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From the Publisher
By Mike Panozzo
Mike became editor of Billiards Digest in 1980 and liked it so much that he bought the company. He has served on the Billiard Congress of America board of directors and as president of the Billiard & Bowling Institute of America.

February: The Year Ahead
February 2011
AS THE new year is upon us, it's time to unveil my bold predictions for 2011. And as the sacred Aztec calendar has predicted that the destruction of human existence on Earth is scheduled for Dec. 24, 2011, this will be my last such predictions. (I'm certain, dear readers, that you're OK with that!)

Trying to shed the ghosts of U.S. Opens past, promoter Barry Behrman pays the entire 256-player field at the 2011 U.S. Open before the tournament begins! Based on 30-plus years of running the event, Behrman seeds the players in such a way that the final standings are determined prior to the opening match. Cory Deuel graciously accepts the $40,000 top prize, but is told that his green jacket, symbolic of the U.S. Open Championship, will be mailed to him in installments the left sleeve first, followed by the right sleeve two weeks later, then the lapels, and so on.

Matchroom Sport, buoyed by its wildly successful return to London's York Hall in 2010, convinces Las Vegas' MGM Grand to replicate the crusty old boxing hall for the 2011 Mosconi Cup. American fans are provided with sheet music in an effort to recreate the rowdy, sing-song atmosphere of York Hall. Unfortunately, they are mistakenly handed the lyrics to old Broadway musicals, and serenade the players with show tunes from "South Pacific," "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" and "Oklahoma." Still, television ratings for the show skyrocket in the United Kingdom, as fans are convinced they are watching old Bennie Hill reruns.

WikiLeaks obtains and releases a 45,000-page Congressional report that suggests that America's collapse on the international pool scene is part of a worldwide plot. Pool, the documents claim, is the thread that holds the U.S. together. In an effort to strip the mighty Americans of their wealth and power around the globe, Asia and Europe band together to take over the pool world. The result is political unrest, a shaky economy, rampant unemployment and the loss of the Mosconi Cup. (What! You think the downfall of American pool and the recession are coincidence?)

With only one tournament on the schedule and a commitment to air 16 hours of action on ESPN, the Women's Professional Billiard Association tapes only the final match and edits it into 16 one-hour shows. Finalists Ga Young Kim (whose new nickname is Lady Ga Ga) and Jasmin Ouschan make complete wardrobe changes between games, leading the audience to believe that the pair reached the final match in 16 consecutive tournaments. Each game has a different title sponsor, making the Classic Tour appear bigger and stronger than ever. The WPBA likes the idea so much, it commits to 25 hours in 2012.

In an effort to emulate the News of the World reporter who posed as an Arab businessman and offered nearly $500,000 to snooker champion John Higgins' manager to have the three-time world champion intentionally lose frames in several matches, an editor of a U.S. tabloid poses as a Chicago politician and offers an American pro $20,000 to lose a match. The player agrees and convinces the reporter to wager $10,000 of his own money. The player's backers then wager $50,000 on the player, who wins the match, avoiding any charges of match-fixing, and coming out $30,000 ahead. That's the way you do it, Mr. Higgins!

Incredibly, International Pool Tour founder Kevin Trudeau finds a way to capitalize on the disappearance of professional pool by unveiling his new book titled, "Pool Tournaments They Don't Want You To Know About!"