A group of Walla Walla pool boys rise early for some good, clean fun

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The rules in this hall are few but still well kept by a dozen early risers who love the game.

No alcohol, no tobacco, no beverages around the table, no gambling, no cursing and, most of all, don’t forget the doilies, which are placed under the cue ball for every break to help protect the tables at The Center at the Park’s pool hall.

“I play better now than I did in my 30s because I think more,” Chuck Bechler said, as he walked around a pool table, eyeing his next shot.

“I settled into Walla Walla two years ago. One of the reasons we settled in Walla Walla was because of this place,” Bechler said, noting that the quality of play is far better that what you normally see in senior centers.

As far as the ambience goes, there are no beer lamps hanging from the ceiling and no women hanging from the wrinkled, white-haired and liver-spotted arms of old pool sharks. And the drink of choice is coffee. But there was a time when some of these men could be found in the local taverns at night.

“I played for a little money in bars, years ago,” David Jackson said, arriving late at around 7:45 a.m.

That’s the other thing that is different about this pool hall. The breaking starts right after sunrise and keeps going from 7-8:30 a.m.

In two months, however, four of these players will leave the rules and doilies behind and break with the pros in Lincoln City, Ore., at the 16th annual Western Billiard Congress of America Regional 9-Ball Championships at Chinook Winds Casino Resort.

“Those tables over there, they have a lot faster felt and the cushions aren’t as wobbly as these,” said Ed Terry, who competed in last year’s team tournament and took second place.

This year he encouraged his pool buddies at the senior center to form their own team.

So from Oct. 14-20, the team of “Two Blind Guys and a Lefty” will compete in one of the largest pool halls around, where close to 100 tables have been set up in the past and $75,000 in prize money has been won.

“When you first walk into that competition, for me it was intimidating,” Terry said.

If Two Blind Guys and a Lefty win their class, they’ll collect about $1,800 and bring home some big bragging rights.

Bechler added that while at the tourney they will not be competing in the senior class. “They are too good of shots,” he said.

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