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Day 4, It's the Final Day of the Soaring Eagle Masters 2023 ~ By Mark White





4 Ladies remain, reigning champion Jasmin Ouschan, Kelly Fisher, Wei Tzu Chien, and Margarita Fefilova Styer.

Kelly Fisher, Wei Tzu Chien, Margarita Fefilova Styer, & Jasmin Ouschan
Kelly Fisher, Wei Tzu Chien, Margarita Fefilova Styer, & Jasmin Ouschan (left to right)

First up on the stream table in the winner's side semi Final playing for the hot seat Kelly against Margarita. Both were undefeated, so something had to give.

Kelly won the lag but, unfortunately, made an illegal break. For those of you new to the game, the WPBA plays with the 3-point rule. To make a legal break, you need to score 3 points. It's one point for every ball potted off the break and one point for every ball that passes the head string (The line from where the players break). So, any combination of those to score 3 points is good. If your opponent comes to the table after an illegal break, they have the option to play the shot or give it back; if they do give it back, the breaker is allowed to play a push-out.

Balk Line Diagram on Pool Table
The diagram showing the head string behind that line is known as the kitchen

There is an interesting story behind why the area behind the head string (Baulk line on a snooker table) is known as ‘The kitchen’ because, in the days when people were first getting tables installed in their homes, the rooms were much smaller and not built to take something as large as a 9’ by 4 ½’ pool table and a lot of houses were built with the kitchen and lounge areas next to each other with double doors separating the two rooms. The head string end was always installed nearest the kitchen so that the person could open the doors to play the break-off shot without having to raise the butt of the cue or hit the wall. If you are interested to know why in snooker, it’s called the ‘Baulk end,’ I can tell you that also. The word “baulk” or “balk” is derived from Old English “balca” meaning partition or ridge of land. This marked the area between plowed and unplowed land that formed the ridge. We learn something every day, right?

So Margaret came to the table and made the 1 and 2 but missed the 3; Kelly kicked it in and ran

the rack to take an early lead.

Scratch for Margaret off her first break, it's alternate break; Kelly ran to the eight ball and left it in the jaws of the Belarusian, who leveled at 1-1. Kelly broke illegal yet again, she is probably the best breaker on the Women's tour, and I can't recall her having a non-compliant break the whole tournament. Kelly missed a simple 4 for her and gave the opportunity to Margaret, who ran out to lead 2-1.

Unbelievably another illegal break from Margaret this time; 3 out of the first four breaks were non-compliant with the 3-point rule. I'm glad I explained it now. Kelly is back to the table and has a nice combo on the 3 to the 9, a nice early win to level this hot seat match at 2-2.

A cagey 5th rack, but Kelly was in control at 3-2. What a great break compared to her first 2; Margaret smashed them and made three balls. They actually asked for the Accu-rack template to be replaced, so maybe that had something to do with the problems with the break, no shot on the one, though, but a decent safety from Margarita hooks Kelly and a nice bit of luck for Kelly as she double banks the one, acknowledges her good fortune and goes on to run the rack for a two rack lead at 4-2 but a nice gesture from Kelly as she taps the table a few times while looking at Margaret to say sorry, well not sorry, but to acknowledge the bit of luck on the one. What do you think about players apologizing? I think it shows respect.

Wow, a miss on the two from Kelly, Fefilova Styer runs out, the gap is one rack in this race to 8, it's 4-3. A break and run for Margarita to level it up again, tied at 4-4. Rack 9 was utterly different from the previous break and run, a bit messy, with some safeties and some misses, but Kwik Fire takes it to lead again 5-4.

Another mistake from Kelly lets Margaret back to the table to level things up again at 5-5. I think I've seen Kelly miss more balls in these first ten racks than I saw her miss all day yesterday.

A gutsy clearance from Kelly under pressure and regains the lead at 6-5 and very cleverly takes her time out. Interestingly I saw Margaret go to the table and practice a few shots, I'm not sure of the ruling on that, but I don't see a problem with it. If I'm Kelly in that situation and see my opponent practicing, it would make me more confident to think that maybe Margaret is struggling with a particular shot.

Kelly returns, it's Margaret to break, and she is not going anywhere. This is a very highly contented semi-final, Margaret holds her nerve with a measured clearance, and we are level again; it's a race to 2.

