August 15 , 2004
20 Greatest American Pool Checkers Players
Of All Times
(Written by Charles ‘Pecan’ Thompson)
Mr. Ramsey, prolific writer, artful orator, and Pool Checkers player extraordinary, perhaps more than any other player, changed the way that the game of Pool Checkers was played in this country. Author of several books, and numerous articles and commentaries, Mr. Ramsey, with his Book The Amazing World of American Pool Checkers, raised the level of play of more than a few of our current top players. They won't tell you; I just did! Some of his other writings (American Pool Checkers, one of the world's most fascinating games), (Championship, American Pool Checkers) were equally received by the community of players.
Like Phil Mickleson, of golf (until recently, the greatest player to never have won a major), Mr. Ramsey was possibly the greatest Pool Checkers player to never win an APCA title. In my opinion, he came closest in New York in 1973 when he finished in fourth place (only 4 points behind the eventual winner, Carl Smith). Kibitzers will tell you that a bad decision on his part (That story is for another time and another place) caused him to miss out on that most elusive championship). It was believed that a controversial decision by him to give a weaker player two draws because of time constraints and other factors was his undoing.
It was agreed by many, that for a brief period, he could have been considered the finest player in the land after his 20 game victory over Freddy Owens of Baltimore, Maryland in the late seventies or early eighties. But his fine play notwithstanding, Mr. Ramsey’s finest contribution to the games was his writings and his demos. Like The Apostle Paul of the Holy Bible, Mr. Ramsey wrote incessantly. While others ware playing the game, he related to me once, he was writing for future generations. That he did.
After he had written several books and articles, he would find that others would study his games and come back to defeat or give him trouble in them, he often said. He once related to me that after his loss to Charles Mc Duffie of St. Louis, Missouri, "The ‘ham’ was beating me in my own game." "And only after I went back to my Book, did I discover what he was beating me in."
His problem was, he once said, he might have given out too much to have received so little. I suspect he was talking about monetary compensation for his efforts. And that might have been the case. He once lamented to me that he didn't understand why "Buster" didn't write something? I recall saying to him, "George, "Buster" is a player, not a writer." That seemed to have ended that conversation. Because of his propensity to share his knowledge, he often times tried to emulate some of the top chess grandmasters. He would go to different cities to demonstrate (simuls) or give lectures. Of course, while he was engaged in these activities, others were playing the game-and winning.
For the record, during his eleven years of competing in APCA Tournaments, his modest record of, one- 2nd, one-3rd, three-5ths, two-4ths, one-7th, one- 8th, and two-9th place finishes do not really began to tell the whole story of this extraordinary player's playing ability. Often times, he was at odds with officials and others about variety of subjects; it was the cause, I think, of him not playing in more tournaments during his twenty to twenty-five years of prime playing career.
My last collaboration with Mr. Ramsey was, I think, at the 1985 tournament in Akron, Ohio. That was to be the site where we would launch our Top Masters Top Ten (Professional Players Tournament). Later it was amended to the Top 16. While well-funded (over $3000.00 for prizes), it never happened. The most important reason, but not the only one, was player fatigue after the regular tournament.
The objective and purpose of the tournament was outlined by myself and Mr. Ramsey in the 1983 APCA Tournament Yearbook in Chicago. I thought he wrote eloquently about the need for such a venture in that article. After that time we drifted apart.
And so, for the #9 spot, I will select- George Ramsey.
#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