Artistic pool championship title claimed in 1-point win

Darling squeaks victory from Massey

By Steve Lillis,
WPA Artistic Pool Division Chairman

In a stunning one point victory Charles Darling of Washington, MO defeated 2003 World Artistic Pool Champion Mike Massey 194 to 193 total points at Comet Billiards in Parsippany, NJ Nov. 15th and 16th, 2003.

This BCA sanctioned event was also a qualifier for the 2004 WPA World Artistic Pool Championship to be held in Asia late next summer or early fall. The prize fund of about $6,000 was spread out among the 15 artistic pool players.

In addition, the top 12 BCA North American finishers and defending 2003 WPA World Artistic Pool Champion Mike Massey, are now eligible to compete for the 2004 WPA World Title next year along with Champions from the other Worldwide Billiard Federations.

Last month at Accu Billiards in New Bedford, MA at the U.S. Open Artistic Pool Championship, the prize fund was $20,000 spread out among 20 International Artistic Pool Players.

The World Artistic Pool Tour has been in operation under the WPA since 2000. Charles Darling (pictured right) also defeated Mike Massey by a single point for the 2001 WPA World Artistic Pool Championship in Las Vegas, NV. Mike Massey has been Artistic Pool’s premier superstar winning 8 out of 12 major artistic pool events he has entered.

Last month Mike lost the 2003 U.S. Open Artistic Pool Championship in New Bedford, MA to Stefano Pelinga of Italy in another stunning one shot (3 total points) victory. Mike has won the World Title 3 out of 4 years and ESPN’s Trick Shot Magic Title 3 out of 4 years as well. Mike has won about $100,000 in the process.

Tom “Dr. Cue” Rossman handed Mike his only ESPN loss last year as “Dr. Cue” put on a dazzling display of billiard artistry to claim the ESPN Title. It is safe to say that Charles Darling, Tom “Dr. Cue” Rossman, and Stefano Pelinga and others stand ready to challenge Mike Massey, who perhaps is the greatest Artistic Pool/Trick Shot Artist the World has ever seen!

Here at Comet Billiards in Parsippany, NJ in this prestigious BCA North American Artistic Pool Championship, Darling did not have an easy road to victory. As a matter of fact he never had the lead until the last shot of the tournament was completed.

Andy Segal, who just recently took second place in the 2003 ESPN Trick Shot Magic tournament to Mike Massey, jumped out to an early lead after rounds 1 and 2. In round 3, Massey on the second day blew the field apart and took what appeared to be an overwhelming lead. In WPA/APD Artistic Pool tournaments there are five shots in each of the eight disciplines and forty shots total, with 2 disciplines in each round totaling four rounds.

Mike Massey is famous for his consistency throughout the tournament format and rarely wins any of the individual disciplines. It appeared like a victory for Mike until Charles Darling made a fantastic finish in the last three disciplines; Stroke Shots, Jump Shots and Masse Shots.

In the Artistic Pool Championship tournament format players are grouped in threesomes in the last two rounds according to total points earned. Mike Massey ended up in the number one flight in the forth and final round with Tom “Dr. Cue” Rossman and Nick Nikolaidis.

Rossman was staging a magnificent comeback as he put himself in a position to win the tournament had he executed his last shot. “Dr. Cue” only lost by a mere 5 points overall and the last shot was worth 11 points on the first attempt, 10 on the second, and 9 points on the third attempt.

Nick Nikolaidis from Montreal, Canada, who last month at the 2003 U.S. Open Artistic Pool Championship, stunned the Artistic Pool World with his amazing talents which led to a third place finish in that tournament. Nick was also in position to win the tournament at the start of Round Four. Nikolaidis quickly dropped back in the pack after going cold in the Jump Shot Discipline of Round Four. We will be hearing a lot more from this great player who is the author of the trick shot template called “Nick’s Quick Tricks”. Nick ended up with a fifth place finish and an opportunity to go on to compete in the 2004 WPA World Artistic Pool Championship in Asia.

