PoolRoom

By the Skins of His Teeth: Feijen Wins $42,500 at Skins Event Debut

Trailing badly late in the finals of the inaugural Skins Billiard Championship, steely Niels Feijen of Holland summoned the composure to win three games in a row and pocket a knee-knocking $35,000 – enough to seize the lead and eventually win the debut event.

“I got out, and I didn’t know how much it was for,” said the jubilant Feijen after accepting a massive winner’s check for $42,500. “I sat down, and I heard it was for like $35,000, and I was like, ‘Man!’ … I knew it was big. But to get the skin, that was the pressure. It was intense. I mean, I was almost going to faint after I made the 9. I was super-shaking.”

Producers Allen Hopkins and Billiards International hope that the Skins Billiards Championship, held Nov. 19-20 in Atlantic City, N.J., will fill TV viewers with the same sense of anticipation. Patterned after the “skins” game in golf, the event was designed to capitalize on the public’s recent rabid fascination with games of chance, such as Texas Hold ’Em poker.

Here, 16 of the world’s top shooters vied for a cut of the gaudy $130,000 prize fund. (Each player ponied up a $5,000 entry fee, and the promoters added another $50,000.) In the first round, four sets of four players squared off, with each player taking $500 for each game won. The top eight winners advanced to the semis (to be televised with the final on ESPN in January), where the “skins” came into play. Each game carried a value, which would roll into the next until a player could win three games in a row (the “skin”).

The fast-paced and unpredictable format seemed to trump the typical mano-a-mano 9-ball telecast. Here, players openly rooted against whichever contestant seemed closest to a skin, and the loose atmosphere prompted several zingy exchanges between players and audience members. In a bit of a coup for the promoters, loose cannons Keith McCready and Earl Strickland both made it into the televised semis, and their lips were flapping. After Strickland thwarted Charlie Williams’ run for a skin in the semis, he turned to the bench and quipped acidly, “You guys are lucky. You’re pulling for me now. It’s the only time a pool player has pulled for me.”

The swings in fortune were intense. Heading into the four-man finals, Thorsten Hohmann and Willams led with $22,000 and $21,500, respectively. Feijen and Rodney Morris pulled up the rear with just $7,500 and $6,500. But by the fourth game, Morris had won the first skin, worth a hefty $13,000. Morris later ruined Hohmann’s bid for the second skin (by then worth $18,000) with a quick break-and-run. Feijen took the advantage from Morris in the next game with a break-and-run, then watched as Williams missed the 1 in the next game, leading to a two-game streak. In the next game, Hohmann tried a chancy 1-9 combo a good 24 inches from the corner pocket, and missed. That let Feijen back to the table to wrap up his $35,000 skin in the 11th game of the 12-game final.

Morris then won a playoff for the remaining $6,000 skin, putting him in second place overall with $25,500. Williams and Hohmann left with the same amount they had at the beginning of the final.

“That is one advantage this has over the ring game format,” Williams said, comparing the skins event to the other gambling-style game currently in vogue at pool tournaments. “With a ring game, there is one winner and five losers. Whereas here, everybody can win some money.” — Mason King

Parica fills out Skins Semifinals

Jose Parica snared the final spot in the semifinal round of the Skins Billiards Championship late on Friday night and, in doing so, narrowly averted a playoff with at least two other opponents to reach the big-money rounds of the $130,000 tournament.

Parica will be joined in the semis – where $42,000 will be up for grabs – by Johnny Archer, Luc Salvas, Rodney Morris, Santos Sambajon, Ralf Souquet, Cory Deuel and Danny Basavich. The four players then advancing to the finals will play for an additional $54,000.

The Skins opening round kicked off Friday afternoon at the Resorts hotel and casino in Atlantic City, N.J., with 16 players divided into four brackets, playing for $500 per game. Each bracket consisted of 16 games, thus allowing a total of $8,000 in prize money per bracket. The eight players with the highest prize totals at the end of the round would advance to the semis.

By the end of play in the third bracket, it became clear that a player would need at least $2,000 to have a shot at the semis. When Basavich reached $3,000 late in the fourth bracket, all the pieces fell into place. If Parica could win one more game and reach $2,500, the final eight would be set. If he finished with just $2,000, he and at least two other players with $2,000 would have to duke it out in a playoff for the eighth spot

It came down to the 15th game, when the shooting order allowed Parica one final turn to break.

Charlie Williams and Mika Immonen, both with $2,000 from previous rounds, huddled in the back of the cavernous Superstar Theatre, rooting for Basavich to win the deciding game. But even on the ropes, Parica was too clever for his foe. Stymied by a safety, Parica decided to foul intentionally and sabotage Basavich’s runout by nestling the 5 next to the 8. Sure enough, Basavich’s runout stalled at the 5, and Parica nailed a tough cross-side bank on the 5 to take control of the table and eventually win the game.

“I’m more experienced than anybody,” the plucky Filipino said. “I think. I make the smart play.”
The Skins action will finish up Saturday evening. Check back for the final results.

Mosconi Cup Teams Announced

Promoters Matchroom Sport have announced the teams for this year’s Mosconi Cup. Johnny Archer captains the American team; he is joined by Rodney Morris, Gabe Owen, Tony Robles, Earl Strickland and Charlie Williams. Germany’s Oliver Ortmann heads up the European team, which also includes Marcus Chamat, Steve Davis, Thomas Engert, Niels Feijen and Mika Immonen.

The Mosconi Cup takes place December 16-19 at the Hotel Zuiderduin in Egmond aan Zee, Holland.