Kwikfire Fisher wastes no time with a break and run. It's Kelly on the hill, Margaret to break, and she doesn't make the necessary 3 points off the break and leaves the one for Kelly. And Kelly proves why she is number 1 with a fabulous run out under immense pressure to make it to the final and guaranteed $8000 dollars but with a shot at $15000. Margaret will have to play one more match against Jasmin Ouschan. It could be a repeat of last year’s final when Jasmin ended Kelly's winning streak. Can Kelly go one better this year?

Margarita Fefilova Styer is still in there fighting, though.

Was good to hear Allison Fisher and Savannah Easton in the booth for the Jasmin versus Margarita semi-final started with a couple of cagey racks with plenty of safeties that were shared, and in the 3rd and after a typically Jasmin-type break, she made a couple of balls and ran the rack to lead 2-1.

Allison Fisher M.B.E. with Savannah Easton
A legend in and out of the booth Allison Fisher M.B.E. with future legend Savannah Easton R.R. Photo by Tiffany Easton

An absolutely fabulous safety shot on the three from being in a hook herself put Margaret in a lot of trouble, Jasmin told me that she had been really working on her safety game, and I asked her who she thinks has the best safety game and without hesitation, said Albin, and not just getting good safeties but getting out of hooks and actually returning the favour. That great shot on the three paid dividends, and Jasmin ran the table to lead by two racks at 3-1. Another clinical rack from the Austrian opens up a 3-rack lead. Her all-around game is fantastic now, and Margarita will find it very tough now it's still a race to 8, and at 4-1, it looks bleak for Mrs. Styer, the way Jasmin is playing. Having said that, we have seen comebacks from worse situations than this over the past four days.

Rack 7 followed the same pattern, a lot of good safeties by both players, but once again, it's Jasmin who wins the mind battle and produces the real telling shot and is rewarded with ball in hand and once again was faultless in the balls and smoothly cruises to a 6-1 lead.

Finally, Margaret got a decent result from her break, made an excellent one down the rail, and cleared the remaining balls to stop the rot, 6-2.

Oh, a bad mistake from Margarita not making a rail, but it didn't cost her the rack, then a really unlucky scratch off a tremendous long three ball, but Jasmin missed a straight-in combo, which looked unmissable and let Margarita back in, and she ran the table to reduce the deficit to just three at 6-3. That missed combo has cost Jasin 2 racks, and at 6-4, Margarita is looking much more confident; it changed so quickly from 6-1 to 6-4. Jasmin needed the next rack badly but didn't get it, it's 6-5, and Margaret is to break. Wow, a miss from Margaret lets Jasmin in, and this time it's Jasmin that stops the rot and finally gets on the hill and breaking.

Jasmin tries a safe on the one but leaves a bit sticking out, which Margarita takes advantage of and was so unlucky after going around four rails and hooking herself behind the 7, but Jasmin then hooks herself on the 3. So much pressure out there in the arena, but eventually, after a few missed chances by both players, it's Jasmin who is left with an easy seven-stop shot for the nine, and the Ouschan sails into the final for a repeat of the last year here at the Soaring Eagle Masters.

The Final

In the booth for this one, we had Allison Fisher back by popular demand, Savannah had to catch a flight back home, so they got hold of the birthday girl Kristina Zlateva.

The Birthday Girl Kristina Zlateva Photo by Servitude Photography
The Birthday Girl Kristina Zlateva Photo by Servitude Photography

There is a very famous rapper called 2 Peace Cue that records memorable ‘Rappy Birthday’ songs for pool players. He prepared one for Kristina yesterday, and you can watch it here

It’s an expensive business to put on a stream production, cameras, tablets, computers, mixers, mics, and of course, the commentators. This has to be paid for, and in addition to sponsors, the WPBA depends on voluntary contributions from viewers. It’s made even more accessible now where you can actually donate directly through Youtube, so if you’d like to support future productions, you can also go to the WPBA website and donate directly there.

Soaring Eagle Masters Donations Stream
Viewer’s donations during the stream

A big Thank you to Angela Janic and Lonnie Fox-Raymond, who works very hard and long hours to set up and run the stream. They started with just an iPhone and a laptop, but Thanks to generous donations and sponsorship from Chris Wilson at the ‘League room’ in West Virginia, the quality has grown. They now have three professional cameras, a purpose-built soundproof booth (A very welcome addition if you consider Angela and Lonnie’s shall we say, zealous commentary style, and the aim is to have tablets at every table for live scoring through, I believe there was a very generous donation by someone who goes by the name of Mr. Pickles during the event at Soaring Eagle so at the next event at Iron City Billiards in September every table will indeed have a tablet, well done Mr Pickles.

