(October Issue 2004)

(October Issue 2004)

It occurred to me since I’ve been publishing “The Break” for 4 years and knew that there was a publication out before I started called “Cue Ball Gazette”, were there any publications out before that? I asked a lot of people on my deliveries if they had known of any such publications. No one seemed to remember but most thought there was something. I found out about different pool publications in Montana when a gentleman named Dale Caldwell was making his rounds selling his cue cases. He had copies and said he would send them to me and that he did. After reviewing them, I was amazed and humbled to be a part of a long tradition, at least 25 years and maybe more.

I can’t help but to wonder what it would have been like 15, 20 or 25 years ago, to have to put together a publication by typewriter, word processor or even a computer that would have a memory of 40 MB (our first Macintosh was 40MB). There is typesetting, cut and paste, centering each article on graph paper, using a light table but most of all breaking you back while doing that. Photos were a problem within themselves, halftones had to be made and then placed on the layout sheets. In today’s standards, a CD holds 700+ MB. When we burn our camera-ready copy of “The Break” to a CD it is over 500MB. One of our color pages is sometimes over 40MB but it doesn’t stop there. My hat goes off to these publishers, editors and layout personnel, because if it wasn’t for them carving out a market in the billiard industry as well as communication with tournament directors, league operators, pool halls, taverns, bars and everywhere pool was being played, my job would be a lot more difficult.

My staff and I have the luxury of email, digital photography, better access to faxes, and overnight deliveries. The print industry has computerized presses that can burn a negative to a plate that prints, coallates, and folds all in one step. I just want everybody to know what came before me, that worked in the production of all pool publications one thing – Thank you for your creativity.

I found such publications as “The Billiard Bulletin” (8 ½” x 11” Black & White) out of Lynnwood , Washington published in 1985, edited by Jean Gilstrap, associate editor James Schulke, secretary Colleen McElrath. The front page headline from January 16, 1985, Volume I, Number 5 read, “Seattle Wins Ringo’s Extravaganza” by John Stribich. They were playing 8-Ball and 9-Ball at Ringo’s Hunt & Fish Tavern in Beaverton, Oregon, a challenge match. The original brainchild of this event was Brian Katz and he started it in November of ’83. Representing Seattle was Rich Geiler and Dan Louie, Portland was represented by Leo Newberry and David Rhodes. In the previous two years Fritz Johnson and David Rhodes had represented Portland. Other pool players mentioned were “Lake City Red” winning a singles title; Ray Tricheler, Mike Stephens and Bob Olson, in the Men’s Greater Seattle 8-Ball League; Dave Reavis winning the Red Invitational; Sandy Watson, Brian Gilham and Harold Hendrickson.

The next publication I came across was “Cue Times” (Tabloid newspaper Black & White). I have Volume I, Issue I for May 1980 published out of Olympia , Washington, editor Rick Jones, business and managing editor Edward Musser. It was published by the Shelton-Mason County Journal. “Cue Times” was previously known as the “Northwest Billiard News”. The “Cue Times” covered a wide area and reported from Washington, Oregon and Idaho. Their front page profiled Sue Warnes of Renton, Washington. In 1979 Sue was 5th in the U S Women’s Open in New Jersey and 3rd in the National 8-Ball Championships in Louisville, Kentucky. She placed 2nd in ’79 at the Washington State Invitational and won singles and doubles in Portland at Sam’s Billiards. Other pool players mentioned were Vince Frayne of Seattle, Ken Dodd, Brad Gowin, Sandy Watson and Jo Connell. A full page ad featured the 2nd BCA All- American 8-Ball League Championships. That’s when the BCA’s home office was in Chicago. Do you remember the 5th Annual Sacramento 9- Ball Championships sponsored by the Jointed Cue? Or the Clark County Women’s Pool League in Vancouver, Washington? Or Casey’s Tavern in Lacey, Washington boasting of the best burgers in town? Or the Grandstrom’s Washington State Invitational Billiard Tournament? The Everett’s Women’s 8-Ball, Toni Gallagher, President of the EWPL. Schooner’s in Everett was the 1st place team, followed by Hitching Post in Lake Stevens, King’s Billiards in Snohomish and Ms Cues in Bellingham. The Lewis & Clark League officers were: Bill Neary (Chairman), Ardelle Mellstrom (Secretary) and Brian Siler (Co-Chairman). They also had the Bellingham City/Pool League standings from February 1980, Everett Women’s Pool League February 1980, Jack and Jill Pool League, the Kelso/Longview Men’s Pool League North Whidbey Women’s Pool League and the Walla Walla Men’s & Women’s Pool Leagues. Most prominently featured players throughout the two publications have been Dan Louie and Rich Geiler (Olympia Rich). Tournaments also from Moses Lake, Washington with Larry Domingo of Spokane, Washington winning a tournament and 1st place on the ladies side was Mary Robledo beating Betty Abbott of Clarkston, Idaho there were 49 women in the field.

“National Tavern News” (Newspaper Tabloid, Spot Color, 28 pages) out of Bellflower , California, publisher Bill Pierce, Chief Editor Jay Helfert and the editor was Daryl Gloudeman. The issue I have is from July 15th, 1983 (published for a year). Feature article was about a Women’s National Amateur Champion Janet McKee. One of the stories is from “Out of the Past” about Fred Whalen, a legend. Remember when Caesar’s Tahoe last held a Billiard Classic? The advertisement here reads October 26-30, the entry fee was $1,000 and $20,000 was added. It was sponsored by Corner Pockets of America and presented by the U S Professional Billiards Association. It was held at the Southshore. The paper also had results from the Southern California Pool Leagues and the Phoenix Metro Pool League. Some of the players were: Howard Ikeda 1st, Dan Louie taking 2nd, Jay Swanson taking 3rd, and Kim Davenport taking 7th. There was also W.P.A. that was the Western States Pool Association that was being formed and organized for the Western United States. Suellen Warnes was also featured in “Women in Billiards” winning numerous titles throughout the Northwest, the 1979 BCA Trick Shot Championship and the 1980 8-Ball World Classic Championship. This issue also announced qualifiers from the World Series of Tavern Pool – under “The Stars of Tomorrow” were two pictures, one of Richard “Dickie” Renk and “Tracy” Joe Salazar. The International Pocket Billiard Federation has an article by Ruth Meucci of Meucci Cues. Their first IPBF tournament was to be held July 12th through 17th in Memphis, Tennessee. The “Poolpourri” section had a Billiard quiz and cartoons for your enjoyment. Also mentioned was the Busch Pool League National Championships now APA.

