If nothing else, the 2017 incarnation of the largest regional 9-Ball Tournament in the country will be remembered by those who were there as our first step into the future of tournament pool and, depending on who you talk to, it was either a good beginning with the occasional misstep or an epic fail or somewhere in-between. We have now ventured forth into the FargoRate era. FargoRate is a statistical system that gathers data and dispassionately rates players in hopes of making tournament play competitive for all. Numbers don’t lie nor are they capable of bias. They are what they are. Sounds good on paper, doesn’t it?
Lincoln City, Oregon and Chinook Winds Casino Resort again welcomed players from Oregon, Idaho and Washington to the coast for the week of October 9-15, 2017. A total of 845 players entered, three more than a year ago. There were 13 divisions to choose from, one more than last year with the addition of the Women’s Senior Singles Division. Some divisions were up, others were down. Did FargoRate have an impact? Absolutely. BadBoys Billiards Production again brought and expertly set up 80 7’ Diamond tables. They also provided the bracketing and tournament direction. Chinook Winds staff put the rest of the room together. Vendors arrived and got set up. Lenny Marshall of OnTheRailTV came to stream and record as many matches as time permitted. Only thing missing – the players.
And come they did - to catch up with old friends and make some new ones, to enjoy one of the most beautiful areas on the west coast and TO PLAY POOL. The doors officially opened Sunday afternoon and the players started dribbling in. Sunday evening was Fun Night and there was something for everyone. From just socializing and getting in some table time to getting a first taste of competition, the room filled and we were off and running. Mini-Tournaments got underway around 6pm and the Handicapped 10-Ball Singles followed at 7p with 22 entering. Randy Baker held off Rachel Keller to take 1st place/$200. Rachel got $120 for 2nd place. Ray Bray and Gary Crane also cashed in 3rd/4th place with $60 each.
As always, Master and Open Mixed Scotch Doubles were first on the agenda, both starting at 9am on Monday morning. The Master Mixed Scotch Doubles had 26 pairs (down from 38 a year ago) on the hunt for the 1st place prize of $1890. Carissa Biggs/Steve Lingelbach (NPL) marched through the winner side of the bracket (race to 5) before running into the juggernaut that was Stan Tourangeau/Andrena Browne (LTD/EV) in the hot seat match. It was a very close match, with Carissa/Steve coming out on top and in the final. Meanwhile, on the back side (race to 4), Kim Jones/Marvin Holmes (LTD) dashed the hopes of Cindy Doty/Mike Stevens (NPL) for another title (4-2). Kim/Marvin then ended their day in 4th place/$550 as Andrea Saenz-Maes/Ken Morano (LTD) advanced to the back side semi against Andrena/Stan. Andrea/Ken were no match for them (3rd place/$830) as they were shut out 4-0. The rematch between Carissa/Steve and Andrena/Stan was on. Andrena/Stan got off to a good start, breaking and running to get game one. Carissa/Steve battled hard but not hard enough and Andrena/Stan shut them down 5-3 and the possible double dip was on. In the 2nd set, now a race to 4, were warmed up and ready to rock. The match went hill-hill before Stan made an uncharacteristic error in the decider, hooking her on the 4-Ball and forcing her to attempt an unsuccessful jump shot and leaving Carissa/Steve with an open table and that was it. Andrena/Stan got $1250 for their 2nd place showing and Carissa/Steve returned to the winner’s circle.
The Open Mixed Scotch Doubles had 103 entrants (up slightly from last year’s 100), a 1st place prize of $1810 and a race to 4 on the front and 3 on the back format. Two pairs, Pam Gabbard/Francisco Silva (YAK) and Coryn Walker/Charlie Burnett (NPL) were undefeated until the hot seat match. Coryn/Charlie showed them no mercy, sending Pam/Francisco to the backside 4-0 to wait and see who’d they have to knock off to get a rematch. Irene Arsenault/Ed Terry (NPL) came through but could not deter Pam/Francisco, ending in 3rd place/$990 and giving Pam/Francisco their rematch. The final was well played by both pairs but Coryn/Charlie were a little bit more determined. Coryn/Charlie started with a break and run and ended with a break and run. Pam/Francisco, pushing Coryn/Charlie to hill-hill, were denied access to the table in game 8. Match over. Still, not a bad day for them, finishing in 2nd place/$1340.
