Super Billiards Expo Consumed by Competition for All Comers
Amateur Players Championship events continue; T.A.P.’s Valley Rally turns to team play
by Paul G.D. Berg
If the 144 Diamond bar tables packed in the Valley Forge Convention Center were broken in Thursday at Allen Hopkins’ 17th Annual Super Billiards Expo, they got a taste of some variety today. The burgeoning open division of the Amateur Players Championship events started bright and early with a round at 8 a.m. and then waited to advance its bracket until 5 p.m. as the seniors’ division began battle in the same best two-of-three race-to-five, single elimination 9-ball tournament format. With a 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. match time, play in the 384-man event for those over age 50 will have progressed through the first two rounds, cutting the field down to 128 players with the payout starting two match victories away in the top 32.
The women are just getting started, and the full field of 168 will get in two rounds to be whittled down to 64 contestants for the weekend. Favorites include Ming Ng, who recently earned four qualifiers on the WPBA tournament in her triumphant return to the game, and constant contender in the Northeast amateur ranks, Malea Haacke. If three events weren’t enough with reasonable $75 entry fees with a crack at large prize pools, the juniors get a free shot in a limited 64-player field to claim a notorious title in the youth ranks, either in 14- or 19-and-under competition beginning tomorrow morning.
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Diamond Player’s Championship 10-Ball tournament brackets
The Association for P.O.O.L. has taken a breather from the individual events running downstairs to get a giant 144-team event started, with round robin play taking up the first day of three for a very different type of tournament from singles play. The noise level goes up, as cheering for team mates and commiserating with opponents in each four-team pool for round robin play brings players of all skill levels together. One group went wild as a man broke in the 8 ball twice straight, while another nearby wore incredulous looks and supported the embattled racking comrade as he prepared to try a comeback.
Tourangeau Impresses and Runnels Pulls Triple Duty
Clatterbuck and Painter to square off; favorites march on in open and senior ranks
Upstairs remains devoted to individual play, however, and the mood is getting serious in both the senior and open tournaments. Canadian Stan Tourangeau is a noted small table menace with tournament wins littered across the continent on the bar box, and his presence in the senior bracket was felt immediately. Randy Foose had the misfortune of drawing Tourangeau in the first round and was the victim of fluid run-outs on his way to the exit. In second round play, Glen Pickelsimer will try to stop Tourangeau from joining the other favorites who have passed their first two rounds.
Jerry Hager of West Virginia has done so in the senior ranks but lost his 8 a.m. match in the open event to Keith Christman. Chicago’s Ike “Kankakee” Runnels is still alive in both events, with a match-up with Tourangeau looming one match before the cash if each continues their winning ways. Runnels’ path in the open event has been unobstructed to the money rounds, but to get past the bottom of the payout, he will have to beat tough Detroiter Dave Krenzel. The open event is littered with high-power matches in the offing, including a pair of action associates turned rivals in the round of 64.
Regional bar table menaces Matt Clatterbuck and Mike Painter will square off in the most explosive pairing of Saturday’s 3 p.m. round. Only 72 players remain at this point, as brackets 15 and 16 are one round behind the others in what started as an 864-player free-for-all with $5,000 to the last one standing. Second place will earn $2,000 as the payout tapers off for the remaining 62. Eight men will show up Saturday and leave with nothing as a small cruel twist to the packed schedule. Among those a round behind will be former U.S. Amateur champion Jim “Shorty” Henson, who is alive in the seniors’ bracket as well, and past Derby City Banks winner Larry Price is on the fifteenth chart as well. Richie Richeson is not, having fallen to Jeremy Seaman. Richeson is among a group of players who don’t stop when the match is over, carrying their cues downstairs to match up and tangle with other action seekers in a betting festival.
Runnels has been on the scene downstairs, somehow keeping his cue in the mix non-stop. Painter cannot stay away from the legendary “pits” that surround the “challenge tables” either, and a host of other Amateur Open contenders pass through the tables to keep sharp. Some, like Pooky Rasmeloungen and Jason Kirkwood, don’t even bother to enter the tournament. Others find the early exit of single elimination as a good excuse to redouble their efforts, filling all four days with as much action as they can stay awake for.
Adam Behnke met his match and lost to Wade Kaufman in the AM round. One young contender was a no-show at eight in the morning, as Curtis Coleman dropped out of the field. Rich Reheard was the beneficiary of Coleman’s forfeit and advanced by tough New York City player Jorge Rodriguez to the fifth round to face Jason Klatt. Winnipeg’s young shooter Klatt still has the company of Danny Barnes as a youthful contender remaining in the field. Former Virginia State champion Chris Loar will have to be content with taking down T.A.P. events this year after a 9 p.m. upset Thursday night, but Lee Holt is still running strong to represent some of the high finishers here in recent years. Baltimore’s Danny Green is playing some amazing bar table 9-ball, coming up with brilliant shots from difficult positions in a three-set win over Montreal’s Ivan Lemire for his fourth victory of the tournament.
Everyone left in the open event will play next at 3 p.m. Saturday, while the seniors resume competition at 8 a.m. Saturday. Stay tuned to InsidePOOLmag.com for updates on the felt fracas at the Super Billiards Expo.