#FlashbackFriday: Darrol Nelson

Darrol Nelson, accepting his first place Pro Singles plaque from Shuffleboard Federation Co-Founder, Phil Skover, at the inaugural North American Shuffleboard Championships, in 1990.

Darrol was considered by many people in the #TableShuffleboard community to be the best singles player in the history of the game.

This was the first of Darrol’s six NASC Pro Singles titles, a record he shares with Bill Melton. No other player has won more than three.


One week from today I will be on my way to Oregon to attend the celebration of life ceremony for my old friend, Darrol Nelson Kelli Nelson Hiatt. Here’s a great picture of Darrol and fellow legendary hall of famer, Glen Davidson. It was an honor to have played with those two guys. I’m grateful to have to have had the opportunity to learn from both of them. This picture was taken in 1990, at the first North American Shuffleboard Championships, which was held at the Sahara hotel, in Las Vegas. The Tournament moved to the Sands Regency, in Reno, the following year and has been there ever since.

Two of the top ten players in Table Shuffleboard history, Glen Davidson (L) on Darrol Nelson (R).
Two of the top ten players in Table Shuffleboard history, Glen Davidson (L) on Darrol Nelson (R).

The Continuing Story Of Frisco Eddie, Volume 002

It was late Saturday night when Eddie completed his shift as bartender at the Blue Moon Lounge. He had graduated from his position as “swamper.” The former bartender, Mike, had taught him all he knew about the job before he suddenly passed away.

Eddie had also graduated in shuffleboard. His constant practice and devotion to the game had earned him that right Eddie’s game had now improved beyond the scope of the local players, with few exceptions. There remained but two or three players that offered a challenge. The prospect of beating the out-of-town “hustlers” preyed on his mind, However. Eddie saw the hustlers come and go occasionally. He felt his play was not improved enough that he had a chance against most of them.

One thing the hustlers all had in common was: “go for the juggler,” “never wise up a chump or give a sucker a break” They shied away from the “beer games,” preferring to go for the big bucks. Eddie had contemplated taking on the next big-time player who walked into the Blue Moon. Tonight he would get his chance; Big Al and Two-Hanger Fred strolled in the front door.

“We’ve been hearing a lot about you, Eddie …. Starting to get good, huh?” said Big Al. “How about we see just how good you are.” Eddie hesitated for a moment; he knew this was the biggest challenge of his life. “O.K.,” he replied, “but no walking the board against the two of you.” Big Al smiled knowingly and said, “Let’s get our quarters in, kid-This is where you go to school.” The bar seemed to get a little quieter and darker on that. Saturday night as Eddie approached the shuffleboard. Someday is here, thought Eddie.

Frisco Eddie had been waiting for some time to play the “high rollers” now that his game had improved appreciably. His “someday” wish had become a reality as he was about to begin a money game with “Big Al” from the East Coast.

As the board was being waxed, Eddie reflected on some of the things he must make himself aware of during this session. He had been taught well. (Watch for Al to “dry off” the corners with the outside heel of his hand when he shoots. If he does, start sprinkling some wax and wake them up for the cross-shot lags. No “palming” of the weights on the lags; the moisture on the bottom of the weight could slow it down by a foot or more. Any moisture, i.e., “spit” on the outside “hitting” surface of the weight will make it “run,” especially if a small amount of wax was added to that surface. Don’t let him get away with”nudging” or “bumping” the board when he shoots if I have a hanger up.)

There were a hundred other things flashing through Eddie’s mind as the quarters went into the slot. The board was waxed and ready to go. “How much would you like to start for, Eddie?” asked Big Al. “We came a long way and me and Two-Hanger are splitting the action.” “How about a hundred a game for now,” Eddie replied. “O.K. call the toss,” said Al. (Eddie recalled that out of thousands of coin-toss decisions, heads came up with a very slight edge.) “Heads,” said Eddie. Heads it was. The game was on.

