PoolRoom

World Games Quarterfinals Set

Americans Rodney Morris, Charlie Williams and Vivian Villarreal will take U.S. medal hopes into quarterfinal matches today at the World Games in Duisburg, Germany.

In men’s 9-ball, Morris, who routed Aruba’s Roland Acosta, 11-4, on Wednesday, will face Germany’s Thomas Engert, and Williams, an 11-7 winner over Japan’s Massashi Hoshi, will battle Vangelis Vettas of Greece. Vettas shocked Germany’s Ralf Souquet, 11-10, in the opening round of the 16-player single-elimination event.

Villiarreal, the lone U.S. competitor in the women’s 9-ball division, faces Korea’s Sung-Hyun Jung. Defending champion Jeanette Lee pulled out of the competition at the last minute because of impending back surgery.

Sweden’s Tom Storm, Germany’s Thorsten Hohmann, Holland’s Neils Feijen and Chinese star Pei-Wei Chang round out the final eight in the men’s division.

Top-ranked Allison Fisher, Taiwan’s Jennifer Chen, Italy’s Tiziana Cacciamani, Austria’s Jasmine Ouschan, Japan’s Yukiko Hamanishi and former WPBA regular Line Kjorsvik of Norway make up the remaining women competitors.

Men’s carom billiards and men’s snooker is also being contested at the international sports festival, which is seen as an important stepping stone for the cue sports’ Olympic Games hopes. Two high-ranking officials, Kelly Fairweather, Sports Director of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Ron Froelich, President of the International World Games Association (IWGA), were on hand at the Saalbau arena in Bottrop for the opening matches of the billiard competition.

U.S. Fields Powerhouse Platoon for World Championship

The United States has fielded one of its strongest contingents yet for the 2005 World Pool Championship, bringing 12 proven shooters with at least one significant title each.

Producer Matchroom Sport this week announced the draw for the round-robin stage of the 128-man event, to be held July 2-10 in Kaohsiung, Taiwan.

The U.S. contingent will consist of former world champions Johnny Archer and Earl Strickland; U.S. Open victors Rodney Morris, Jeremy Jones and Gabe Owen; Reno Open champs Mike Davis, John Schmidt and Danny Basavich; BCA Open winners Cory Deuel and Charlie Williams; Glass City Open champion Charles Bryant; and 2005 Pro Players title-holder Shawn Putnam. (Several of these players have won more than one major title.)

At least in this case, new performance-based entry criteria devised by Matchroom Sport appear to have accomplished the goal of fielding the strongest players from participating countries. In recent years, with the United States Professional Poolplayers Association charged with fielding America’s participants, several marginal players slipped into the tournament when higher-ranked players declined invitations.

This year’s WPC field will feature players from at least 45 different countries. Six remaining slots for the final 128 will be determined during a qualifying tournament to be held in late June in Kaohsiung.

In the round-robin stage, it appears that Schmidt and Deuel have the toughest draws. Deuel’s 8-man group includes Holland’s Niels Feijen, Korea’s Young-hwa Jeong, Ronato Alcano from the Phillippines, Thorsten Schober from Germany and Italian champ Fabio Petroni.

Schmidt must contend with Sweden’s Marcus Chamat, Germany’s Andreas Roschkowsky, Gandy Valle of the Philippines, Spanish star David Alcaide, and Ying-chieh Chen of Taiwan, among others.

The top 64 players from the round-robin stage will advance to the single-elimination round. This year’s top prize is $75,000.

Results Rolling in for European Championships

The European Pool Championships are well underway, with winners in from many divisions. The multi-part event started April 20, in Veldhoven, The Netherlands, and goes through April 30th. An all-time high of 34 countries are represented.

The men’s and women’s straight pool and 8-ball divisions have crowned champions. On April 26, Alex Lely bested Thomas Kaplan, 8-7, in the men’s 8-ball final. The same day, Cristine Naeff took the women’s 8-ball, 6-2, over Wendy Jans. It is Naeff’s first European title.

Friday the 24th, In straight pool, Germany’s Thorsten Hohmann beat countryman Nicolas Otterman to the title by a lopsided 125-3. On the women’s side, former WPBA National Amateur champion Jasmin Ouschan squeaked by Diana Stateczny, 75-60.

The 9-ball divisions, men’s and women’s, are still in progress, and will conclude on Friday. The team competitions wrap up on Saturday evening. Among those still alive in the single-elimination men’s final 32 are Ralf Souquet, Mika Immonen, Niels Feijen, Hohmann, and Marcus Chamat. Among the women, Ouschan and Jans are still in action, as is WPBA regular Kim Shaw.

