The fifth annual three-cushion billiard tournament held at the Masonic Temple in Dubuque
By Robert Byrne
The fifth annual three-cushion billiard tournament held at the Masonic Temple in Dubuque ended Sunday afternoon with two Chicago-area players taking the top two spots. The winner was Brian Haff, making his first appearance in the Dubuque event. Second was Eric Spencer, who finished fourth last year.
Haff also won prizes for high run in the finals with an 8 and best game in the finals, 25 points in 25 innings, both scored in his game with Gary Eake.
Defending champion George Ashby, who has won eight national championships, was slightly below par and lost two games. He was edged out by one point in total points scored for third place by Ohio’s Tom Rossman, former world pool trick-shot champion.
California scientist Bob Jewett was fifth and realtor Gary Eake of Oshkosh, Wisc., was sixth.
Dubuque’s Robert Byrne, the tournament director, missed by one point making the six-man finals, but did win the prize for best game in the preliminary rounds by scoring 20 points in 21 innings. High run in the preliminaries was 8 by Michael Leimers of Minnesota.
Games were played to 20 points in the preliminaries on the Temple’s three 1935-era Brunswick tables, fitted with European rubber and covered with new Simonis cloth. In the finals, games were to 25 points.
The format was two seven-man flights, Clubs and Hearts, with the top three advancing to the final six-man round-robin. In the absence of Lupe Cruz, who failed to show, the two highest-ranked remaining players, Ashby and Haff, were seeded into separate flights.
In the Clubs flight, the surprising Eric Spencer, who finished fourth in this event the previous year, was undefeated, averaging .633. Haff averaged .706, but scored only 9 points versus Spencer. Veteran Gary Eake, 3-3, edged out Dubuque’s Ed Wedge for third on total points scored.
In the Hearts flight, Ashby swept the field, 6-0, and averaged .714. Tom Rossman, 4-2, was second, California’s Bob Jewett, 3-3, edged Bob Byrne by one point on total points scored to take the final qualification spot.
The first surprises in the finals came in the second round when Rossman beat Ashby 25-18 in 33 innings and Haff lost to Spencer 25-21 in a slow 51-inning game.
A key game in the third round was Ashby versus Spencer, which Ashby won 25-13 in 26 innings.
Only two rounds were needed on Sunday to complete the schedule. Spencer beat Jewett to finish in second place with four wins and one loss. Rossman beat Eake to end at 3-2. In the game to decide the championship, Ashby scored only 13 points to Haff’s 25, to finish fourth. Had Ashby scored one more point he would have finished third with Rossman fourth.
The prize for high run and best game in the finals went to Haff for his run of 8 and his best game of 25 points in 25 innings, both scored in his game against Eake.
The tournament ran smoothly thanks to the work of Dale Saunders, who did the scheduling and statistics and printed out the results at each stage, Gary Eake for all-around assistance, and Ed Wedge, who kept everybody supplied with soft drinks and pastries.