26 January 2006

2006 SAPPA Tour, Event 1: Riley's, Kirkintilloch - 22 January 2006

Last Sunday saw the first event on the 2006 Scottish American Pool Players Association tour, which took place at Riley's, Kirkintilloch. It was an enjoyable day with plenty of SAPPA debutants at the event, but playing-wise, it wasn't that good a day. As usual, the tournament was 9-Ball, Double Elimination until the last 16 when it would change to a Single Elimination to find the winner. The matches were race-to-6 on the winners' side and race-to-5 on the losers' side.

My first match was against Billy Edmond of Glasgow, a cracking UK 8-Ball player who has just made the switch to the big table. My problems started in the first rack when the bottom right-hand corner pocket decided to spit a ball out at me. I played the shot perfectly down the rail, had perfect position on the next ball, but it wouldn't fall! It happend - at the same pocket - twice more during the match. In all, that one pocket cost me 3 racks in that match and sapped any confidence I had in that table. I lost, horribly, 6 - 1.

Next match up, my first in the Losers' Bracket, was against Alan Stewart, a pal of mine from Stewarton who was playing in his first SAPPA event. I managed to capitalise on a few mistakes that Alan made and won the match by 5 racks to 1.

Next up was John Ward of Glasgow, who I've played a few times and the matches are always enjoyable. It was close up until about 3-3, but I made a couple too many errors and allowed John to take the match 5 racks to 3. Even though I lost, I was still happy with my play - especially one shot that allowed me to tie the match up at 3 each. With the cueball no more than ½ an inch from the top rail, i had a dead-straight shot on the 5-ball, which was situated half way down the table. If I had played it with a level cue, the cueball would have followed the 5 into the pocket - there was no escaping it. So, I took a chance, raised the butt end of the cue and pocketed the 5-ball, stopping the cueball dead in its tracks. I managed to finish off the rack to tie the match up, but that one shot gave me more of a boost in confidence than any other shot I've played recently. Sadly for me, my tournament ended with this match as I made a couple of unforced errors allowing John to go through by 6 racks to 3.

After that, I played Martin "Blue Suede" Hughes at, firstly, 10-Ball (9-Ball with one extra ball) and then American 8-Ball, each match for £5. I was lucky enough to win them both but we sadly had to abandon the 9-Ball match (for another £5) as my transport was leaving! Maybe we'll be able to play next time we see each other.

You can read the official report on the tournament, including who won, at scottish9ball.com. The next tournament is in Riley's, Stirling on 12 February. Maybe see some of you there?

The Cardman :-)

Kostya Kimlat lecturing at Paisley Magic Circle

Last Thursday night saw American performer Kostya Kimlat lecture at Paisley Magic Circle. Having helped to arrange the lecture, I was nervous about how many people would turn up to see him and what they would think of him.

During the day, we met up in Glasgow so Kostya (pronounced Coast-yah) could meet Roy Walton in his shop, Tam Shepherd's in Queen Street. Kostya performed a few things and Roy, along with the other magicians visiting the shop at the time, was very impressed by both his technical skill and his enthusiasm for magic. Roy even performed a few things for the group - including "Stage Shout", the first effect in Volume 2 of "The Compete Walton." It was great to see Roy do some of his own material and I just wish I could see him perform more often.

That night, a large number of visitors came to St Margaret's Church in Renfrew, the venue for Paisley Magic Circle's meetings, to see the lecture. Kostya did not disappoint the large group that had gathered to see him and he very quickly sold out of all the lecture notes he had. What impressed me even more was that his entire lecture consisted of card magic. That's it! 2½ hours with just a deck of cards and his amazing charismatic character.

I always knew that Kostya would go down well, especially after seeing him in London at the International Magic Convention, but was always wary of the "club magician mentality" and what they would think. I was glad to hear them all rave about what they had seen. Phew!

Let me just say that if you get the chance to see Kostya perform or lecture, take it with both hands and don't let go! He has some great stuff and he's also the nicest guy you could ever wish to meet.

Best wishes

The Cardman :-)

10 January 2006

Alex Elmsley

I received an e-mail this morning passing on the very sad news of the death of one of magic's - and specificaully card magic's - most brilliant creators, Alex Elmsley. He died on Sunday from a heart attack.

Now I could sit here and type a mournful thing about how much he'll be missed. Instead, here is a story that I posted on The Magic Cafe forum. I still smile every time I think of this story and I thought about it today - a lot.

I was in Kirkcaldy in Fife for the Scottish Association of Magical Societies convention that was taking place over a weekend. I had heard different stories about Mr Elmsley, including a few of his eccentricities. A few days before going to the convention, I was in Roy Walton's shop in Glasgow and he told me that "Alex might be coming up for a few days." Well, as I packed, I remembered what Roy had told me and duly packed the 2 massive L&L "Complete Works" books. They made my bag amazingly heavy (this was in the days before I had trolley cases!) but I made it through to Kirkcaldy. But there was no sign of Mr Elmsley on that Friday.

