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It was a brisk, chilly January morning outside the Cedars of Chapel Hill Clubhouse, but not in the Billiards Room, where a hot game of Eight-Ball was in progress.

The five 9:00am regulars were all there:  Davis “Music Man” Bingham, Tom “Phi Slamma Jamma” Clegg,  Peter “Combo Pete” Page,  Russ “Soft Shot” McLauchlan, and Lou “The Closer” Taff.  Quite a group! To begin each day, the five all “lagged” to see who would get closest to the rear rail to determine which four would play the first game  (only four or less can play at one time).

“Do they play for money?” you ask.  No, they are way too competitive (potentially vicious) for that.  Do they keep any records for certain high achievement levels?  Yes, they do.

The principal record holder is Lou The Closer.  He sank five balls on an opening break shot, and he managed to sink ten balls in a row in a game of “Cut Throat,” a game played when only three players show up.  No one else has come close to these records.  Everyone likes to have The Closer as a partner.

In practice, each of the players has good and bad days, often struggling to pocket a shot.  Occasionally though, each will sink several difficult shots in a row, which will “make his day!”

Two of the group are physicists:  The Closer and Tom Phi Slamma Jamma. They often ruminate on astrophysics matters, leaving the others in awe and wonder.  What are they talking about?  One day Music Man Davis asked, “Whose turn is it?”  The Closer was heard to reply: “We who are contemplating the structure of the universe can hardly be asked to keep track of who is next.”  “That’s right,” said Slamma Jamma, “we are way too busy pondering the physics of elastic collisions between pool balls as they slide, roll and ricochet on the flat green surface.”

Oh, almost forgot.  The last two years this group played tournament pool with The Cypress of Raleigh, first at Bailey’s in Chapel Hill then at Sharkey’s in Raleigh.  Alas, the results were not good.  Smartly decked out in Cedars’ navy blue polo shirts, our boys looked the part but could not prevail over the seasoned players from The Cypress.  Our table in the Billiards Room did not help when we had to compete on slightly larger tables, so this became the primary reason (excuse) for our shortcomings.  Well, on to the next tournament and victory!