Canstar Community News - ONLINE EDITION

Best in billiards coming to city

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The best in the world of English billiards will be making their way to Winnipeg soon.

World-class English billiards players, including multiple world champion Mike Russell, former European Open winner John Hartley, Rob Hall, Guy Heys, Nalin Patel and Chris Taylor from the U.K. will be in Winnipeg Aug. 24 to 29 to compete in the inaugural Americas Cup Open.

The tournament with $12,500 in prizes will be played at the 110-year-old Manitoba Club, with the winner gaining automatic entry into the 2013 world championship in October. Club pro Greg Harder, who heads the local planning committee, said this will be the first time an international pro-am English billiards event will be held in Canada.  

Some of the best players from the Winnipeg Veteran’s English Billiards League, in operation in the city since 1921, have entered. Leading the list are current Canadian champion Rick Kendall from the St. James Legion and Fraser Durham and Shane Bartelette from Norwood. Harder, the 2010-11 Canadian champ who reached the quarter-finals in the 2011 English Open, elected not to play as his committee and club duties will keep him occupied.

The game is played on a snooker table with three balls: one red and two cue balls, one of which is either yellow or white with a black dot to distinguish it from the opponent’s. The shooter scores points by potting another ball, making an in-off by directing the cue ball into a pocket off a ball or hitting the other two balls for a cannon. The maximum number of points on one shot is 10, which happens when the cue ball hits the red, then the opponent’s ball and all three balls are potted. Russell, who is based in Qatar, once made a run of more than 1,000.

The first stage of the competition, called the Vimy Ridge Classic, gets underway Aug. 24 while the Open section begins Aug. 26, with the finals on Aug. 29. While the event is open to the public, visitors must observe the club dress code of dress shirt, pants and shoes. They don’t have to wear black vests and bow ties, like the players.

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Sixteen men’s slo-pitch teams will be in Fargo Aug. 24 and 25 to play in the 35th annual Can-Am Games. In 1979 when organized slo-pitch was in its infancy, two teams from the Winnipeg Men’s Slo-Pitch League (WMSPL), Toronto-Dominion Bank and the TKM Touring All-Stars, travelled south to play established North Dakota teams.

The idea was to see how they played the game and to learn from the experience. The Fargo hosts named the tournament the Can-Am Games and since then as many as 24 Canadian and 24 American teams have played against each other in friendly competition.
The Touring All-Stars have participated every year. Rick Varnes, who has organized the Canadian side of the tournament since the mid-1990s, Pat Carson, Mark McDougall, Tom McGimpsey and Mike Bobko are Can-Am veterans who will be in the lineup. Bobko, who played in his first tournament in 1980 with the Coneheads, has only missed one since then.

Shortstops headed by WMSPL treasurer John Gribben along with his brothers Peter and Paul and the O’Brien brothers, Dennis and Terry, will be in Fargo for the 30th consecutive time.

Among the Can-Am vets are Beavers/Union pitcher Bill Hasiuk, John Weaver, who first played for Burns Smokie Dogs and Transcona’s Cy Ducharme, both with Sports Traders, and curler Andy Stewart, who plays for Portage.
 
Memories of Sport will appear every second week in the Canstar Community News weeklies. Kent Morgan can be contacted at toastandcoffee@canstarnews.com or 204-489-6641.

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