Story by Dennis Walsh
Chicago, Illinois- Here are the results of the 2014 World Tournament of 14.1,Red Shoes Billiards Qualifier that was held a few weeks back. It was a small field but there were many quality contenders, including Michael Verkruyse, Tom Karabatsos, Ronald Dobosenski, Bob Cozzolino, Richard Michalec Sr., Jim Colling, Rich Klein, and Dean Markoshan, one of Chicago’s finest, just back from a straight pool lesson with Dallas West.
OB Cues has also joined as the Official Cue of the ANDY CLOTH World Tournament which takes place on August 4th-9th, 2014. Sponsored by Andy Cloth, Kamui Brands, OB Cues, Amsterdam Billiard Club, Realrealcool.com, Pool & Billiard Magazine , Aramith Balls, and George Beckman Kinetic Sculptures. Official patron 14.1 aficionados are Stu Mattana, Tom Gleich, Harold Siegel, and Dr. Greg Diehl Plastic Surgery. Each qualifier winner will be guaranteed a minimal of 5 round robin matches in the finale main event. The main event will take place once more in New York City. Dragon Promotions and Dr. Michael Fedak are pleased to bring the 74th production of the oldest billiard event in the world on August 4th-9th, 2014. A star studded field is expected this year at Steinway Billiards Cafe, who is once more hosting the world’s grandest straight pool championship.
“OB Cues are now the official cues of one of the oldest, longest running tournaments in billiards: The 74th World Tournament of 14.1. This event has a rich history connecting us with legends like Mosconi, Greenleaf, Lassiter, Mizerak, Crane and so many more. OB is proud to be associated with such names in the game they mastered and we look forward to seeing many of the champion players of today competing in this event to try and best the records of some of the great legends of yesteryear.” , said Shane Sinnott , Director of Sales and Marketing for OB Cues. Headquartered in Plano, Texas, OB is a leading manufacturer of High Performance pool cues and Pool Cue Shafts made 100% in the USA since 2005.
Bob Cozzolino, who has qualified twice before had a tough opening round match with Tom Karabatsos. Bob beat Tom last year on the loser’s side of the qualifier and beat Tom in a league match at Red Shoes Billiards just a week earlier. Tom had come in second in the league out of 32 players and has qualified numerous times, so he is always dangerous. Bob got off to an 60-20 lead but Tom came back hard and bested him 100-80. In the other first round match in that bracket, Ron Dobosenski ran a 41 and a 38 and out on Jim Colling who had come down from Texas to play in the qualifier while visiting relatives. Jim is a somewhat recent convert to straight pool that boasts a high run of 70. Ron is a student of Frank “Sailor” Stellman, noted cue maker and 14.1 teacher from Racine Wisconsin. Ron boasts a high run of 211 and Sailor had made the trip down to Chicago to watch his former student and to sweat some straight pool matches. Ron had just finished up one session of Red Shoes Straight Pool league, driving down from Madison, Wisconsin twice a month to play the game he loves.
The next round found Tom Karabatsos matched up with Ron Dobosenski and the straight pool heavyweights, who have played each other many times in the last 30 years, traded punches with Tom coming out on top. On the other side of the bracket, Rich Klein, one of the league directors at Red Shoes Billiards and one of the sponsors of the Derby City Classic Straight Pool Challenge every year, matched up with Dean Markoshan, a member of the Red Shoes Straight Pool league and an officer with the Chicago Police Department. Dean is relatively new to straight pool, but gave it everything he had. It was not enough to best the steady Rich Klein. On the other side of that bracket, Rick Michalec, Sr., a veteran of the Illinois Billiards Club Straight Pool League and the Red Shoes league was going up against a new face at Red Shoes in Michael Verkruyse. Rick has a high run of 70 and has won one of the straight pool qualifiers before and is always a threat. The two of them went back and forth with no big runs, and eventually, Michael landed the last punch, winning 100-77. That matched him up with Rich Klein and he was able to get off to a 75-19 lead. A couple of unforced errors on Mike’s part were enough to give Rich an opportunity and he was able to get within striking distance, but Mike closed out the game and finished it 100-55. Richard referred to Mike as “Madman MIke, he of the fabulous fundamentals and perfect stroke”, Mike is a student of Mark Wilson’s and I imagine that might be where he honed his fundamentals. He also has spent some time with Nick Varner, so who knows.
I will use the words of Mike to describe the final match on the winners side between him and Tom Karabatos:
“I had been watching him play all day and knew I had my hands full. The opening break was the first time I had to break all day and I managed to hit a good clean safe leaving him long and tough on the 9-ball. Tom played safe and left me a small glimpse of a shot, I thought to myself if I make it I spread the rack wide open, if I miss it I will spread the rack wide open for my opponent. Well in for a penny in for a pound. I got down and stroked the 4 ball home into the corner pocket and was off and running. I don’t recall much of the middle of the match, only that I had a big lead of like 75-20 something, then tom went on a tear and caught me and passed me with a great run. The score was now closed in tight at 90(me) to 89(tom). A small safety battle ensued and tom took a chance at a ball in the stack and it missed leaving me a wide open table. I made one ball after another, steadily getting out of line lol. I now needed 2 balls for the win and a chance to go to New York. I had a long straight shot on the 15 ball, as soon as I pulled the trigger my heart fell into my stomach as I watched it go slightly wide of the pocket and rattle. Tom cleaned up the rest and was all set to make the break ball and put the nails in my coffin when something happened I did not expect, he missed the break ball! I gathered myself and pocketed the last two balls.”
In the meantime, over on the other side, Bob Cozzolino had taken down Jim Colling and Rick Michalec had bested Dean Markoshan. Bob Cozzolino had qualified from the loser’s side before, last year having to beat Jeffrey Mohl, Ed Latimer and Tom Karabatsos to qualify. This year it was not to be as perennial giant killer Rich Klein took him down. At the same time, Rick Michalec who has been there before was beating Dean Markoshan. Ron Dobosenski beat Rick Michalec and then beat Rich Klein, leading to a rematch with Tom Karabatsos for the second spot. Ron has only been back playing pool for about a year and perhaps it showed, but Tom is always a threat and sent Ron back to Wisconsin.
Tom Karabatsos was taught by Dallas West and you can see that in his smooth stroke. He is a perennial high finisher in all Chicago area pool events, especially straight pool. He also had a nice showing at the Maryland Straight Pool Tournament last year, besting Dave Daya and Shaun Wilkie, among others. Michael Verkruyse is 32 years old from Mahomet, Illinois and is currently the House Pro at Jupiter’s Pizzeria & Billiards in Champaign, Illinois. His sponsors are Durbin Custom Cues (www.durbincues.com) out of Sullivan, Illinois, Nick Varner Cues & Cases (www.nickvarner.com), Fast Action Cues Clothing and Jupiter’s Pizzeria and Billiards.
Pool fans are also invited to have dinner with the world’s greatest players at the 4th Annual 14.1 Straight Pool Hall of Fame Banquet on August 6th. The Straight Pool Hall of Fame Induction videos will be produced by Jerry Tarantola of www.NYCGrind.com and Ron Mason of www.GothamCityTechnologies.com . The Hall of Fame ceremonies will be streamed online for free on Ustream by Upstate Al of AZBtv.
Fans can buy tickets at the door, and tickets for the Hall of fame 14.1 Banquet in advance for $55 by going to http://worldstraightpool.com/tickets.html . The dinner includes a 5 course meal and beverages as well as seating next to the stars of billiards. For $141 you can also join the Elite Members of the 141 Club on the same link.