Well, hello. Today I shall incoherently ramble on about a tournament. You have been warned.


“I speak not to disprove what Brutus spoke,
But here I am to speak what I do know.”


Since the last time I posted about a tournament, a tiny kerfuffle has taken place. The winner of the last tournament I played in listed his prize, a four-prong, four-veneer Tad Cue for sale.

[UPDATE: He has pulled the cue from sale on AZ Billiards.]

[EVEN BETTER UPDATE: Brutus and third-place finisher woofing about action on the thread! Exciting!]

This is nothing spectacular in and of itself — people sell cues they win all the time, even before it’s had time to cool off from their blazing trail to victory.

I think the circumstances of victory are interesting and may give us something to discuss. As an actual player in the tournament, here is my contribution to your procrastination are my thoughts.

The Tad Cup is a Southern California handicapped B-player tournament. It is a tournament specifically for intermediate players (no A-players and no professionals) and the higher-level participants give the lower-level participants weight.
First place is a four-prong Tad cue from Tad Kohara, a well-known local cuemaker. Kohara has been making cues since 1963. The cues are highly collectible and still very much in demand. The wait time for a similar cue — well, I might as well place an order and then go hang out in grad school. When I graduate (procrastination included), it might be ready.
I think the official value of the cue is $1,400-$1,600, but due to demand, one could get upwards of $2,000 for it. It’s a generous donation for first-place in a handicapped B-player tournament, designed to encourage competition in the next generation of players.

This past tournament was the third time it has been held. Like any fresh event, it has growing pains. Although it is open to “B-players” only, how does one determine what a B-player is? And, within that category (and below), how does one determine the weight that must be given? I believe this is the first year the tournament required you play in at least four in-house handicapped tournaments during the past year to verify your rating (to “qualify”) and yet, unknowns could still come in at the highest rating (10). Several people were involved with this tournament and when that many people are involved with something as subjective as rating skill levels, and the sometimes contradictory rules, there was bound to be some kerfuffling.


In the finals, I was a 7 and I received the last two from my opponent, Brutus. I guess I should thank him for shanking the easy shots so I could lose with a respectable score. Toward the end, he really let his stroke out and we all got to see some amazing crazy-ass reverse-spin swank-shit position play and shotmaking. Truly, it was a sight to behold.

He won the cue, I didn’t, and that’s all she wrote.

Except for the allegations Brutus sandbagged his way through the tournament.

That’s where everything gets interesting (for me, at least).


I received the condolences of many and the apologies of some after the loss. The condolences were for losing the finals two years in a row. But, honestly, even I know (in all my hardass-ness) that making the finals of this crazy tournament two years in a row is somewhat remarkable. I had to play at a higher level this year since my handicap went up from last year, but it was no less difficult. I actually feel it was much more difficult this year. I did have luck on my side as I sh#t in two nine-balls to get on the hill in two separate matches. Of all the matches I played, I only felt I deserved to win two or three — but as Will Munny once said, “Deserve’s got nothing to do with it.”

For those who felt I deserved to win, I reiterate — deserve’s got nothing to do with it. The chips fall where they will and sometimes, they certainly don’t fall where you feel they should. Seriously, if things turned out the way we all feel it should, then shouldn’t we all win all the time?

Someone told me, “I hate it when the bad guys win.” I do, too — but when the “bad guy” plays better pool than you, that’s just how it goes, sometimes. How “good” or “bad” (both subjective terms) has nothing to do with how well someone plays the game. I’m very sure I was the “bad guy” for many people sweating the match. We ascribe meaning to situations and certainly we have the people we cheer for, but that is because we want to believe the Universe cares and keeps an orderly house. But, really — the Universe doesn’t give a sh#t about pool players. Although if you believe in a higher power holding the reins, I am all for it (as long as they’re on my side, teehee).


Shortly after the match was over, some douchebag I didn’t know tapped me on the shoulder to tell me I should have won, that I let the match slip away. Nice. I didn’t give 110 percent he said.

“No, I didn’t,” I said between grinding teeth.

“You would have won if you did.”

“You moron. You can’t give 110 percent. By definition, if you give more than you have, you will die.”

Everyone judges and I hear about what I did, or didn’t do, all the f#cking time (and you guys get to hear it, too). In the end, f#ck the critics. Critics are men who sit and watch a battle from a high place and come down to shoot the survivors. You can only give what you have and if it’s not enough, it’s not enough. I didn’t have the luck or the skill to win. So be it.


