June 1 , 2004
20 Greatest American Pool Checkers Players
Of All Times
(Written by Charles ‘Pecan’ Thompson)
#13 - Ollie "Shot Gun" Howard
Mr. Howard, of Bronx, New York, was perhaps the most flamboyant, and exciting Pool Checkers player of them all. At practically all the APCA tournaments he participated in, he would be heard making his signature shriek, "The shot gun is gonna go off." Players throughout the tournament room would stop to take notice.
That was his shout when he got Victor Krafft in that losing position in their sudden-death 20 game playoff match, in Chicago in 1971. With a Chicago Sun Times reporter standing by and watching, Mr. Howard made that declaration in the late evening of that 1971 match. "The shot gun has got him," he shouted. And all who was watching crowded a little closer to watch. And sure enough, Mr. Krafft would lose that game. " The shot gun has got him," was his way of saying. "I have a winning position, and I will win it." There was various ways he would say it, such as- "The shot gun is going off", or "The shot gun done gone off," or even, or "The shotgun got him",-translated ["I am getting ready to win," or "I have the winning position," or "I will absolutely win it.") Whatever the translation, we all knew that Mr. Howard had something special, and often times we would put our own games on hold to go over and see what kind of game he had.
No one was happier than Mr. Howard when Mr. Rubin and I presented him with that playoff trophy after his dramatic win. For years to come, he would oftentimes show up at the annual APCA National Tournament with that trophy and his checker board. His two statements were always the same, "I am the Champion of the World," and "The Shot gun is going to go off." He once related to me that on his plane ride back to New York, after his win, the passengers, and even the pilot, asked him about his trophy that he was proudly showing off. "Pecan," he would say, "I let them know that I was the "Champion of the World."
We must remember, at the APCA tournaments, his kind of pronouncements was allowed-unlike the silence that is demanded at a Chess tournament. In fact, many players, used the talking tool to pump themselves up, as well as to, hopefully, intimidate their opponents. It was, and is, about the fun.
Mr. Howard's record in APCA Tournaments was one to be envied. From 1969 through 1985, a total of 17 years, he had 15 Top Ten finishes. Out of that 15, he was in the top five more that half the time. That, we have to agree, was amazing.
I had the occasion to play Ollie, in the tournaments, many time; with the possible exception of that one win I had over him in Winston Salem in 1979, I don't recall any other. And as fate would have it, I was the object of one of his "shot gun" shrieks the very next year. I paid for my previous sin.
And so, at the #13 spot, I will place the name of Ollie "Shot Gun" Howard
#13. Ollie "Shot Gun" Howard
#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