In the second flight were Andy Segal, Charles Darling, and Ken Aylesworth, an exciting and methodical artistic pool player from Renton, Washington.

Ken is a full time professional artistic pool player and premier trick shot artist. He is currently on tour on the East Coast. This flight took off second to last behind Massey, Rossman, and Nikolaidis. This is the flight that proved to be the key flight! Andy Segal, who led after the first two rounds, cooled off, and Charles Darling got red-hot. Charles stormed ahead as he won the Stroke and Jump Shots Disciplines.

As Charles entered the “Masse Pit” on Table Number Two for the last discipline, he was now quietly in position to enter the “clubhouse” with the lead. Massey, Rossman, and Nikolaidis were right behind him in the “Jump Pit” on Table Number One, and the winner appeared to be in that flight.

Charles Darling was not to be denied! As great champions so often do, they arise to the occasion at just the right time. As Darling approached his last masse shot in the program, he more than anyone in the room, must have know that a successful attempt might bring him the Championship. Charles has been there before!

He executed the shot perfectly and entered the clubhouse with the lead, but Massey, Rossman, and Nikolaidis were hot on his heels. By the way, that last shot is affectionately called by your truly, Steve Lillis, the tournament MC, the “Francois Mingaud Masse Shot”. Mr. Mingaud invented the cue tip and masse shots in 1827 and had a 40 shot program of his own.

That particularly shot in which we use a cube of chalk on the table to masse around to pocket a ball in the far corner, was first attempted by Francois Mingaud around his top hat some 176 years ago in France.

The stage was now set for the final flight to enter the “masse pit” and decide the Championship. Rossman was on fire and needed to do well in the Masse Discipline to overtake Massey who usually finishes strong.

By the way, in the 2003 WPA World Artistic Pool championship in Kiev, Ukraine, Tom “Dr. Cue” Rossman” did the unthinkable when he was the first and only player to make all 5 masse shots to close out the program. Who would have doubted that Dr. Cue could not do it again, especially after witnessing his 2002 ESPN Trick Shot Magic victory over Mike Massey in the semi-finals and his final victory over Stefano Pelinga in that same event?

All eyes were on Massey and Rossman, but they could not execute. Massey had the final turn at the table and had to make one of his three attempts at the “Francois Mingaud Masse Shot #5”. He came up short and the players and the audience alike now realized that Charles Darling was the BCA North American Artistic Pool Champion.

In this prestigious event along with other artistic pool events, Dr. Cue Promotions awards winners in each of the various disciplines, medals. Tom Rossman himself won the Trick and Fancy Shots Medal and the Follow Shots Medal. Charles Darling won the Jump Shots and the Stroke Shots Medals. Nick Nikolaidis won the Draw Shots and the Masse Shots Medals. Steve Geller of Minot, ND won the Prop Novelty and Special Arts Medal and sang the National Anthem both nights to open rounds two and four. Mr. Geller in addition to being a former two-times BCA National Trick Shot champion is an outstanding professional singer.

Rick Malm of Sun City West, AZ, won the Bank/Kick Shots Medal and closed out the tournament with a strong finish to take sixth place with a total of 155 total points. Rick is a retired IBM employee and is technical advisor for WPA/APD World Artistic Pool. He is primarily responsible for supplying the photos and assembling future promotional artistic pool CD’s. Rick is also the author of the Rick Malm Artistic Pool Training/Instructional CD and he also co-authored an artistic pool template with World Champion Mike Massey.

There was also a special award given by the vote of the players to Jim Garabedian of Willington, CT, which is called the Sportsmanship Medal. By a majority vote, Jim best represented the ideals of WPA Artistic Pool which is; Professional Image, Professional Demeanor, and Professional Skills. There were also two “Audience Participation Artistic Pool Champion” awards given by Dr. Cue Promotions. These were given to the winners of the audience participation tournament run by Tom “Dr. Cue” Rossman. Charles Rodgers of Butler, NJ and Carmen Lombardo of Wayne, NJ were the two winners.