55 & 64

 

 

Worst. Fried. Chicken. Ever.
I hauled ass to get out of work early and then hauled even more ass to get down to the station early enough to catch an earlier bus off to Mountain View. Sadly, the bus was oversold. Greyhound does that a lot, I’ve noticed — especially on holiday weekends. Ugh.
I hung out at the station for the next eight hours. There were creepy people, screaming children, power outages, fights for the last seats on a bus, lots of late buses, and I got to catch up on some reading.
That fried chicken over there was saltier than the Mediterranean.

 

Another lovely Northern California sunrise.
My bus, which was a crappy older model smelling faintly of mothballs, Lysol, and weed, left at 11:30 p.m. The driver kept the AC at a comfortable 40 degrees so no one slept and everyone froze. On the plus side, the cooler temperature meant the restroom stench was bearable.
I arrived about a half-hour early in San Jose, at 6:06 a.m. I caught one of the city buses shortly after arriving and got to watch the sun rise over the mountains. It was quite a sight and I regret I did not have a chance to snap some nice photographs. I arrived at my hotel around 7:00 a.m., which gave me time for a nap.

 

 

The one pocket segment of the West Coast Challenge had started yesterday (July 3) and continued into today. As I did not play one pocket, I took it easy this holiday and had brunch with my parents (because I’m generally only up here for tournaments — bad daughter, I know). Afterwards, I tripped on over to MY FAVORITE POOL ROOM OF ALL TIME, California Billiard Club, to see what was going on.

 

This panorama of the main tournament area was from the Chet Itow Memorial earlier this year. It’s so pretty. 🙂 You may click to embiggen.

BEST TOURNAMENT SIDE OF ROOM EVARRRR!!!!

Here is a view of the other side of the room. The streaming arena is to the right. The stripey shirt dude is Thorsten Hohmann. Just felt like pointing that out. You may also click to embiggen.

 

This has been my favorite pool room ever since Chet Itow opened it in 1998. There is lots of room in the tournament section (no claustrophobia here), great tables (even on the “recreational” side), good food, perfect setup for sweating matches, and a full bar (aww yeah). When Chris Swart took over the room from Mr. Itow, he improved the food even more (Chicken tacos! All-day breakfast platter! ALL-DAY BREAKFAST PLATTER!) and started holding bigger tournaments.

 

HARDCORE.
This is a room designed, built, and maintained by actual pool players — not just people who play pool. Every detail of the room just makes my little black pool-nerd heart so happy.
The bar tables had been put to the side so that a two-table, marquee match arena could be made. The arena made it much easier to livestream matches. It also gave everyone enough space to sweat the matches in comfort.

 

The two-table marquee match arena.

Amar Kang and Jesse Gilbert warming up on the arena tables.

 

The much buzzed-about newest Filipino import, Carlo Biado, shoots against Warren Kiamco.

Mr. Biado would go all the way to the finals of the one pocket event.

 

.
Mike Davis (left) and Dennis Orcollo (right) do a half-assed fistbump (is that even a fist from Mr. Orcollo?). I can hear the “yeah, yeah, whatevers” from here.
.
Mr. Orcollo and Mr. Davis debate whether it would be a foul if the 10-ball, which is behind the cue ball, moves during the shot.
.
.Tournament director Janet Okamoto joins the discussion.
“Damn, Mr. Davis. You tall.”
.
Mike Davis, 6′ 4″, jacked up and using two stacked bridges. Irony not lost.
.
…and SUCCESS!

 

The final three returning to finish off the one pocket division tomorrow were: Darren Appleton in the hotseat, Mr. Biado vs Mr. Orcollo in the third-place match.

 

 

Today, it was my turn to jump in the shark tank. I won my first match and then had to play Santos Sambajon. Well. At least this time around in the tournament, I didn’t have weirdos following me around telling me not to be afraid or that I had no chance.

 

Ever wonder what it’s like to play Santos Sambajon in a ten-ball tournament?

Here you go.