The neat thing Brutus’ alleged sandbagging brings to my table is the “what if” dish. That is, would I have won against someone else? Did I even have a chance? Could I have done more? Could I have outrun the nuts? If I had won, would that mean he wasn’t sandbagging — and I was? “What if” questions have a way of f#cking with your mind. I vacillated between feeling like I should have done more and feeling like I could not have done more — and that was torturous. After a while the “meh” factor kicked in and life went on.


Enough of my internal kerfuffling. Let’s take a look at the kerfuffling of others. I certainly heard A LOT in the following days regarding me, my opponent, and the tournament itself. Here are my observations and conclusions gleaned from what I heard.

Brutus paid his entry to one of the many people who were taking entries. Brutus is from Las Vegas. I am not sure if anyone told him about the qualifying requirement — not everyone allowed to take entries was clear about the tournament specifics — but when he showed up, I do not think the tournament director wanted to tell him he had driven all that way for nothing.
Brutus had played in 2010 as an 8 (about a B-). He affirmed this was his 2012 skill level. He was admitted as an 8.
I hear the tournament director had his suspicions after a few matches.When he voiced the possibility of raising Brutus’ skill level, Brutus objected, accused the tournament director of favoring locals, and demanded others be raised if he were to be raised. The tournament director, who prided himself on fairness, let the matter go.

I have since heard that Brutus in an A-player. Maybe he doesn’t know how well he plays. He spent a fair amount of effort woofing and decrying the lack of $3,000 sets to be found in Southern California during the tournament.

Sets for $3,000 and more are generally rare at B-player events for an unknown challenger and the majority of players are beginner-to-intermediate. I would suggest he try the Hard Times 10-Ball Open. His proposal, assuming it is fair, should find many interested parties (a sampling of this year’s participants) then.


I guess I would most closely equate Brutus’ admittance and subsequent — play — with South African swimmer Cameron van der Burgh’s slightly controversial Olympic victory in London. He admitted he cheated but rationalized:

“Everybody does it—well, if not everybody, 99 percent of them. If you’re not doing it you are falling behind and giving yourself a disadvantage.”

Whoa. (That sounds a lot like the rationale for hustlers and sandbaggers in pool, amirite?! Hell of a coincidence.) Van der Burgh got one over on the judges, even kicking them in the teeth with the public acknowledgment. He gamed the system and now, the system has to change to keep up.

Brutus gamed this little tournament and now, the tournament will have to change to keep up. A win is a win. A loss is a loss. Such are the trials and tribulations of competition.


I’ve seen a range of reactions and suggestions for the tournament, both from players and non-players, locals and non-locals:

  • Good for him, he hustled his way to victory.
  • Who cares, people cheat every day, get over it.
  • I wasn’t allowed to play so serves them all right.
  • Close the tournament to out-of-state players. (if you ban players from one state, you gotta ban them all)
  • Close the tournaments to all non-local players. (but then, we’d have to define “locals”, too)
  • Have at least half a dozen local players verify your rating. (still room for possible collusion)
  • Require qualification of playing the in-house tournament for four consecutive weeks. (could be difficult even for local players)
  • Require qualification of playing the in-house tournament eight times within the year. (eh, why not)

The list goes on.

It is the nature of a handicapped tournament (rather, all tournaments) to not please all players. After all, only one player will win. However, after this tournament, I believe the tournament director will be more stringent in policing skill levels in the future, and no doubt the process of receiving entries and evaluating eligibility will be clarified to prevent miscommunication. The worst loss, I feel, is the loss of trust between players and an increase in cynicism — but that has been going on for some time now, hasn’t it?


It was said that I took the fall for the mistakes and indecision of others. Whether that is true or not is irrelevant. Nothing can be done about the past.

Or can it?

I put on my best wizard hat and after some stretches, extended my arms, wiggled my fingers, and placed a curse on the cue (long distance and standard messaging rates did apply). Of course, my bad juju voodoo magic curse is merely words and therefore c o m p l e t e l y harmless…


In the meantime, the money I won goes into practice costs for next year. Maybe the third time will be the charm. Maybe not. I can only approach the next tournament the same way I did this year and last year: disregard what everyone else is doing, see how far I can run, and let it end where it ends.



3rd rock! Off topic: Brutus’ road partner looks like John Lithgow.
This post for Sweeney, who said, “yarrr”.