May 15, 2004

Pecan’s -
20 Greatest American Pool Checkers Players
Of All Times
(Written by Charles ‘Pecan’ Thompson)
-7th Selection-

#14 - Victor "Vic" Krafft

Mr. Krafft, of Chicago, Illinois was a player with whom I got to see really up-close. We played many times, and had many battles over the years-with him winning most of them. It was always about bragging rights (the #2 spot in the city). Nobody contested "Buster's" #1 spot.

For several years, notably the years around 1975, when we had the APCA National Tournament in Chicago, he was the president of the Chicago Club and I was the business manager. From that position, I assumed the directorship of the tournament for that year. Additionally, I was also the 2nd Vice President of the APCA-perhaps too many hats.

But, Mr. Krafft we would find, didn't have much stomach for being an official; he was a player. And so after a few years he resigned the presidency and devoted his time to playing exclusively. Playing "Buster" on a weekly basis, for years would only help his game' we would find. In fact, our former Club president, Carl Prince, used to like to say, "Vic" learned his checkers studying and playing at the ‘knee’ of "Buster." Since Mr. Krafft claimed he had never studied a book on Pool Checkers, Mr. Prince's claim might have had some validity.

His record will show how well he learned. From the years of 1969 thru the year of 1987, a total of 19, he finished in the Top Ten, 13 times. Taking into account, the fact that he didn't play in the tournament, for several years due to illness made it quite remarkable.

Also, we cannot forget the fact that he finished as CO-champions with Mr. Ollie "Shot Gun" Howard in Flint, Michigan in 1971. I attended that tournament, my first-as an observer, and was tremendously impressed with Mr. Krafft’s quality of play. As most veteran APCA players know, Mr. Krafft would eventually lose his share of the CO-championship in a 14 game playoff with Mr. Howard. That match was arranged in Chicago by myself and the late Mr. Louis Rubin, of Cleveland, Ohio, who was at the time the Public Relations Director for the Organization. Even then, the match was forced into sudden-death as they were tied 3-3 at the end of regulation. We had to leave the local YMCA where the match was being played and go to our Clubhouse because the match carried over past the Y’s closing time.

As a result of a News Release we sent out, The Chicago Sun Times, the second largest newspaper in the city, sent out a reporter who ran a picture of the two players-Mr. Krafft and Mr. Howard (and gave the results of the outcome) on it's front page. (I have been unable to retrieve that picture, but I am still trying.)

I, myself, was so ambitious that I challenged Mr. Krafft to a match sometimes in the late eighties or early nineties. Again it was for ‘bragging rights’ (2nd place). I lost that 14 game match to Mr. Krafft, 3-2. But what was more important, and would became abundantly clear to me in later years, was, it was not Mr. Krafft that I should have had my eyes on; I should have been focusing on an up-and-coming young player from East St. Louis, Missouri who had recently moved into the city. Al "Action Man" Lambert was making some noise from the rear, and I hadn't even noticed (more about that later).

And so, at the 14th spot, I will place the name Victor "Vic" Krafft.

#1 ?
#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