The annual billiards tournament took place in the University Student Union Game Center Friday, and as the tournament went on, the atmosphere shifted from casual fun to quiet, tense excitement.
The tournament was organized and officiated by Khadaffy Ripors, a Long Beach State alumnus. Ripors was introduced to the game during his time as a student at LBSU and eventually went on to represent the school at the national tournament level.
“When I was a student here I played in the tournaments,” Ripors said. “This is where I hung out.”
Even though billiards is a game casually enjoyed by many, according to Ripors, at higher levels of play, the game is incredibly complex.
“It’s like chess, but with balls on a table,” Ripors said.
Players of all skill levels came to the tournament. Some were new to the game while others had their own cues, one of which was worth more than a thousand dollars.
The owner of that thousand dollar cue, fourth year recreation therapy major Johnny Luu, was favored to win the tournament. Luu said he spends much of his time on campus playing pool in the Game Center.
“I’m here on campus four days a week, I can comfortably say I play at least two hours every day,” Luu said.
Once the 26 tournament entrants arrived, there was a quick meeting where Ripors broke down the rules of the event. After that was over, the games began.
One of the highlights of the event was a visit from professional pool champion Santos Sambajon. Ripors knew Sambajon and asked him to come share some of his knowledge with the younger players. The old pro gave a demonstration and answered questions regarding technique and strategy.
The expected top two players were Luu and third year Italian language and literature major Moises Garcia, who beat Luu to win the tournament last year. However in an upset, first year mechanical engineering major Andrew Gonzalez bested Garcia in losers finals and in doing so, won himself a spot in grand finals.
Garcia kept it respectable, but ultimately Luu was able to bring home the win.
Luu credited his win to his experience with tournament play.
“I’ve played in tournaments before so I guess to me, compared to everyone else, I don’t feel that pressure,” Luu said.
By placing in the top three, Luu, Gonzalez and Garcia may be eligible to represent Long Beach State at the Association of College Unions International regional tournament.