October 15 , 2004
20 Greatest American Pool Checkers Players
Of All Times
(Written by Charles ‘Pecan’ Thompson)
#5 - Al Barnett
Mr. Barnett of Eastpoint, Georgia, is perhaps the most dynamic of all of the Elite Ten selections. With a risk-taking, riverboat gambler’s-let-it-all hang out mindset, he has parlayed these talents into an extraordinary winning combination. It has at the same time allowed him to become one of the all-time great players in Pool Checkers.
His seven straight wins in APCA Tournaments, that he was involved in, and a ton of second and third place finishes cannot be denied nor refuted. His bold, aggressive, and imaginative play has produced tons of wins over the years in APCA tournament play-which is equivalent to ‘medal play’ in golf. One must distinguish between tournament (medal) play and match play.
To give an analogy, Tiger Woods has become a household name in golf because of his performance in medal play. As we all know, ‘tournament play’ (medal play) is where one competes against all the players in the bracket as opposed to ‘match play’ where one competes against a single opponent. Consequently, in today's society, a player's greatness is determined not by how he performs in match play but how he performs in tournament play. In that respect, Mr. Barnett has done very well. After all, winning the tournament is the final goal in both golf and Pool Checkers.
There had been some criticism of Mr. Barnett’s game because he usually loses more games, while at the same time winning the tournament, than perhaps any other champion. If that is fact, perhaps that's why many kibitzers have wondered out loud, "How would he do in match play?" While that might be a question, we cannot deny the fact that he wins tournaments.
Over the years, I have played Mr. Barnett many games and have been on the losing end in far too many of them. While my losses have been many, there are times when I have had some success. One notable time, for me, was in a game the 1997 tournament in Flint, Michigan. In that game, I quietly maneuvered him into the trap of a game that I had studied intently. I had noticed that the game was a favorite of his, and I had observed him playing it and being successful with a number of players. As I quietly made the final moves for setting the trap, I notice some uneasiness in the back. Later I was to learn from my good friend, Mr. Michael Jordan, of Atlanta, Georgia that he had whispered to an onlooker that if Eastpoint made a certain move, "Pecan" was going to ‘turn the lights out’ on him. Sure enough, he did make that certain move, and sure enough, I did ‘turn the lights out’ on him. I must admit, few wins have given me more satisfaction.
All of that notwithstanding, the championships he has won, the games he has played, and the dynamism that he has brought to the game has made Mr. Barnett, without a doubt one of the all time great players and an honored member of my Elite Ten.
And so, at the # 5 spot, I will select the name of Al "Eastpoint" Barnett.
#5. Al "Eastpoint" Barnett - Eastpoint, Georgia
#6. Calvin "Iron Claw" Monroe - Decatur, Georgia
#7. Momodou Faal - Gambia, Africa
#8. Elton "Little David" Williams - Flint, Michigan
#9. George "Lil George" Ramsey - Detroit, Michigan
#10. Freddie "The Hawk" Owens - Baltimore, Maryland
#11. Andrew Frazier - Nassau, Bahamas
#12. William "Bill" Langley - Detroit, Michigan
#13. Ollie "Shot Gun" Howard - Bronx, New York
#14. Victor "Vic" Krafft - Chicago, Illinois
#15. Charlie Brown - Baltimore, Maryland
#16. Moses "Headchopper" Lightfoot - Macon, Georgia
#17. Charles "Little Charles" McDuffie - St. Louis, Missouri
#18. Tony Rivers - Bronx, New York
#19. George Robinson - Toledo, Ohio
#20. Clyde "King Row" Black - New York, New York