Raiford Reigns at World Class Billiards USBA Tour
September 7-9, 2007: 28 of the best B players in the country all came to try their hand at winning the first place prize of $ 2,000.00 at World Class Billiards in Peabody, MA. The event was hosted by room owners John Magulas and Joe DeAmato and tournament directors Jim Shovak and Paul Frankel. Mazin Shooni, 2006 USBA Champion, was also there to assist in running the event. Brand New Simonis 300 Rapide cloth was installed on 4 Soren Sogaard tables. The competition was fierce.
There were 4 flights of 7 players each, divided into flights A, B, C and D. The top 2 finishers in each flight advanced to flight E, the finals, for a round robin group of 8 players. $ 1,500.00 was added to the prize fund by the USBA. The preliminaries were just 20 points and the finals were 25 points.
Flight A: This was considered, by far, to be the most difficult flight. The players were Gary Elias and Jamil Isreal from Detroit, room owner Joe DeAmato, Robert Raiford from Florida, Dave Van Lokeren from Rhode Island, Andrew Janquitto from Maryland and local player Chris O’Brien. Jamil Isreal finished 5-1 with a .700 grand average. His only loss was to Joe DeAmato 20-19. Robert Raiford and Joe DeAmato were both 4-1 going into the last game where they were to play each other. The winner would advance, the loser would not. Robert Raiford played strong when he needed to, averaging 1.000 and winning handily, 20-6, advancing to the 8-man finals.
Flight B: This was a dog-fight between Bill Johnson from Detroit, George Theobald from Chicago, Paul Frankel (Professor-Q-Ball) from Tennessee, room owner John Magulas, and Bill Higgins (Wimpy) from Florida. Bill Johnson wins with a 5-1 record and a .559 average. George Theobald squeezes in at 4-2 and .481 average. Other players were locals Ben Parker and Robert Lewis.
Flight C: Another difficult flight with local player Jose Costa (2007 USBA Nationals finalist), Jim Shovak from New York, Dan Kolacz from Buffalo, NY (winner of 2007 Louisville, KY Qualifier), and Laureano Gomez of New York (winner of the Master Billiards USBA Tour B Division). Jose Costa breezes by, going undefeated 6-0 with a .612 grand average. Jim Shovak just barely gets in, going 4-2 with a mere .491 average and narrowly edging Laureano Gomez, also 4-2, by only 2 total points scored. Laureano finishes 3rd, 4-2 with a .542 average, Dan Kolacz finishes 4th at 3-3, .565 average. Other players were Ramy Noja from Detroit, Eric Hughes from DC and local player Joe Orlandello.
Flight D: Yet another difficult flight with many good players. Juan Medina, 2007 Sang Lee International Semi-Finalist, and also representing the United States in the World Junior Championships, wins the flight at 4-2 with a .549 average. Winning her last game and advancing to the finals is Mercedes Gonzalez, winner of the USBA Tour event at George’s Billiards in Florida. She ends up 4-2 with a .581 average. Barely missing out is Max Fisher from Horsham, PA, going 4-2 with a .589 average. Bob Page from Saugus, MA comes in 4th at 3-3 with a .469 average. Also missing out was Don Sperber from Florida (and New York), Rick McGuire from Hudson, NH, and Long Island, New Yorker Edward Buzz Dowling.
Flight E (The Finals): The early rounds of the finals saw Jamil Isreal, Jose Costa and Robert Raiford as the clear favorites, all going undefeated in the early rounds. Highlights of the early rounds saw Juan Medina beating Jim Shovak by scoring 25 points in just 26 innings, Jose Costa having a tournament best-game average of 1.563 against Bill Johnson, and Jamil Isreal running a tournament-high 10-and-out against George Theobald, averaging 1.136.
Into the middle rounds, Jose Costa was still averaging over .800 and still undefeated. Robert Raiford was also still undefeated. Jamil Isreal was handed his first loss by Juan Medina, who averaged 1.042 against him.
Finals Rounds: Jamil Isreal fought back and defeated Jim Shovak, 25-24, insuring 4th place for Jamil, and pushing Mercedes Gonzalez into 5th place. Juan Medina played strong and earned his 3rd place position. The last match was between the only two undefeated players: Robert Raiford and Jose Costa. Up until the final match, Jose Costa’s average was .811. The winner would become the Champion.
Both players were obviously very tired. They had both played 6 matches in a grueling preliminary, and had just finished playing another 6 matches in a very competitive final. This would be their 13th match over a 3-day period. Not an easy task.
In the end, Robert Raiford stayed awake, and won 25-16, averaging .595 in the last match and .634 overall in the finals. Jose Costa finally had a bad game, but finished with the tournament-best average of .731 in the finals.
The final results and payouts were as follows:
1st: Robert Raiford $ 2,000.00 7-0 .634
2nd: Jose Costa $ 1,400.00 6-1 .731
3rd: Juan Medina $ 1,000.00 4-3 .701
4th: Jamil Isreal $ 700.00 4-3 .654
5th: Mercedes Gonzalez $ 550.00 3-4 .584
6th: Jim Shovak $ 450.00 2-5 .507
7th: Bill Johnson $ 350.00 2-5 .615
8th: George Theobald $ 250.00 0-7 .515
Best Game: Jose Costa, 1.563 average, $ 100.00 High Run: Jamil Isreal, 10, $ 100.00
I would like to thank the following for their help and support:
Room owners John Magulas and Joe DeAmato, Paul Frankel, Mazin Shooni, Aramith for the donation of balls, Schuler Cues for the donation of a Schuler cue which was raffled off and won by room owner John Magulas (it’s a fix!), and also to Simonis for the discounted cloth.
I also want to personally thank everyone that traveled from all over the country to participate in this great event. It is you that make this all happen. Without you, we have nothing. Believe me when I say that I am very grateful that all of you are supporting these tournaments. I had to turn people away from this tournament because so many people wanted to play. I had to also open it up to 28 players. I want to also thank two very special and loyal players: Eric Hughes and Andrew Janquitto. Both of these wonderful people have attended 4 USBA Tour events already and they came from DC and Maryland. Thank you, guys, for your loyalty. It does NOT go unnoticed.
On September 21-23, the USBA Tour continues at the Minneapolis Billiard Club. From there, we will be going to Eight Ball Billiards in Maywood, CA on October 26-28. There may also be an event at the Vallejo, CA Elks lodge. No date has been arranged yet. The final stop for 2007 will climax at New Wave Billiards in Miami, FL on November 13-18 where there will be an international open tournament with a prize fund exceeding $ 26.000.00. Some of the best international players will be there.
More information on the United States Billiard Association is available at usba.net.
Report submitted by USBA Secretary Jim Shovak
Information on the American Cuesports Alliance (ACS) is available at Americancuesports.org.