View Full Version : Tournament Impressions.

Jay M
06-03-2002, 07:50 AM
And now for my impression of Mika... j/k

I wanted to take a quick moment to run through some of the things I saw at the tournament. Some of these touch on topics within other threads, but I thought I'd lump them into a group.

The tournament-

The tournament ran very smoothly. Kudos to Charlie and all of the people running it. This tournament was at least as well organized, if not more so, as the US Open was in September.

Regarding the autograph issue, Fans could ask for anything they wanted to have autographed EXCEPT equipment. I also saw some of the pros autograph pictures as long as they had a specific name to address it to. I talked with Charlie a bit about it and I agree totally with what he had to say. BTW, get ready for this to be a standard thing with the big name pros, apparently it wasn't just Charlie that made this decision, it was a general concensus of the top 9 pros.

Pro Billiards staff were always upbeat and the service was great although you just KNEW they were swamped under. I can't say enough good things about them.


The Gorina cloth was new (a day or two old at my best guess) and VERY difficult to control the cue on. It had a tendency to skid on nearly every shot and the cue seemed to just drift forever.

The tables were phenomenal. They were old GC's and I don't think that they should EVER be replaced.


Mika was a gentleman as always. He's somewhat quiet/reserved, but always hung around after his matches giving spectators the chance to come and chat with him. We discussed quite a few things on Sunday and I happened to ask him about his soft break with the Sardo and the 9 on the spot. He hits it the same way I do, low inside english and cut the one for the diamond next to the corner.

Earl - I'll get to him in a second, hold on...

Danny Harriman-
Danny is a class act. No questions at all about that. He spent nearly the whole time he was at the tournament in the hall. He spoke with nearly anyone anywhere about anything...lol Needless to say, I was very highly impressed by his entire demeanor.

TK from FLA - Nothing to add here. Tommy was himself, which puts him at the very top of the field in terms of likability. He didn't last too terribly long in the tourney, but hey, he played well and we all had a great time watching.

Buddy Hall - Still Buddy. Great game, nice guy off the table and a competitor on the table. I think the pockets favored everyone else as they had a bit of leeway to them and Buddy is always about pinpoint accuracy, which wasn't really necessary.

Mike Sigel - Yes, I know he wasn't in the tournament, but he put in an appearance on Saturday to say hi to everyone. The entire time he was there he was joking and laughing with people and when someone asked him to sign a tournament flyer, he didn't even blink at it, just stopped his conversation and hunted down a better pen to sign it, then came back and picked up where he left off.

Now on to Earl...
I drew Earl for my second match. We held a running conversation the entire time, stopping only when the opponent was shooting, and sometimes Earl was talking while he was shooting. Our match was a lengthy one as it devolved rather quickly into a safety battle during the first rack, I'll bet we went back and forth for nearly 20 minutes shooting into and out of safeties. (I eventually won the safety battle and got a shot on the one, but dogged a straight in 8 ball to lose the game).
Here are some opinions and observations that were made during that match:
Earl is STRONGLY against jump rods. I made a decent jump shot to make a 2-8 combination in the corner. Earl applauded the shot, said "and you even made it legally" and then started a small diatribe about the evils of jump cues.

The rack never really came up. Earl was up 5-0 and I put a three pack together against him and then couldn't freeze the balls in the rack. I tried about 20 times and couldn't get them to stick so I told Earl to go ahead and rack them. He racked for both of us for the rest of the match. (the score that was reported is erroneous, it was 9-4 Earl, for some reason I forgot to mark a game, oh well...oh and Earl was going to let me put it up after I realized it a couple of racks later, but I refused because it was my own darn fault).

Earl says he has the worst "skid stroke" in the game. Meaning that the cue skids on him in nearly every shot. We talked about that a bit before the finals, but I'm getting ahead of myself.

Earl was quite the professional when we played. He applauded my better shots and after the game told me that I should have won the match but got a few bad rolls. Actually that may have been true, I was breaking better (by everyone's estimation, including earl's) and was well on m way to a recovery when I played a safety behind three balls and the cue stopped in a place where it had EXACTLY enough room to slide between two of them and make the shot. Later I played a shot that required total accuracy and missed my leave by about an eighth of an inch, when I tried to throw the ball into the pocket, something weird happened because the object ball came off at nearly a 30 degree angle from the cue. Anyhow, Earl was a total gentleman during the match and I actually found him to be a likable guy. He did make one comment that I kinda took a little offense at, but overall, it was a good experience.

