MARYLAND OPEN 14.1 STRAIGHT POOL CHAMPIONSHIPS
MARYLAND OPEN 14.1 STRAIGHT POOL CHAMPIONSHIPS
BIG DADDY’S BILLIARDS, Glen Burnie, Maryland
Aug 18-19, 2012
Players and fans began arriving into the Baltimore area as early as noon on Thursday Aug 16 for the Eighth Annual Maryland Open 14.1 Straight Pool Championships. This event has become one of the most prestigious straight pool tournaments of the year in the U.S. and for the 4th consecutive year has been held at a new family billiard venue, BIG DADDY’S BILLIARDS, 7954 Baltimore-Annapolis Blvd., Glen Burnie, Maryland. Under the ownership of Richard & Cynthia Molineiro “ Big Daddy’s” has become the premier east coast mecca for the beautiful and imaginative game of 14.1.
Previously the Maryland Straight Pool title has been won by:
Johnny Archer 150 defeated John Schmidt 74. July 24, 2011
Danny Harriman 150 defeated Shaun Wilkie 94. June 20, 2010
Danny Harriman 150 defeated Dave Daya 28. June 28, 2009
Bob Maidhof 150 defeated Danny Barouty 140. July 12, 2008
Mika Immonen 150 defeated Mike Davis 59. June 10, 2007
Ed Hodan 150 defeated Danny Barouty 89. Nov 19, 2006
Ryan McCreesh 150 defeated David Hunt 67. Aug 8, 2005
This year a 32 player field of the top Straight Pool players in the country began to filter into Maryland for Friday afternoon warm-ups, check out the venue, the tables and equipment, new Simonis 860 cloth, Centennial balls. Players were anxious to get in a few hours of practice, as competition this year was going to be one of the strongest fields ever.
Local tournament players once again provided ‘in home’ congenial accommodations to many of the out of town players who come long distances to play. Most know one another well and this makes for an enjoyable weekend of friendship, camaraderie and top notch pool all tied together. Festivities this year got off to a gentle start at a player-guest reception on Friday evening hosted by tournament director Peter Burrows and his wife Pam at their home. This provides a few hours of warm hospitality before the sparks began to fly on Saturday, and a nice chance for new comers and lesser know players to visit and share cordiality with great champions such as Bob Maidhof, Johnny Archer, Thorsten Hohmann, Dave Daya, Ralph Eckert & Mika Immonen, and others in the sterling field.
Gerda Hofstatter and Jeanette Lee two highly popular great lady players have been loyal participants in the Maryland Open but this year were absent due to their hectic schedules. In past years both The Black Widow and Gerda were able to make it through to the Sunday elimination round. The tournament has made a concerted effort to attract top lady players and hopes to continue to do so. Unfortunately few of the best women have strayed from their long time devotion to Nine Ball to gain the needed proficiency at the classic game of Straight Pool, but we hope to change that. The ladies need to take up the challenges of 14.1. Let’s get more room owners encouraging ladies to play in their 14.1 leagues. The Maryland Open Straight Pool Championship may not be a glitzy and large event, but in its own quiet way it has become a chance for the best straight pool players to meet and play with one another in a well-designed tournament under quite ideal conditions. Prize money has grown as has the field of world class players.
The Friday evening pre-tournament reception also serves as the tournament Players Meeting. Format this year was a 32 player field, 8 balanced flights of 4 players each for the initial Round Robin session. Everyone playing a 125 point match vs. the other three players in their flight with the top 3 players in each flight advancing to the Sunday single elimination round. The 8 flight winners were rewarded with a first round bye in the knockout on Sunday. Flights are attached.
Encompassed in the informal reception & cocktail party on Friday night was the Players Meeting which Director Peter Burrows believes is always a welcome opportunity for players to voice their opinions of format, rules and anything else on their mind. Peter always seeks feedback to make this a “players friendly” tournament. One of those elements is no time clock, always a debate. He notes. . .
“we honestly believe that players do play at their own pace, and generally this is a constant one. There will always be discrepancies and fluctuations, but a given player in my experience usually plays the way they play. I have watched top 14.1 players for more than six decades since first seeing Mosconi & Crane play at the old Bensingers room on Randolph Street in Chicago in the late 1940s. Pool players play at the pace they play at and the rhythm and tempo of one player’s game is what it is. I just don’t believe in a shot clock in Straight Pool. The game is cerebral and players need time to think and analyze and I want to recognize that. Some situations lend them selves to more rapid disposal of a rack, but others do not. It you want a time clock play chess.”
