clash royale hack gunpixel.com mobilelegendstool.us robloxtool.com clashroyaletool.info mrcoinsfifa.com besthomescapes.com
HomeAbout Billiards DigestContact UsArchiveAll About PoolEquipmentOur AdvertisersLinks
Tips & shafts
By George Fels
Consulting Editor George Fels has been writing for Billiards Digest since 1980, and his "Tips & Shafts" column is usually our readers' first stop when they crack open the magazine. For better or worse, pool has been his only mistress for 40-plus years.


Archives
• November 2017
• October 2017
• September 2017
• August 2017
• June 2017
• May 2017
• April 2017
• March 2017
• February 2017
• January 2017
• December 2016
• November 2016
• October 2016
• September 2016
• August 2016
• July 2016
• June 2016
• May 2016
• Apr 2016
• Mar 2016
• Feb 2016
• Jan 2016
• December 2015
• November 2015
• October 2015
• September 2015
• August 2015
• July 2015
• June 2015
• May 2015
• April 2015
• March 2015
• February 2015
• January 2015
• October 2014
• August 2014
• May 2014
• March 2014
• February 2014
• September 2013
• June 2013
• May 2013
• April 2013
• March 2013
• February 2013
• January 2013
• December 2012
• November 2012
• October 2012
• September 2012
• August 2012
• July 2012
• June 2012
• May 2012
• April 2012
• March 2012
• February 2012
• January 2012
• December 2011
• November 2011
• October 2011
• September 2011
• August 2011
• July 2011
• June 2011
• May 2011
• April 2011
• March 2011
• February 2011
• January 2011
• December 2010
• November 2010
• October 2010
• September 2010
• August 2010
• July 2010
• June 2010
• May 2010
• April 2010
• March 2010
• February 2010
• January 2010
• December 2009
• November 2009
• October 2009
• September 2009
• August 2009
• July 2009
• June 2009
• May 2009
• April 2009
• March 2009
• February 2009
• January 2009
• October 2008
• September 2008
• August 2008
• July 2008
• June 2008
• May 2008
• April 2008
• March 2008
• February 2008
• January 2008


Best of Fels
 
July: Joe and Edgar
July 2017

By George Fels
[Reprinted from Decemeber 1988]


If there’s a poolroom in existence that doesn’t have a pair like Joe and Edgar, that poolroom is probably not worthy of the designation. What are their names in your room, the stubborn old coots who swear off playing with each other as often as they play, which might be five times a week? See how well you know Joe and Edgar already? The real magic in Joe and Edgar was that they played out their roles of Hatfield and McCoy against the splendid backdrop of the old Bensinger’s in downtown Chicago, where once there was one floor for pool and another for billiards, ivory balls everywhere, table maids and porters to serve food and drink and even rule off the billiards tables for balkline if the gentlemen so desired. Bensinger’s was one mighty fancy dame. Joe’s last name was Raggio, but only the insiders knew that; strangely, no one knew Edgar’s surname, and I may be the last mortal who even remembers him at all. Joe Raggio was simply Joe the Hunchback around the room, indeed a misshapen little thing with an encyclopedia’s worth of sharking techniques who loved to play straight pool for $2 or $3, maybe $5 if he or the other party was stuck bad enough. Edgar had both size and loudness on Joe. His hair pristinely parted in the center like a mountain ram, he was just about as hardheaded. Edgar always wore suspenders rather than belts, and while playing he rolled his pants up three or four turns, too, a technique I’m still not sure I understand. As opposed to the cretinous Joe, who crept around the table with a mischievous smile as though planning to surprise the balls, Edgar’s body language was all assertiveness. He marched proudly into position for his next shot without waiting for the first one to drop, wearing out three or four cubes of brand new chalk each game, bellowing happily when he was winning and bitching mightily when he wasn’t, even if he did limit himself to expletives like “gosh” and “golly.” Edgar actually played pretty, circular patterns and he rounded the table as mechanically as though there were a wind-up key in his back under the suspenders, fat little pants-cuffs flapping in the breeze like dwarfed hula-hoops.

The standard bet between the two men was 100 points of straight pool for $2, but if you beheld all the weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth, you’d have sworn the outcome would top the GNP one way or the other. Their caliber of play was not bad — occasionally one or the other might flirt with a third rack — but neither man had a family, nor much of anything else in life expect their meetings with the other. As a result, the competitive fires burning inside the two men were bright enough to make those of better players, clear up to Mosconi and Greenleaf, seem like gefilte fish by comparison.

“Oooooo! So damn lucky!” Joe would bleat, as Edgar’s run would mount to four with the aid of a favor from the old butter-lips pockets. And if ball five was to be shot anywhere near Joe’s direction, you could bet even money Joe’s hands would suddenly become palsied and drop the cue just as Edgar delivered his stroke. Or he might become suddenly seized with the heat of the room, and wave a wretched old hanky daintily like a Southern debutante at cotillion. Or the pressure of the $2 match would require many glasses of water, and these Joe would lovingly sacrifice to the floor in the background of Edgar’s last practice stroke. Edgar was not moved to thoughts of romance by the tiny waterfalls cascading in clear view of his missed shot; instead he would turn red clear down to his lovely exposed shins and, of course, would declare that this was the last game for all eternity. Not the Armageddon, the apocalypse, nor the letting go of the San Andreas fault could lure Edgar back to the table with Joe again. Until game ball was sunk, that is, and the two men muttered their respective ways through the next lag-for-break. “Go bleep yourself,” Joe would snarl at bad moments, and Edgar, smug in his certainty, would calmly retort, “Nope. Can’t do that.” And if for some strange reason all the pool and all the fabulous characters bore you, you could still stroll to the very front of the room and peel heavy window curtains back a few inches to look down Randolph Street. Three full-time movie houses, fun arcades that sold dribble glasses and whoopee cushions to the enlightened, jazz spots all boasted their wares in brazen neon. Even Bensinger’s had an electric marquee, with a talented little man who alternately bowled nothing but strikes and single-stroked a full rack of pool balls into hell-and-gone. It was an exciting time and place to be a teenager, beholding a magic place where pool balls were falling, or billiards scoring, on nearly every table as you scanned the room.

And Joe and Edgar were part of the attraction, no doubt about that. Edgar would finally roll his tortured trousers down and storm out, to return, say, 20 hours later for another identical session. Though Edgar was the better player, Joe won more of the games, usually through shenanigans in tandem with a long run of 12 or so. They played the same part of the room, often on the same table, and drew the exact same crowd each time.

Then one night Edgar blew in like a Gestapo trooper and demanded Joe’s company at once. “Little rapscallion beat me 100-99 last time,” Edgar roared. “And not a bit of it with honest pool! Lies! Tricks! Chicanery! I’ll never play him again. Where is he? I want to play!” “Edgar,” somebody said, “Joe died the other day.”

Less than a month later, Edgar died too.


MORE VIDEO...