‘We love it here’: Illinois state billiards tournament continues to be major success in Quincy


Amy Latzko lines up a shot during Friday's play in the American CueSports Association state billiards tournament at the Oakley-Lindsay Center. | Steve Eighinger photo

QUINCY — How pleased are officials of the American CueSports Alliance with the way the organization has been received in Quincy?

“We love it here,” said Cecil Messer, longtime official with the ACA. “We’ve already signed a contract to be back next year.”

The Oakley-Lindsay Center has been host to the ACA’s state billiards tournament now for three years, and it’s a love affair that shows no signs of slowing. About 900 pool players are in town through the weekend for a variety of competitions and activities. Admission is free.

The Quincy Area Convention and Visitors Bureau estimates this weekend’s 27th annual Illinois state event will generate an economic impact of $1.2 million for the immediate Quincy region.

Anthony Chiartano of Peoria is one of the ACA competitors who has experienced first-hand how warm of a welcome Quincy can provide to a visitor.

Chiartano said he suffered a flat tire while in Quincy this week and found one person offering him use of his vehicle and another who helped him change his tire.

“Quincy’s all right!” said Chiarno, whose thumbs-up response was reflected in the size of his of smile. 

The Oakley-Lindsay Center will also play host to the ACA’s junior state tournament July 7-14.

“The area is very nice, everybody is very welcoming,” said Dan Taylor, another longtime ACS official. “The event center here and the (Quincy Area Convention and Visitors) bureau work with us so well it’s hard not to come back. Everything is inviting here.”

There are 110 state-of-the-art pool tables, which were shipped to Quincy from Minneapolis, spread across the massive floor inside the OLC, creating a constant beehive of activity. And for the uninitiated, this kind of competition is far from a gentleman’s-only club.

There are separate men’s, women’s and co-ed divisions. There are also separate individual and team competitions.

“About 35 percent of our competitors are women,” Messer said. “This is a sport that both men and women can play on an equal basis.”

Amy Latzko, who lives near Chicago and has been playing pool for decades, loves all that comes with one of these weekends.

“The big appeal for me is the love of the game,” she said. “I’ve been playing for more than 30 years.”

Latzko travels all over with her cue stick, including competitions in Iowa and Indiana.

“This is all like a family,” she said.

That type of atmosphere is what lured Chiartano to the sport at a young age.

“My mom was a bartender, and I grew up playing (pool/billiards),” he said. “I’ve been playing for about 25 years and I love the competition and the people who are involved.”

Check the acsisa.org website for daily schedules at the Oakley-Lindsay Center.

For more information about the event or American CueSports Alliance, contact Messer at 219-465-8101.

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