There were 8 Singles Divisions. First up, with a Tuesday 6pm start time, was the Men’s B Singles, the largest division with 176 players (way up from last year’s 144), a 1st place prize of $1140 waiting at the end of the rainbow and a grueling race to 6 all the way. Once again, the two who met in the hot seat match would again meet in the final. Tony Bloom (EV) edged out Wally Johnson Jr. (NPL) 6-4 for a spot in the final. Wally, who sent Vic Albertson (NPL) on the winner’s side 6-3 had to do it again in the backside semi. This time it was Wally 6-2 and he went on to the final and Vic went home in 3rd place/$605. Wally (2nd place/$830) fought hard but Tony was just too much for him, taking the match 6-3.
A third division, the Men’s A Singles, also got on the tables at 9am on Wednesday. This division, traditionally the second largest, had 138 entries (down from 152 a year ago), a race to 7 format with $1300 awaiting the winner. Once again, the final would be a repeat of the hot seat match. Joe Landi (LTD) and David Lash (NPL) played through to the hot seat match unbeaten. Joe man-handled David 7-3 on his way to the final. David could only wait to see who would join him in the backside semi. Eric Soumokil got there and no further, finishing in 3rd place/$720 as David earned his seat in the final. Sadly, David (2nd place/$975), he fared no better in the final, losing to Joe as he cruised to the winner’s circle with some very impressive play.
The Men’s Senior Singles began play at 9am Wednesday morning with 29 seasoned veterans (slightly up from 27). Because anyone 60+ years of age, regardless of FargoRate number, was allowed to play, it was decided that the senior divisions would be handicapped via FairMatch. That meant that if you had a high enough FargoRate Number, you would have to give a player with a much lower number up to four games (this happened in only one match in which the race was 7 vs 3 and ended at 7-0) but two games were otherwise as severe a spot as it got. Not so bad in what was supposed to be a maximum possible race to 6. (For the men, the women were an entirely different story, more on that later.) The men’s Fargo numbers ranged from 425-616. Often the lower ranked player, with the handicap, won. The player with the 616 didn’t cash but the next one down, with 595 won. Go figure.
Mike Gwinn (TC) made his way through to the point match undefeated, easily in his first three rounds (all 5-1 wins in even matches). Then things got a bit more difficult. Mike sent Kenny Dodd (CC) back, winning his 4 games before Kenny got to 6. The point match, a straight up race to 5, was next against Richard Sanford Jr. (LTD). Mike won that one 5-4 and would wait who would come through from the backside. By the backside semi, it was down to Mike’s aforementioned victims, Kenny would have to oust Richard to get to the final, giving Richard one game. Kenny was up to the task, winning that match 5-2 and sending Richard off in 3rd place/$265.
In the final, Kenny would have to beat Mike twice and had to spot him two games. The first set was almost all Kenny as he closed it out with a break and run and final score of 6-2. The second set had a similar result, ending at 6-1. Mike couldn’t stop the double dip but had a great tournament, finishing in 2nd place/$390 and a very tough Kenny Dodd was the Champ ($575).
Enter the women, as the Women’s A Singles got underway noon on Wednesday and with it a controversy took root regarding entry screening which will be resolved after the event and should result in better procedures being put in place to prevent a repeat. 51 Ladies (up from 47 last year) were entered. $700 awaited the winner in this race to 5 affair. Kathy Stanley (LTD) and Trish White (NPL) went through to the point match undefeated to play for the final. Kathy won this match 5-3. Schon Hartung (SWI) had to win 4 matches to get to the backside semi, where Trish waited for her one match to get another go at Kathy. Schon, however, was not to be denied, wanting her own rematch with Kathy who sent her back in the fourth round (5-3). Schon dispatched Trish (3rd/$335) and went on to the final. In spite of 4 dry breaks, Schon took the first set 5-3. The second set was tighter than the first and with the opposite result. Kathy barely deflected the double dip, winning by a score of 5-4. Schon settled for 2nd place/$480 and Kathy is the new Women’s A Champion.