Deuel wins UPA Championship

Corey Deuel completed an undefeated run to win the UPA Pro Tour Championship at the Bicycle Club in Bellflower California this weekend.

Deuel, known as the master of the soft break, was working that break to perfection all weekend and had wins over Charlie Williams, Mika Immonen and Efren Reyes before a 7-5 win over Danny Basavich for the hot-seat.

On the one-loss side, Basavich eliminated US Open Champion Gabe Owen 7-3 and forced Owen to settle for third place.

The finals were one race to seven on the ESPN table, and it went all the way to hill-hill before Corey put it away.

Deuel earned $10,000 for first place, while Basavich settled for $5000 in second place prize money. Owen and Efren Reyes filled out the top four places.

Complete Results:
1st Corey Deuel $10,000
2nd Danny Basavich $5,000
3rd Gabe Owen $4,000
4th Efren Reyes $3,000
5th/6th Rodney Morris, Mika Immonen $2,400
7th/8th Ralf Souquet, Santos Sambajon $1,850
9th/12th Frankie Hernandez, Mike Davis, Paul Potier, Troy Frank $1,350
13th/16th Francisco Bustamante, Johnny Archer, Tony Robles, Rodolfo Luat $900
17th/24th Charlie Williams, Neil Fujiwara, Bill Ferguson, Danny Kuykendall, Dave Hemmah, Max Eberle, Robb Saez, Charlie Bryant $400

Far From Over

Once again it looked as if the Americans were poised to shut the door on the 2004 Mosconi Cup, and once again Team Europe wedged its collective foot in the way.

As was the case Saturday night in the ballroom of the Hotel Zuiderduin in Egmond aan Zee, Holland, Team USA posted a critical win in the opening match of the session to extend their advantage, then watched the Euros storm back with consecutive match wins. In what was then viewed as the most important match of the tournament, Rodney Morris continued his MVP play for the Americans, topping Euro ace Mika Immonen, 5-3, to give Team USA a 10-6 lead in the race-to-12 team tournament.

But Dutch national treasure Niels Feijen revived Team Europe’s hopes with a 5-2 win over mistake-prone Johnny Archer. And in a repeat of his Saturday night heroics, pint-sized Swede Marcus Chamat came through in the clutch, beating Tony Robles, 5-3, to pull the Euros to within two points at 10-8.

The Americans still have Earl Strickland, Gabe Owen and Charlie Williams for Sunday night’s session, with the Euros banking on Steve Davis, Thomas Engert and Oliver Ortmann. If the match reaches a 22nd and/or 23rd match, the teams will be allowed “Captain’s Choice” selections.

Unlikely Heroes Bouy U.S.

Backed by the solid play of Charlie Williams and Gabe Owen, Team U.S.A. took a 5-4 lead after Day Two of the 11th Mosconi Cup in Egmond aan Zee, Holland, Friday night.

With the race-to-12 transatlantic team 9-ball tilt tied 3-3 going into singles play, the U.S. took a calculated risk, opening with captain Johnny Archer and following with Williams and Owen. Williams had lost his previous six Mosconi Cup matches, and Owen is a Mosconi debutante. And when Archer fell, 5-3, to Team Europe’s Mika Immonen in the Friday night opener, with Dutch hero Neils Fiejen and unflappable Cup veteran Steve Davis on deck, the Euros appeared poised to take control.

But Williams played superbly in a 5-1 thrashing of Feijen and Owen looked anything but a Mosconi Cup rookie in edging Davis, 5-4, to put the Yanks in front, 5-4, entering Saturday’s matches.

Things looked grim for Owen when an unfortunate scratch off the 5 ball allowed Davis to take a 4-3 lead. But Owen broke Davis’ serve in the alternating break format after the snooker legend missed a touchy 3-6 combination to knot the match. Facing a tricky opening shot in the case rack, Owen eschewed a safety and fired his way to the win.

“Sure, I thought about the safety in the last rack,” said Owen. “But I got here playing my game. And my game told me to shoot that shot. I’d rather sell out shooting than sell out ducking. So I shot.”

The happy ending put the U.S. ahead, with the final three doubles matches slated for Saturday afternoon, followed by a trio of singles matches Saturday night.

Rodney “Freud” Rescues U.S.

Rodney and Earl Strickland

Rodney and Earl Strickland

Playing the role of psychologist to near perfection, Rodney Morris kept teammate Earl Strickland under control and helped prevent a European sweep of the Friday afternoon matches at the 2004 Mosconi Cup in Egmond aan Zee, Holland.

