Turning Stone Classic

Twice a year I receive an email from Mike Zuglan. It's the invitation for the Turning Stone Classic in Verona, New York and I always look forward to play in this event. I've won the tournament in February 2006 before against Keith McCready and I wanted to do it again.

The venue is in my opinion very beautiful. It has a classy athmosphere and allows spectators a wonderful view when you sit up high on the bleachers.

In my first round match I made a pretty good comeback against Paul Dryden. Trailing 2:6 I managed to win the game 9:7. It followed a win over Paul Rozonewski (9:5) and a strong 9:3 over Shin Park.
Right before my next match against Jason Klatt from Canada I lost my tip on a practice draw shot and I had to switch shafts, resp. get a new tip put on. Jason played solid and I made some silly mistakes, (like a miss on a medium difficult cut shot on the 1-Ball with option of clipping the 9-Ball in at 5:6), which cost me the game 5:9.
I could not recover and lost my game completely against Tom McGonagle with 4:9

In one of my matches I was facing the following situation:

My first option was to cut the 2-Ball into the corner pocket. A difficult shot and easy to miss.
Option two I thought about was to bank the ball into the opposite corner pocket but again - a very risky shot to take on.
So I decided to play the multiple option shot. My goal was to freeze the cueball behind the 3-Ball. But in case I would fail I made sure to put the 2-Ball into a position where my opponent would not have an open shot, because of the 7-Ball.
Luckily I put the cueball dead behind the 3-Ball.

Moral of the story: Don't go aggressive on your first thought. Weight your percentages. Sometimes it's better to play safe and take the higher percentage option...

The winner of the TurningStone Classic was once again Johnny Archer. Congratulations !


Good Bye and Good Luck Rolando !

Rolando Aravena started working for Amsterdam Billiard Club, New York City in 1991. That was one year before I began playing pool. On Saturday, the 16th of February it was his last night at New York's original billiard club as a manager. And a very touching moment.

After 17 years !!! of ABC Rolando is moving on to new ventures. With The Black Widow Jeanette Lee herself, Rolando is starting a new business as the head manager of a future poolroom in Indianapolis.

On Saturday his friends gathered at ABC to throw him a farewell party. Here are some pics taken by Wei Chao www.cuetable.com

Rolando is definitely one of my favorite friends to hang out with. I enjoyed our conversations, he wrote me a fitness plan, we went to the gym together, he did all my cuerepair work (excellent) and he is a fantastic pool player and teacher. I will miss him...

"Rolando, I wish you all the best for your future. You truly deserve only the best. One thing I can promise you - I will be one of the first to visit you at your new home !"


Third place at second tour stop

Only one week after Tony's season opener in Hempstead, this time Master Billiards in Queens opened their doors for the second stop of the Predator 9-Ball Tour. 80 players from the Tri-State area including my good friend and top player from West Palm Beach/Florida Hunter Lombardo showed up to support the tour.

I wanna mention that tournament director Bill Finnegan is always doing a great job and if I ever run my own tour I will strongly consider hiring him :-)

The saturday went by without any big upsets. I had some good matches where I was showing a lot of heart and I had some struggles. The "favorites" like Mika, Tony, Hunter and myself all came through undefeated.

On sunday I lost to Tony in the morning but came back with a few wins among others over Tony "Flaco" Rodriguez to get to the semi-final. Here the last 2-9 combo I had to shoot to win that match...

Here a short "what happened in my semi-final match against Mika"...

1. I broke and ran out (1:0)
2. Mika broke, didn't make a ball. I ran out (2:0)
3. I broke and ran out (3:0)
4. Mika broke and ran out (3:1)
5. I broke and ran out (4:1)
6. Mika broke and ran out (4:2)
7. Didn't make a ball. Mika cleared the table (4:3)
8. Mika didn't make a ball, but I hooked myself on an easy wide open table (the crucial mistake of the game) and he ended up winning the rack. (4:4)
9. I broke and ran out (5:4)
10. Mika broke, cueball and one-ball very close. He tried to thin-cut the one downtable into an in front of the corner hanging ball, but instead time-shot the ball in the side, made another one at the same time and had a medium difficult bank shot next, which he made and ran out (5:5)
11. I broke, no shot, played push for a jump, but left a funny angle. He let me shoot, but because the angle was to the wrong side I attemped a jump-safe which failed. (5:6)
12. Mika broke and ran out (5:7)

Very high performance from both of us. Mika showed a lot of heart and had luck when he needed it. I came out strong in the beginning, but made one mistake and one silly decision...

In the following final Tony took an early lead and never looked back. With 11:6 our host himself conquered the first place of tour stop number two. Mika finished once again second but has proven his consistency.

Here is a tricky situation that came up in one of my matches. At first I thought about the agressive way and cutting the 7 in the corner, making sure I would hit the objectball first and not the rail to make the cueball travel along the path as shown on page 2.
I know that hitting the rail first is much easier but would also send the cueball towards the corner pocket for a possible scratch, so I would have to play just the right speed as shown on page 3. I finally decided to play a safety as shown on page 4 and it worked out perfectly...
What would you have done ?

I wanna encourage everybody to come and play in Tony's tour in the future. Joey has shown us last week that the tour gives new faces the opportunity to prove their skills and win and with the pro's supporting the tour the level of play will raise in the New York and Tri-State area.


Tony Robles new 9-Ball Tour in the Northeast

Until now I have only been playing in one regional tour in America - the Florida Pro Tour. Today I will add a whole new series of events to my calender - Tony Robles Predator 9-Ball Tour in the Tri-State area !

75 pool addicts made their way to Holden Chin's beautiful Raxx Billiards in West Hempstead, New York. Ten Percent of the field were - women ! Congratulations Tony for such a fantastic turn out to kick off the season...

