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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.

June: Looking for Pool ...
June 2009
Random thoughts, idle musings and no shortage of opinions

Anyone who doubted that the game's top players are actively looking for places to compete should have been in Las Vegas during the BCA Pool League National 8-Ball Championships. Sure, Vegas is overrun by case-toting, trash-talking, game-making cueslingers every May (what with the BCA Pool League, World Pool Masters, Predator 10-Ball Championship, APA Championships and Valley National Eight-Ball Association national tournament all pitching their respective tents at the age-worn, low-ceiling Riviera Hotel & Casino during one cue crazy six-week stretch), but the recent BCAPL event offered a unique opportunity. And the tournament-starved pros jumped at the chance.

In addition to the World Pool Masters, the 16-player invitational made-for-TV 9-ball tournament produced by Matchroom Sport, BCAPL president Mark Griffin beefed up the Grand Masters division of his amateur national championships to include "anyone who wanted to enter."

And enter they did! Shane Van Boening, Mika Immonen, Daryl Peach and Dennis Orcollo, all world champions, along with Filipino stud Roberto Gomez jumped into the men's division. Women's Professional Billiard Association stars Allison Fisher and Kelly Fisher (the past two Billiards Digest Player of the Year honorees), Kim Shaw and Korean sensation Yu Ram Cha jumped into the women's field.

Did I mention we're playing bar table 8-ball here?

What a treat it was watching the game's very best negotiate the tight confines of 7-foot bar boxes.

And an even bigger treat? Seeing who else popped up for a chance to play some pool. How about Mike Massey, Chris MacDonald, Dan Louie, George Michaels and Sal Butera? It was like baseball deciding to blend the old-timers game into the regular all-star game.

The amazing Van Boening, playing in both the World Pool Masters and Grand Masters, raced from one arena to the other - from 9-ball on a 9-footer to 8-ball on a 7-footer - over the course of four days. All he did was finish third in the World Pool Masters and second in the Grand Masters (losing to Canadian Simon Pickering).

Great idea, Mr. Griffin. Can't wait to catch the action next year.

Speaking of action, it was SRO at the Tar Bar (an action room across the hall from the main 8-ball event) when Rodney Morris locked horns with fearless road king Chris Bartrum in a 15-ahead 10-ball match. All the Rocket was giving up was the wild 8! It was a grind-it-out, two-day affair, but Bartrum eventually prevailed. Cool stuff, streamed live.

On the political front, the Billiard Congress of America is holding its elections for directors' seats. Newspapers routinely endorse candidates, so why shouldn't Billiards Digest? After all, the association saw fit to take away the voting privileges of BCA dues-paying industry magazine publishers, so we'll use political endorsements as our de facto vote.

That being said, it is the opinion of this magazine that the BCA board is in dire need of institutional knowledge. The BCA must reinvent itself to remain relevant and effective as a trade organization, and those who know where the industry has been and where it needs to go should be part of the decision-making. No one is better suited to assist in that task than former BCA president and Tweeten Fibre president Skip Nemecek.

Voting members should also consider Eric Weber of Cue Stix Int'l, D&R Championship's Fred Cohen and MBS Group's Mike Serra, also forward-thinking businessmen in tune with the billiard industry's needs.