“Eight Ball News” (Newspaper Tabloid Black & White) started in the Spring of 1979 (as close as I can tell). The publishing company was Bayside from Everett, Washington. I’m looking at Volume 2 Number 12, January 15, 1982. It would appear that it is a bi-monthly publication. Front page has Ron Callaghan winning top honors at Thumpers in Hoquiam, a tournament held at the 211 Club in Seattle and a picture of Rich Geiler winning Juanita Driscoll’s. Dale Caldwell was the coordinator. There was a column called “James Dog” that was written by James Allen. “Games People Play” for the tournament calendar, had some of the tournaments being a Broomstick; Three Woman Team at the Maltese Tavern in Kelso, Washington; a Singles tournament in Kirkland at the Central Tavern; South Hills Saloon in Puyallup, Washington, Legends Tavern in Ocean Shores, Washington ($100 entry). There was a photo of the winners of the Thumper Tournament with Scott Smith, Gordy Scott, Ron Callahan and Dave Peterson and the Halftime final scores of the Greater Seattle Leagues dated December 14, 1981.

“Pool Tournament Magazine” (Magazine, 8 ½” x 11”, color cover) started in 1992 and was an annual publication. Published for 10 years that covered the Northern Rockies and upper Plain States. It had over 150 tournaments throughout the year and over $100,000 in added money.

Most of the locations and tournaments can be found in “The Break” today. We also published a “Pool League Magazine” with VNEA results.

The “9-Ball Reporter” (Tabloid Newspaper Black & White) came out in the summer of 1983. The front cover has a picture of Dan Louie, Washington State NPCA 9-Ball Champion. The tournament was held at the South Hills Saloon, below that was “NWPTA Holds Doubles Tournament” hosted by Vivian and Dennis Early at the Welcome Inn in Walla Walla, Washington. The publisher is Eight Ball News, the editor Jean Gilstrap. The production staff included: Sue Warnes, Renton, Washington, Shirley Griffin, Kennewick, Washington, Dino Kisterson, Roseberg, Oregon, Gerald Lilje, Palouse, Washington, Dick Duff, Port Orchard, Washington, Nalean Clinton, Salem, Oregon and Lisa Clayton, Mesa, Arizona. Lorraine Krom, pictured, was the Women’s Singles Winner from the Schooner and Fireside Inn Taverns in Everett. There was also a column about the California Chatter; a picture of Janet McKee winning a qualifier for the Caesar’s Tahoe Tournament at the White Spot Tavern in Fife (now called Right Spot); also winning qualifiers were Rich Geiler and Tom Lyons. Winning The Grove tournament in Everett, Washington, August 13, 1983 was Lincoln Peters.

“Billiards By-Line” (Magazine 8 ½” x 11” Spot Color) boasted of being the final word in pool for San Diego and Southern California. I’m looking at Volume 2 Issue 6, August 15, 1986. The publishing editor was Kathleen F Kline. The staff consisted of Rex Bergstom, Carla Cooper, Fish, Steve Fox, Pat Gordon, Bill Gosnell, Brian Henderson, Debbie Teagarden, Mike Weber and Ashley Woodbury with a circulation of 2,000. The front page pictured the winners of the 2nd Annual Mid Summer Couples Classic won by Ismael Paez and Sabrina Peterson. Coming in 2nd was Dick Megiveron and Pat Gordon. This was played at College Billiards Center. Some of the headlines read, “Darby’s to Host Series of Ladies Pool Tournaments” and “Debbie Haver Winner at Billiard Tavern”. There were results of weekly tournaments in the “Tourney Tattler”, and the “B B Dictionary” by Ashley Woodburn, “L A News”, “Panama Bill Shot of the Month”; local league news about an Advanced Men’s League that was forming in the San Diego area, coordinator Bill Gosnell. This publication had 12 pages.

“Cue Ball Gazette” (Newspaper Tabloid Black & White) Now most recently pool players are familiar with the Cue Ball Gazette that started production in the early 90’s. Unfortunately, I was unable to find any early copies and was unable to locate Les and Patti Walden or Morris the Cat. This was a tabloid newspaper with 28 pages, no color. Coverage was extensive in the Washington, Oregon areas covering league results from APA, BCA and independent leagues. It covered the ACW that was run by Linda Carter; “Sensei Side” by Roy Yamane; results from The Lucky Star now Eli’s Roadhouse in Kent, Washington; Cue’s Billiards, Portland, Oregon; Java in Auburn, Washington and a tournament held at Cross Keys in Longview , Washington, won by Paul “The Brat” Marquez; with listings of weekly and major tournaments. The issue I’m looking at is July 1998 Volume 6 Number 7. “Clark Custom Cues Opens In Tacoma, Washington” reads the headlines also having a feature location called “Places People Play”, a Western Regional Women’s 1998 tour schedule coordinator Julie Hunter. Annual membership is $40 and all entry fees are $30 with each location or sponsor donating $600. “The Cue Ball Gazette” was published near as I can tell for around 8 years.