Angela Janic and Lonnie Foxy-Raymond

Kelly wins the lag and the privilege of breaking first, and after a couple of hiccups, she wins the opening rack. Bad miss on the six from Kelly, she looked at the table as if it may have rolled off, but I think the tables have played really well over the four days. 1-1, and the third rack was probably the longest rack today. Lots of excellent safety play and kicking; very entertaining nevertheless, and Jasmin ends up winning it and going in front at 2-1.

Terrific break and run from Kelly; brilliant ball down the rail to set up the clearance, and she gets a rack back, 3-2 Jasmin leads. A little bit of bad luck in the 6th rack as Jasmin hooked herself on the 5, and we went level at 3-3.

A little bit of controversy in rack 7; Kelly played to get out of a snooker; she hit the one but was questioned whether or not a ball hit a rail. Kelly thought she didn't, Kelly thought she did, but being the ambassador and lovely person she is, she gave up ball in hand. They both had a good laugh about it. Wouldn’t it be great if all sports were played with the same sportsman/Womanship? I cannot believe they didn't have a referee for the final, at least a passive one. Strangely a 'Ref' was called over for the next shot, but Kelly missed it by a long way. Jasmin had Kelly on two fouls, but Kelly made a fantastic escape to get the one. Jasmin made it 4-3 anyway; Kelly came straight back and leveled at 4-4.

Player and professional referee Angela Williams was at Soaring Eagle; just saying
Player and professional referee Angela Williams was at Soaring Eagle; just saying...

Well, the viewers are loving this final as I am; Kelly retakes the lead at 5-4. She is halfway there. Wow, a huge miss from Jasmin on the 8; the commentators mentioned whether it was her hair that got in the way; I just watched the replay, and her ponytail dropped over her shoulder, and it liked like she kind of reacted to it but went ahead and played the shot, maybe one of those moments when maybe she should have got up. Whatever happened, she missed the 8, and Kelly went two ahead at 6-4.

These Ladies have history

A rare poor safety from Kelly, and it cost her the rack, the match is played in great spirit, and both players share a joke; they are great friends and have played many times; Kelly beat Jasmin in the World 9 ball final in China in 2019, who remembers that lucky snooker on the 8 with just 8 and 9 remaining after Kelly missed the pot on the 8.

We are all even again at 6-6, straight race to 4 now; Kelly takes the opportunity to take a time out, probably a good idea after losing the last two racks, just a few little mistakes creeping in here and there, but this match is anybody's. To be honest, at 6-6, Jasmin was looking the most comfortable, but never count Kelly out; she has more heart than a lion, not Alex, a real one.

A loose safety from Jasmin this time gave Kelly the chance to play a lock-up safe which she did, Jasmin missed the kick shot on the four, and Kelly took full advantage and ran out to take the rack and go a rack ahead at 7-6

But with some more poetry in motion, Ouschan breaks and runs; these really are the best two breakers in the Women's game. Kelly was a little unlucky in rack 15. She played a really smart thin safety on the one, but the white just stuck its nose out and left Jasmin a long straight one which she made and ran the rack, a fortunate nudge on the three that might have gone wrong but 8-7 it was, and Jasmin breaking needing two more. Things looking bleak for Kelly as Jasmin gets another rack on the scoreboard to get on the hill, but don't count Kelly out yet; she has more bottles than a coca cola factory, and she shows it by breaking and running the next to go one behind at 9-8.

Well, Jasmin needed only one more opportunity to finish it off, and to be honest, the better player of the night won. Kelly wasn't as deadly as she usually is; maybe a touch of fatigue, but take nothing away from Jasmin; she played magnificent.

Jasmin Ouschan at Soaring Eagle Masters 2023 photo by Servitude Photography
Sheer ecstasy as Jasmin feels the relief and exhilaration of retaining her Master’s title Photo by Servitude Photography

Jasmin Ouschan 1st place $15,000

Jasmin Ouschan and Kelly Fisher
Best of friends on and off the table, but it’s business until the final ball goes in Photo by Servitude Photography

Kelly Fisher 2nd place $8500

Congratulations to the WPBA on a great event!


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