Saturday came and through the day, I attended the events I wanted to see while all the while watching the door and hoping that Mr Elmsley would walk into the room. Still nothing. I got ready to go to the Gala Show on the Saturday evening, only really wanting to see one act on the bill. As I made my way towards the theatre, I passed an old gentleman walking along the street carry 2 hold-alls - on in either hand. The face looked strangely familiar, though I knew I didn't know the man from Adam. A few moments later, as I stood across the street from the theatre, it hit me like a baseball bat - carpet slippers!!! I had heard that Mr Elmsley wore carpet slippers pretty much all the time - even when outdoors - and the old man that I passed in the street was wearing carpet slippers! I had walked right past one of my magical idols! D'OH!!!

I could hardly sit still in the theatre and luckily for me, the act I wanted to see were closing the first half of the show. When they finished, I left the theatre and went back to the hotel so fast, my feet hardly touched the ground! When I arrived, sitting there in the bar of the hotel chatting with some of my friends was Alex Elmsley. I was introduced to Mr Elmsley and will forever cherish the few ccasions I had to sit and talk with a true genius. I cherish my signed "Collected Works" books all the more now that he is no longer with us.

That last sentence isn't strictly true as Mr Elmsley will always be with us - through his books, his videos and DVDs and through his remarkable magic. He can never and will never be forgotten.

Rest in peace, Mr Elmsley, and thank you for everything.

The Cardman :-(

Happy New Year!

Hi folks, and Happy New Year! OK, so I'm 10 days late but I have a good excuse! Honest, I do! I spent a great few days away with Peter and Janice,my best friends, along with their 5-month-old son Andrew and Janice's brother, Colin, and his girlfriend Jacqui in a tiny wee village called Lochgoilhead, which is in Argyll. We had hired a lodge for a week or so and it alowed us all to enjoy some quiet time, as well as see in the New Year in the most amazing scenery you can imagine. On a personal note, I was really looking forward to this holiday as it was the first time I had been away in over 18 months when I didn't have a magic convention or pool tournament to go to. None of the "I want to see [insert performer's name here]'s lecture" or "I want to see [insert pool player's name here]'s match" that I usually have when I'm away. I could just relax. When I arrived, it was amazing to see that the lodge we were going to be staying in, the same one that we stayed in for Peter's surprise 30th birthday weekend in April 2004, had been totally refurbished and that all 3 bedrooms now had their own bathrooms! Very handy and allowed everyone their own privacy. My journey was a little on the spectacular side. I had to travel the day after everyone else, as I was working a couple of days between Christmas and New Year. I travelled by train to Helensburgh, then had to get a bus from Helensburgh to Lochgoilhead. The first part was easy and I arrived in Helensburgh with a little over an hour to kill (spent in some unknown pub near the bus stop watching Channel 4's "Deal Or No Deal" - THE most addictive show on TV at the moment!). It was during the journey on the bus that the snow started. By the time we reached the turn-off onto the single track road (yes, I said single track!), it was dark and the snow was coming down so heavy that outside looked like a scene from Star Wars where they travel at light speed! Pretty amazing, but somewhat scary, stuff!

After that, it was down to the busy job of relaxing and enjoying myself. Getting up whenever and doing whatever we wanted when Andrew allowed us (remember, he is 5 months old!). I am not complaining – having the wee man around was great fun and it is amazing how much he has grown in the last wee while.

Hogmanay itself was great fun with a huge party taking place in the main function room of the Estate where pretty much all of the activities (swimming, bowling, snooker, etc.) were. Janice, Colin, Jacqui and I were joined by our good friends Linda and Wayne to go up to the party. Peter had decided to stay behind and look after Andrew and that Janice would go down before midnight so they could see in the New Year together. It was a great night, with one missing element – Peter! Janice enjoyed herself, but really missed Peter, even though he was only down the road looking after their son. I had the great pleasure of “first footing” (a Scottish tradition where someone “tall, dark and handsome” – well, 2 out of 3 ain’t bad! – is the first visitor to set foot into your house after midnight, which is supposed to bring good luck to the householder for the coming year) Peter and Janice when I went to escort her back to the party after the bells. It was a great night and lots of fun – oh and I wore my kilt, and felt bloody great in it!

There is so much from the weekend that I could go on and on for a long, long time. I’ll save you all that much only to tell you that I’ve posted some pictures online for you to look at and you can find them by clicking here.

I hope you have a great 2006!

Best wishes

The Cardman :-)