I missed most of Saturday, I lost my match in the morning and was out of the tournament. I retired to my room with a raging fever and headache and went to sleep at noon and woke up about 9:00 Sunday morning.

On Sunday I was there when Earl came in the room just before his first match with Mika. From the minute he walked through the door, there was a guy that was heckling him the whole time, goading him on. When he was warming up, the guy was sitting there next to the table making comments like "my grandmother could make that shot" if earl missed. It all came to a head during the match when someone made a comment to him. I don't know if the guy he picked out of the crowd actually made the comment or not, but it set Earl off. Quite frankly, I was pissed off at the person that was heckling him the whole time, deliberately trying to get under his skin. Whether you like Earl or not, you HAVE to respect his record, it's unsurpassed in the sport and the guy deserves the opportunity to play without being harassed at every turn. The saddest part of the whole thing is that the guy that Earl turned on during this was a local player that happened to have been eliminated on Saturday. Neither one of them could let it go. A note about this. Earl announced that he withdrew and started to break his cues down. It was Mika, his opponent, who talked him into finishing the match and along with Charlie calmed him down. It was 6-2 in Mika's favor and Earl stepped up to make a run at him after this all happened.

Before the finals, I asked Earl what he meant about a skid stroke and drew him into a conversation that went on until the warmups actually started. We talked about tables-he loves the old GC's, doesn't like diamonds (sorry Greg, but he doesn't like the rails, he says they "boing" and he feels that pockets should have a bit more latitude than the Pro's do) He doesn't like the new GC's as well as the old ones and he'll never play on a murray again. We talked about tips- He changed away from layered tips because he says he "miscues and doesn't even know it" and uses a standard WB now that he prepares prior to putting it on. We talked about people we knew and he talked about some of the games he had gotten into. Big Bob Ogburn's name came up, Howie, Rusty Miller, Weenie Beanie (although I didn't know him) We heard quite a few stories and Earl was very humorous in telling them. He had the crowd thoroughly entertained for about an hour. He had EVERYONE in stitches over one shot he described from the time he played on a Murray table.

Anyways... The finals started and all was going well. Mika got up on Earl about 6-2 and then played a safety. The safety started and ended like Mika planned, it was everything in the middle that didn't work right. The cue narrowly missed a double-kiss with the OB, came up the table hit the six ball and then settled frozen to the 5 ball. I couldn't hear the discussion between the two of them, but suddenly Earl exclaimed loudly "You PLAYED that??!!". I'm sure that Mika meant that he got the intended result, but not that he meant to do it quite the way it happened. I'll diagram this one so you can see what I mean. Anyhow, Mika said yes, he meant it and Earl said something about it missing the kiss by a ten thousandth of an inch and Mika was quiet, either thinking of a reply or just letting it slide, and someone from the crowd said, "but it didn't, did it?" That REALLY set earl off. He said "This game is between he (Mika) and I, you have nothing to do with it, that's what really pisses me off". From that point on, Earl was on a rant. Everything that happened, he let the audience know exactly how he felt. Mika played a beautiful 5 rail safety on Earl and Earl applauded enthusiastically. Someone in the audience parroted Earl's earlier words "you PLAYED that??!!" and Earl jumped to Mika's defense and said "That was exactly what he played and it was a great shot. You just don't know the difference between skill and luck, do you?" Anyhow, this kind of thing went on for a while during the final match and then Earl stopped (after putting together about 5 racks to bring the score to 11-11 and apologized to everyone there, saying that he was out of line and that he hoped he hadn't offended anyone because he didn't want them to go away mad at him. He ran that rack and then broke and didn't make a ball. Mika ran out and then won the game on the hill.

Think what you will, but from what I saw, Earl has some rough edges....lol BUT, it was the heckler that started it all, Earl was calm and composed until that happened.

Anyhow, it was a great tournament, the players, spectators(mostly) and staff were all wonderful and I'm happy to see things working out like they did.

Jay M

This is the safety Mika Played. The 10 is the ending point for the cue, it's frozen to the 5 and the 12 is where the two ball ended up. The diagram isn't perfect, but shows what happened fairly well.

