Reyes Pockets Pool’s Biggest Payout

60aEfren “The Magician” Reyes pulled out the largest tournament payday in the history of the game by topping Dutch phenom Niels Feijen, 15-7, in the final of theTokyo-9-Ball ¥100,000,000 International Billiard Tournament in Tokyo, Japan, on Nov. 14, to collect approximately US$160,000. Reyes emerged from a mammoth field that topped 700 players to register the victory.

Feijen, who added to his breakout 2001 season by finishing in second, took home approximately $64,000 after knocking out 2000 World Pool-Billiard Association World Champion Fong-Pang Chao and Australian Johl Younger to reach the final match. Earlier in the year, Feijen notched back-to-back fifth-place finishes in the WPA World 9-Ball Championships and the U.S. Open.

Strickland’s holiday wish

By edging Efren Reyes, 13-9, in the final of the US-RP Challenge in Muntinlupa City, Philippines, American Earl Strickland may have already secured his biggest holiday wish. “Finally, I got what I wished for,” Strickland told the Philippine Daily Inquirer, “to beat Reyes on his own turf.” With the victory, Strickland earned $20,000, while Reyes took home $10,000 for second place.

After knocking off Francisco Bustamante in the semifinals, 13-9, Strickland held off all of Reyes’ comeback efforts in the final, including a brief run that cut Strickland’s 10-6 lead in half. Strickland added wins in three of he final four racks to claim the victory.

Efren’s Revenge!

After losing to countryman Francisco Bustamante in the Challenge of Champions, and to Charlie Williams in the final of the Big Apple 9-Ball Challenge, Efren Reyes nabbed his second U.S. title of the year at the Gabriel’s Las Vegas 9-Ball Open in Las Vegas. Reyes, who exacted revenge by beating Williams, 10-5, in the winner’s bracket semi-final of the 64-player field, defeated Dutchman Neils Feijen, 10-7, in the title match to earn the $10,000 top prize. Reyes also won the Mid-Atlantic Open in January.

Johnny Archer finished third at the Riviera Hotel, followed by Williams in fourth place. Feijen, the 26-year-old current European 14.1 champion, reached his spot in the final by surviving loser’s bracket shoot-outs with Alex Lely, Danny Harriman, Max Eberle, Williams and Archer. He earned $5,000 as runner-up.

Williams Beats Reyes for Big Apple Title

Williams' cues may be up in the air, but his game is rock solid.

Williams’ cues may be up in the air, but his game is rock solid.

Charlie Williams went undefeated at the Big Apple 9-Ball Challenge, Aug. 15-17 at Master Billiards in Queens, New York. Williams took the title in the final over Efren Reyes, 13-8. His win came right on the heels of an 11-9 hot-seat victory over Reyes.

Williams’ back-to-back wins over “The Magician” were all the more impressive because he played every game with a borrowed cue. Williams’ plane was rerouted to Connecticut because his flight was in the air at the time of the blackout that affected many cities in the Eastern U.S. and Canada, and in the confusion, his luggage (including his cues) was lost.

Williams took home $12,000 for the win, while Reyes settled for $7,000. In third was Rodney Morris for $4,500; Jose Parica took fourth place and $3,000 and Francisco Bustamante and Alex Pagulayan tied at fifth for $2,000 apiece.

Lights are ON for Big Apple 9-Ball Challenge

Despite Thursday’s massive power outage, which brought New York City to a virtual standstill, the Big Apple 9-Ball Challenge at Master Billiards in Queens will kick off Friday afternoon as scheduled. According to tournament director Alexandra Dyer, power has been fully restored at the billiard club, and a stellar 90-player field is slated for action.

“I’ll admit,” said Dyer Friday morning, just prior to the player’s draw, “last night was really bleak. I tried to be philosophical, telling myself to deal with this the best way we can. Then the power came back on at around five o’clock this morning. It was such a relief.”

Dyer added that several players phoned in, citing difficulties in getting into the city, but that their arrivals were imminent.