 

Despite the pleasant lack of shenanigans, I lost in short (haha) order, 8-1. In one rack, Mr. Sambajon fired the 5-ball to a corner pocket where it rattled and banked out and across the table — and then returned to fall in the original, intended pocket. Great. As the rules are call-pocket, that shot still counted. Mr. Sambajon thought it was funny. I did not. What was funny was Francisco Bustamante‘s offer to me after the match was over:

7:39 PM, Jul 5th
BUSTAMANTE: “I saw Santos shit out in your match. You want me go beat him up?” ME: “Nah. I go do it myself. Then it’s a fair fight.”
follow me & be entertained

 

Francisco Bustamante breaks in his match against new and noteworthy young player, Wang Can, from China.

Mr. Can would defeat Mr. Bustamante by the stunning score of 8-3.

 

Gosh this was funny.
A gentleman asks Wang Can about pool in his native China. This gentleman spoke VERY SLOWLY and LOUDLY to Wang because Wang did not speak much English. Understandable. Then he wanted to ask to Wang about pool rooms in China. To do so, he felt he had to explain what a pool room was. “YOU KNOW, A BIG HOUSE [insert expansive hand gestures]…. BIG HOUSE, BIG ROOM… ALL POOL TABLES.” Bwahaha.

 

After a long wait, I started trudging through the Scenic Side. I won another match (yay) and then waited some more. I needed to win the next match in order to return the next day. I believe that round was scheduled for 9:00 p.m., but my opponent and I did not start until 10:00ish.

Since the tournament was winding down, the evening crowd of recreational civilians were coming in. In addition, the one pocket final was going on AND Mr. Bustamante and Shane Van Boening decided to get into some one pocket action. It was funny seeing the crowd move over from the tournament final to the action table in one big wave. Meanwhile, there were scads of people and my claustrophobia was setting in as recreational players trickled into the tournament side where I was playing.

My match lasted a very long time, but it was f#cking great. During that time, I learned a lot about concentration. I was bumped by people, deafened by Ed Ames‘ sneezes (I say, godDAMN those sneezes have some power!), people crossed my line of vision, people stood next to the table and stared, flash photography — you know, the usual Friday night fun. Interestingly, that crap did not bother me too much. I was tired, sure, but the crap beyond my control was just that — beyond my control, so I didn’t give a sh#t, or I dealt with it immediately (and more or less calmly). At one point, I needed to shoot a crucial shot. As I looked at it, I became aware of someone hovering very close to me and I saw that this person was looking for their friends or something. I said to him, “Do you have somewhere to go?”

“Uh, yeah. I think my friends are over there.”

“Then you should go. NOW.”

“Okay.”

Oh, but the best part was yet to come. This was a long match and very much a dogfight in the beginning. At one point, I felt someone smacking my arm with their hand while I stood watching the table. “Hey. Hey. Hey.” I turned, and it was none other than Mr. Orcollo.

“WHAT.”

“How much you play for? What the bet?”

“This is a tournament match.”

“Tournament?”

“Yes.”

“No!”

“You gonna play this match for me?”

“No.”

“Okay, then. I gotta go.”

For real, you know you’ve arrived when Dennis Orcollo, world champion and widely considered to be the best money player in 10-ball, is one of the inadvertent sharks in your match. Yaaaaay.

I ran out of gas and around 1:15 a.m. or so, I lost.

I looked at the gauntlet of people leading to the front door — and walked out the back door.

 

I was told this was “Tennessee Honey”. There must be a lot of drunk-ass bees swerving around them southern skies.
When I returned a short time later, I saw that my good friends had readied many therapeutic beverages for me.
After a few drinks downed in quick succession (because of last call), I felt a little better about my loss. Haha, just kidding. Of course I didn’t. F#ck losing. But, at least I was all warm and fuzzy inside due to dilated blood vessels and an empty stomach.

 

 

Well, now that I was off the clock, I could drink, talk sh#t, and watch matches — like a would-be pool player. And that is what I did.

 

Wang Can looks at a kick for a brutal safety by his opponent, Dennis Orcollo.

I wish I had a better camera because this is one of my favorite photographs this year.

 

“You probably think you’re cooler than me…”
“Man cannot survive on pool alone. There must also be ice cream.” So sayeth some wiseass person back in the day.
Since I was out of the tournament, I took a little trip up north to the City by the Bay for a little sightseeing with some fellow pool players. It was very fun. (Seriously, I can have fun outside of pool and its associated lifestyle) I had fish and chips at Fisherman’s Wharf, ice cream at Ghirardelli Square (bomb-ass sh#t), and watched the Bay Bridge light show.
Damn it feels good to be a tourist.