Pocket billiards seemed to be the theme of all the publications of the 80’s. As I remember from the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s there was very much a distinction in the game. Organizations as well as locations that promoted pocket billiards used that term to distinguish between different games as well as tables. In the old days or should I say in “my” old days pool halls had drop pockets, most bars and taverns didn’t. They had coin operated tables. On some side drop pockets you may remember that you could run a ball down the rail slow enough to stop at the side pocket and drop. There is a term, name or distinction for that and I can’t for the life of me remember it.

In reviewing all the different publications for the past 25 years, makes me wonder how many others may have started up. If anybody knows and has copies of or was a part of a publication for pocket billiards email me at otbnews@aol.com.

If there is more information about other publications we will do a follow up article.

(September Issue 2004)

Now that the dog days of summer will soon be past, I look forward to the baseball playoffs, the starting of football, but most passionately I look for the beginning of pool leagues. Tournaments returning on a regular basis without the heat of summer.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the blue skies, the warm weather, the mountains, fishing and if you haven’t traveled the route that I go each month you can only imagine mother nature’s beauty.

Now it’s time for leagues to begin. I have heard some comments that league players don’t really count. Unfortunately, in my opinion, perhaps the individual(s) making that comment shouldn’t count. Organized league play is one of the main reasons why pool has taken off. When you think about what league players contribute to the industry it is overwhelming. APA, BCA, VNEA, ACS, TAP and other independent leagues that I know of personally, brings hundreds of thousands. When you think each one of these league players buys a cue, a case and accessories, it all adds up. So with all that money being spent, you would think they deserve better than a Rodney Dangerfield. He didn’t get any respect either.

Since we broke the story of the BCA being sold in the April issue of “The Break”, there has been a bitter feud, with a lot of emotion, anger and frustration on all sides. But the people who got hurt the most were the league players. These players in some cases have been asked to pledge their allegiance. I too have been asked “What side am I on?”

As a publisher of a billiard newspaper, I will not take a side. I will remain unbiased and keep my objectivity when reporting news, events and tournaments. On a personal note, I tend to look on the positive side of things. There are more leagues to play, more local tournaments, more regional tournaments and more national tournaments. Can that all be bad for pool? Perhaps not. If all this works out, it should benefit the players because without them and the hard work of all the league operators, none of us would enjoy the success and recognition that we have grown accustomed to.

So my advice is very simple, go join a league, or 2 or 3 or more. Play different rules in different leagues, different races, different events. The bottom line – most pool players that I’ve talked to just want to play.

(August Issue 2004)

Pool On TV

For the first seven months of 2004 there has been a significant increase in the airing of pool on television. In 2003 there was a moderate increase. We started listing in “The Break” from the first issue (October 2000) “Pool On TV”. In that issue there were only eight times that you could watch pool on TV in the month of October. And for the next two years there were moderate increases and fluctuations of three to four each month until 2003. I have talked to many players and heard many comments on how much the players like to see pool on TV. They’ve told me that they’ve cut the TV listings out of the paper and put it with their remote, even downloading the listings from our site www.onthebreaknews.com. In August again, there are thirty-two listings to watch. The irony of all this is that, it is pretty much what was on last month and the month before that, etc., etc. They would air tapings of Trick Shot Magic’s from 2003 and 2002 over and over again, the first two semis and finals of the WPBA Championships and tapings from Las Vegas with the BCA Open. Now please don’t misunderstand me, I think the airing of pool is a huge step for players and fans alike and we promote it in “The Break” every month, but the repetition and even the monotony of the same event being shown week in and week out become tiring, watching the same people do the same thing time after time.

I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining without a solution or at least without a scenario that may work. Perhaps the filming of other events like the Reno Open, the Bar Table Championships, the Derby City Classic and other long time events. We are coming to the part of the year that we will see new airings of the same events from last year and the year before. The Trick Shots, Challenge of Champions, new WPBA events and what they’ve added now is the US Open 9-Ball Championships. Something new to look forward to, to see different faces playing familiar faces in this publishers opinion would enhance our sport with productivity and growth.

I enjoy hearing from everyone so if you have any comments regarding the editorial, feel free to send them to: otbnews@aol.com or mail to: P O Box 100, Three Forks, MT 59752.


(July Issue 2004)

Avlon Elected President

June 16, 2004: An Interview with Mark Avlon, newly elected President of the Western BCA

D”C”A: What happened at the meeting of the Western BCA at Pied Piper Pizza in Vancouver, Washington, Sunday June 13th?

Mark: It was actually the largest meeting I’ve ever attended with that association. There were a lot of people that cared very emotionally about the issues.

D”C”A: Are you going to be issuing a press release?

Mark: Yes, there should be one coming out today. This is an extremely emotional issue. It divided the pool community nationwide and it’s sad. I don’t personally have a grudge against anyone or organization. I’m going to welcome anyone back to the Western BCA. We need to just work together and continue to have great tournaments.

D”C”A: I agree one hundred percent.

Mark: I’m looking forward to making the association better than it has been and the tournaments better than they have been. That’s where my focus is and I’m going to try and pull the players back together. I’m concerned that what is circulating out there is negative and reflects poorly on the association.

D”C”A: I don’t want to put anything out there that’s going to make the pool players have any misconceptions about anything because I’m a player myself and it pains me not to be able to play when I go out there to cover the event. Still, I don’t get a chance to embarrass myself either. That was my first question, which you more or less went into. The biggest question for the players is are you going to be holding the regionals at Lincoln City?

Mark: We have a contract with Chinook Winds through 2007. Gary Benson contacted Chinook Winds to confirm that and asked for a proposal to extend that through 2010. We also talked to Gary Benson, he is committed to running our tournaments. The look and feel of the tournaments will be the same for the players. I hope that things will be better. Instead of saying things will be the same, I’m hoping they’ll be even better.

