PoolRoom

U.S. Open Field Down to Half

Ochoa's play is turning some heads.

Ochoa’s play is turning some heads.

The 256-man full-capacity field has been cut in half on the fifth day of the 30th annual U.S. Open 9-ball Championships in Chesapeake, Va. there were no gimme matches left as several big name had slipped into the treacherous, mile-deep losers’ bracket.

Reno Open winner Marlon Manalo and 2003 BCA 9-ball Open titlist Tony Robles found themselves slugging it out deep in the one-loss bracket on Friday afternoon. Nearby, major event winners Marcus Chamat and Mike Davis faced off as red-hot Robb Saez and 2004 BCA champion Thorsten Hohmann battled for survival in the one-loss bracket.

Playing on diamond tables with 4 1/2 inch pockets and an absolutely unforgiving cut the finesse players and most experienced pros seemed to have an edge.

“You aren’t seeing a lot of guys breaking and running out,” said pro Tony Crosby.

Among the 16 players left in the winners’ bracket was Efren Reyes, who dropped defending U.S. Open champ Gabe Owen to the one-loss side, 11-8 on Thursday night. Reyes will meet Filipino countryman Jose Parica on Friday night. After a weak showing at the World Pool Championships, the Filipino contingent is performing quite well here; Alex Pagulayan and a resurgent Francisco Bustamante will meet in a winners’-bracket match on Friday night as well.

So far, the surprise of the tournament is young Sylver Ochoa, 19, a college sophomore at Texas-Pan American and a mainstay on the Fast Eddie’s regional tour. Ochoa beat Keith McCready Thursday night, 11-8, to stay undefeated. He will face Ralf Souquet on Friday night in a winners’-bracket match.

The sixteen players now left in the winners’ bracket are:
Nick Van den Berg, Charlie “Hillbilly” Bryant, Jose Parica, Efren Reyes, Ernesto Dominguez, Charlie Williams, Ralf Souquet, Sylver Ochoa, Tang Hoa, Niels Feijen, Andreas Roschkowsky, Jeremy Jones, Alex Pagulayan, Francisco Bustamante, Johnny Archer and Troy Frank.

GIFT OF GOLD COMES TO CHANG, OUSCHAN, GREENE AND SANCHEZ

As he stood on the medal stand late Sunday afternoon at the Saalbau arena in Bottrop, Germany, Pei-Wei Chang still had a look of amazement on his face. The 26-year-old from Chinese Taipei was the recipient of the gold medal in Men’s 9-Ball at the 2005 World Games, in large part because he was the fortunate recipient of an unfortunate shot.

After making numerous errors in the final games of his gold-medal match against Thorsten Hohmann, allowing the German to make up a 10-6 deficit, Change sat helplessly watching Hohmann work his way carefully through the case rack. But the German undercut a simple shot at the 7 ball in the side pocket, handing the World Games gold to the thankful Taiwanese player.

“I was very, very lucky,” said Chang, runnerup to Alex Pagulayan at the 2004 World Pool Championship. “I gave the match to him, and he gave it back.”

Chang was joined by 18-year-old Austrian Jasmin Ouschan (Women’s 9-Ball), England’s Gerard Greene (Snooker) and Daniel Sanchez of Spain (Carom) as gold medalists, as the billiard competition concluded.

Ouschan, two-time European champion, handled error-prone Jennifer Chen of Chinese Taipei, 9-5, showing steely nerves and a razor-sharp game the belies her 19 years. The Austrian trailed 1-0 against Chen, but rolled out to a 7-2 lead, then buckled down for two solid run-outs to secure the match after Chen had fought back to 7-5.

Sanchez and Holland’s Dick Jaspers put on a nifty 3-cushion exhibition for the capacity crowd at the Saalbau, with Jaspers using a run of 11 to take an 18-14 lead after just four innings. The match stayed close throughout, with Sanchez scoring twice in the 15th inning to reach 40 points. Jaspers responded with three from the break in his half of the inning to tie the match and force a playoff. Each player started with an opening break, with the player who scores more points awarded the victory. Sanchez ran just two from the break shot, but won the match after Jasper’s cue ball froze to an object ball after his break shot. His futile attempt failed, and Sanchez, who won the gold medal at the 2001 World Games in Akita, Japan, nabbed the top prize.

Greene, a 31-year-old, upset Chinese sensation Junhui Ding, in the snooker finale, rebounding from a 3-1 frame deficit to win, 4-3. The final frame was not decided until Greene banged home a cross-side shot on the green for a 71-45 win.

But it was the seesaw, emotionally draining Chang-Hohmann match that had the crowd buzzing. Confident and precise, Chang raced off to a 4-0 lead in the race-to-11. But a poor safety attempt in the fifth rack gave Hohmann a chance to loosen his powerful arm, and quickly the match was knotted at 4-4. Hohmann earned what would be his only lead at 5-4, then Chang returned to form and won four consecutive games for a seemingly insurmountable 10-6 lead. With alternating breaks, Chang would have at least three opportunities to close out the match. A scratch on the 1 ball turned into a two-game swing, as Hohmann cleared that rack, then ran out from the break to cut the lead to 10-8.

