2011 8-Ball Men's and Women's GrandMaster Challenges

March 8-10, 2011

Chinook Winds Casino Resort — Lincoln City, Oregon

Story by Andrea Saenz-Maes

Story by Bret Baker

A late invitee chosen to fill a vacant spot snapped off the inaugural Women’s Grandmaster Challenge at the Western BCA Regional 8-Ball Championships in Lincoln City, OR. WBCA master Linda Carter, aka Wonder Woman, won 27 out of a possible 42 games in the three-day, round-robin event at Chinook Winds, earning a $900 paycheck.

BCA started the grandmaster event for the men last year. Clark Smith, owner of Malarkey’s Pool & Brew in Tacoma, generously sponsored the event with a $1,500 contribution. Eight of the Northwest’s top women shooters were invited to participate in the event including, Grand Masters Liz Cole, Cindy Doty, Kim Hole, Kris Robbins, Kimberly Kirk, Andrea Saenz-Maes and Carissa Biggs along with top Masters Carter and Cindy Sliva. When Biggs had to turn down the invitation due to scheduling conflicts, Carter, of Medford, OR was chosen to fill the spot.

The tournament’s round-robin format pitted each player against the other in six-game matches. Each player received a point for each game won. When the first round of play ended, Doty was leading the field after besting opponent Saenz-Maes by a score of 4-2. The rest of the field was tied, with each player earning 3 games from their opponents. “The field is full of talent,” said Saenz-Maes. “If you are not 100 percent, you will lose games. I tried my best but I feel I didn’t play my best pool.”

After the second round, Sliva and Cole were tied and leading the pack with eight games each. Carter and Doty were keeping the competition tight, with seven games each. And when the third round concluded Carter and Sliva were leading the pack, with 12 games each. But that would take a turn in the fourth round, when Carter beat Sliva 6-0. “I played horribly and she played well,” said Sliva. “That did not make a good combination for me. No matter how hard I tried, I could’t finish a rack.” But Sliva wasn’t down for long. She said she gave herself a good talking to and collected herself before her next match, and took out her frustration on Liz Cole in the fifth round, beating her with a score of 5-1. “Cindy Sliva had just come off a 0-6 loss and tore into me,” said Cole. “I didn’t have a chance.

After the fifth round was complete, Carter had 23 games - a full six game lead over the rest of the field. Sliva and Cole were in second, tied with 17 games and Doty trailed them with 16 games. Hole and Robbins were tied with 13 games, Kirk had 12 games and Saenz-Maes had 9. Carter gave up a little ground in the sixth round when she lost 2-4 to Hole. “That was probably my best match,” said Hole, who made a very difficult carom on the 8-ball to cinch the match. “I was so excited about making that shot!”

Cindy Doty made up ground during that sixth round, beating Cole 5-1. Doty, who won the Masters Scotch Doubles event with partner Mike Stevens, said the Grand Masters Challenge was a little grueling after the long days of playing scotch. “I feel I could have played a lot better,” she said. “I was a little tired from the scotch finals and also a little tight. I think this is where the lack of practice showed the most.”

Going in to the final round Carter still held the lead with 25 games. Sliva and Doty were tied with 21 games each and Cole had 18 games. Carter said despite her lead, she couldn’t let down her guard. “The first two days I was fearless – not nervous or scared or anything,” Carter said. “But the last day I had two tough matches – the Kim’s (Kirk and Hole). And in this round robin format every game is important.” Carter said her final match was difficult because she was also watching Sliva and Doty, who were right behind her in points, play each other. “I couldn’t concentrate on my match,” she said. Carter, who played Kirk in the final round, said Kirk made some mistakes and uncharacteristically missed a few balls, giving her two games and leaving her with a total of 27. Sliva beat Doty 5-1 in that final round, to come within a game of the leader.

All the women said they were honored to play in the event and were thankful to Smith for sponsoring it. “The tournament was a terrific success and I was proud and honored to have been invited,” said Kirk. “In addition, I think that the live streaming is a terrific opportunity for the growth of the sport.” Robbins said the field was tough and she enjoyed the competition, but missed playing in the traditional double-elimination format. “One big thing I missed…the heart-pounding hill-to-hill matches and a finals match,” Robbins said. “But I’m very thankful to everyone who volunteers their time to put the regional tournaments together! I very much look forward to these events.” Doty said the Western BCA Regional Championships have come a long way and give players from across the Northwest a great competitive arena to test their skills. “I think it compares to Vegas, which is quite a compliment,” she said.

On March 8-10, 2011 at the Chinook Winds Hotel & Casino, Western BCA held their 2nd Annual Men’s Grand Masters Challenge featuring ten of the top male players in the Northwest and Canada. The format was 8-Ball, round robin, with each player playing each of their competitors in 8 games matches.

The round robin format is different than what most of these players are accustomed to competing in. Each one of them stressed how important each game is as the champion is determined by the total number of wins after all matches have been completed. Not getting down on yourself when things would go bad and maintaining total focus throughout every game were keys to winning noted by almost every player in the competition.

This year’s field included defending champion, Glenn Atwell, along with fellow national and Western BCA grandmasters, Dan Louie, Mike Zimmerman, and Stan Tourangeau. Also in the field were national masters and Western BCA grandmasters Rich Geiler and Don Wirtaman. Filling out the field were top Western BCA master players Eddie Mataya, Matt Horner, Jim Conway and Steve Linglebach (who stepped in to take Todd Marsh’s place at the last minute after he was forced to drop out).

After Day 1 of the competition it was apparent that this would be a tightly contested tournament as nobody was able to distance themselves from the rest of the field. The top six players were separated by only 2 points, with Dan Louie holding a slim one point advantage over Rich Geiler. After Day 2, Dan Louie continued his stellar play and held on to a 2 game lead over Eddie Mataya who was the only other player able to match Louie’s 17 games won on Day 2.

The final day saw competition staying tight, but Dan Louie kept his head down and forged ahead to a 3 day total of 47 wins and the title of 2011 Men’s Grand Masters Challenge Champion. Eddie Mataya finished second with a very respectable 43 wins in the competition. Inaugural Men’s Grand Masters Challenge Champion, Glenn Atwell was the only other player able to break the 40 win mark, finishing in third place with 41 wins. Glenn had the honor of presenting Dan with his beautiful art glass trophy.

Everyone is now eagerly awaiting next year’s 3rd Annual Men’s Grand Masters Challenge. If you can’t make it to Lincoln City to see these great players, makes plans to watch all the action live streamed on the Western BCA website!

The GMC participants and Western BCA would like to extend our deepest gratitude to Uwajimaya Asian Grocery and Gifts for their generous sponsorship of this event. Visit their website at uwajimaya.com.