Carrom tournament attracts players from U.S., Canada
The North East United States Carrom Association (NEUSCA) held their annual Carrom tournament amid a long winter. Nevertheless, it attracted players from the United States and Canada.
The level of participation “was a true testament” to the labor put in by organizers, with the highest-ever level of 116 players, including 30 new players joining the fray. The Carrom marathon sessions took place January 28 and 29, 2023, at Marriott Hotel in Saddle Brook, N.J. a press release from organizers said. Several international Carrom fraternities streamed the tournament online, organizers said.
The NEUSCA is a local non-profit organization supporting Carrom activities.
Roshan Mushin orchestrated a musical night. “Full of fun and entertainment, Mushin injected an element of enthusiasm among the participants,” the press release said.
The singles event preceded the Doubles Carrom event, and the participation was impressive – with enthusiastic players “flexing their lumbrical muscles” in an attempt to go for the ultimate cash prizes dished out by NEUSCA.
Preeti Jakhotia of California displayed her Carrom skills to win the tournament.
Before the tournament, there were rumblings of the “King” of Carrom, 11-time US Nationals Carrom champion Saravanan Chandrababu of Cleveland, Ohio, locking horns with the “King” of Canada, 2-time US Nationals Carrom champion Louie Fernandes. However, Saravanan was not in his usual element, and his game did not rise to the occasion, disappointing quite a few present.
Preeti Jakhotia of California came with dogged determination and challenged Louie in the finals of the singles Carrom event at this year’s NEUSCA event. In their previous encounter, Louie overcame a confident Preeti in best-of-three games in the finals. However, the tables turned this time, and they turned quickly in Preeti’s favour. Before meeting Louie in the finals, Preeti played one of her best games against Ishan Rizvi of Canada. In her second match against Ishan, Preeti truly pulled out her Carrom magic, scoring a white slam which had Ishan on the ropes. Achieving a white slam in Carrom is no ordinary feat, as players must pocket nine white coins and the red without losing a turn. What is even more impressive about Preeti is the timing of her white slam in a crucial semifinal match that eventually propelled her to the finals.
Louie conceded the finals after a 1-1 match, which surprised those who watched this epic battle. Eventually, talent, hard work, and determination rose to the top, and Preeti Jakhotia was crowned the NEUSCA 2023 champion. Jakhotia mentioned, “It was my first appearance in NEUSCA, and it was fruitful on many fronts and learnings I take back by watching many star players”. She further added, “Honestly, I never thought I would be the winner as my approach was to play each board and each game and try as far as I can go and result was when Carrom God rewarded the Cup.” Jakhotia was quite sporty in acknowledging her semifinal opponent, Ishan Rizvi, for his Carrom prowess and went on to state that the semifinal match with Rizvi will be one of her favorite matches.
Ishan Rizvi, who missed out on playing the singles finals after his loss to Preeti, made amends by winning the Doubles Championship by partnering with R. Ghuge. The Canadian pair took on the craftily talented Ohio pair of Ranjit Sapre and Venu Mukkera.
Besides the players and their dogged determination, one of the highlights was the novel software, USCA 2.0, which was rolled out at the NEUSCA event. Navin Chandran and his technology team did their due diligence in developing this software, and it was his computer ingenuity that did the talking for the participants, the press release said.
Panna Chowdhury, a gifted Carrom player in California, has been equally instrumental in introducing a performance monitoring and ranking system in the Bay area, organizers noted. As a result, Carrom players can use this software to track their performances, even during practice games.
The Carrom extravaganza in New Jersey was complimented by Hyderabadi cuisine made at Dosa and Biryani House in Saddle Brook, and 7 meals interspersed with tea and snacks were served during the tournament.
Carrom is undeniably gathering momentum in the USA and Canada, according to organizers.
Balaji Parthasarathy, considered a giant in Carrom, made a personal appearance. He and his team at the United States Carrom Association have been working tirelessly in their attempts to provide innovations to the sport constantly.
Abul Shakeel Baig was the mastermind behind the success of NEUSCA 2023, and he conducted the event with finesse, and was supported by an “army of exemplary volunteers.”
Arshad Shaik, with his announcements, kept everyone on their toes, ensuring timely matches for all participants.
Prabhu Raj and Sandeep Dusa helped make all participants feel comfortable throughout the competition.
For other details of the tournament visit uscarrom.org