June 15 , 2004

Pecan’s -
20 Greatest American Pool Checkers Players
Of All Times
(Written by Charles ‘Pecan’ Thompson)
-9th Selection-

#12 - William "Bill" Langley

Mr. Langley, nicknamed "The Bullet hole" by the Russian Grandmasters he played in 1969, (according to him), was one of the most spectacular players as there was anywhere. Why the nickname "Bullet hole," one might ask? It had to do with the scoring system in Pool Checkers, (and other board games as well). A loss is recorded with a zero. And since a zero and a bullet hole look similar, we can easily say we put a 'bullet hole' in a player's card when we win a game from him, because he will receive a zero. That description was just for my readers who don't play Pool Checkers. It seems Mr. Langley was giving those Russian Grandmasters a lot of losses.

Mr. Langley’s record back here in America was equally as impressive. From 1966, his first APCA tournament, thru 1994, (28 years), he had 21 top Ten finishes, with two-thirds being in the top five. From his 1969 championship win through 1978, he finished in the top five every year (ten years in succession).

Mr. Langley had many outside matches of which there are too many to talk about here. But what is notable, while he lost often to Carl "Buster" Smith, he had a standoff with one of the best players in America-Freddie Owens in the 80s or 90s.

His penchant for shots produced some of the most fantastic games the APCA tournaments and private matches have produced down through the years. While his shots were ever present, he almost always kept the draw in sight.

I had the occasions to play Mr. Langley many times. I have had a number of losses to him which included some of his most spectacular shots. But, in his later years, his game had deteriorated a great deal; in his last visit to Chicago with his friend Mr. Rudy Poe, he was mugged (5 straight losses) by me. We agreed, he was not at the ‘Top of his Game,' and it wasn't what it had once been. His record, would speak for itself.

And so, at the #12 spot, I will place the name of William "Bill" Langley.

#1 ?
#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