Edition # 9 - 04/01/04 - Editor: C. Thompson
POOL CHECKER NEWS-CHICAGO
(A monthly e-mail newsletter-pertaining to activities in the area)
-Produced by the 1st-week - monthly-
Homan Sq. Pool Checkers and Chess Club
3559 W. Arthington St.
Pres.: C. Thompson
Eugene "Hamp" Hampton, of Indianapolis, Indiana, who was accompanied by his good friend and playing partner, Mr. Jimmy "Houdini" Footman, engaged our own Thurman "Chicken George" Earnest in a ten game match and came out victorious. He thereby served notice to all Master players that he will be a force to be reckoned with at the National Tournament in July.
Mr. Hampton had requested a match with one of Chicago's Master players so he could try to prepare for the 2004 APCA National Tournament in Memphis, Tennessee. Mr. Earnest answered the call; and although Mr. Earnest put up a gallant fight, Mr. Hampton was simply too strong. The score was 4-1 in Mr. Hampton’s favor; the match was terminated after the 8th game because of the elimination rule.
Chicago's other Masters players, either did not show, or watched from the sidelines as Mr. Hampton put on as fine a display of pool checkers as seen in these parts in a long time. With Top Masters C. "Pecan" Thompson, and Al "Action Man" Lambert serving as game recorders, and Orlando "Panama" Williams observing from the sidelines, (Clorous "Iodine" Lay was conspicuously absent), Mr. Hampton also serve notice to them that even they might have some future worries if he wins the Masters this year.
The Chess activity is becoming more spirited as new players are coming on board. Fabian Ramos has become the new chess leader with a better than 85% winning percentage-thereby replacing our original leader. Earnst Lee. Additionally, new players Willie Man and. Mr. Marshall will surely take up two of the first four spots when the new ratings come out next week.
Even Top Master Al "Action Man" Lambert has entered the fray. He frustrated current leader Fabian Ramos by drawing him with some deliberate and precise play-thereby serving notice to all that he is not just a top Pool Checkers player.
Legends of "Buster"
"Buster," Jerry of Memphis, and the Advent of the Kibitzer
During the seventies and eighties, Pool Checkers in Chicago, was perhaps at its zenith. There were all of the great players of the day- The " Great" Gilliam; "Old man Earl; "Rubarb;" "Normal;" Allen and Chaney of Gary; "Madcap" Milton Miskel; "Professor" Junior; "Ohio the Great Mule" Mitchell; "Little" Detroit; Tanner "Woodencheckers" Perry; Frank "Slingshot" Bivins; Clarence "Dude" Dew; "Ace"; (Notice the nick names- more about them later). We even had an up and coming Clorious "Mongoose," "Iodine," Tasmanian Devil," "Kingrow," Lay- (Those are names of his own choosing). Additionally, there were wily old Victor "Vic" Krafft, along with and up-and coming Al "Action Man" Lambert. And, of course I was there along with many others that the space here does not allow me to comment on. And finally there was "Buster."
The story we are about to enumeration on, is about the treks that a player name Jerry, from Memphis, Tennessee would make to Chicago, on and annual basis, just to "Play Buster."
His name was Jerry; we called him "Jerry of Memphis." There were disagreements about just how good Jerry was; some said he was pretty good, others said he was fair, yet others said he was a "scrub" (poor player). "Buster" simply said, "He could play."
Additionally, we will talk about the great kibitzers of the time also. During that time, we in Chicago, used to-on a weekly basis, gather in a small barbershop called Winrows Barber Shop. As would be expected, 20 to 25 of us would be involved in a hotbed of activity as we attempted to establish our dominance, in pool checkers, over each other. In addition to the players, there was the great kibitzers of the day. "What is a kibitzer?" you might ask. A kibitzer, according to Webster, is a "Meddlesome Onlooker.'‘ The term is used quite extensively on the Internet, nowadays, with reference to players in chess, checkers, and other games.
The Kibitzer can be found in every city, but in Chicago, these guys took on and additional task; they made kibitzing an art. They not only gave unsolicited advice-often times unwanted, and unappreciated; they told stories about a whole wide range of subjects-be it politics, sports, race, religion, or any other subject. Like, as seen in the movie Barber Shop, with "Cedric The Entertainer," much of what is said is embellished, or outright not true. But, oftentimes there is some validity to what they have to say. They were, some would say, players who didn't play, wouldn't play, and/or as Mr. Victor Krafft often times said, couldn't play. But that last part was not altogether true; some of these guys could play. Because of the reputation of these guys with respect to the truth, one will have to decide for ones self the validity of some of their claims. Some players, outright loathe and scorned the kibitzer, because he would oftentimes ‘wake a player up’ (make him aware of some unsuspected trap that had been set up, or some gross error he was about to make).
With respect to, Jerry of Memphis, they had some tall tales to tell. Fact-Jerry did travel, every year, for a number of years, to Chicago, just to play "Buster." He didn't bother to visit any Pool Checkers Clubs, or visit anyone else in the city as far as I could determine. He had one purpose in his visits, and that was to ’play "Buster." And play "Buster he did.
Each year, "Buster" used to announce to us at one of the assemblages, "Jerry" of Memphis, will be coming in next week; I won't be here." Sure enough the next week, "Jerry" of Memphis, would arrive; he stayed at "Buster‘s" home. And sure enough the kibitzers would be there, in-mass to watch (and to talk). The stories they told about some of these matches were about atrocious scores. Sores like ‘twenty-one to zip’ (21-0), nineteen-nothing (19-0), or simply 17-1, in favor of "Buster" were common. One kibitzer said "Buster" hit "Jerry" with a shot, and it upset him so, that he spilled the coffee he was drinking all over the place. Another kibitzer said. "He didn't spill coffee, he slobbered all over the place." The stories were awful. Why, we would ask "Buster" "why do you continue to play Jerry, if the scores are what these guys are saying they are?" "Buster’s," simple reply was "If he wants to play me, I will play him." My good friend, Van "Vansky" Penn, perhaps the greatest of all the kibitzers, said it was more to it then that. They, he said, was playing for some ‘serious bread’ (high stakes). Incredibly, I never bother to go over to "Buster’s" house to watch-(there could be as many as 15 to 20 players watching, at one time-in "Buster’s living/dining room).
And so, like the gospels of the Bible, (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) would report on the exploits of Jesus, the kibitzer of Chicago, (Van "Vansky" Penn, James "Variation James" Adams, "The Mighty Muck, and Shirley Huckaby, would report on the exploits of "Buster." Their stories while, might not be totally true, were compelling. It only added to the mystique of "Buster."
Finally, I never did meet "Jerry" of Memphis, nor did I ever know his last name. Maybe my friends in Memphis -Gunslinger2, Big-O, Blackknight2, Crazy Joe, or others (those are their Vog Internet names) can help me with that. For he did provide some great food for fodder when he came.
To be continued….."Buster’s" days are numbered!!
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