D”C”A: Are they going to be at the same time during the year?

Mark: Yes. Our next November tournament is the 3rd through the 7th, our 9-Ball tournament. Our 8-Ball is scheduled for March 1st through the 6th. Those are on track, there are no changes there.

D”C”A: Will you have the same events?

Mark: Yes, nothing has changed. The same divisions will be available. Everything is the same. We don’t know what the entry level will be. We expect it to be less because of the division. We’re going to be working hard over the summer to recruit those players back.

D”C”A: Then some players have gone over to the ACS?

Mark: They have. My understanding is there is a group that is forming a new association, planning to put on a tournament. And I wish them luck. It will give players an additional choice, but again if that occurs both tournaments will be smaller than what they have been in the past. That might be unfortunate.

D”C”A: I tend to agree with that too, as long as they don’t try to hold the tournaments in close proximity of each other.

Mark: That’s going to be their choice. The members that may be doing that are well aware of our dates. It’s their choice to pick their dates. I think that we have a proven track record for producing a good tournament. I’m sure we will have a fairly sizeable field at the tournament and I think that players when they leave are going to be happy and reassured that Western BCA is still on track.

D”C”A: That’s good because I know the players are concerned about it and it’s important to them. I know the players that I’ve talked to, the majority of them would rather go to regionals than even to Vegas. And to the credit of the Western BCA, I’ve been to a lot of big tournaments whether its VNEA or BCA, it’s the best that I’ve seen. I’ve seen them as large, maybe a little larger and the Western BCA is excellent.

Mark: Thank you. I appreciate that compliment. The previous board of directors has had a lot to do with making that happen. We are hoping to continue that on.

D”C”A: Are there going to be any changes in the organization? Mark: There are no plans. We have a new vice president and president. The secretary is a bit divided, she basically aligned with the ACS players but felt a responsibility not to walk away at this point. Other than that, we have a meeting scheduled July 11th, a board meeting to get things rolling where we’ll be planning our tournament, thinking of the fall. All board members and player members are welcome to attend the meeting and voice their concerns but there are no fundamental changes to rules, requirements or anything. We’re going to keep as much the same as we can for one reason, to assure the players that nothing is changing. We are going to try and improve the races that people were complaining about, short races, scheduling. We’re going to try and improve those things, try to make it a better experience for the players but fundamentally the events will be the same, the same tournament director.

D”C”A: What about the referees. I think they are the heart and soul of keeping the tournament going and keeping the arguments controlled – you know everybody looks at a shot differently, even though it’s the same shot and sees it differently.

Mark: The referees have decided to explore their own organization that they can hire out to the BCA, APA, the ACS, TAP, whoever and be independent of any league system. Hopefully that will keep the referee program alive and healthy. I’m not sure where that will be over the summer but I think once the referees feel dedicated to the sport, they’ll want to avoid the politics. I will be recruiting referees for this tournament and trying to have a larger staff than in the past.

D”C”A: Are you at liberty to tell me percentage wise who may be aligning which way?

Mark: That is really difficult at this point to tell you. I don’t have a list of which league voted which way, because there are multiple votes per league. As an example, there is a league in Salem, Oregon, who has a league meeting tonight and they are mostly interested in regional tournaments. They were ACS at the Sunday meeting and now they are reconsidering what the future holds and maybe they should align with the BCA to insure that they can go to the 9-Ball tournament in the fall. So even though they voted one way some of these leagues and players may have a change of heart and decide to change their alignment. It’s really hard to predict. If I had to make a wild guess I’d say it’s somewhere around 50/50. The vote at the meeting was fairly close. I’m not sure that the vote really represents the entire membership though.

D”C”A: I understand that. It’s probably like a proxy system where for however many players you get so many votes?

Mark: Yes, for each 30 players you get 1 player representative and I’m sure many of the league operators chose to bring player reps that are sympathetic to them or their position – not all of them did because many of them were split. I’m not sure it really represents the full membership.

D”C”A: Basically what do you want to say that can assure the players, besides what you’ve said, how the association’s going to prosper. How it’s going to remain the same in a lot of different areas that has already been successful?

Mark: The main thing I want the players to know is that there are no real changes to the Western BCA. The tournaments are still planned as scheduled in the past. The proof will be in the pudding, when they come to the tournament I believe they will walk away with a much better experience than they’ve had in the past with better races, better scheduling, better personal service by the tournament directors and association staff that is there for the tournaments. We are there to serve the players and our goal is to make it the best experience we can for them.

D”C”A: You said there’s a meeting July 11th?

Mark: July 11th at the Pied Piper Pizza as always.

D”C”A: Are there going to be more decisions made? You’ll know about whether the other leagues will be aligning with the BCA?

Mark: The items on the agenda for the meeting are basically going to be addressing the short races in the past, making sure they are adequate for the players. We need to purchase some equipment. Much of the equipment from the association belonged to board members of the association and unfortunately many of those are with the ACS. So we have things to pick up and to arrange for. We have the bylaws in the works (in the past that were never completed), changes that govern rules for the tournament. How the association should operate. Those were never finished so those will be on the agenda to get those moving again, to get those completed. There are changes to the tournament as far as who’s renting tables, what kind of tables, not any major fundamental things the players really care about. It’s more like who’s going to produce our program guide and things like that.

D”C”A: Is Jean Bartholomew still going to produce the program guide?

Mark: I have sent an offer to her. I have asked her to submit a proposal for continuing to do that. In my opinion, she’s welcome to do that. I do not intend to exclude anyone from the association. She produces a very good player program. She benefited from that work she did. If she’d like to continue that, she can submit a proposal. There are other interested parties and I have suggested they also submit a proposal and we’ll discuss those proposals in one of our meetings.

D”C”A: Thank you Mark for taking your time.

