It was two days of fancy shooting and good times this past spring at the third annual Dominion Command Eight-Ball Championships held May 23-25 at Col. Paul Poisson Branch in Tecumseh, Ont.
The tournament began on Saturday morning with a quick parade and opening ceremony. The players were led into the tournament hall by a large contingent of flag-bearing Legionnaires and stood in formation as Dominion Command Sports Committee representative Mike Atkinson declared the tournament had begun.
Play began right at 10 a.m. on three tables specially set up at the front of the branch’s banquet room. Despite some early confusion about the order of play and the structure of the tournament, the competitors kicked the focus into high gear and started sinking balls.
There were 40 players present—four from each of the 10 commands—and the tournament format would see them split up into two groups. The team winner was determined by adding up the individual win-loss record of every player.
Shortly after noon, the tournament directors decided to add into the mix the two pool tables in the branch’s lounge, thereby having concurrent play on five different tables.
The top four players from the round-robin portion of the tournament would play off in a final round to determine the singles champion. Play continued throughout Saturday afternoon and late into the night.
At just past noon on Sunday, the marathon round-robin session came to an end and after a flurry of math it was declared that the British Columbia/Yukon team of Dylan Thomas, Brad Douglas, Pete Holden and Craig Walters from Britannia Branch in Victoria had won the team championships with a total of 52 individual victories. The team from Norwood-St. Boniface Branch in St. Boniface, Man.—Rick Hutcheson, Albert Ducharme, Jules Mortinson and Stephen Kingyens—came second with 49, while the Ontario Command team of Sam Maltese, John White, Stephen West and Jim McGregor from Swansea Branch in Toronto came third with 46.
Out of all 40 players, the top four with the best win-loss records were selected for the playoffs: Robert Massia of Centennial Branch in Dartmouth, N.S., John White of Ontario, Jerry Carroll of Miramichi Branch in New Brunswick and Craig Walters from B.C./Yukon Command would compete in a round-robin draw with the top two players moving on.
After some amazing billiards in front of a full house, Robert Massia and John White emerged from the round robin to play two out of three games for the Dominion Singles Championship. After White’s very convincing performance in the first game—seven balls in a row—Massia came out firing in the second game and unfortunately scratched on the eight ball, costing him the game and giving White the championship.
The final championship to be decided was the race for the doubles crown. The top two doubles teams—as determined by examining the scores in the initial round robin—were Sam Maltese and John White from Ontario, who would be playing against Jerry Carroll and Danny Carroll of New Brunswick. In the best three-out-of-five format, it went down to the final tiebreaking game which the Carrolls won.
Also of note is that newly elected Dominion First Vice Dave Flannigan was in attendance but as a competitor, not as a representative. While his team from Labrador City Branch didn’t win, they put in a solid performance.
With all the winners decided, it was time for the final banquet and for the guys from B.C./Yukon to bask in the glory of being the overall team champions.
“We’d like to thank the Tecumseh legion for a fantastically run tournament,” said B.C.’s Pete Holden. “And to the referees; as pool players we all appreciate referees that are very attentive and they were just constantly around and I thought that was very well done.”
Representing Dominion Command at the event, Atkinson said, “It’s amazing to have 10 provinces here,” said Atkinson. “The sportsmanship and camaraderie have been great.”
For Atkinson, spending the weekend watching Legionnaires become friends is the best argument there is for keeping sports healthy and vital in the future.
“Legion sports are very important for the comradeship; the team play and the camaraderie are what it’s all about,” said Atkinson. “Without a good sports program at all levels, from branch right through to dominion, I feel you’d be losing a lot of members and branches would be closing.”
While overall the tournament was surely a success, as Atkinson noted, there were some problems nailing down the correct format for play in the first few hours on Saturday. “This is still fairly young,” he said. “This is only the third year, so there’s still trial and error being made in format. Once we get those little glitches ironed out, we’ll be fine.”
It was also fitting that this branch, just east of Windsor, got to hold the dominion championships, as it was Col. Paul Poisson Branch that began the initial effort to make eight ball into a national sport.
“Our branch had made a resolution to Dominion Command to make eight ball a national sport,” reported President Gloria McKibbin. “And we were encouraged that because we had put in the resolution to make it national, we should also put in a resolution to host it.”
Also helping to make the plan a reality was the branch’s former sports chair Paul Lofts, who noted that, “When I got the branch sports officer’s job I did stress that I would make the sports self-sufficient for the branch and that I would get a dominion tournament down here since we’ve been at the forefront of trying to get billiards recognized at dominion level.”
As for the nuts and bolts of arranging the tournament, McKibbin—who was also the chair of the Local Arrangements Committee—said that money was tight but ultimately it was no problem. “We brought in three tables, we spent all we could on tables,” she said. “But we had good support from the community and in the end everything turned out well.”
The next Dominion Eight-Ball Championships are scheduled to take place at Calgary Branch from May 29-June 1, 2015.