Top local talent turns out for pool tourney

Guy Whigham of Trout Lake won first place and $165 at the first-ever Mae Barsky Billiards Challenge Saturday at Horsefeathers Brewery in Hood River.

Kasey Clark of White Salmon took second place ($65) and Hood River’s Scott McGregor took third ($35) in the double-elimination mixed-format tournament, which featured 9-ball on the winner’s side and 8-ball on the “one-loss side.” Eric Benson, also of Hood River, won fourth place and $35.

“I have been very impressed by the quality of billiards being played in the Gorge,” said Horsefeathers house professional Cristy Barsky, who earned a fifth/sixth place tie with Dan London.

“There are a lot of pro- and semi-pro level players in this area and winning an event like this is no small accomplishment,” she said.

Barsky came to Hood River from Albuquerque, N.M., last summer, and has become an active figure in promoting the sports of billiards and chess in the Gorge. She organized the Hood River Billiards and Chess Club, which meets Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at Horsefeathers; and also teaches weekly classes to women and beginners.

“I started the club not just so people would have a place to quality place to play pool, but also to offer a learning environment,” she said. “We want to provide a place to play that’s not just tavern pool.”

Barsky said she believed Saturday’s event was the first all-day pool tournament held in Hood River since the 1950s. The 14 participants each paid a $20 entry fee, which comprised the pot, and contributed an additional fee to participate in the skills challenge. Clark won the accuracy contest and Jon Gerde of Hood River won the break contest.

The $45 collected will benefit the Rotary Traffic Light Fund. Since its inception in October, the HR Billiards and Chess Club has also raised funds for Red Cross disaster relief, and it plans to donate money to a college fund for the late Steve Monahan’s children.

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