Mark: You’re welcome, I appreciate the interview so that we can explain to the players what’s going on.

BCA Leagues SOLD

(April Issue 2004)

In an exclusive interview with Mark Griffin of Diamond Tables, he confirmed the rumor that he had made an agreement with the Billiard Congress of America to purchase the BCA League System. The deal is not official until the board approves it next week. Mark said that the leagues will remain the same. There will be no changes for the players. It will not become a franchise league and the fees will remain the same. The BCA Nationals in Las Vegas will also remain the same. They will still be run by Gary Benson for the next two years, at least.

Mark does have a lot of ideas on how to enhance the league and create more events for the players. He’s thinking of reviving the National 9-Ball Tournament that used to be held in Red Wing, Minnesota and maybe even bring back the All American Tour. Mark is player oriented and wants to have an advisory board comprised of industry leaders and league officials to help staff the new league. He is moving his offices to Las Vegas, which seems like a more appropriate place for them.

Mark would like to work together so that the players get a better deal. He wants to work in conjunction with the other leagues and tours so that there are not conflicts in scheduling. He is very enthusiastic about what can and should happen to make the league stronger and promote pool. He has big plans in the works that he hopes to make a reality. The new website should be up and running by April 1st and will be changing daily so check it out at www.bcapoolleague.com. You can keep apprised of the changes going on by checking online.

Although Mark didn’t want the BCA to sell the leagues, when it became apparent that the leagues were going to be offered for sale, he stepped up to take charge.

(February Issue 2004)

Dr Cues CANCELS Two in a Row

Matt Jacoby and Jeff Robertson owners of Dr Cue Billiards in Shoreline, Washington north of Seattle, cancelled another pool tournament. We were unaware at press time for the January issue, that the tournament had been cancelled.

We at the MCDermott Northwest tour would like to apologize to the pool players for any misinformation on our part.

We know that there were players planning on signing up and attending the tournament and to those players we would again like to apologize for any inconvenience that this may have caused them.

We regret that the owners of Dr Cue Billiards chose to do this. It is not the policy of the McDermott Tour to advertise a tournament for months in advance and then cancel without notice.

The news of the cancellation was a surprise to us and when our offices contacted Dr Cues about the cancellation, we were told, “It was an oversight that you were not contacted. We had a lot of things going on.” Their first tournament cancellation was due to the remodeling of their kitchen and rescheduled for the January 10-11 date.

Since we have had dozens of phone calls and emails about the cancellation, we feel that it was irresponsible of Dr Cues, not to give the pool players proper notice. Many players expressed to us that they had planned on signing up for the tournament after the holidays, only to find out that it had already been cancelled. There are no further plans to have a McDermott Tour stop at Dr Cues, to avoid this happening in the future.

(February Issue 2004)

Old Dog Learns New Trick

I usually find myself on Sundays traveling to the Hub Bar in Belgrade for a weekly pool tournament. Steve Plant, usually runs the tournament which is a $5 entry, $2 green fee, alternating 8 and 9 Ball and straight pool. One Sunday last month, there were about ten of us who found ourselves wanting to shoot something relatively new to us, called Bowlliards.

The game is played with scoring like bowling, the difference and uniqueness that I find in this game is you are not playing a game against another opponent. If you miss you shoot again (see rules below), only your total score determines a winner. You rack ten balls and break. If you scratch on the break, no penalty, but if you make any balls on the break, they are spotted. Now the game begins, you get two chances to make all ten balls.

If you do it in one turn it’s a strike. If you do it in two turns it’s a spare. If you make four balls in your first turn and three balls in your second turn, you total seven and so on. You are not playing against anyone just yourself and the rest of the field at the end for total score.

This would be a great game for practice instead of racking and banging balls around by yourself. It can be harder than it appears to be, to score over 200.

RULES (taken from the BCA Official Rules and Records Book)
Except when clearly contradicted by these additional rules, the General Rules of Pocket Billiards apply.

TYPE OF GAME: Bowlliards is a game that applies the scoring concepts of bowling to pocket billiards. It is one of the few games that can be quite interesting as a solitary exercise since, like bowling, there is a perfect game score to strive for, and a player can measure his improvement quite easily over the course of time playing Bowlliards.

PLAYERS: Any number.

BALLS USED: Any ten object balls, plus cue ball.

THE RACK: Standard triangle position (front apex ball on foot spot), using a 1-2-3-4 rack configuration.

OBJECT OF THE GAME: To score a perfect score of 300 points in 10 frames (innings) in solitary play. In competition, to score a higher point total in 10 innings than opponent(s).

SCORING: Each legally pocketed ball is scored as one point, regardless of ball number. The points scored as per the “Rules of Play” below are treated exactly as in the pinfall in bowling.

OPENING BREAK: At the start of player’s inning (frame), he has a free break (no special balls-to-cushion or other requirements once break stroke commences, and a jumped or scratched cue ball is without penalty). Any balls pocketed on the break are spotted, and player then follows his break by beginning scoring play with object balls in position and cue ball in hand behind the head string. (The opening break takes place at the start of every inning.)

1. A legally pocketed ball entitles shooter to continue at the table until he fails to pocket a called ball on a shot, or until he has scored the maximum total per inning possible (10). Player may shoot any ball he chooses, but before he shoots, must designate a single ball that he will pocket and the pocket into which the ball will score; he need not indicate kisses, caroms, combinations or cushions (none of which are illegal).
2. Player has two chances to pocket the 10 possible balls of each frame. If player legally pockets ten consecutive balls on his first chance of a frame, that frame is completed and player scores the frame exactly as a strike in bowling. If player fails to pocket ten consecutive balls on his first chance, he takes his second chance immediately. If he succeeds in legally pocketing the remaining balls of the ten on his second chance, the frame is completed and player scores it exactly as a spare in bowling. If player fails to legally pocket all ten balls in two chances, the frame is then completed and is scored just as in bowling: a “strike” in the tenth inning earns two extra shots, a spare one extra shot.
3. If players tie for high game total in competition, additional extra innings are played alternately by the tied players, with the first player posting a superior score to that of his opponent(s) being the winner (“sudden death”).