The Women’s B Singles also started at noon on Wednesday with a field of 69 (10 more than in 2016) playing a race to 5 format on a quest for the $640 first place prize. Kari Stevens (NPL) and Doreen Butler (NPL) met in the hot seat match, with Doreen winning 5-4. Would Kari get a rematch? Yes, she would but she would have to play Karin Moroz (WWA) again to do it. Kari, who sent Karin to the backside, beating her 5-4 just prior to the hot seat match, would again edge her by the same 5-4 score and leave Karin in 3rd place/$305. Kari’s rematch with Doreen was on, but Doreen was too much for Kari (2nd place/$445), winning the match 5-3 and accepting the crown. Good job, Ladies!
Last to begin on Wednesday was the Women’s Senior Singles with 9 entries and a $260 first place cut for the winner. Easy-peasy you might think, small bracket, short races, matches spaced out. Enter FairMatch and this became the toughest division in the entire event populated by the players least able to enter into an endurance contest. Because of the wide disparity in Fargo numbers, more than half of the matches were as extreme as 8/3 and 7/3, with at least one of these ladies playing 3 matches back to back.
So, who survived? Robbin Iredale (MTV), fresh off two energy sapping 8/3 and 7/3 matches, and Marian Squeochs (NPL) met in the hot seat match and played heads up in a race to 5. Robbin prevailed, winning 5-2 and earned a full day off to await the second finalist. Marian waited to see who would come through the backside to meet her in the semi. Wendy Taff (WWA) worked her way to the semi and ended Marian’s tournament (3rd/$55) in a race to 7/3 match by a score of 3-5 and she proceeded to the final on Friday morning. Again, Robbin had to win 7 games to Wendy’s 3. Wendy took off like a shot, taking the first set 3-0. Could she pull off the double dip? The second set started with Robbin taking the first 4 games before Wendy could get on the board (4-1). The ladies traded the next 2 games (5-2) and Wendy was on her hill. No mistakes now for Robbin (1st place/$260) and she bore down and closed out the match 7-2, leaving Wendy in 2nd place/$135.
That left only the GrandMaster/Master division to get going, which both the men and women did on Thursday at 9am. The Women’s GM/Master Singles hit the tables with 21 entries (dramatically down from 37 the year before) and on a quest for the $800 first place prize. This was a race to 6 format and these ladies took it very seriously. Newcomer Mary Ellen Homenchuk (LTD) breezed through the winner’s side easily, never losing more than 2 games along the way, including her 5-1 match with favorite Kim Jones (LTD). Kim waited to see who would emerge to block her rematch and redemption. After losing her second match, Tricia Tipton (CC) clawed her way back, taking our some very tough opponents, to get to the backside semi against Kim. Kim was too much for Tricia (3rd place/$280), taking her down 6-3 on her way to the final. Kim (2nd place/$475) put up a much better fight against Mary Ellen in the final, taking off to a 4-0 lead. Mary Ellen answered back with 4 games of her own and tied up the match at 4-4. The ladies traded the next two games (5-5). With so much pressure, the decider was less than stellar as nerves kicked in with the two missing easy shots and making uncharacteristic mistakes. Kim (2nd place/$475) gave it her all but just couldn’t pull it out, missing a makeable 8-Ball and Mary Ellen (1st place/$800) closed the match out.
Last but by no means least, was the Men’s GrandMaster/Master Singles, also a Thursday, 9am start. There were 42 of Western BCA’s finest players on hand (down from 65 last year at this time) and all in the hunt for the $1300 payoff at the end. Odds on favorite, Stan Tourangeau’s (LTD) road to the hot seat was not an easy one. He had to take out some very strong players along the way, Steve Tune 7-4, Mike Stevens 7-4, David Bersenadze 7-4, John JD Doherty 7-3 and finally Randy Baker for the point, winning that one 7-5. Young phenom, Chris Byers, took a longer route to the final, losing his second match and grinding through to the backside semi against Randy Baker (3rd place/$570) and quickly winning that match 7-2. The final was an interesting contrast in styles with Stan being the controlled breaker and Chris the power breaker. It was a good one. Stan got off to a quick 4-0 lead including three breaks and runs and a run out following Chris’s dry break. Not looking good for Chris. Chris pulled it together and took the next two games after Stan fouled on the break in game 5, setting Chris up to run out and then his own break and run in game 6 to get the score to 2-4. Stan won game 7 with another break and run and game 8 with a good safety which left Chris with a jump shot, subsequent foul and Stan running out. All of a sudden Stan was on the hill. Looking grim for Chris. But Chris was not ready to roll over just yet. He got game 9 following Stan’s dry break and his long 1-9 combo. 6-3. Game 10 was a grinder with Stan missing the 4-Ball trying to get shape on a tough 5 and leaving Chris the run out. 6-4. Stan had the break in game 11 and ran out and it was all over. Chris more than earned his 2nd place/$855 finish and Stan (1st place/$1300) again showed us why is our best.