 

 

 

My new favorite: Kahlua + Coffee.
After a not-that-late-night, I was back at the bar with my new favorite drink. I used to do Irish coffee quite a bit but I haven’t been feeling like whisky too much these days. This drink is hot, sugary, and a total contradiction in mind-altering substances (does the alcohol cancel out the caffeine?). Hence, I loved it.

 

Darren Appleton watches himself (and Shane Van Boening) play the Challenge of Champions at the Mohegan Sun Casino on ESPN.
The final four players returned today. They were: Mr. Orcollo in the hotseat, Mr. Appleton vs Mr. Hohmann for fourth place and Mr. Davis waiting in the third-place match.

 

Ken Shuman, tournament director and referee, watches as Thorsten Hohmann readies for a jump shot against Darren Appleton in the fourth-place match.
Mr. Appleton would defeat Mr. Hohmann hill-hill and advance to the third-place match against Mr. Davis.
Mr. Appleton would defeat Mr. Davis and advance to the finals against Mr. Orcollo.
In the true double-elimination final, Mr. Appleton would defeat Mr. Orcollo in two sets, 8-6, 8-5. That would cap off a hell of a weekend for Mr. Appleton as he had already won the one pocket event.

 

“Farewell and adieu to you, Spanish Ladies / Farewell and adieu to you, ladies of Spain…”
I could not stay for the last matches because I had to head back to Southern Reality. I suppose I could have stayed and watched until the end if I had decided to take Greyhound back. But, dudes. I’m gettin’ old (I’m already lazy) and if I can hitch a ride all the way back home in a luxury car, you bet these old bones are gonna say yes.

 

 

random bits

keep the stream alive

Daniel Busch of POV Pool streamed this tournament. So far, he has streamed…

as well as (this past weekend — I have not had time to write about it, yet)…

  • Hard Times 10-Ball Open // Bellflower, CA

and he will now to be off to…

  • BCAPL National 8-Ball Championships // Las Vegas, NV

If you watched and enjoyed the stream, or would like to help Mr. Busch in his venture to bring free pool streams from quality tournaments to the masses, please consider sending a donation to help him cover costs.

 

One Pocket Top 8

1st Darren Appleton $2,500 + entry to U.S. Open One Pocket ($300)
2nd Carlo Biado 1,500 + entry to U.S. Open One Pocket ($300)
3rd Dennis Orcollo 1,200
4th Mike Davis 900
5th/6th Warren Kiamco 700
Shane Van Boening 700
7th/8th Santos Sambajon 550
Brandon Shuff 550

 

10-Ball Top 8

1st Darren Appleton $5,000 + entry to U.S. Open 10-Ball ($500)
2nd Dennis Orcollo 3,000 + entry to U.S. Open 10-Ball ($500)
3rd Mike Davis 2,000
4th Thorsten Hohmann 1,200
5th/6th Jesse Engel 800
Warren Kiamco 800
7th/8th Wang Can 600
Santos Sambajon 600

 

California Billiard Club is closing at its current location and reopening in February 2014 in Fremont

Seriously, this makes me sad. This is one of the best pool rooms, ever. I can never say that enough and if you have ever played here, you would agree. This tournament was literally the last event at the room — the next day, Monday, they started breaking things down. *sniff*

Mr. Swart promises the new location will be bigger and better, with additional tables and perhaps a petting zoo. Just kidding about the petting zoo (can I have a pony?). But, there will be more room. I look forward to the grand reopening and until then, I’ll just be a surly and bitter hack — you would be, too, if you were deprived of your paradise.

 

 

t h a n k s never too many coronas
EMCA | Ken Shuman & Janet Okamoto| Chris Swart & California Billiard Club | ALL the bartenders
first time hello & hello again
Emilyn, Marina, Teresa, Tanner, Cynthia, Rob, Dave | Rex & Savoia | Darren, Angie, & PIXIE! | Miss Shannon | Mr. Gregory | Alex | anyone I missed (I am in holy sh#t it’s Vegas time and I haven’t packed yet mode)

 

 

and YET ANOTHER legend rides off into the sunset