Davis runs to the 6b and missed a tough rail shot to let Tokoph back to the table, who then made the 6b on a tough cut to the corner pocket and used 3 rails to get shape on the 7 ball and ran out to make a great comeback victory 3-2 in the single-elimination race-to-3 format.


Bob is raffling a handmade “41st Annual Texas Open Championship” cue from James Hanshew of Hanshew Custom Cues. The lucky winner will be announced during the weekend. This cue will be part of the Open history.  

Trivia question: Who made the Texas Open famous by breaking and running out 11 racks in a row in the championship bracket without missing a shot? The Texas Open trophy is named after him: The Bob Vanover trophy.


The 2014 Women’s Classic begins Saturday night and will feature local ladies against top players in double-elimination race-to-7 matches.