BCA Hall of Famer Robert Byrne Dead at 86

Prolific billiard author, carom aficionado, longtime contributing editor to Billiards Digest and Billiard Congress of America Hall of Famer Robert Byrne passed away Tues., Dec. 6., at his home in Dubuque, Iowa. He was 86.

Mr. Byrne was best known for a string of successful billiard instructional books and videos, the most popular of which was “Byrne’s Standard Book of Pool and Billiards,” first published in 1978. “Byrne’s Standard Book” was a must-have for aspiring pool and billiard players and has sold more then a half-million copies. His first effort in the sport, however, came in 1972, with the publishing of “McGoorty, A Pool Room Hustler,” a biography of noted San Fancisco-based hustler Danny McGoorty.

In 1982, Mr. Byrne published “Byrne’s Treasury of Trick Shots in Pool and Billiards,” a collection of the greatest trick and fancy shots of all time, most with a story tracing the shots origins. Mr. Byrne also published “Byrne’s Advanced Technique in Pool and Billiards” (1990), “Byrne’s Book of Great Pool Stories” (1995), “Byrne’s Wonderful World of Pool and Billiards” (1996), “Byrne’s New Standard Book of Pool and Billiards” (1998) and “Byrne’s Complete Book of Pool Shots: 350 Moves Every Player Should Know” (2003). In addition, Mr. Byrne produced seven instructional videos based on his “Standard Book” and “Treasury of Trick Shots.”

Originally a civil engineer by trade, Mr. Byrne developed his writing skills as a reporter for a construction industry trade magazine, and published three books before becoming a full-time writer in the late 1970s. He authored seven novels, many times using the names of pool and billiard acquaintances as characters.

After stints residing in Northern California and Colorado, Mr. Byrne returned to his native Dubuque in the late ’90s with his second wife, Cindy Nelms Byrne. He contributed a column to the Dubuque Daily Herald for the final 16 years of his life.

Mr. Byrne received the Billiard & Bowling Institute of America Industry Service Award in 1994, and was elected to the BCA Hall of Fame in 2001, earning induction alongside his longtime friend and world billiard champion Raymond Ceulemans of Belgium. After initially contributing to the National Billiard News, Mr. Byrne was swayed to join Billiards Digest by magazine founder Mort Luby, Jr., when the magazine was launched in September 1978. Mr. Byrne contributed instructional columns, tournament coverage and feature stories for more than 25 years.

Mr. Byrne leaves a legacy as the game’s most prolific author, a man whose words and instruction drew millions of players to the table. Gifted with an analytical mind and incredible wit, he was one of the game’s true gentlemen and an industry treasure.

U.S. Three-Cushion Star Allen Gilbert Dead at 77

One of the best American three-cushion players of the modern era died Saturday, July 15, in Los Angeles at the age of 77. Allen Gilbert passed away at Veterans Hospital in West Hollywood from renal failure after suffering from a variety of ailments in recent years. He was a veteran of the Korean War.

He was a very strong player as a teenager in Los Angeles, but didn’t come to national attention until the Billiard Federation of the USA (later the USBA) was organized. He won the first BFUSA National tournament in 1968, followed by wins in 1970, 1971, 1977, and 1988, and finished second eight times. In the 1993 event, he led Sang Lee 35-25 only to lose 50-44. He won four Champ of Champs national tournament sponsored by the American Billiard Association, He spent four years competing against the best players in the world in the Billiard World Cup tournaments, finishing fifth overall in 1986.

In addition to successes in national and international tournaments, he won at least twenty other elite events in his 40-year career as a top player. Gilbert was a left-handed slip-stroker whose confident style was all his own. He had a great fighting heart and could never be counted out of any game no matter what the score. His scoring ability and safety play gave him many come-from-behind wins. — Robert Byrne

Hall of Fame Ballot Released

Three first-timers joined a pair of returning nominees on the 2001 Billiard Congress of America Hall of Fame Ballot. Author Bob Byrne, three-cushion legend Raymond Ceulemans and player of the year Earl Strickland all make their first appearance on the ballot. Allen Hopkins and Jim Rempe are holdovers from last year. The voting membership of the BCA will elect one or two of the nominees and the winner will be announced in the spring.