Make way for team play. Friday saw the room fill up and all the Team Divisions starting at 4:30pm. The Women’s Teams Division fielded 46 teams (down from 52 a year ago). The ladies race to 9, all after the 1st place prize of $1755. NPL Chix (Cindy Doty, Kristin Cambas, Trish White) reached the hot seat unscathed and had to wait to see if their opponent in the hot seat match, COB’s Skoden (Karla Bagley-Tias, Kendra Marcoulier, Deece Suppah, Windy Manuelito) could get the rematch or if another team was more determined to get into the final. Turned out, Skoden couldn’t and LTD’s Keeping Up with the Joneses (Kim Jones, Lisa Foster, Angela Verhoeven) did. Skoden finished in 3rd place/$915 and the Joneses move into the final. NPL Chix were having nothing to do with any double dipping. Keeping Up with the Joneses (2nd place/$1275) could only get 5 games before NPL Chix got the required 9. Kim and Lisa won two games each for the Joneses. Cindy Doty was the force behind NPL Chix’s Championship drive, winning 5 games. Congrats to NPL Chix!
The Men’s B Teams had 61 teams (way up from 44 last year), all with hopes of taking home the 1st place prize of $1800. LTD’s Oh No You Didn’t (Josh Moraga, Ed Ambo, Dennis Keeler) made it undefeated to the finals knocking off LTD’s Grease Monkey Billiard (Al Miller, Jordan Henricsen, Stan Burklund) 11-9 in the point match. Would Grease Monkey Billiard get by INL’s Rogue 9 (Jeremy Coffman, Mungo Becker, Robert Vining) to get to the final? Yes, they would 11-10. Would Grease Monkey Billiard force a 2nd set and possible double dip? Yes, they would 11-9. Would Grease Monkey Billiard complete the double dip and send Oh No You Didn’t home? Yes, they would, again 11-9. Good effort Oh No You Didn’t (2nd place/$1290) and way to go Grease Monkey Billiard (1st place/$1800)!
The Men’s Teams started with 81 teams (down from 109 a year ago), all playing for the 1st place prize of $3210. Unfortunately, a Champion was crowned even though the final was never played. This should not take away from the fine effort the 1st place team, NPL’s Malarkeys (Eddie Mataya, David Lash, Tommy Sliva) made to get through to the final unbeaten. What happened (still under investigation) is unfortunate. Adjustments to the final standings in this division have been made and it is hoped that, with improvements to entry and team registration procedures implemented before the next event, this will never happen again. When the dust settled, Malarkeys was 1st/$3210, LTD’s Good Fellas (Joe Landi, Jacob Dosch, Stan Tourangeau) was 2nd/$2280 and LTD’s Shark Bait (Wayne Hansen, Kevin Robitaille, Jora Sandhu) was 3rd/$1620.
While all the drama and effort that is regular tournament play was going on, those who didn’t have as great a tournament experience had the opportunity to play on and possibly make some money before heading home. 11 of the 13 divisions had 2nd Chance Tournaments. Here are the winners of each.
And finally, we must thank all those who make these events possible. Many are behind the scenes, working long and hard before the next event starts. They do it for love of the game and the unwavering belief that Western BCA is the best amateur pool association in the world and that all the work and time involved to put on these great events is worth it. Most of these people also devote their time at our events to make them run smoothly. Ray Cunningham and his TO staff, the Podium and Payouts staff and Dwayne Payne and his Referee Crew are but a few who make the wheels turn. We cannot thank enough our partner, host and sponsor, Chinook Winds Casino Resort for their continued faith and support as well as Rick and Bonnie Jones of BadBoys Billiards Productions and Lenny Marshall’s OnTheRailTV for getting it done once again.
We hope everyone had a great time in Lincoln City, left with good memories and are looking forward to March, 2018.