ILLEGALLY POCKETED BALLS: On the break, illegally pocketed balls are spotted prior to player beginning his scoring play (first chance of the frame). During scoring play, illegally pocketed balls are spotted.

OBJECT BALLS JUMPED OFF THE TABLE: All spotted. The stroke is a foul, and the penalty for fouls is followed.

CUE BALL AFTER JUMP OR SCRATCH: Only applies if occurring as player’s first foul of a frame, player has cue ball in hand behind the head string to begin his second chance of the frame.

PENALTY FOR FOULS: One point is deducted from offender’s score for each foul. If foul ends player’s first chance of a frame, he has cue ball in hand behind the head string to begin his second chance of the frame.

(February Issue 2004)

Who in the World is Reading “The Break”
Where the hits come from

Pool players from all over the world are viewing the pages of “The Break” online every month. We were curious as to who was looking at our pages and what pages were being viewed so we did some research on our site. Onthebreaknews.com receives over 120,000 hits a month. The largest portion of those hits coming from the United States, followed closely by Canada. Some of the more interesting places viewing our site are: Czech Republic, Singapore, US Educational, US Military, US Government, Austria, Japan, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Italy, Saudi Arabia, Belgium, Netherlands, Australia, Mexico, Finland, Poland, Germany, France, Greece, Philippines, Hong Kong, Hungary and Lebanon. Amazing the power of the internet when pool players the world over can read about the events we have going on in our part of the world.

The front page of “The Break” is viewed the most, followed by the Tournament Trail (page 34), then comes the Washington weekly section (page 32), Poolhall Junkies and the Oregon Weekly section (page 33). Rounding out the top ten pages viewed are: Pool on TV (page 26), Favorite Links, WPBA Program Guide, “Sarge’s” Instructional articles and the Archives of Past articles. We average about 5300 hits per day and the most popular viewing time is 6 PM.

Besides the internet viewing there are also tens of thousands of pool players that pick up “The Break” from their favorite bars, taverns, pool halls and billiard suppliers. And a special thanks goes to the dozens of dedicated pool players who deliver “The Break” each month. We appreciate all the advertisers, promoters and players that make our work so rewarding. Thank you!!

(December Issue 2003)


I flew into Portland Thursday at 4 pm, got my rent-a-car headed south to Hwy 99 through the rolling hills and over the coastal mountain range arriving at Chinook Winds in Lincoln City. I got to watch some of the early matches involving Allison Fisher, Ewa Laurance and Jeanette Lee, Ikumi Ushiroda, as well as our local talent Martha Hartsell, Linda Carter and Hsin Huang.

It’s pretty much like any other tournament you’d find in any pool hall, some came dressed to kill, some were casual, but it did not by any means diminish their play. As great as these ladies are, they can still miss or dog a shot like the rest of us, but saying that, make no mistake these ladies can play. Beauty and brains are the normal not the exception. While sitting and watching, one thing that impressed me was, not only can these ladies shoot, they rarely make mistakes or take chances on shots. In a game like 9-ball, where each player is shooting at the last ball the other missed, calculated safeties are strategies that are practiced and must be executed precisely. There’s not a “go for it” attitude on a low percentage shot.

Even the lesser known players possess these talents. Just watching them will make your game better. There was a turnout of thousands of fans that came to watch within the four days, autograph seekers and enthusiasts of the game. As I sat and watched, numerous autograph seekers, sought their quest after each match was finished with enthusiasm and bright-eyed as any child seeking their presents on Christmas or any birthday. What a thrill it is to have the WPBA National 9-Ball Championship here in the Northwest where pool is the game we love.

I had the distinct honor of sitting in the press section covering two semi finals and the finals that are to be shown on ESPN (first scheduled showing is January 4th at 4pm Pacific Standard Time on ESPN2), with a crowd nearing 1,000 onlookers. The Master of Ceremonies, Steve Tipton, entertained the crowds before and between the matches with trivia, jokes and introduced the VIP’s as well as doing a little “hokey pokey” and sometimes even serenading while the ladies were waiting to play. Witnessing the behind-the-scenes action at one of these events is very interesting. You don’t have the smooth transitions as they appear on the finished broadcasts. What you do have is the players being cued when to start their play, a low key commentating being heard in the background and a camera man following the action going on at the table. Talk about distractions and sharking a player, this has to be the ultimate.

Playing in the first semi-final were Monica Webb and Jeanette Lee. After the introductions play began. The crowd of approximately 1,000 spectators cheered and clapped for what was to begin an afternoon and evening of some exciting pool. Webb and Lee battled back and forth with Jeanette tying it at hill-hill. And the battle raged on until Jeanette finally won. She was so happy that she did a pirouette with arms extended, but her day wasn’t done.

Next up Karen Corr, the number two ranked player in the world. Karen had lost the point match to Allison Fisher the night before. On the microphone in the booth was Mitch Laurance and Ewa Mataya Laurance. Mitch giving expert commentary of the matches and Ewa doing a play-by-play anaylsis of the trouble each shot may or may not present. Play began and Jeanette jumped out to a 4-1 lead. Karen seemed to have a problem with positioning and shot making, not her usual self. Jeanette cruised to an easy victory.

