Prior to 1990: Before the advent of “artistic pool” events, competitions were referred to as “trick shot”, “fancy shot”, and / or “skill shot” challenges / tournaments. Local, regional, national, and international events were held, some conducted by specific associations, such as the BCA (Billiard Congress of America), and others were sponsored and produced by private firms / organizations. Designated “world” and/or “open” title attachments were awarded to the champions of these competitions.
The terms – “world” and “open” – were the point of controversy for many years, since each group conducting an event searched for rights, so to speak, for official status over such challenges. “Trick shot” competitors earned event “titles” and used them for market promotion as needed. Each claim to “world” and / or “open” title was generically validated within its own domain or organizational structure.
Note: Paul Gerni pioneered several special “trick shot” events in the international arena during this time…up until the start of the WPA sanctioned “World” Artistic Pool events in 2000. His efforts in this regard were a major catalyst in developing player interest on the competitive scene via a selective “invitation only” process his trick shot organization created. This entity name was the WTSAA (World Trick Shot Artist Association).
Some “titles” were determined by a shot/challenge program, ranging in number of shots from six to seventy-six, and others were determined by something as simple as seeing who could make the most number of balls in one legal stroke. Some were held on the pocket billiard table, and some on the snooker table. Some drew small audience numbers, and large arena groups witnessed others. Some were open to all players and some were restricted to a select few. Some were documented, but most have no public record today with detailed results. Through it all, a common thread was evident – A champion emerged, exhibiting highest skill levels and achieving victory in a competitive format challenging each would be participant.
These titles and/or victories etched a mark of excellence in the minds of those players achieving them, and created a following by thousands of fans…believing that each particular victor was a “true” champion. Each champion, no matter how competitively recognized, was a “world” and/or “open” champion at the time. Aside from the “hype” and marketing validity of each, a continued effort to provide the billiard industry and general public with the truest of “true” champions was warranted.
1990 – “Artistic pocket billiards”, more commonly referred to as “artistic pool”, was envisioned as a special sport “gift” by Tom and Marty Rossman of Dr. Cue Promotions in July…to “crusade” the growth and appeal of pocket billiards worldwide with a new and enlightened discipline image.
1991 – The term “artistic pocket billiards” (“artistic pool”) was copyrighted by Tom Rossman through Banks, Tricks, & “Kicks”, a “Dr. Cue” training product…designed to instruct and entertain with 70 trick, fancy, skill, and “novelty” challenges. Included was a format of photo, diagram, and objective explanation for each, plus a section entitled “adjustment analysis”, which one could use to help in making fine tuned and intricate adjustments for any particular shot / challenge…if a miss should occur.
Degree of Difficulty (D.O.D.) was assigned to specific challenges in order to provide an idea of how hard they might be, which tended to enhance individual learning curves. In addition, this gave direction in conducting “artistic pool” competitions through a valid scoring process. The competitive mode was patterned after “artistic billiards”, which is presented on the “carom” table. This had been for many years and is today a popular cue sport activity in Europe and other continental venues. A multitude of “artistic” cueing wizards on the “non pocket” table have long been a fascination to thousands of cue sport fans. The main focus of the infant “artistic pool” concept was on the “beauty” of the art form, as opposed to presenting only the hardest shots possible that could be attempted on a pool table.
The modern day pioneering foundation for the new cueing attraction called “artistic pool” had begun!!!
1992 / 1993 – “Artistic pool” event proposals were sent to industry contacts in the fall of 1992 and competitions were started by Dr. Cue Promotions for amateur players in 1993 at the BCA North American Championships, plus 3 youthful divisions of the BCA Junior Nationals. Player entry response and audience enjoyment was evident from the very beginning.
OFFICIAL PRO MOVEMENT BEGINS WITH FOLLOWING SECTION:
1999 – Jorgen Sandman, President of the WCBS (World Confederation of Billiard Sports) held a meeting in July with Mike Massey, Paul Gerni, Tom Rossman, Belinda Campos, Tom Overbeck (WPA board member), Dick Montgomery, and John Lewis, Secretary / Treasurer of the WPA (World Pool Billiard Association). This meeting berthed a democratically run committee process for developing credible and sanctioned World and Continental Championships for professional “artistic pool”.
