Friday, March 26, 2010

Pool in Costa Rica: The Return of Pichitas

It's been nearly 25 years ago now, but way back when I used to live in San Jose, Costa Rica. I spent a ton of time in various pool halls there, including a place called Center Pool. I wrote a piece earlier about a hustler I met there, a man by the name of Luis Calderon -- better known as "Pichitas." He was something of a legend in the pool halls then. I eventually went back to Costa Rica and produced a short documentary about Pichitas. A couple of months ago I dusted off that old documentary and posted it up on the Internet.

Lo and behold, one of my old buddies from Costa Rica, Hernan Aguilar, saw the video and has sent me video of his own trick-shooting prowess. It seems that the legend of Pichitas lives on in Costa Rica. I've posted up one of Hernan's videos, above, but there are tons more at his YouTube channel. I can't tell where Hernan is shooting in these videos, but it looks about like what I remembered of the now-closed Center Pool. The only difference is that with Center Pool, you had to go up a flight of stairs. With this pool hall, you have to go down. (I will note, however, that either up or down, all the best pool halls involve a flight of stairs.)

Thanks to Hernan for sending along this video. He looks like someone you'd want to steer clear from if you're ever in San Jose, looking to make a game.

-- R.A. Dyer

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The History of Pool Cue Abuse

Earl Strickland's emotional outbursts have earned him a lot of criticism over the years. But judging from internet traffic, they also have brought a lot of attention to the sport. As of March 7, 2010, the image of Earl smashing his pool cue in frustration during a Mosconi Cup event has been viewed 181,233 times (181,238 if you count the five times I watched it that day). I've included the video, above, for your amusement.

But know that Earl is not alone for engaging in such over-the-top antics. Some of the very greatest players in our sport have been known to snap a cue -- or worse -- in a fit of pique. Check out, for instance, the article at right. It describes the great Ralph Greenleaf breaking his cue during a match-up with Mosconi. This occurred in 1945, during what would turn out to be Greenleaf's last world championship confrontation with Mosconi. At the time, Greenleaf was clearly in decline while Willie was on the way up.

There's also a story in The Hustler and The Champ that describes an angry Mosconi brandishing his cue like a spear during a 1965 tournament.

-- R.A. Dyer