Sometimes, too much rest is a bad thing. That certainly seemed to be the case Saturday at the Pahrump Fall Festival Horseshoes Tournament, when Dan Dunn and Mike Nicosia came out of the losers bracket to beat winners bracket champs Craig Jahnke and Chuck Hickstein twice to claim the championship.
“We got in the losers bracket, and once we won a game it was ‘bring on the next team’ and you get in a rhythm,” said Nicosia, who split the top prize of $200 with Dunn. “The other team is coming off the bench trying to beat us, and they couldn’t do it.”
Second place was worth $120 to Jahnke and Hickstein, who won four consecutive matches to earn the right to play for the title. But that meant a long wait in the double-elimination format, as they sat while three matches were played to determine their opponent in the finals.
“I felt good today and the weather was perfect, and we just did all right,” said Hickstein, who is closing in on his 86th birthday. “But it doesn’t help when you’re sitting around like that.”
“Once you sit down, you lose your rhythm,” agreed Jahnke, and Nicosia empathized with them.
“It is hard, yes,” he agreed. “In the sanctioned tournaments you’ll get a bye game, and you’ve got to come back out and get your rhythm, and it’s hard.”
The format for the Fall Festival was different than it is for sanctioned tournaments. Games were played to 30 points rather than a certain number of shoes pitched, and the teams were drawn out of a hat, pairing players of different abilities together.
“We have an A bracket and a B bracket,” explained tournament organizer Mike Norton. “The B bracket will be your lesser-skilled players. I had one more A player than I had B players, so I had to take one of the A players and put him in the B bracket.
“Then we do a draw out of a hat, so you don’t know who your partner will be. It actually came out really good today, because almost every game was within three or four points.”
“This is the best way to play,” Hickstein said. “It was a good lineup, good partners, and it worked out well.”
“We only do this once a year, and it’s fun,” Nicosia said. “It’s slow, but it’s fun.”
“There were a lot of good players here,” Dunn added. “It was pretty even.”
Third place went to Ty Frazier and Rachelle Ryba, the only woman in the 20-person field, who split $80. Fourth place, worth $40, went to Don Brown and Louie Lewandowski, while Randy Salzwimmer and Larry Fellows won $20 for fifth.
The tournament pot of $490 was drawn from player entry fees totaling $190, $100 from the Chamber of Commerce and $200 from Mom’s Diner. Nicosia was more than happy to take the winner’s share.
“Like I told my partner, we didn’t dominate anybody, but we beat everyone,” he said.