There will always be a match here and there that is drawn out, and this year was no exception, with a match between the great NY 14.1 guru, Steve Lipski, and Washington DC’s young Brian Deska, who seldom plays 14.1, taking an unusual 3+ hours. But this is an exception and will happen in this most imaginative of games. Everyone is not a John Schmidt, Luc Salvas or Machine Gun Lou Butera! Tournament Director, Peter Burrows, believes that most 14.1 players understand this. No time clock.
And Peter goes on to note that playing under the classic “all ball fouls” requires a greater emphasis on player integrity which has been so widely adopted with great success in golf . . .
“Why do we need a white glove referee at every table? Nice, classic of course, but simply not practical. Golf rules are many times more complex than pool but the Royal & Ancient rules are well known and players honestly adhere to them. Pool can do the same. And while we’re at it, let’s dress the part. So the Maryland Open is a dress code tournament following the format of other world class events. The dressier the better, what’s wrong with that? Pool guys . . . and ladies . . . are handsome folks . . . let’s look the part! Dress up our game. My gosh, we’ve got Ms. Lee the most stunning gal on the planet plus just a terrific player and advocate for our sport . . . Jeanette has been a regular here in our tournament, beating all of us like a drum, let’s follow her lead and look sharp!”
This is especially true given today’s live streaming of the matches. Both days were covered extensively by J. R. Calvert and Inside Pool with their insidepool.tv live stream. Top players participating helped with the commentary; expert 14.1 players such as Shaun Wilkie, Andy Lincoln, Michael Frank, Bob Hunter and Johnny Archer all sat in the booth for a spell.
As noted above, the tournament format was a Saturday Round Robin of eight flights, four players in each playing 3 matches to 125 points. The old fashioned straight pool format which Director Peter Burrows believes is not only fairest to the players, allowing them to play a maximum number of matches, but also a format which is ideal for spectators. They can watch their favorite locals or a top pro all day long, with no fear that they are going to get quickly eliminated in a one and done tournament. From the players perspective they can get warmed up, familiar with the equipment and there is no tedious winners’ side delay which occurs in drawn out double elimination tournaments. Non stop action involving everyone from dawn to dusk is a key positive in the 1st day round robin format!
After an evening of companionship and an hour of practice the action got off to a bright and early start 10 a.m. on Saturday morning, using 14 Pro Diamond & Brunswick Gold Crown tables and 32 players each playing the other three in his flight on pre-assigned tables and time slots, with an attempt that each player would play his matches on both the Diamond and Brunswick tables. The day consisted of five rounds and each player has one or two breaks when they do not play. Some tough scheduling but meticulously managed by official scorer & statistician, the ebullient Megan Fort!
Saturday went quite according to odds with the strong national players pulling away in a field which included world class Straight Pool notables headed by Thorsten Hohmann, Mika Immonen, Johnny Archer, Corey Deuel & John Schmidt plus Steve Wilkie, Dave Daya, Shaun Wilkie, Maryland’s top player. Alan Duty, Zion Zvi, Brandon Shuff, Steve Lipski and Danny Barouty twice a finalist in past MD 14.1 Championships. Mike Davis 2007 finalist and Mosconi Cup contender who recently located to Tampa, FL made the trip to play, as did Ralph Eckert all the way from Manheim, Germany and Warren Kiamco from Manila! 1991 World Champion, and still great player and cue maker, Bob Hunter of Chicago. From Pennsylvania Drexeline Billiards owner Bob Maidhof, 2008 Md. Champ who recently had a run of 316 balls! Dave Daya, the 2009 runner-up, and young top Virginia great Brandon Shuff, who ran a 60 & 70 winning his flight 3-0. The best of the local 14.1 players competed including Maryland’s strong playing Michael Frank & Andy Lincoln. In the Sat. rounds Michael ran 31giving Archer a bit of a scare before falling to the Scorpion 125-64. Mike Davis came up from Fla. and played flawlessly on Sat. with runs of 96, 95 & 70! Maine’s terrific young player Mike Dechaine had the Sat. high run, putting up 125 and out on a tough Diamond table against Big Daddy’s room owner, Rick Molineiro . . . no respect for your elders as they say! Zion Zvi ran a 71 and was perfect on Sat. winning all his matches including a hard fought victory over Ralph Eckert. Warren Kiamco has one of the most beautiful 14.1 games you’ve ever seen, soft stroking his way to 3-0 on Sat. with a run of 83, and many 40s & 50s. What a player the little man from Manila is! So Saturday’s Round Robin provided o real surprises with the top players advancing to the knockout single elimination on Sunday. See chart attached.