Having lost the opening two matches on the second day of the four-day, race-to-12 team tournament, the U.S. trailed Team Europe, 3-2, heading into the match pitting Morris and Strickland against the German duo of Oliver Ortmann and Thomas Engert. Making amends for subpar performances on the first day, the Germans played nearly perfect pool, and held a 3-2 lead in the race-to-five match. With the crowd influence growing, and annoyed by the slow playing Germans, Strickland began to grumble, drawing a warning from referee Michaela Tabb. Sensing the importance of the situation, Morris joked
about the slow play and wisecracked about the match. Having successfully reeled Strickland back in, Morris led the U.S. comeback and a 5-4 win, leaving the contest knotted at 3-3 heading into Friday night’s singles action.

“That’s me,” joked Morris. “Sigmund Freud. Keeping volatile situations under control.”

Earlier, birthday boy Mika Immonen and Swedish teammate Marcus Chamat whitewashed Charlie Williams and Tony Robles, 5-0. Williams has failed to win a Mosconi Cup match in his last six attempts.

Feeding off of the first-match win, which tied the overall score at 2-2, Steve Davis and Neils Feijen put the Euros ahead with a 5-3 win over Johnny Archer and Gabe Owen.

U.S. Takes Early Lead

On the heels of near perfection from the duo of Earl Strickland and Rodney Morris, and the cool play of Gabe Owen, Team USA took a 2-1 lead over Team Europe on the opening day of play at the 2004 Mosconi Cup at the Hotel Zuiderduin in the Dutch seaside resort village of Egmond aan Zee.

For the first time in the 11-year history of the Matchroom Sport produced event, the European squad was installed as a slight betting favorite by Gibraltar-based betting service Stan James. And the Europeans scored the opening salvo when Dutch hero Niels Feijen and Matchroom-managed snooker star Steve Davis squeaked past luckless Charlie Williams and Tony Robles, 5-4. The loss marked the sixth consecutive Cup loss for Williams, who took the collar in four matches in 2003, and his last match in the 2002 Cup.

But Owen, the 26-year-old surprise U.S. Open winner making his Cup debut, proved to be the steady hand with captain/partner Johnny Archer in a 5-3 win over the German duo of Oliver Ortmann and Thomas Engert. Owen rescued Archer on several occasions after the world’s No.1 player botched a pair of easy shots to allow the Europeans to stay in the match. “I wasn’t nervous at all,” said Owen. “I was a wreck in my television matches at the U.S. Open. But here we’re the underdog, and I love being the underdog. Always have.”

The Americans seized the lead in the final match on the first day when Strickland and Morris stomped Mika Immonen and Marcus Chamat, 5-1. The U.S. pair played flawlessly throughout the match.

The best-of-12 event continues Friday with three doubles matches in the afternoon, followed by three singles matches Friday evening.

Mosconi Cup Kicks Off

Matchroom Press Release:

16th December
D Day has arrived. Tonight at the Hotel Zuiderduin, Egmond aan Zee, Holland the two six-man teams representing the United States and Europe will enter the packed arena to contest the 12th annual Mosconi Cup.

Played out over four days, it features a series of singles and scotch doubles matches with the first team to reach 12 points lifting pool’s most prestigious trophy.

Team captains Johnny Archer and Oliver Ortmann are the men responsible for who plays and when and tonight’s order of play for the three doubles matches is:

Niels Feijen & Steve Davis v Charlie Williams & Tony Robles

Oliver Ortmann & Thomas Engert v Johnny Archer & Gabe Owen

Mika Immonen & Marcus Chamat v Earl Strickland & Rodney Morris

With the doubles pairings critical, both captains explained the reasoning behind their decisions:
“Earl and Rodney have both got that loose kind of style and I believe that they will mix well, said Archer.

“I think Gabe Owen needed to go out with one of the older more experienced players to settle him down early and Tony Robles and Charlie Williams are real good friends and have a similar style. If it doesn’t work we’ll change it but we’re all really excited!”

For Ortmann the pairings more or less picked themselves. “Myself and Thomas Engert know each very well; we’ve been playing together since we were juniors so that was the first decision, he said.

“Mika and Marcus have been friends for a long time so that was an easy choice. Steve Davis and Niels Feijen felt comfortable together on the practice table and we’ve put them out first because Niels can’t wait to get out there and it will be good for the Dutch crowd.”

Let battle commence!

For more information and match updates, visit www.mosconicup.com

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