Tuesday, October 28


...and what it means to me?

It's definitely a milestone in my career. Do you think it's safe to say that this would cement my position as one of the best players in the world today? I have to say that I am proud to have come from a country like Finland as a first generation of pool players and get this far. I laugh about it. And I mean it because I didn't have all the information handy like some guys who learned from Mosconi, Lassiter, Mizerak etc. I feel blessed to have the skill of observation. And of course determination. Even before the finals I kept repeating a mantra: "I want this more than you..."

I will dedicate this particular victory to the two great people that have inspired me on my path.
They both past away recently but their contribution is never forgotten:

My Grandma Riitta Immonen and the Great Paul Newman.

I learned dignity and grace from my Grandma. I am still learning of course. She used to collect all the clippings of me from newspapers, magazines etc. In reality she was was a much bigger star than me. So humble of her. She was the epitome of style
and sense of situation. She past away as peacefully as she lived.

Paul Newman because without his roles in "The Hustler" and "The Color of Money" I would have not been so fascinated about the game. He deserved an Oscar for his role in The Hustler already. I had a plan to write him a letter how he inspired me and how I became a world
Champion. Well, it's too late for that but I hope he was one of the Pool Gods smiling upon me as I was taking my last strokes at the
winning 9-ball. Rest in peace my friend.

Ok, so I guess I should post something about the match itself also?

Yeah i got off to a good start in the finals. It had been a trend in my games all week. It's kind of like the great samurai Miyamoto Mushashi said: "Hit first, hit hard." So when you get a 5-0,6-1,8-2 lead, it's really tough for the other guy to come back in the match. The pressure is really on. In a big lead like that there is a very thin line between playing conservative or trying to keep that rally going.

I have to hand it to Ronnie Alcano though. After I had a dry break at 6-0 he came with a really tough shot and ran out. Even after being down 10-2 he made a nice effort to come back in the match. I have to say that in the end my safeties were better than his and thus I was able to protect my lead.

My greatest moment in the match was the push-out at 1-0. Ronnie let me shoot again and I banked the two from the back rail in the the 9 and it went into the side as I had envisioned. I know it was a low percentage shot but more importantly I had a built-in safety. Both the nine and the safety worked and I was pumped! :

All in all I think my ability to close racks was good over the whole match. Also my arm felt a lot more relaxed than in the winner bracket finals. It might have been a blessing in disguise because I felt I needed to hit some more balls that day. Not say I wanted a nail-biter that my match with Warren Kiamco in the Semi's. It also gave me time to work on my break for the finals.

I want to thank all the people for support and response. I really felt a lot of encouragement during the whole event and it really kept me going.

All I can say now is:


Wednesday, October 22

4th Rnd Victory

Still going strong. I started again with 4 run-outs. It's always a nice way to start. Well I was all the way up to a 8-1 lead when all of a sudden Nick Varner started to make his comeback. I did have a couple unforced errors in the mid-game, but I went ahead 9-4 after Nick missed a relatively easy 9ball combo.

In the end my break wasn't going as smooth as in the beginning and Nick was making the 1ball in the side a lot. Finally at 10-6 he had a dry break and I was able to play two safeties in which the latter one he missed completely. With ball in hand I cruised passed the finish line. Phew!

Tomorrow I play Shawn Putnam at 7pm.



US.Open under way

It's three rounds into the Open and so far, so good. My game has been getting pretty solid as the rounds go by. I will play the legend Nick Varner in the 4th rnd tonight at 9pm. Last night he edged out Luat in a nail-biter 11-10.

The choice of breaks seems to go down to the Cut-break. Last night I made a ball on every break. Lot of it had to do with the fact that I was racking my own. Which in fact was against the rules. They came and warned us that we can continue now since it was late into the our third round match with Donnie Mills. Next one will be rack for opponent. I beat Donnie 11-8. I had him 10-4 and he made a terrific comeback. I was fortunate he had to push-out at 10-8 because an 8-ball blocked the path to the 1-ball and consequently an easy run-out. I made him shoot again, he made the 1 but got hooked for the 2ball. Then he jumped and missed. I ran out.

I can't expect to get such solid racks in the future. But at least I can always study the racks if anything.

More updates soon...


Monday, October 6

5th in the World 10-Ball

For those who did not follow the proceedings online, I finished in the quarterfinals of the Manila 10-Ball event.

I'd say it's not a bad finish, but it still sucks to loose. I was playing on top of my game for quite a few rounds, but in the end
the breaks can still have a mind of their own. You just can't control every single ball on the break, right? This time I lost to the
wonder-kid Chia-Ching, Wu. He had nice lay-outs after the break and he used his opportunities well.s. All in all I missed couple shots like him, but my mistakes-it seemed- ended up costing more than his.

I expected him to go on and win but Darren Appleton bounced back from a bad semi-final performance into a guy that
would deservingly call himself a World Champion. Wu was indeed chasing a title that would have added nicely into his 8-ball
and 9-ball World Championship titles. Magically Wu also won those titles both in 2005 being his first attempt. He was only 16 at the time.
We expect to see a great deal of good play from both players for years to come.

Anyways, I am now in Holland already preparing for the next event which starts tomorrow here in Rotterdam. It's the World Cup of Pool. Doubles play, representing our respective countries.

OK that's it for now. I have to go eat and rest up for tomorrow.

Yours Truly,

Thursday, October 2

Made it to the last 32 at the 10-Ball WC

I made it through the first single knock-out round in a match that was tighter than the score would indicate. I beat Johnny Fulcher 9-5, but I was struggling to get control of the match early on:

Johnny won the first rack due to a good safe, then broke the 10 in of the break. It went directly into the bottom corner. 2-0.
Then I managed to get a rack in. 2-1. I then played a bad shot on the 5, he ran out. 3-1.

We kinda went neck to neck for a while. I had a chance to go up 5-3 but dogged a safety. He tied 4-4 and then had an easy run-out.
5-4 him. Following rack, he missed a ball completely but hooked me. I hit it but left a shot. He should have gone up 6-4 but he played a bad position on the 9 and so could not get great on the 10. He misses the 10 in the side and I had to just roll it in.
5-5. Phew!
I started to break a little better. went up 7-5. Then dry break. He had a chance to close the gep to 6-7 but he missed the 4. He hooked me again though. I had to kick two rails. I made the ball but was automatically snookered behind the 10 to make the 5. I jumped and made the 5 into the side to finally gain control of the rack.
The final rack I felt good already and ran out to win 9-5.

I will try to post some illustrations later on. the 8-5 run out with kick and jump was interesting.

Thanks for listening...


PS. live score at: www.wpa-tour.com