%Be3D0%Cb1R3%Dn1D6%EG3F3%FH0G5%Hj3P4%Ip3N5%JG5E0%L d5S8%PR5H2

06-03-2002, 08:52 AM
Hello Jay, I did not get a chance to say hello to you (I could not find you after the Earl match), but I did watch your match. I was sitting on the sofa right next to you on table 4 against the wall. I was watching the match and you are defintely correct, Earl did talk the whole time. One point you did not bring up was how Earl was complaining about the smaller race, he remember longer races than to 9. I as a spectator sort of wished he would have been more quiet instead of having to listen to him gawk everytime he missed a shot. He made himself look like he was just robbed when the ball would not go in, eventhough he did not shoot it perfectly that time. It was a tough match against Earl, but I did not remember you putting down 3 games in a row. Must be oversight, plus there were a lot of the pros playing at that time.

On your assumption of the cloth. It was fast and the balls did skid quite a bit, I only know this from watching all weekend and playing on table 2 for about a week before the tournament. The cloth was put on the tables back on the 22 of May or a day or so after. There had been some play on it, but not a whole lot.

I am upset now that I did not go the last day, because I was definitely wanting to see Earl lose his head. This might be some sort of morbid curiousity however he is still a spectacle to see I am sure.

The last thing I want to say about Earl, is that he might want to hire me to teach him how to drive his car. He was driving a silver Porsche 911 and he cannot shift. I was parked behind the building on the road and he came flying by and must have missed a gear or something because he had to have come so close to overrevving that motor. It sounded awful. lol, I am jealous anyways, I wish I got to learn how to drive stickshift on a Porsche. ha ha


Jay M
06-03-2002, 09:02 AM
I'm sorry I missed you there. When I went to look at the schedule, I had the first round the next morning at 11 and wanted to try to get some sleep. Whatever it was that hit me on Saturday was already starting and I was hoping that some sleep would get rid of it so I went back to the motel right after the match.

The three pack was where I missed marking the game. I had a 9 ball break in the second game and never marked it so that may be where you missed it.

I'm truly surprised the cloth was on for that long, it played like brand new unbroken simonis. Personally I wasn't too fond of the way it played, but that is probably because it is the first time I've played it and everything seemed to go wrong for me the whole tournament. LOL, I found ways to hook myself and scratch that don't even exist...

Maybe we'll bump into each other at the next one.

Jay M

06-03-2002, 09:13 AM
Yes, I am sure that is why I did not remember it. I was watching a couple other tables (paying more attention to your table but definitely wandering) so that would have been easy to miss. On behalf of you, there were quite a few times that I noticed one of the players forgetting to record his win and then just marking two games at once to make up for it. I watched Herriman do it and so did one of the locals in the tournament.

The pool hall is not very busy during the week so the tables are not used as much. The big nights during the week there are Monday and Thursday because they have tournaments on those tables. I believe the league games happen in the back.


06-03-2002, 02:29 PM
A few years ago Amsterdam Billiard Club was using Gorina cloth, and they discontinued it because it took about a month for the stuff to become playable. It's somewhat akin to playing on a sheet of ice.
Thanks for recapping the tournament Jay. Those of us who couldn't be there appreciate it! /ccboard/images/icons/smile.gif

06-03-2002, 05:16 PM
What a nice thing it is that you take the time to post your first hand knowledge here on the ccb. I now understand why sponsors line-up to support you and your love of the game. There was some miss information about Earl and the 'incident' going around yesterday. Thanks for clearing that up for us who like to see you guys do well. It sounds like you have Earls respect because of your 'game'. Sorry the cloth spooked your play. That stuff is scary. If you are as pleasant in person as you come across here in type you can only advance the look of our game. Now why don't you put your arm around Earls shoulder and pull him over in the corner and say "this is how easy it is......." LOL. Thanks again.......

Ralph S.
06-03-2002, 07:24 PM
Jay, thanks for being so kind as to post opinions and reports about some of the better and bigger tourneys down your way. Unfortunately we dont't get to witness alot of that caliber of players and tournaments where I live. I would like to meet Earl myself. Too many opinions running both ways about him to form my own without meeting him. Keep up the good job of bringing us accurate and up-to-date information.
Ralph S.

06-03-2002, 08:18 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote: Jay M:</font><hr> He did make one comment that I kinda took a little offense at, but overall, it was a good experience.<hr></blockquote>

What was the comment?


Jay M
06-03-2002, 09:00 PM
It's really immaterial Patrick. It was an ambiguous statement that could have been taken either of two ways, I chose to take it the way I am sure it was intended.

Jay M

06-04-2002, 06:15 AM
Can't really be that immaterial Jay, otherwise you would not even had mentioned it here and no one would be the wiser. But now that you did I guess we all have to ass u me that you were dissed by Earl. Just pulling your chain Jay. LOL Jake