Here are some facts about rules and format of the new tour:

- there is no handicap, anybody can play, but amount of the entry fee is determined by the level of the player. Pro's pay 100$, C-players 50 $ for example.

- Race to 9 winner side, race to 7 on the one loss side (final race to 11)
- alternate break
- rack your own
- nine on the break counts only if made in side or upper corner pockets

At this point I don't wanna go too much into match details. The usual suspects came through - Mika, Tony, Ginky, ShinYoung and Toasti. But we have to add another new name to that list - New Jersey's Joey Testa surprised the fans with excellent play and beat tournament favorite Mika Immonen in the final 11:10. I was Testa's victims in the quarterfinal and finished Fourth place.

Thanks to Jerry Tarantola with www.nycgrind.com and Williams Fuentes with www.williamfuentes.com for the picture courtesy !

Straight Pool Exhibition at the University Club of NYC

On January 31st it was my honor to perform a Straight Pool exhibition at New York City's prestigious University Club. This private club located on 54th street and Fifth Avenue was founded in 1861 and is still a landmark in the Big Apple. The club features three pool tables as well as one billiard table.

More info's about the University Club of NYC

Mr Lawrence Darby, member of the University Club approached me after my 152 and out run at the New Jersey State Championships in Parsippany last year to do this exhibition and we agreed on the 31st.

I was very excited to talk about my favorite game and give some insights here and there about pool in general. For the very first time I was playing on a 10foot table and I wish I could call myself an owner of such a beautiful table one day.

The crowd, all gentlemen and one lady were very knowledgable and helped me throughout the two hour session with interesting questions. The day ended with a nice dinner in one of the clubs private rooms.

A big thank to Lawrence and the University Club as well as to all the straight pool lovers who attended my exhibition. I hope I can do it again in the future...


Derby City Classic

9-Ball Banks, One-Pocket, 9-Ball, Straight Pool Challenge, One Pocket Challenge, Mini-Tournaments, Carom and Artistic plus action, action, action and more - The Derby City Classic !

To be honest - it is a bit controversial in my opinion. I wanna promote pool as a professional sport. Clean, serious but fun, no smoking, no gambling. The Derby City Classic promotes the exact opposite what I am fighting for. Action and Gambling. Sometimes it is even hard to distinguish between a gambling match and an exhibition match, I know. And I have to admit, it is cool when you are here and wether it is day or night, the place is always packed with people playing for money. But will it change the image of Pool for the better ? Will parents send their kids to the pool room to learn a new sport if they see what's going on here ? I don't know the answer. I just wanna share my thoughts. What do you think ?

People come here with different expectations and goals. I personally like the Derby because it gives me the opportunity to practice my other games like Bank Pool and One-Pocket. Since Derby City Classic founder Greg Sullivan with the help of Bob Jewett added the Straight Pool competition it is even more fun for me. I don't gamble at all but it's cool to see what's going on here.

The tournament started as every year with the 9-Ball Banks devision. American Airlines screwed up my flight from New York to Louisville, so I ended up missing the first round. About 450 players had signed up at this unusual format. Let me explain how it works...

It's a single elimination tournament with a new draw every new round. Every player has the option of a buy back, which means no matter which round you lose your match, you have one chance to buy yourself back in. Even if the first match you lose is the final.
Sometimes there is an odd number of players, so one lucky guy gets a by.

There is no exact schedule. Because of this system, the tournament director has to wait for each round to finish completely before he can do the next draw. That means players have to stand by and wait. Sometimes you go there and you are told: "Next draw is approximately at 5.30pm". So you show up at that time but then you are told: "7pm". My advice: Bring a book, a playstation or start writing a blog...

So I missed the first round of the Banks but bought myself right back in. I was practicing for the 9-Ball Banks in New York City with Randy Goldwater every day for a few hours and wanted to do well. I survived the next few rounds until I found my master in Jose Parica, a former winner of the Bank-devision. The year before I finished in the top 15, a good accomplishment for me.

Winner of the Banks: Larry Price

The One Pocket was next. The game I have the least experience in but boy, I did well. At the end I finished 10th out of again more than 400 players. I had to bow to Scott Frost and Shannon Daulton. Both just have much more knowledge in this game than I do, but I was extremely happy with my performance. I even beat Alan Hopkins on the tv-table :-)

Here a possible development of a one-pocket game. Look how the balls slowly move uptable...

Winner of the One-Pocket: Gabe Owen

I don't really wanna talk about the 9-Ball. So, let's just skip it. But let me be a typical pool player and give the excuse that I was really sick :-P

Winner of the 9-Ball: Ralf Souquet

There was an extra prize of 20 000 $ for the overall point winner after all three disciplines which went to: Francisco Bustamante

I also participated in Bob Jewett's Straight Pool competition. We Straight Pool lovers have to say a big big thank you to Bob. Not only he added 10 000 $ out of his own pocket to the event, he spent the whole day from 10am in the morning until late late at night inside the little room writing down scores of us players. Thank you Bob !!!

For 100$ entry fee I had 12 tries to score a high run. Every day's high run was awarded with a bonus prize. The top eight highscore shooters would meet in a single elemination tournament.

I ran 98, 98, 98 some 50's and 60's and qualified for the last stage, but lost to Niels Feijen in three innings race to 150 in the quarter final. The winner of the Straight Pool competition, a surprise I am sure for all of us was - Darren Appleton who beat Niels in the final. Congratulations Darren ! I am expecting more from you in the future...

I didn't really follow all the other events, including the gambling so I can't give any informations or stories about that. Overall I enjoy playing the Derby and one day I might be able to do really well in the One-Pocket or the Banks...