Big Al began by “testing” the right-cross lag shot which was his favorite. Eddie stuck on the deep deuce. “You are improving, kid Hope you can keep it up all night because one of us will leave here broke,” said Big Al. “Don’t worry about the horse, man, just load the wagon,” Eddie replied.
As the game progressed, Big Al and Two-Hanger Fred realized they were now involved with a formidable Opponent. Eddie was “sticking,” he was “lagging,” his “short-weight” game was where it belonged, and he had a good “expanded-hand” shot, in addition to his normal “jersey” game.

As the clock ticked on through the night, Eddie progressed consistently toward the winner’s circle. He was actually beating the “Big Man.” Big Al had tried every trick he knew, to no avail. It was now nine in the morning. Frisco Eddie had them stuck for $4,000. “How much do you guys want to play for this game?” Eddie asked. “How about a thousand?” said Two-Hanger Fred. “How much of that is guts?” Eddie replied. (He knew they were close to being broke.) “‘What the hell do you mean by that?” said Two-Hanger. “O.K., then,” said Eddie. “You won’t mind putting the bet on the table so we can all see where we stand.”

Big Al and Two-Hanger had a conference; they had $200 between them. “We’ll just play for $200 then,” said Big Al as he placed the money up. “O.K., let’s get it on then,” said Eddie. (He remembered how these men worked — “never give a sucker a break.”) He would have to win and “clean them out” now, or God only knew what would happen next. The game was on and Eddie was shaky. He had never been in a marathon game before.

As the game progressed, the score was 11 to 14 in Big Al’s favor, with two of Al’s red weights blocking Eddie’s right-hand lag. (Now or never, thought Eddie.) Big Al made a snide remark and then coughed loudly just as Eddie was releasing his final left-hand lag. Even with this distraction, the weight felt good and was on track. Eddie held his breath as the weight settled into a very deep three left cross. However, it was still spinning from the jersey lag. ‘When the spinning had finally stopped (it seemed like an eternity to Eddie), the weight had gently edged its way another half-inch forward — into a four!

Eddie had one it! He had “busted” them! Eddie had faithful watchers and after the excitement had died down, Eddie walked over to Big Al’s table. He told them to hang onto the $400 which had been put up for “traveling expenses.” As they were leaving the bar, Big Al turned to Eddie and said, “You must know, Eddie, that we — or someone else like us — will be seeing you again real soon. You’re into the game now, kid — and we won’t let you go.” “I’m sure of that,” Eddie replied. “Take it easy.”

The sky was beginning to cloud up as Frisco Eddie left the Blue Moon Lounge after his first “real” session. “Someday” was glorious, thought Eddie. ‘Then, remembering Al’s final words, he wondered, is a life full of “somedays” what I really want?

#FlashbackFriday, 8/16/19

NASC Rewind: 2011, NASC XXII

The start of NASC XXX is only ten weeks from tonight! The evening of Friday, 10/25, includes the Champions Dinner, and the draft and auction for the Pro/Am Draft Team Event. So, it seems appropriate to review this blast from the past video of the 2011 NASC, along with some pictures from previous Champions Dinners, and Harrah’s Steak House.

What an honor to sit between these two all time greats!
One of my favorite Champions Dinner pics!
Everyone but Jim Payne is having fun!
Ali, preparing his famous Cafe Diablo!
Steak & Lobster
The incredible Five Onion Soup, served in a jumbo onion!!
Ozzie, preparing Steak Diane table side.
Mouth watering Ahi Tuna.
Caesar Salad, prepared table side. Watching them make the
dressing from scratch is almost as enjoyable as eating the salad.
After dinner chocolates, served over dry ice.

#ThrowbackThursday, 8/15/19

2010 Sol Lipkin Award Presentation
to Lorraine Olson, at NASC XXI

This was the year that Sol died. It was a great honor for all of us to have his son, Bruce, make the Sol Lipkin Award presentation to Lorraine. Prior to the presentation, there were some great stories and hilarious moments as numerous people paid tribute to Lorraine, a most deserving recipient of The Shuffleboard Federation’s highest honor.