Chang then missed a long, but simple, shot on the 2, and the lead was down to a single game. Even after Hohmann scratched on his break in the next game, Chang failed to get out, hooking himself on the 4 ball and fouling on his kick attempt. In the case game, Chang opened with a soft 1-5 combination, but again he ended up hooked on his next shot. Chang barely clipped the 1, and left Hohmann a table-length cut on the 1 along the bottom rail. And when Hohmann sliced the 1 in, much to the delight of the partisan crowd, Chang’s fate appeared sealed.

But Hohmann left himself a thin cut on the 7 ball to the side pocket, and left the 7 dangling in the jaws. A shocked Chang carefully pocketed the final three balls for the gold medal.

Gold Medal Matches Set

CHANG, OUSCHAN ADVANCE AT WORLD GAMES

Pei-Wei Chang of Chinese Taipei cruised past unheralded Vangelis Vettas of Greece, 11-7, Saturday afternoon to move into Sunday’s Gold Medal match against German Thorsten at the World Games in Duisburg, Germany. Chang, runnerup to Alex Pagulayan in the 2004 World Pool Championships, never trailed in the match.

In the women’s 9-ball division, 18-year-old Jasmin Ouschan, of Austria handled former WPBA player Line Kjorsvik of Norway, 9-5. Ouschan will meet WPBA star Jennifer Chen of Chinese Taipei for the Gold Medal.
In Snooker, 31-year-old Brit Gerard Greene defeated Belgium’s Bjorn Haneveer, 4-2, to move into a Gold Medal match against 18-year-old Chinese sensation Jun-Hui Ding.

And in Carom, defending World Games gold medalist Daniel Sanchez beat Turkey’s Murat Coklu, 40-27 in 29 innings. Sanchez will meet Belgian Dick Jaspers for the Gold.

Foldes Upsets Pagulayan at WPC

20-year-old Vilmos Foldes, the Hungarian European No.8, has caused another big upset at the 2005 Kaohsiung World Pool Championship as he knocked out defending champion Alex Pagulayan in a 10 – 8 dog fight.

Lion Wins Derby City Ring Game

The 2005 Derby City Classic is underway with 408 players competing in the bank pool event. That is more more players than competed last year. Promoter Greg Sullivan was elated with the event so far. “It is great to see our goals being accomplished in such a big way” Sullivan said.

The 10-Ball ring game took place in front of a standing room only crowd between Efren Reyes, Johnny Archer, Shannon Daulton, John Schmidt, Robb Saez and Alex Pagulayan. Each player was putting up $3000 for the chance to walk away with $18,000.

Johnny Archer was the first player eliminated, and Robb Saez quickly joined him as a spectator. At the time of Saez’s elimination, Alex Pagulayan led with $8600. John Schmidt was in second with $5000 and Efren Reyes was in third with $3600. Shannon Daulton is on the bubble with $1100 and the players are playing for $400 a rack.

Shannon Daulton was the third player eliminated. At the time of the elimination, Alex Pagulayan held $7100 with Efren Reyes and John Schmidt only $100 apart at $5500 and $5400.

The fourth player eliminated was John Schmidt and Alex Pagulayan was in the lead with $9900 and Efren Reyes trailing with $8100. At that time, the format went to ‘no miss – roll out’ where a player can push out at any time, but the next shooter must make a ball or give up ball in hand. The wager on each game was raised to the amount that the lower player had, which meant the first game was for $8100.

It only took one game after that when Efren missed a ball mid-rack and Alex ran out for the ring game win.

Alex, the Lionhearted

Alex Pagulayan

Alex Pagulayan

Down 8-2 and fearing he would lose his second straight World Pool Championship final, steely Alex Pagulayan lived up to his nickname, “The Lion,” and roared back to score a 17-13 victory Sunday night in Taipei City, Taiwan.

Hometown favorite Pei-Wei Chang seemed invincible in the early rounds, drilling tough shots from every point on the table and stymieing Pagulayan with lock-tight safeties. But, at 11-6, Chang missed a 2 ball and gave Pagulayan some breathing room. Slowly gathering momentum and falling into his familiar jaunty rhythm, the 26-year-old Filipino (now living in Canada) started stitching together racks and forged an 11-11 tie. With Chang back on top, 13-11, Pagulayan threaded the cue ball through a tight opening in a Chang safety to sink the 1 ball and score a carom on the 4 on the same shot, blowing a hole in Chang’s title hopes. He then cruised through six consecutive racks to claim the $75,000 title, sparking a wild celebration that sent him leaping and dancing around the arena.

Chang, a 25-year-old Taipei resident, won $35,000 for his second-place finish. He ably represented an enormously impressive Taiwanese contingent at the WPC, which placed four shooters in the final eight. They had no answer for Pagulayan, however, who defeated no fewer than four Taiwanese aces on his way to the title.

