Judgement Day Cometh!
by Mike Panozzo Jul 15, 2003, 11:45 AM EST

Scoreboard-watching will be in vogue at the cavernous Cardiff International Arena on Tuesday, as the Group Stage in the 2003 empirepoker.com World Pool Championship comes to a conclusion. By the end of action Tuesday, half of the 128-player field will find itself on the outside looking in, and the list of potential spectators is astonishingly powerful.

With the top four from each of the 16 eight-man groups advancing to the single-elimination stage of the $300,000 Matchroom Sport-promoted event, the difference for some could come down to a single game won or lost. Sitting on the brink of elimination is current U.S. No. 1, Johnny Archer. Archer enters the final day with a 2-3 record, and figures to need two wins to emerge from his group. Likewise, countryman and former world champion Nick Varner, at 3-3 through six matches, desperately needs a win against Filipino Antonio Lining in his final match. Even defending champion Earl Strickland is not yet assured a spot in the final 64. With three wins in five matches, “The Pearl” likely will need at least one victory on Tuesday to advance.

Also in perilous positions, Dutchman Nick Van den Berg and 2002 semifinalist Kunihiko Takahashi of Japan find themselves struggling to advance from the same bracket. Both enter the Judgement Day with 3-2 records, but it’s likely that only one will advance. Swedish strongman Tom Storm (2-3), whose cues were stolen early in the event, will need a pair of wins on Tuesday to keep his slim hopes alive.

Already comfortably through into the elimination stages are British snooker legend Steve Davis, Germany’s Ralf Souquet, Philippine superstars Efren Reyes and Francisco Bustamante, and 2002 semifinalist Ching-Shun Yang of Chinese Taipei.

For complete Group standings, and Final 64 pairings, visit: http://www.worldpoolchampionship.com/results.asp

Tournament Notes
Cardiff Insider

by Gary Baker

* Europe’s No. 1, Tom Storm of Sweden, was left running around Cardiff International Arena in panic on Day One of the World Pool Championship. Storm was due on the TV table to play Greek Vangelis Vettas in his group game and, feeling hungry, stopped to get a hamburger. He briefly turned his back on his cue case, and when he turned back to retrieve his cues, they were gone!

He said: "Your cue is your life. Luckily, I had some friends with me and borrowed a cue from my friend from Denmark and a break cue from a friend from Norway. But it's a hard question to know what to do for the rest of the tournament."

The police were called to the arena and started investigating the theft, while appeals for the return of Storm's cues were made on local Welsh radio.

Amazingly, Storm beat Vettas 5-4 with his borrowed cues — including a golden break when he pocketed the 9 ball off his first shot in rack seven of the race-to-five.

* The big draw for the first day of the tournament was the match-up of reigning world champions — World Pool Champion Earl 'The Pearl' Strickland and Cardiff's own World Snooker Champion Mark Williams.

And despite playing the role of heavy favorite, Strickland, who had already lost his opening match, was in jeopardy of losing again when Williams took a 2-1 lead in the race-to-five. The snooker man missed an easy 7 ball, though, to allow Strickland to draw level again. They went to 3-3 before “The Pearl” took the last two racks and sealed victory.

While Strickland explained the match to anyone that asked, Williams came out with an amazing claim, saying: "I don't even know the rules!" Noted as a bit of a joker, Williams was asked if he was just having a laugh. "No! Honestly,” he said. “I really don't know the rules!”

* CORY DEUEL has hit out at global officials, claiming there is not a clear definition of the game's rules.

The 25-year-old golf fanatic from West Jefferson, Ohio, has denied that his enthusiam for the sport has waned, but added that he is unhappy at the way pool's rules are interpreted.

He said: "It seems like most of the people, when I come over here, are against me. I played in the Mosconi Cup and they called me saying that the lag was no good.

"Then I'm breaking just as hard as my opponent and I'm called for not hitting the cue ball hard enough. Well, as far as I know, the rules say you have only got to get four balls to the rais, which I do every time. There is nothing about how hard you hit it or not. That's how I've always known it since I started.

"It's like telling Tiger Woods that he cannot get the driver out,” Deuel added. “That's what has made me discouraged. I would like to see tournaments where favorites are 2-1 (in the betting) and not five or seven to one as they are now.

"Certain players are influencing tournament directors about the rules. The tournament directors are listening to these players and it's not right.

"I just want to play the rules that are supposed to be there," added Deuel.

* JASON CRUZ has been left having to beg and borrow clothes and cues after travelling halfway around the world to compete in the World Pool Championship.

For the past five days, the Puerto Rican has had nothing because his baggage — all five items — still have not arrived in Cardiff.

And such is his plight, that tournament officials have angrily reacted to the problems facing the player. Cruz arrived at Cardiff Airport after flying from Puerto Rico via Newark, New Jersey, and Amsterdam, Holland, but his luggage, including clothes and cues, were still in the Dutch capital.

He was promised his gear would arrive at his hotel in Cardiff by 9am on Friday — but it didn't. Cruz has since spent most of his time trying to get his luggage returned to him but has met with frustration.

Matchroom Sport official Clive Cox said: "It's disgusting. The guy has not got any clothes or cues. He has literally got nothing."

And after trying Cardiff Airport and KLM airlines, who flew him into Britain, for days, there is still no end to his problems.

Cox added: "He's got a dozen telephone numbers that he has been given. Cardiff Airport say that it's nothing to do with them and the first number he rang at KLM was answered by someone who said they are only agents and couldn't do anything. Everyone seems to be passing the buck."

* There were angry scenes on table seven on the upper level Monday afternoon when France's Stephan Cohen reckoned he should not have lost his group game with Japan's Shintaro Sugaya.

The score stood at 4-3 to the Japanese player in the race to five racks when Sugaya tried a combination shot off the red 3 which was right beside the 9 ball. Sugaya played a billiard off the 3, pocketing the 9 to win the match. However, after the shot, Cohen complained to the referee that it was actually a foul. The ref and Cohen stood at the table for at least two minutes, with the Frenchman admantantly demanding that he had been robbed of the rack. However, after much finger pointing, Cohen had to accept the referee's decision and walked back to his chair in disgust to unscrew his cue having lost the match, 5-3.

Television replays, which were shown in super slow motion time and again, actually showed that Cohen, despite sitting six feet away from the shot, may have been right.

Still, not even the match commentators, Sid Waddel and Jerry Forsyth, could agree on whether or not the hit was, indeed, legal.

"If the two balls are hit similantiously, then that's a fair shot,” offered Waddell.

But Forsyth watched a fourth time and concluded: "The 3 ball didn't move until after the 9 ball was hit and that is a foul."

And the argument continued as the two players walked away from the table, with Cohen refusing to shake Sugaya's hand and, instead, complaining to him that he knew he had played a foul shot but refused to call it.

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