The headline match now featured Jeanette Lee, the number five ranked player in the world versus the number one ranked player, Allison Fisher. The lag, Jeanette wins and breaks first. Some great strategy play on Jeanette and Allison’s part, each won their own breaks to tie it at 4-4. Jeanette misses an easy 3, Allison then runs out. It is now 5-4 and Allison is breaking. Allison breaks and wins the game 6-4. She is on the hill with Jeanette breaking. You would think that it would be assured with her powerful break that Jeanette could get within one game of Allison, but fate was not to be kind to Jeanette. Allison gets a shot and wins the Cuetec Cues $100,000 9-Ball National Championship.

If you missed the ladies of the WPBA, you shouldn’t have! With a national championship coming to the Northwest at Lincoln City, Oregon, the gracious host Chinook Winds Casino provided a venue for the APA amateurs, as well as professional billiard players. You will be glad to know though, the National Championship for the WPBA for 2004 will again be held at Chinook Winds on the Beach. For more exclusive photos of this tournament, go to www.onthebreaknews.com

“The Break” would like to thank Media Dynamics (Bob Arguelles), Chinook Winds (Bob Everhart, Nicole Fletcher, Crystal Davies), the WPBA, Peg Ledman, Kelly Oyama and everyone else who worked very hard setting up and promoting this tournament as well as all the players that showed up with the dreams and aspirations of winning or playing in a national championship. Last but not least “The Break” would like to thank all the fans and pool players that took the time, the effort and expense to show up and help support this great game that we play and love called pool. Hope to see you there next year!

(December Issue 2003)

Pool Halls - Are They A Vanishing Breed?

In slow economic times, many things may contribute to the life or death of a pool hall. As in real estate, there are 3 very important guidelines to follow, location, location, location. The pool halls financial success may also depend upon curfews, gang colors and the economic stability of your clientele. In some areas going smokeless whether it was legislated or of the owner’s own volition has seen a drop in clientele. The neighborhood also may have changed around you. With urban sprawl, the pool hall may be what now has become too far away.

In the 70’s and 80’s a chain of pool halls were started called “Corner Pocket”. With virtually the same layout in each pool hall that favored the spectator and/or other players to view important games, but they too fell on hard times and were sold off individually. The pool halls I grew up in 35 to 40 years ago were smoke-filled, gambling havens, whether cards, cribbage or games on the slate. There was a code of ethics that the players respected. Many of the owners didn’t allow cursing, which caused arguments that led to fights. Some of your owners or employees of the room ran “book” (illegal gambling that the government didn’t take money from). Not all pool halls were that way, some were true to the game of pool, be it 9-Ball, One Pocket or Straight. You came in, played by the hour and there was always a sign “no gambling”. The “no gambling” meant “no money on the table”. Pool halls back then didn’t have to deal with technology. We had pinball machines and that was pretty much it. Today if a pool hall doesn’t have video games, digital juke box, satellite TV, alcohol, food, leagues, billiard supplies and maybe even an internet connection you’re not keeping up with your competition. You can’t attract the players who have the money and time on their hands. There have been closures of pool halls up and down the West Coast and some I don’t know about. Here are a few: 211 Club (WA), Q Street Billiards (OR), Kelowna Q Club (BC), Blondies Billiards (BC), Felts Club (CA), Oakdale Billiards (CA) and Cue Ball’s Billiards (MT).

In March of 2003, a movie was released called “Poolhall Junkies”, that depicted violence and cursing as part of its theme. Perhaps coupled with the struggling economy, this has had an effect on different pool halls around the country. Is this a sign of the future of pool? In this new millennium, will the game of pool be relegated to seven foot tables? By itself that would be a shame, there must be a choice – Pool halls do survive and they can survive in the twenty first century. So if you’re lucky enough to have a pool hall close to you, relish the opportunity. If not, get in your car, take a bus, streetcar, mule train, horse and buggy, any way you can, just get there.

Email me at: otbnews@aol.com

(September Issue 2003)

When Should You Use Inferior Equipment?

Sharking and trying to gain an advantage over an individual or team in a tournament or leagues can be a common occurence, and should be easily recognizable to tournament directors and league operators. What aggrevates most pool players at any given time is a change in the rules. This may occur during the league season but especially in tournament play. If the rules are changed because of an error or to make it more fair for all the league or tournament players, this is acceptable to most players. But when league operators or tournament directors change the rules and not notify the players of these changes you have to wonder why. Is it to gain an unfair advantage? One would think so.

If in a tournament you are playing on or using equipment that is the best that you can get at that time (such as balls, cloth, tables), you play a better game. You may find yourself in a tournament and the other player or league team is making a protest, not because they want better equipment but because they want inferior equipment to be played.

I believe that nay pool player that has played with a plugged cue ball will agree that it is the most inconsistent with rolls especially when compared to the red circle and the new Aramith cue ball.

A question I ask you. What advantage would any player have by wanting to use a plugged cue ball in a tournament when the new Aramith had been used all day long? The answer may be to throw off the other team's consistency and gain an advantage especially if they had been practicing with the plugged cue ball.

The league operator or tournament director should recognize this ploy and be impartial. No one likes playing with equipment that doesn't measure up to the standard that you are used to playing with. By using the plugged cue ball it lowered the standard of play.

What do you think? Email me at otbnews@aol.com with some "pithy" comments, name & town, name & town. You may know who I've been watching.

(June Issue 2003)

Karen Chalks Up First Win in 2003

Las Vegas was again a thrill for me, but this time more so. I was priviledged with a press pass to see both the pro men's and women's events that were held by the Billiard Congress of America at the Riviera Hotel and Casino, and also during ESPN filming of both events. Watching these players in person was a thrill after watching them on TV all these years.

Las Vegas Style Pro 9-Ball

Part of the allure of going down to the BCA Nationals was the Men’s and Women’s Pro Events. I was fortunate enough to have a press pass to get into all the events, but even so at $10 a ticket per session it was cheap enough and I would have paid that gladly. I was in the room, all the way down at the end of the hall, past the last tables that were to be used for the BCA players. We were fortunate enough to view some of the earlier rounds. When it came down to the semi-finals it was Mika Immonen against Ralf Souquet. The house was packed with between 500-600 spectators. In the early rounds Ralf jumped out to a lead of 2-1, 3-1, 4-1 and Mika never seemed to have been able to get on track. When he missed the crowd groaned, obviously a favorite. Ralf Souquet won 7-1 over Mika.