“We’ll fall just short of a 96-player field,” Dyer said. “But I’m ecstatic that we have 90 players and such a strong field.”

Buoyed by the attendance of star players who participated in the eight-player International Challenge of Champions, held Wednesday and Thursday in nearby Uncasville, Conn., and won by Francisco Bustamante, the Big Apple 9-Ball Challenge field includes Bustamante, Efren Reyes, Holland’s Nick Van den Berg, Germany’s Ralf Souquet and American Johnny Archer. The $20,000-added tournament runs through Sunday.

Kelly, Reyes, To Be Inducted Into Hall of Fame

This year's BCA Expo will see two living legends inducted into the Hall of Fame.

This year’s BCA Expo will see two living legends inducted into the Hall of Fame.

This year’s inductees into the Billiard Congress of America’s Hall of Fame are Edwin “Champagne Eddie” Kelly, 64, and Efren “The Magician” Reyes, 50. For two candidates to be inducted in one year, the second candidate’s votes must total at least 50 percent of the top player’s tally.

Edwin Kelly made his name during the peak of the legendary Johnston City (Illinois) tournaments in the 1960s. He won the one-pocket and 9-ball titles in 1966. The versatile Kelly won titles in four different games during his career: one-pocket, 14.1, straight pool, and three-cushion.

Efren Reyes was the leading figure of the Philippine “invasion” of the 1980s and 1990s. Among the most recent of his many major titles was the Tokyo 9-Ball International Billiard Tournament in 1991, which paid him $160,000 for first place. Reyes is considered by many to be the world’s best living 9-ball player.

(Michael Shamos, curator of The Billiard Archive, contributed to these player biographies)

Efren Reyes Takes Mid-Atlantic 9-Ball Crown

The ever-humble Reyes chalked his win up to luck.

The ever-humble Reyes chalked his win up to luck.

Efren “Bata” Reyes took the title at the Mid Atlantic 9-Ball Championship in Chesapeake, Va., held Jan. 22-26. He defeated Korean ace Young Hwa Jeong, 13-7, revenging an earlier loss to Jeong in the winners’-side semifinal.

Efren put in a stunning run to get to the finals, holding his opponents to the single digits in race-to-11 games. He defeated Leonardo Andam, 11-5, Mike Lebron, 11-3, Tony Robles, 11-7, Jose Parica, 11-5, Jim Rempe, 11-3, and Francisco Bustamante, 11-6, before losing to Jeong, 11-8, and taking at trip to the losers’ side. Once there, he defeated Bustamante again, 11-8, to earn himself the final rematch with Jeong.

Both finalists were in top form for the duration of the tournament, and the final showcased nearly flawless play by both competitors. Reyes felt that the turning point in the final was a single missed shot by Jeong, coupled with a dose of luck: “I was behind 4-3 and Young missed a shot. This is when I got lucky, because the gods smiled on me and I knew it was my chance to win. I am very lucky.”

Reyes Declared Champion of Champions

Reyes holds the winning check.

Reyes holds the winning check.

Efren Reyes triumphed at the 2002 International Challenge of Champions, held Aug. 14-15 at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Conn. Reyes defeated Finland’s Mika Immonen in a sudden-death winner-takes-all tiebreaker to be crowned this year’s “champion of champions.”

Eight “international champions” took part in the made-for-TV event: Netherlands National Champion Neils Feijen; 2001 IBC tour winner Reyes, Taiwan’s Hsiao-Lang Fang, Great Britain’s Steve Knight, Australia’s Johl Younger, American Cory Deuel, Japan’s Satoshi Kawabata, and Immonen.

Reyes first defeated Feijen in the single-elimination race-to-7 first round, 7-5; he then defeated Fang two sets in a row in the semi final, 5-2 and 5-3. Reyes lost his first set to Immonen in the final, 5-3, and won the next, 5-4, to force the single-game tiebreaker which he clinched to win the $50,000 purse. The crowd gave Reyes’ win a standing ovation.

The two semifinals and the Championship match were taped by ESPN for broadcast beginning August 25th. Check BD’s online schedule and your local listings for exact times.