By: Markus Noé
Saturday October 10th Le Skratch Laval played host to the first Semi-Pro tournament of the season for the Quebec Federation. 42 players from various divisions took part in this tournament as it is staggered entry fees based on skill level. I have always been a fan of this type of "handicap" rather than games on the wire. Personally as an "A" player I have had success in handicap tournaments where stronger players have to give me games, and even though I have won it is not the same feeling nor does it provide me with the same experience if I were to accomplish this "even up." Therefore in terms of developing players I really do enjoy theses staggered entry tournaments.
That being said I did sleep in and was unable to actually play this event myself but I made the 1 hour 20 minute drive to watch some high level pool. Another local who plays most of his pool in my hometown Jean Theriault from Maxville, Ontario which is just a short drive from Cornwall,was participating. In my neck of the woods he has been a well known talent for sometime however he has taken a leave of absence from competitive pool for nearly a decade and has been been back practicing with a purpose for nearly 6 months now.
Theriault's first match was against one of the strongest players in the field, Guillaume McNicoll. He lost this first match 9-6, however he was not ready to go home just yet as he went on a mission on the losers side of the bracket. Theriault won several matches most notably against Pascal Guimond 7-6 and David Deschenes 7-5 before being eliminated by Richer Francoeur 7-4. This performance was good enough to earn him a 5th place finish.
The main story of this tournament was this "unknown" player Mustapha Trabelsi. Perhaps it is a bit inaccurate to say unknown as he was a former Montreal resident and known to a few players prior to this tournament. However for the past few years Trabelsi has been abroad for work and in his free time has been playing on the very high caliber Euro Tour. After looking at his record of the past few years on the Euro Tour it was clear that he could play as he had suffered close losses to Phil Bulford and Ralf Souquet and one very notable win against former World Champion Hudji SEE 9-8. That being said he was vouched for and was allowed to play in this tournament to the dismay of several players.
|Mustapha Trabelsi photo taken from Mehdi Harraq Facebook Page|
Trabelsi had some notable wins over some of the strongest players in the division en route to the final. He was able to get by Steve Roy, Richard Francoeur and Jonathan Hebert to book his spot in the final going undefeated through the winners side bracket. It was all up to Yan Lalande who revenged his earlier loss to Hebert in the loser side final to earn himself a shot at Trabelsi. Lalande who himself is a strong player handled his business in this match and came out with the 9-6 win to claim the first tournament of the season.
In conclusion I have to admit I was disappointed with the reaction from many of the top players in this division about allowing Trabelsi to play. At the end of the day the semi-pro is one of the most elite divisions around and by the time you are at this level you clearly have professional status on your mind. To be a professional you have to be able to handle anything at any moment, and to be able to beat the best if you yourself want to be the best. Many of these players themselves play at Turning Stone and on the Falcon tour and various other pro events. So the whining came as a bit of a shock to me. I would be more likely to understand if a stronger player in the lower divisions was attempting to "sandbag" but this really is not the amateur level anymore is it. At the end of the day it was a regular on the circuit who won the tournament and all is right in the world. However I did notice that Trabelsi was bumped up to professional status but I am not completely convinced this was earned, rather forced through by complaints which I find concerning.