I’d like to say though the staff of the BCA in the 8 and 9-ball tournaments as well as the pro events were impeccable. They were on the job, doing it well, with Steve Tipton as a referee.

Now to the second semi-final that I watched Friday night between Karen Corr and Helena Thornfeldt, in the first two games Karen was uncharacteristic in missing position and made some bad safeties. Karen also missed the 8-ball on several games. In the fourth game that would have tied the match 2-2, Karen missed, Helena got out and it was 3-1. The next game Karen missed what would be an apparent easy jump shot, but got back to the table and missed the 8-ball. Helena missed the 8-ball also, so for three to four shots they both took on the 8-ball. Karen eventually won the game. Watching these ladies in person is a thrill, after watching them on TV all these years. These matches seemed to be a battle of miscues. In most of the TV shows that air on ESPN there is not a lot of spectators in the audience, here that was not the case. Karen was able to fight back and get on the hill. She was able to secure that game, win the match and went on to face Allison Fisher in the finals.

The Fisher-Corr match on Saturday was at 1 PM. Allison won the lag but only by a narrow margin. Steve Tipton, tournament director had to measure it with one of the ladies cues. Allison breaks, runs to the 5, misses, Karen runs out 1-0. Karen breaks and runs out. Allison breaks but then has to push out giving Karen a choice. She gives it back to Allison who misses the safety. Karen runs out. Karen seems to be focused and in stroke, not like the semi-finals last night. Karen makes a great draw on the 4-ball, falls back and gets partially corner hooked. She masse’ makes the 5, runs out 4-0. Karen has the next shot at the table for the title and the $15,000 but most important the chance to regain the #1 ranking. Karen again runs out. In the sixth game, Karen finally misses a shot, the 1-6. Allison combos the 1-6 then makes the 1 but gets hid behind the 5. She makes a good hit on the 2 but misses it. Karen gets to the table and as in the past games runs out. Allison breaks in game seven and makes a ball but hides herself behind the 8, pushes out and gives it back to Karen. The tide may be changing, Karen scratches on the 1 but Allison misses the 5 in her run. Karen misses a safety and Allison runs out. Allison is on the board 6-1. The theme of the finals was basically, “Karen runs out”. This puts Karen on the hill and she again runs out. Game, set and match! Karen wins 7-1.

The final for the Men’s was a little bit different battle. Ralf Souquet and Francisco Bustamante. The first game started with safeties, Francisco missing a long break and Ralf gets the job done 1-0. Francisco breaks and runs out 1-1. The third game safeties again, Francisco runs out but not before he rattles the 6 in the corner and goes on to win. Game three, Francisco is ahead 2-1. Francisco attempts a safety but misses it, Ralf puts it back on him that ties the match 2-2. One thing that I have noticed and probably most players have, when watching billiards on ESPN, is that these guys never, ever hit the ball hard. They let the running English work.

Ralf wins game five taking the lead 3-2. Francisco breaks in the sixth game, jumps the cue ball off the table leaving a combo on the 9 for Ralf, 4-2 Ralf. Ralf breaks and runs out 5-2. Francisco runs after Ralf misses a long bank 5-3 Souquet. Ralf takes a two way shot and misses leaving Francisco safe. He jumps and slops in the two and runs out 5-4. The tenth game, after safeties, Francisco missing a slice bank, Ralf runs out. Game eleven Ralf breaks, makes the one, straight in on the two. Ralf misses the three, Francisco comes to the table makes the three and rattles the six and then out. Ralf leads 6-5. Francisco breaks leaving the cue ball behind the 8, makes a good hit. Ralf misses the 2-5 combo, Francisco ties it up at 6-6. Race to 7, one game for $15,000. Ralf makes the 2 on the break and misses. Francisco misses an easy 2 leaving Ralf a virtually easy run for the title. Ralf Souquet wins 7-6.

(December Issue 2002)


Focus totally on your game. Everything else shouldn't matter. Play the table not the player. Distractions, noises, loud music shouldn't affect you. It's like they are not even there. Time will stand still while you are in total concentration.

Concentrating totally while playing pool should be second only to dead stroke, although playing with concentration is easier to achieve. With total concentration your game can go to a new level with consistency and performance, then reaching dead stroke, it's like a walk in the park.

For those of you who have not reached dead stroke, it is playing unconsciously. All the knowledge that you have learned about pool, whether it is banks, English or shot making, is executed correctly. You reach a new level of performance. It's one of the best feelings that you can achieve while playing pool.

(November Issue 2002)

I was at a pool tournament and noticed a game a friend of mine was playing. He was down 2-0 in a race to 4. His opponent broke, a couple of shots, he's up 3-0. My friend walks over to me and made a statement that I didn't think I would hear from a quality player like he is, "I can work my way back through the losers bracket." I looked at him, with a look of bewilderment I am sure, and said, "You're not out of this one yet. All you need to do is win just one. Don't let him 4-zip you. Just win one." He looked at me and said "OK!" He won the next game, now it's 3-1. He looks in my direction, I put my index finger up and told him, "One more, just one more." Now it's 3-2. He comes back over and says, "I can win this." I said, "No, just win one more. That's all you want to do for now." He wins -- hill-hill. He looks at me and I said, "Just one more." He won the match 4-3.

In the mental game of pool it is important to keep your goals simple, just win one. Just win the first one. Take one game at a time, one shot at a time. Give yourself the opportunity to win or give yourself the opportunity for another shot.

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