Each of the flights was balanced with top players, those likely expected to advance, usually playing their toughest opponents in the later rounds after having a chance to play a few games and get used to the tables and atmosphere. For this year’s draw the top eight players were set, and the bottom eight, mostly locals. The middle 16 players were blind drawn into the different flights. Fair and simple. Strong local and regional players always surprise the front runners, and it never fails a dark horse has a great day at the expense of one of the favorites. Top young players, Brian Deska and Michael Yednak both played well on Sat. and were among the 24 who advanced to Sunday along with long time greats Don Polo and Trenton Marty Ciccia. Most of the Saturday matches went according to expectations. Round Robin results . . .
The Sunday single elimination knockout round got underway promptly at 10 a.m., an early time slot always loved by the top players! But most of them had a first round bye and so would not play until 12:30. Mike Dechaine got past Charlie Strayer 125-31 and advanced to the $400 Round where he lost out in a hard fought match to PA’s great working man, Dave Daya, 125-108, in one of the best matches of the day. Amsterdam Billiard’s Michael Yednak had a strong first round match vs. Drexeline Bob Maidhof, knocking him out and advancing to the money round. He then faced the miniature Philippine buzz saw, Warren Kiamco and went down 125-47. Chicago’s great World 14.1 Champion and cuemaker extraordinaire, Bob Hunter, had a tough draw for Sunday and was knocked out in the first round by Johnny Archer. Archer then faced Mike Davis, who was the #1 Seed following his terrific run on Saturday. Their match was nip & tuck for an hour, before Johnny caught a couple of breaks, Mike missed a shot, and Johnny never Sat down again, pulling out the win 125-60. Shaun Wilkie took down room owner Rick Molineiro in spite of a 66 ball run by ‘Levi’ and advanced to play John Schmidt who put up a 57 and eliminated Shaun 125-66.
Danny Barouty has probably played Trenton Marty for three decades, and this time got the best of him 125 41 advancing to face young gun Brandon Shuff. The imitable Danny B. hung tough, put up a 39 ball run before finally dropping 125-103. Ralph Eckert his great tournament, steam rolling Alan Duty 125-30 to move ahead and face The Iceman. Mika got it going quickly and won 125-18. Corey Deuel was also having a quiet but sterling tournament, going 2-1 in the Sat. rounds losing only to Warren Kiamco. His first match on Sat. brought on New Jersey’s long time great Don Polo, with Corey winning 125-19 to advance to the money. Corey was far from done, and faced always tough NY player Zion Zvi. Corey hung tough and pulled out a 125-75 victory to get further along the cash trail. Brian Deska played a long and hard fought match, including a number of three fouls, against the great NJ lefty, Steve Lipsky, ever tough to beat, and Sunday was no exception with Steve finally pulling out the game 125-110. Steve then faced Thorsten Hohmann, the 2011 World 14.1 Champion, and easy to see why. Toasty got it going immediately and ran out to a 125-20 win.
The 3rd and 4th rounds on Sunday were classic, with pairings among the top eight remaining players as good as you will ever see in a local poolroom venue. Congratulations for all involved for getting this together and for the players in making the effort to come to Maryland. Just look at the pairings in the last three rounds! Could you ask for anything more exciting?
In both of the semi final matches there were long runs by the eventual winner, as you can see from the scores. And so into the finals advanced 2011 World 14.1 Champion ‘The Hitman’ vs. recent 2012 World 14.1 title holder, Mr. 400 John Schmidt! Could anything be more prophetic? The two most recent World 14.1 Champions right here on the same table at Big Daddy’s Billiards in Glen Burnie, MD. And the Insidepool.tv live stream was taken over by dozen times Champion and player of the Nineties, Johnny Archer. A great match, with Thorsten getting to 21-14 advantage quickly and after a scratch, leading to an impossible safety situation from which no one could extricate themselves, Thorsten came away from the table leaving Schmidt an open shot . . . and with a flawless run he was at 150 and out in no time at all! Joint holder of the 2012 World Championship and Maryland 14.1 title!
Congratulations and a tip of the old fedora to Mr. 400, to Thorsten, Mika, Johnny Archer, Corey Deuel, Ralph Eckert, Mike Davis, Bandon, Zion and to all of the players, fans and supporters who made the trip to Baltimore! See you next year for sure. Same time, same place!
We want to thank our hosts Cynthia & Richard Molineiro and to the many sponsors and supporters, most particularly Ivan Lee & SIMONIS CLOTH, Peter & Sandra Sears of Madison WI, Nathan Sulinski, and J.R. Calvert of Inside Pool magazine and insidepool.tv live stream. In closing it is with a sad heart that I mention to fans everywhere that on this day, as I write, August 22, 2012, we learn of the passing of the father of Rick Molineiro. Our deepest sympathies are sent to Rick and Cindy and their family.
Peter Burrows, Director
2012 Maryland 14.1 Straight Pool Championship