The Continuing Story Of Frisco Eddie, Volume 003

After Frisco Eddie walked out of the Blue Moon Lounge that Sunday morning, he was reflecting on whether or not it would be a good idea to pursue a full-time career playing shuffleboard. He had just beaten “Big Al,” and he was weighing the pros and cons of becoming a “hustler” on a permanent basis.

Eddie gave the idea a great deal of thought. He had a girlfriend to think about also …. one that he might even ask to marry some day. It wouldn’t be fair to shut her out. His girl (Shelli) wasn’t too keen on the prospect of Eddie being on the road all the time. He had a good job at the Blue Moon, and it was expected that someday soon he would even be made a partner in the business, and eventually become sole owner.

He finally decided to just “hang-on” for awhile, and let the action come to him in the local area. If he was going to be able to hit all the tournaments, and hustle on the side also, he’d have to travel a lot. He would be on the road too much, in fact, to establish himself at the Blue Moon. Shelli was happy; the owner of the Blue Moon (Bob) was happy; Eddie was happy, and all was going just fine: Just fine, that is, until a very pretty gal walked into the bar one Friday night Her name was Lillian, but to the shuffleboard world her “handle” was “Long Beach Lil.” Eddie didn’t know it then, but all his plans …. were about to change.

“Long Beach Lil” was a dead giveaway as she strolled to the far end of the bar, near the rear exit. Her gaze shifted between the shuffleboard and on Eddie. The fact that she was carrying an expensive weight-case raised some eyebrows at the bar.

After she sat down, Eddie asked, “What’ll you have?” Lillian sized Eddie up and then stated very simply (in a low and lusty kind of Texas drawl), “Everything you’ve got, Eddie.” Eddie was taken back for a moment, but he kept on looking into her eyes. Lil was a thing to behold; she had dark brown hair, was about five feet, seven inches tall (with a knock-out body), and piercing blue eyes …. and the eyes were on Eddie.

Eddie asked, “Seems you know my name — now, what’s yours?” “Lil,” she replied. “Well, it sure is good to meet you. Nice case you have there,” said Eddie. Then Lil said, “I heard about your action, Eddie. How did you manage to luck-out against ‘Big Al’ and his crowd?” “Wasn’t much luck to it — I just shot-their-eyes-out,” Eddie replied. She countered with: “My eyes are on you right now, Eddie. Would you like to try to shoot them out, too?” Their gazes were locked as Eddie hollered out, “Hey, Bob, take over, O.K.? I’ve got a live one here!”

After the board was waxed, and they each had some practice shots, Eddie said, “How hard do you want to make this on yourself, Lil?” Lil replied, “As hard as it can get, Eddie. Let’s start for a hundred a game and build up from there. O.K. ?” Eddie’s anxiety level went up a little, and he had mixed emotions as he put the quarters in. He thought, “This is either too good to be true …. or too true to be good.”

Which will it be, readers: too good to be true — or too true to be good? Read the next chapter of “Frisco Eddie’s Revenge — the Return” next week in The Shuffleboard Federation’s Blog. This is better than the soaps!

NASC XXIX Pro Singles Highlights: Jim Payne vs David Williams, Jr.

Both David Williams Jr. & Jim Payne know what it’s like to win with a lead, and pull out a win from behind. The strategy & shotmaking in this match are historic.

Announcers: Eddie M Villarreal & Marcus Zepeda

Thanks to our sponsors: Jimmy The Cop Memorial Shuffleboard Tournament!!!! Neil Fetter Jason Papa Madison Park Bowl

Jim Payne vs David Williams, Jr.

Cigars With John, The First Installment

At the 2017 North American Shuffleboard Championships, I interviewed a dozen or so pros in an informal setting, while I enjoyed one of my favorite pastimes, a great cigar.

This first segment includes recently deceased #TableShuffleboard legend, David Williams, and Karl Spickelmier.

Cigars With John: Episode 1