October 1 , 2004

Pecan’s -
20 Greatest American Pool Checkers Players
Of All Times
(Written by Charles ‘Pecan’ Thompson)
-15th Selection-

#6 - Calvin Monroe

Perhaps as much as any player on my selections list, Mr. Monroe's stock has risen by his recent performances. In the last 10 years, his performances, more than anyone else has been one of extraordinary play.

In my initial return to competitive Pool Checkers in 1996, I first met and was shocked by Mr. Monroe's game. A good friend of mine, Mr. Fred D. Shurn, invited me to travel with him to Atlanta, Georgia in 1996 to compete in that city's City Tournament. Surprisingly, Mr. Shurn even purchased my plane ticket for me. And would you believe it, it was on (of all airlines) the now infamous ’Value Jet.’ And what a flight it was! Had I known it was to be the Value Jet Airline, I have often chided Mr. Shurn, I might still be in retirement. For the record, I think, the airline went out of business perhaps just two weeks after our flight. But that's another story for another time.

While I had been away from competitive play, I was still active on the local scene and thought I could hold my own with any player in the country. I was to find out early that that would not to be the case. Playing what I considered a tune-up for the up and coming APCA tournament, I was ambushed by Mr. Monroe. While I had heard about his strong play, I had no idea of what was in store for me. I lost two straight games to him. And although I finished in 3rd place behind, I think, "Eastpoint" and him (It might have been he and "Eastpoint"). I was totally surprised at the level of play he displayed.

His recent play at the 2004 APCA Tournament caused me to reconsider my selection list. Again, as in Atlanta in 1996 I was ambushed-losing two straight games for a second time. His winning the championship in that tournament caused me to be convinced that he is playing at a level that is as good as anyone in the country today. The performance he had there was nothing short of phenomenal. Without his ill-advised attempt to win a ’draw’ game against one of his opponents, (A game in which he lost) he could have played the perfect tournament. As it was, he still prevailed and won the championship for 2004.

For the record, Mr. Monroe has won or finished in a tie for first place in the APCA tournaments at least 3 times. He has a host of 2nd and 3rd place finishes and has played as consistent as anyone I have played in the last eight years. I think, I still have not scored my first victory over him.

An interesting sidelight to Mr. Monroe's story, I had been warned that he had been a student of the late grandmaster Vladimir Kaplan. The story of which I dismissed with the musing of some talkative kibitzers. But, I have recently become aware of his own testimony that he was indeed one of Mr. Kaplan’s students. With that being said, I must say the grandmaster did his job well.

And so, at the #6 spot, I will select the name of Calvin "Iron Claw" Monroe.

The Elite Ten

#1 ?
#2 ?
#3. ?
#4. ?
#5. ?
#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