By Charles Thompson
February 15, 2004
To my readers; since 1971, (33 years to be exact), I have been involved in American Pool Checkers in one form or another-either as a player, or as an official, and now as a writer. As a player, I started at the top. In 1972, without ever having played a game in the lower divisions, I asked for and was granted permission to play as a Top Master. I simply wanted the best-from the beginning.
I have never won an APCA tournament; consequently, my success was modest at best. Two, fourth place finishes, and a number of Top 10 finishes in American Pool Checkers Association's (APCA) Tournaments have been the extent of my accomplishments at that level.
What I achieved on an individual basis however, might have been more gratifying to me. In 1979, in Winston-Salem North Carolina, I defeated-in succession Victor Krafft (2 games), Carl "Buster" Smith (1 game), and Ollie "Shotgun" Howard (1 game), without losing to any of them. That might have been, I thought, my 'finest hour.'
I was at the 'Top of My Game.'- like Muhammad Ali was when he knocked out "Big Cat" Williams or like Michael Jordan, when he threw down that 'double nickel' (55 points) against the Knicks, or even like the "Old Mongoose," Archie Moore said he felt after having floored Rocky Marciano, with a sneak right, in that memorable heavyweight championship fight, years ago.
Mr. Moore said, in his book, years later, that the ‘Brockton Blockbuster' simply wouldn't cooperate with him the rest of the way. I probably could say the same thing about the APCA Sub-Top Ten ("Scrubs") players. They in turn, denied me my place in the sun; they then beat me four straight games. I finished 9th that year. Even though, I thought, that might have been my year.
That's how my assessment will be with the players that I am preparing to select. It will be on their abilities when they were at The Top of their Games. But the venture I am about to embark on is not about me; it might be about my credentials though, if I am bold enough to try to make such serious SELECTIONS.
The point I would make, in my defense, is that in every case, with the possible exception of one, I have played these players, at the highest level. As I embark on this perilous journey of naming The 20 Greatest American Pool Checker Players of All Time, I would expect some regional or sectional disagreements, as players and fans around the country will claim, ‘I' or ‘My Guy' didn't get my/his proper respect.
As an official, I was the 2nd Vice President for the APCA a number of years. One of the official duties as the 2nd Vice President was to conduct the APCA Tournaments. Because I was so involved in playing, I asked Mr. Nathaniel Leach to do the job for me. And as everyone knows, he performed that job with great distinction for over 30 years.
Additionally, I along with George "Lil George" Ramsey, attempted to get started the ill-fated, APCA Top Ten Tournament, where the top ten players in the APCA tournament would square off in a playoff, after the regular tournament had been completed. Even though the event was well funded by the adherents to this idea, the attempt failed for a number of reasons-even though we were prepared and ready to go in Akron, Ohio in 1984.
As a writer, my only venture has been in writing the stories of "The Legends of Buster", and now this venture. Comments are accepted, even encouraged; criticisms are tolerated, but the selections are ‘etched in stone.'
In making my selections there will be several criteria used. Some are:
(Some of these criteria will be enumerated in each commentary I will make about the selections).
.…"L E T T H E D E B A T E B E G I N"….
We will begin the countdown from #20. For the next 10 months, on the 1st and 15th, I will give my selections.
After that time has expired, I will spend the next two months summarizing, and commenting on other commentaries about my selections.
On February 15, 2005, I expect to conclude my stories about these selections.
These selections will also be placed on Mr. Jake Kacher's web-site, http://www,checkersusa.com