The Super Senior One Pocket Classic hosted by Bogie’s Billiards & Sports Bar featured two One Pocket Hall of Fame inductees, as well as 16 other top “over 70” players from across the country. The matches were a race to 4 on the winner’s side and race to 3 on the one loss side. John Henderson of California was the winner, wrapping up the title over James ‘Sniper’ Christopher of Texas. Third place went to John Smith of New Hampshire.
Bogie’s management is already talking about making this an annual affair, so expect next years field to reach Bogie’s 24 player limit as the word gets out!
1st: John Henderson $1680 + $1550 auction
2nd: James Christopher $1120 + $1175 auction
3rd: John Smith $840 + $800 auction
4th: Buddy Hall $560 + $400 auction
5-6th: Billy Incardona & Jeff Sparks $420
7-8th: Byron Cook & Frank Almanza $280
Recap & photos courtesy Mary Kenniston
I was lucky enough to attend the First Annual Super Seniors One Pocket Championship which was held last weekend at Bogie’s Billiards in Houston, TX. There was a relatively small but knowledgeable field of eighteen players.
One Pocket Hall of Famers Buddy Hall & Billy Incardona led the pack. Well known names like hometown favorite James Christopher, “Gentleman John” Henderson, Frank “The Barber” Almanza, Art Tripp “Gulfport Doc”, “Fast Eddie” Friedman, Jeff Sparks, Casey Kilian, LS John, Byron Cook, Maurice LeBlanc, John Smith, Bob McFarrin, Harold Smith & Bogie’s own John Rizzo, rounded out the field. The always tough “Big Bob” Ogburn had threatened to come but didn’t show nor did One Pocket Hall of Fame Lifetime In Action award winner, Jimmy Spears (“Flyboy”). The buzz around the pool room had it that he couldn’t tear himself away from a juicy high stakes poker game. “Kentucky Bill” Meyers had planned on streaming the match & competing in the tournament but ended up in the hospital the night before the tournament started. A few of the guys got the cameras up & running for streaming but, alas, no commentary. What a shame – a room chock full of one pocket knowledge went unshared.
Legendary cuemakers Leonard Bludworth, Bill Schick & Richard Black were in attendance as well.
After a pretty boisterous player’s auction, the tournament director completed the chart & everyone waited for the matches to be announced.
As expected, it was as much a social event for the players & spectators as it was a competitive event. Finally, we got to meet the some of the people behind their OnePocket.org screen names or meeting Facebook friends. For me, as I had been around the Houston pool scene in 1980, it was great seeing so many old friends from 35 years ago. As the weekend went on, we laughed & caught up – the years vanishing – and picked up where we had left off so long ago. Everywhere you looked, you saw people laughing, hugging their old friends, making new ones & just generally having a great time.
The tournament action had a few surprises…Casey Kilian of New Orleans sent Buddy Hall to the west side on Day One & John Henderson sent both Billy Incardona & local favorite James Christopher in the same direction to keep Buddy company.
Finally, on Sunday afternoon, James Christopher lost his battle with John Henderson for the hot seat while Buddy Hall, bouncing back from his early loss, defeated Billy Incardona in a much anticipated showdown. As Henderson cooled his heels waiting for an opponent in the final match & the crowd murmured in anticipation of a Hall-Christopher showdown, a gentleman from New Hampshire, John Smith, quietly tossed Buddy out of the tournament! After a well-played match by both Smith & Christopher, Houston’s own was back in the finals.
Since it was true double elimination, James would have to defeat John twice to take the title. The first set would be a race to 4. James, having just come off a two hour match, was warmed up & ready to go. He jumped out to a 3-0 lead & it looked like he was going to run away with the first set. However, John was having none of it, slowly warming up & before you knew it, the score was 3-2. The crowd loved it & it looked like John might tie it at 3-3, but James took the first set 4-2.
After about a 20 minute break, the final set began. Since both players now had a loss apiece & it had been the format for the entire event, the final set would be a race to three. The battle for the title began and the score became 2-1 John. In the fourth game, John ran a few balls & then froze James against the rail just below the side pocket. However, John forgot that he owed one & was forced to spot a ball leaving James a straight-in shot! In a flash, James rifled the ball into the pocket thinking that was his game ball, score’s tied at 2-2 & raked the balls down table to rack the case game!!!
The very knowledgeable crowd was stunned at what they had just witnessed…James, thinking he had 8, only had 7 & by raking the balls early had conceded the game making it 3-1 & therefore, gave the title to John! James, once he realized that he had made a mistake, was sick. His lady, Samm, was even more sick than James & was heard remarking that she’d never seen James do anything like that in their 40 years together! And then, we have John…stunned by what James did so quickly & then having to tell him that the game wasn’t over. He was heard remarking later that he didn’t much like winning that way, but he’d take it!!!!
It was a crazy ending to an absolutely crazy fun weekend that even Hurricane Patricia couldn’t dampen although she tried her damnedest!
Here’s the order of finish & payouts for the First Annual Super Seniors One Pocket Championship!
1 John Henderson $1680 + $1550 auction
2 James Christopher $1120 + $1175 auction
3 John Smith $840 + $800 auction
4 Buddy Hall $560 + $400 auction
5-6 Billy Incardona & Jeff Sparks $420
7-8 Byron Cook & Frank Almanza $280
Bogie’s loved the event & is looking to make it bigger & better next year. Bogie’s manager, John Rizzo, pulled out all the stops to make everyone, players & fans alike, feel welcome & at home. We all can’t wait until next year!!
However, the absolute highlight of a weekend full of fun was when a man approached me after the finals. He stuck out his hand & told me that he was a huge fan. Surprised but flattered that he would pick me out of a room full of legends, I shook his hand & asked him his name.
“Keith Thompson”, he said.
Stunned again, I looked at him & said, “Not THE Keith Thompson? The Keith Thompson that won the 1970 Johnston City All Around & then dropped out of sight – never to be seen again?!!!”
Giving me a shy smile, he drawled,“Yeah…”