It was a career-defining victory for the so-called “Killer Pixie,” who refused to relive the 2003 WPC final when he fell into a hole against Germany’s Thorsten Hohmann and couldn’t recover. He also hoped not to repeat the final of the 2002 U.S. Open, where he lost to Germany’s Ralf Souquet.

“No more second place!” Pagulayan screamed as he ran through the arena after his victory, soon breaking into a rendition of “We Are the Champions.”

For more details from the 2004 World Pool Championship, check out the event’s Web site at www.worldpoolchampionship.com.

“Killer Pixie” gets shot at redemption

402aAlex Pagulayan has earned a return trip to the finals of the World Pool Championship, set for Sunday night in Taipei City, Taiwan. The fiery Filipino (now living in Canada) came up short against little-known Thorsten Hohmann in the finals of the WPC in 2003. This year, the “Killer Pixie” will meet an even more obscure opponent, 25-year-old Pei-Wei Chang from Taiwan, who shocked Johnny Archer 11-10 in the quarterfinals and then came back from a 6-1 deficit against Sweden’s Marcus Chamat to win his semifinal match, 11-9.

Check out http://www.billiardsdigest.com/tournaments/index?tournament_id=11 for BD’s on-the-spot coverage, or check out the event’s Web site at http://www.worldpoolchampionship.com

Host Country Celebrates WPC

402aThe field of 128 of the world’s best 9-ballers has been whittled to eight at the World Pool Championship in Taipei, Taiwan, and the host country has a lot to celebrate. When play begins on Saturday evening (Taipei time), no less than half the field will hail from Taiwan, including two-time world champion Fong-Pang Chao (1993, 2000). Here are the matchups for the quarterfinals, which will be immediately followed by semifinal matches:

Pei-Wei Chang (Chinese Taipei) vs. Johnny Archer (USA)
Alex Pagulayan (Canada) vs. Fong-Pang Chao (Chinese Taipei)
Marcus Chamat (Sweden) vs. Marlon Manalo (Philippines)
Po-Cheng Kuo (Chinese Taipei) vs. Ching-Ching Kang (Chinese Taipei)

Check out http://www.billiardsdigest.com/tournaments/index?tournament_id=11 for BD’s on-the-spot coverage, or check out the event’s Web site at http://www.worldpoolchampionship.com

Reyes Shines at Derby City

Reyes like what he saw on the table at Derby City.

Reyes like what he saw on the table at Derby City.

Philippine sensation Efren Reyes proved to be the ringmaster of the three-ring circus of pool known as the Derby City Classic, which finally came to a close on Saturday, Jan. 24, in Louisville, Ky. After faring poorly in the bank-pool competition, Reyes logged a first-place finish in the one-pocket competition and was runner-up in the 9-ball event. That was enough to earn him the Derby City “Master of the Table” crown and its $20,000 grand prize.

A 24-hour, 9-day pool orgy for both gamblers and serious tournament players, the Classic kicked off on Jan. 16 with a $30,000 ring game between Cory Deuel, Jimmy Wetch, Alex Pagulayan, Earl Strickland, Rodney Morris and Charlie Williams. Deuel eventually outlasted Pagulayan for the $30,000 prize in a match that went well past five hours. The event proved so popular that Derby City organizers hastily assembled a six-man cast for the next night for another $30,000. In that six-hour tilt, BD Player of the Year Johnny Archer bested Pagulayan, Reyes, Ralf Souquet, John Schmidt and Jose Parica.

More than 300 players entered each of the three main events at Derby City this year. Jason Miller of Dayton, Ohio, took the 9-ball bank pool crown and its $8,000 first prize after besting undefeated John Brumback twice in the true double-elimination final (Derby City players with one loss can buy back into the tournament once in each division). Reyes mopped up Chicagoan Marco Marquez in the one-pocket final, 3-0, after his foe failed to take advantage of a commanding lead in the first game.

Pocketing the $9,000 one-pocket prize, Reyes then plowed through the 9-ball field, only to meet the similarly undefeated Souquet in the final. Souquet took the first match, 7-2, and after Reyes bought back in, “The Kaiser” toppled Reyes again by an identical score. The win brought a $13,000 payday for the German, who entered all three events this year without ever having played bank pool or one-pocket in a serious tournament setting.

All stars in Lexington

John Brumback, a consistent finisher on the Viking 9-Ball Tour, came up with an All-Star performance, holding off Alex Pagulayan, 11-5, in the final of the Lexington All-Stars Championship, in Lexington, Ky., Nov. 15-19. The victory earned Brumback $7,000, while Pagulayan left with $4,400.

Without a tournament victory to speak of this year, Brumback took down Troy Frank and George “Ginky” SanSouci before suffering his first loss of the tournament to Dee Adkins. On the one-loss side, Brumback defeated Jon Kucharo, SanSouci again and Adkins for a date with Pagulayan in the final. Two weeks after finishing second to Nick Varner in Grady Mathews’ “One Pocket Championship of the World,” Pagulayan once again fell in a championship match. Adkins finished third, worth $3,300, followed by SanSouci, who collected $2,300.