Charles “Spitball Charlie” Darling of Washington will make his return to artistic billiards competition next week.
Darling, a St. Francis Borgia graduate and longtime Washington native, is one of 16 participants in the World Class Artistic Pool Masters Cup July 13-15 in Shenyang City, China.
Of the 16 participants, six are from the United States, four are from China and six are from other countries including Canada, Argentina, Poland and France.
The tournament format is a 32-shot program with eight disciplines featuring four shots apiece.
“I’m familiar with all of the shots. These shots have been around for years. There’s not a single shot that’s given me a hard time. I feel good about it,” Darling said. “I’m excited about this opportunity. I’ve been practicing quite a bit. Every morning even before I brush my teeth and comb my hair, I go in the living room at home and practice for 45 minutes. I practice again every night before I go to bed. It should be an interesting trip.”
Darling, who owns and operates Darling Graphix, 309 W. Fourth St. in Washington, also practices at work, when he finds the time, on a pool table he has set up in his shop.
“The promoters of this tournament in China requested me to play,” Darling said while working on a trick shop in his shop. “The key for this tournament is to make these shots on the first try. I can make these shots, but making them on the first try is the key. That can be difficult because we’ll be playing on tables we’re not familiar with.”
The tournament will be televised on China Central Television (CCTV).
A live feed of the event can be watched online at www.my147.com.
Darling currently is looking for local sponsors to help fund this trip and future events in which he plans to participate.
“Any help would be greatly appreciated,” Darling said.
Among Darling’s competition in China will be old rivals Nick Nikolaidis of Canada and Sebastian Giumelli of Argentina.
Some of the top Americans in the field, along with Darling, are Steve Markle of Pennsylvania and Jason Lynch of Michigan.
Mike Massey, one of the most famous trick shot players of all-time, will serve as master of ceremonies.
Tom “Dr. Cue” Rossman, another well-known player, is a promoter for the tournament.
Darling said there is a total purse of $25,000 for the tournament, which will be spread out fairly evenly among the competitors.
Darling has competed in recent tournaments to sharpen his game. He was in a nine-ball tournament in Las Vegas and also played in a trick shot event last February in Chicago, where he finished in sixth place out of 36 competitors.
“I had a chance to take out the guy who won, but he ended up eliminating me,” Darling said. “My overconfidence killed me.”
Darling is the 2001 World Champion and the 2003 and 2004 North American Champion.
“I started giving trick shot exhibitions in 1976 or ’77,” Darling said. “The spitball shot came around in my last year of college, around 1974 or ’75. That’s when I became known as ‘Spitball Charlie.’ I started playing in trick shot tournaments in 1998.”
While attending college at the University of Missouri, Darling represented the Tigers at three Big 8 Conference Billiard Tournaments.
Along with his participation in artistic pool tournaments, Darling designs and makes signs for businesses at his shop, Darling Graphix. Pictures of his work can be found online at www.darlinggraphix.com.
“I’ve made a lot of signs at businesses you see around town, like Old Dutch Tavern, Marquart’s Landing, 305 Liquor, John G’s Bier Deck and Cowan’s Restaurant. I also design, print and sell T-shirts,” Darling said. “But my first love is playing pool. That’s the way it will always be for me.”