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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.


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July: Boardwalk Empire and More
July 2021

Lots going on in pool these days. And isnít that a nice problem to have?

The lead item in Wing Shots this month (pg. 12) details Matchroomís decision to move the U.S. Open Pool Championship (run for the first 42 years of its existence in Virginia as the U.S. Open 9-Ball Championships) to Atlantic City, N.J., in September. It is an interesting choice on several fronts. Of course, uncertainty and the logistical steeplechase created by the COVID pandemic wreaked havoc on the promoterís ability to a) determine if an event in 2021 was a possibility at all, and b) find a venue that could accommodate a multi-table, 200-plus player, televised event in both size and time requirement.

Since Matchroom began running pool competitions in the U.S., beginning with the 2005 Mosconi Cup, they always staged their events in Las Vegas. Matchroom founder Barry Hearn liked the cachet of the Vegas stage. Glittery, colorful, lively. Vegas suited Matchroomís style. In recent years the Matchroom home was at Mandalay Bay. Now, this is purely conjecture, but I donít think Matchroom would have returned to Mandalay even if dates were available. It has become one of the ridiculously pricey venues in Vegas, cost prohibitive for both event producer and participants/fans. I fully expected Matchroom to find another venue, but I will admit I thought they would still stay in Las Vegas.

And then came the announced move to Atlantic City. I have nothing against Atlantic City, but letís face it, itís no Vegas. And the truth is, for pool it might be a perfect fit. I realize West Coast players and fans, of which pool has many, wonít agree but, hey, youíve enjoyed the convenience of the last 15 years. Pool has always been strong on the East Coast as well, particularly in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. This move puts the U.S. Open within a tank of gas of a third of the countryís population. And Atlantic City properties are significantly more cost-friendly than Las Vegas. Iím guessing that Matchroom and the U.S. Open will be treated like the big shots they are when they roll onto the Boardwalk.

Part of the reason I say that is that the team at host hotel/casino/convention center Harrahís will most certainly be hoping that Matchroom pitches the U.S. Openís tent in Atlantic City for years to come. And, in truth, the event would benefit from a long-term home, just as it did by its 40-year run in the Norfolk/Virginia Beach/Chesapeake area. Predictability in both dates and venue is critical to an eventís continued success.

Which bring us to the time of year. When Matchroom first took over the U.S. Open, discussion turned to moving the event from its customary October timeslot in Virginia to a spring event in Las Vegas, which is why the U.S. Open wasnít conducted in 2018. The inaugural (and still only) Matchroom-run U.S. Open was staged in April 2019. Now, it is moving to August. Understandable that Matchroom is still trying to figure out the proper sequence for its now six-event Matchroom Pool Series. But, again, going forward it would be nice for the major events to have set homes on the calendar.

For my money, the U.S. Open is still the toughest tournament in the world and the most prestigious title. History has a lot to do with that. Letís make sure none of its luster gets lost by bouncing around the country and calendar in the years ahead.

ē From the ďGood Guys Finish FirstĒ file comes major hauls for a pair of likeable, respected, and hard-working men: Alex Kazakis and Dr. Dave Alciatore. Kazakis, the talented Greek player, exorcised more than a few demons when he whitewashed Shane Van Boening in Gibraltar to win the World Pool Masters. Humble and honest, Kazakis admitted to doubting himself after a series of high-profile failures in the late stages of major events over the past three years. But in Gibraltar, Kazakis held his nerve and produced under pressure, winning his first big international title.

For longtime BD contributor Dave Alciatore, years of analyzing, deciphering and sharing information on the physics of pool in the form of instructional columns and videos were recognized with the Jerry Briesath Award from the Professional Billiard Instructors Association. The retired mechanical engineering professor (shocking, right?) is as passionate as they come in teaching the game. And does he have a following? His YouTube channel has more than nine million views and 200,000 subscribers. I think that qualifies as having moved the needle in drawing players to (or deeper into) the game.

ē Finally, Austrian Albin Ouschanís second world title prompted some discussion about his place in pool history, having become one of only four players to win the World Pool-Billiard Association World 9-Ball title twice. (The other three are Johnny Archer, Earl Strickland and Fong Pang Chao.) Does a second world crown ensure Ouschan a future spot in the Billiard Congress of America Hall of Fame?

Iím going to say no. Do I think heíll eventually get there? Likely. Heís only 30. But in the end, the world 9-ball title is just another major tournament, like the U.S. Open and International 9-Ball Open. His resume needs more, including wins in the U.S., where heís never won. More on that later!

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