The WPA “Artistic Pool” General Committee was formed to develop format structure, shot programs, tournament venue preparations, and sponsor attachments. The initial committee members included Tom Rossman (Chairman), Paul Gerni, Robert Byrne, Michael Shamos, Tom Overbeck, Dick Montgomery, and John Lewis. The “General Committee” evolved into the WPA Artistic Pool Division (WPA APD) in 2002 with official sport discipline recognition by the WPA/WCBS. It enlisted the help of international members Jim Sommer from Denmark, Arkadiy Loshakov from Russia, and Dimitri Yushkovskij from Ukraine. A host of other sport crusaders from around the world have served the WPA Artistic Pool Division in various capacities and during different time periods since 2002…with heartfelt contributions of time, talent, and money to help grow “artistic pool” in the worldwide billiard arena.
Steve Lillis served as Chairman of the “General Committee” (2001 / 2002) and Chairman of the WPA Artistic Pool Division (2002 – 2004). Tom Rossman served as “General Committee” Consultant (2001 and 2002), and WPA Artistic Pool Division President (2002 – 2005). Nate Bryant became President of the WPA Artistic Pool Division on January 1, 2006…assuring emphasis on long term growth for artistic pool within the international billiard community and fulfillment of the primary responsibilities applicable to his position with specific focus on the recognition, promotion, and development of “artistic pool” worldwide. Tom Rossman resigned from the WPA APD after devoting 6+ years of pioneering service to the political side of “artistic pool”…to pursue private promoter interests with his wife Marty, all the while sharing the sport “beauty, promise, and vision” with others.
The WPA Shot Selection Committee was established to take international player input for shots and / or challenges, and then vote on a final program for Continental Championships and the World Finals. This committee was unbiased in shot selection, in that the members on it could not play in future competitions. Those agreeing to this requirement were Chairman Michael Shamos, Robert Byrne, “Fast Eddie” Parker, Willie Jopling (Bill Marshall), and Belinda Campos.
This special committee began their work in earnest, completing their task on December 20, 1999. The final 40 shot program was indeed difficult to develop, as over 325 shots/challenges were player contributed to the initial collection base from throughout the world. Eight disciplines were defined and arranged in priority sequence for orderly player challenge and audience appeal, with “degree of difficulty” assignment to most of the challenges and a “special scoring” process as required in some such as Wing Shots.
Note: In 2001 Fredric Fechter assumed Chairman duties when Michael Shamos became WPA Shot Selection Committee Consultant. “Fast Eddie” Parker passed away the same year…after contributing valuable input and effort to the committee work…in pursuit of a personal dream to see “artistic pool” become an Olympic sport.
The initial championships were BCA/WPA endorsed and sanctioned, producing a hope for worldwide recognition. Each event on the initial “artistic pool” competitive scene and the special events that followed have helped maintain a verifiable and credible accent to “artistic pool” history. The term – “World Title” became a resounding success for the entire sport movement with the WPA as the organizational structure that has Olympic connection, all the while establishing a pocket billiard niche for future events in the international arena of cue sport. Pioneering and blended efforts from the WPA Artistic Pool Division, continental player groups, and a growing base of private promoters would help to assure long-term growth, promotional effort, and player harmony vital to any sport development.
2002 – “Artistic Pool” became an official sport discipline as recognized by the WPA, under the WCBS in the international arena of worldwide sport structure established for billiards. A three-fold player message of professional image, professional demeanor, and professional skills became focused amenities for the sport at the pro level with a special bonding to the positive amateur / junior movement, as it garnered new player interest day by day.
Special Note: The sport definition for “artistic pool” and the 8 discipline names with respective definitions under this umbrella word were ratified via a special guidelines document developed exclusively for our sport by the WPA. This gave credibility to the overall “artistic pool” champion and the 8 discipline champions that would be determined at each event held. Similar to gymnastics in its structure, “artistic pool” offered multi-faceted opportunities for receiving championship recognition 9 different ways; thereby creating greater interest in player participation and promotional appeal.
Special Note: All of the contents in the above excerpts are verified by historical records on file for all individuals / entities referenced.
Please click on the link below for a complete historical timeline for the sport of Artistic Pool: