"The Legend of "Buster"                                                                            02/01/2004

Detroit's Big Guns Rides into Chicago

At one time, in the 60's and 70's, and perhaps even the 80's, Detroit, Michigan had perhaps the finest group of Pool Checker players in America (That distinction would probably go to Atlanta now). 

Sporting a cast of George "Lil George" Ramsey, William "Bullet Hole Bill" Langley, William Richardson, Carl Thomas, Hank Jenkins, George Sykes, and a host of other top players, it was a hotbed of Pool Checkers activity.

As if to consolidate and verify its dominance, in the early seventies, a contingent of that group, notably Ramsey, Langley, Richardson, and several others, came calling on the Chicagoans for some high-stakes matches. 

Since I was very young at the game and was vaguely familiar with the significance of these matches, much of what is given here is what was related to me.  Although I witnessed many these matches, I didn't stay for some of the all night battles and their final conclusions.  They battled all-night, all day, and then back into the night again.

It was said that "Buster" was ‘killing' (beating him badly) Langley.  Some estimates were that at one time "Buster" was beating Langley 55-5.  It's not clear whether this all happened at this particular setting. 

But, what is clear, "Buster" was putting and awful hurting (beating him decisively) on Langley.  At the same time, "Lil George" was soundly beating Chicago's second top player, Victor "Vic" Krafft.  Additionally, William Richardson was outclassing our own 3rd ranked player, "Madcap" Milton Miskel.

It is said that "Lil George" (who was generally conceded the 2nd best player in America) at the time, and was preparing to make his push for the number one spot, looked over at the games between "Buster" and Langley, and said, "Bill let me have that ‘ham' (poor player).

At that point, Langley turned "Buster" over to "Lil George" and the battle began.  They played all night-52 games all total; and they were all draws!!  What was significant about these games, they were all the same. 

They played the same games over and over-both refusing to change.  That's right!, 26 games with the black pieces and 26 games with the white pieces-same games-same results-same draw.  They "stunk up the place" is how one observer characterized it.

Finally, in the 53rd game, "Lil George" made a ‘blunder' (a terribly poor move-in chess).  And, it ‘s said, "Buster pounced on him like a 'dog in heat' (very aggressively).  From that point on, it was all ‘down hill' for "Lil George" several observers agreed. 

The saying is that in the very next game, "Buster" got "Lil George" in a position where he (George) got up and left his side of the board, went around to his opponent's side and studied the move for an hour and a half (an obvious exaggeration). 

"But", opined Van Penn ( of local dude infamy), "When "Lil George" returned to his side of the board, the game was still out" (meaning "Buster still had the winning position). 

There is no reported score of the "Buster" vs. "Lil George" encounter, but one Chicago player commented, "As long as we have "Buster" here, we will never again have to worry about the ‘barracudas' coming into Chicago and feasting on our blood."  The legend continues…. 

…But, there are warning signs on the horizon. There would be some setbacks, down the road, for the "Buster Steamroller." Read some of the coming issues.