Schmidt wins Firecracker Open

John Schmidt came back from a long stay on the one-loss side to avenge his only loss to Mika Immonen and won The Florida Firecracker Open at Capones Billiards in Springhill, Fl.

The tournament, a stop on the Seminole Florida Pro Tour, drew a field of 62 players to Capones for the two day affair. Schmidt had a perfect Saturday with wins over Rick Croney, Eric David and Robb Saez. Sunday was a different story though, as Schmidt lost a 9-4 match to ‘The Iceman’ Mika Immonen.

After the victory over Schmidt, Immonen cruised into the hot-seat relatively untested with a 9-2 win over Capone’s housepro Rodney Morris and a 9-4 win over ‘The Korean Dragon’ Charlie Williams.

Schmidt took the trip to the one-loss side and landed on his feet. A 9-3 win over Jimmy Wale got a five match winning streak started on the left side of the board. Schmidt beat Ray Martin 9-3, Danny Harriman (who won at Capones last year) 9-7, Buddy Hall 9-4 and Charlie Williams 9-4 to get to the finals.

Schmidt was not content with just a trip to the finals though, as he quickly jumped out to a 5-1 lead over Immonen in the final set. The players traded games until the 7-3 mark when Immonen put on a run and tied the match at 7-7. With the match tied at 7-7, both players knew it was a straight race to four for the title and Immonen was breaking. Immonen may have reached back a little too far looking for a strong break as he knocked the cue-ball off the table in rack 15 and was forced to watch Schmidt take control of the match again. From that point, Schmidt won the next four games to score the 11-7 victory.

Schmidt pocketed $3500 for first place, while Immonen was forced to settle for $2000. Charlie Williams and Buddy Hall filled out the top four spots. The Seminole Florida Pro Tour will be at Planet 9 Ball in Tampa, Fl on July 31st – August 1st for their next event. That event is limited to the first 64 players who pay their entry so players should get their entry in soon. Players can contact Planet 9-Ball owner Ken Miller at 813-891-1450 to sign up.

Japan Cup Day 1 complete

Shuji Nagata

Shuji Nagata

Day one of the 6th Japan Cup is complete with most of the top seeds from the field of 83 players advancing to day two untouched.

After the first day of play, Efren Reyes, Francisco Bustamante, Ralf Souquet, Thorsten Hohmann and Mika Immonen are joined by Antonio Lining, Ramil Gallego, Young Hwa Jeong, Charlie Williams, Hiroshi Takenaka, Shintaro Sugaya, Terukazu Mukai, Go Takami and Syuji Nagata on the winners side.

Warren Kiamco and Dennis Orcullo did take early trips to the one loss side, but are still playing. Mike Massey has been eliminated.

Japanese players are performing well on their home turf. Go Takami upset Warren Kiamco 9-6 and Shuji Nagata beat Antonio Gabica 9-1 on day one.

The tournament runs until June 13th with a wheelchair event beginning Thursday and a Women’s division beginning June 12th.

Further information from the event is available on the official website at http://www.ibcjapancup.com/

Archer Takes Predator Central Florida Title

Johnny Archer earned his second big win this year with an undefeated run through the field of 64 players at The 4th Annual Predator Central Florida Pro Open, held at Pro Billiards in Orlando, Fla., May 27-30.

Archer went undefeated to the title at this same event last year. This year, after a first-round 9-8 win over Josh Degler, Archer did not let any opponent win more than 6 games against him.

Archer sent “Hillbilly Charlie Bryant to the one-loss side, 9-4, and then met Bryant again in the final, where Archer took a decisive 13-3 win for the title.

Archer collected $5,000 for first, while Bryant settled for $2,500 for second place. Danny Harriman and Charlie Williams filled out the top four places.

For details and brackets, visit www.azbilliards.com

Archer Takes Players Championship

Johnny Archer won the Brunswick Men’s Professional Players Championship, held March 25-28 at the Super Billiards Expo in Valley Forge, Pa.

Archer took a surprise second-round loss to Frankie Hernandez, 10-2, and then charged through 10 straight matches in the left bracket for the win. Notable victories included a hill victory over Charlie Williams, plus wins over Mika Immonen and Ralf Souquet.

In the final against Jose Parica, Archer dominated, 10-4, collecting $10,000 for the title. Parica took home $5,000 while Souquet and Jose Garcia took home $3,500 and $2,500 for third and fourth places, respectively.

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.

Mika Immonen Crowned UPA Champion

Mika Immonen scored a 13-2 win over Charlie Williams and won the UPA Pro Tour Championship held at The Bicycle Club in Bell Gardens, Ca.

Immonen survived two hill-hill matches on his way to the finals, one with Jose Parica and another with Ralf Souquet for the point.

Immonen earned $10,000 for the win, the first major event of the new year. Williams won $5000 for second.

Patriot Games

93aTeam Predator, consisting of the top players from the Florida Tour, defeated Team Joss of the Joss Northeast Tour in the inaugural Patriot Cup held at Planet 9-Ball in Tampa, Fla., Feb. 15-17. Charlie Williams, the event’s promoter, had a hand in several key matches that led to his team’s victory, including a win over George SanSouci in the break contest. The three-day event pitted the rival tours against one another in a series of games, including 9-ball, 10-ball, straight pool and one-pocket.

Team Predator’s roster featured Ray Martin (team captain), Buddy Hall, Nick Varner, Tommy Kennedy and Williams. Runner-up Team Joss included Mike Zuglan (team captain), Tony Robles, Frankie Hernandez, Mika Immonen and SanSouci. The event is scheduled to return next year in a location to be determined. For complete coverage of the event, check the April issue of Billiards Digest.