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The 11th Frame: 2018 11thFrame.com Open set for Aug. 10-12 with same Friday sweeper, tournament format, and (hopefully) a tougher lane pattern than 2017

JEFF RICHGELS | Posted: Tuesday, May 8, 2018 5:00 am

Adam Morse rolls a shot during the title match en route to winning the 2017 11thFrame.com Open. Photo by Susie Fever.

We could not have asked for much more from the 2017 GIBA 11thFrame.com Open at Cherry Lanes inside the Diamond Jo casino in Dubuque, Iowa.

The new Friday sweeper drew a solid turnout, and the tournament Saturday and Sunday sold out at 156 entries and ran great.

The only disappointment was that scores were a little higher than we anticipated, even though we used the same lane pattern as 2016 — the 2015 U.S. Open lane pattern modified for the Brunswick products used by Cherry. The difference was that Cherry had switched to a less slick Brunswick oil, resulting in more hook off the outside and quicker transition.

Last year, the cut for the semifinals was 1,293 and the last cash spot was 1,287. In 2015, the cut for the semifinals was 1,196 and the last cash spot was 1,191.

Cherry Lanes General Manager Bob Hochrein is working with Brunswick to tweak the pattern to make it a little tougher, and we’ll be testing it before the tournament to check how it works. I’ll even invite a solid lefty to get a perspective from that side.

The pattern will be used in the Friday night sweeper, so everyone will have the opportunity to compete on it before the tournament. And once the pattern is finalized it will be added to this story — we live by true transparency!

The 2018 11thFrame.com Open is set for Aug. 10-12 at Cherry Lanes and everything other than the lane pattern should be familiar to anyone who competed in 2017.

We stayed the second week of August because Cherry prefers it over the last weekend and the third weekend we would have had to go without webcasting as Craig Elliott’s BowlStreamtv will be webcasting the New Mexico Open that weekend. Elliott is hoping to webcast for us again this year, depending on his schedule.

Returning sponsors include the Dubuque Regional Sports Commission, Diamond JoStorm Bowling ProductsCoors Light, 11thFrame.com and Logo Infusion.

All of the $150 tournament entry fee for every player still will go to the prize fund, which again should have more than $5,000 in added money counting the sweeper, which will have $1,000 in added money from the Sports Commission.

Flyers for the tournament and sweeper are attached to the bottom of this story as PDFs.

The sweeper, which will replace the practice session, starts at 5 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 10, and features a simple format of five games with total pins determining finishing position. The entry fee will be $40, with $30 to the prize fund and $10 to lineage. The cashing ratio will be 1-in-4 with a first prize of $400 based on 60 entries. GIBA will run the sweeper.

If you can't make the tournament Saturday and Sunday, you still can enter the sweeper on Friday night. 

Shea Bittenbender beat a field of 54 to win the sweeper last year with 1,198 for five games, as I detailed in this story.

Adam Morse won the 2017 11thFrame.com Open, edging Brad Miller 249-236 in the title match, as I detailed in this story.

Matt McNiel won in 2012Matt Gasn in 2014, McNiel again in 2015 and Jay Watts in 2016. (No tournament was held in 2013.)

Ideally, everyone would get to play their A game at some point during the tourney, and there would be no huge difference in difficulty between left and right. Another goal is to avoid guttercap lofting becoming common and important to success as the lanes break down, which is not easy with Sunday's semifinals being 12 games.

Our biggest problem is that the innovative format that the competitors have said they very much enjoy features 12 games on Sunday. Finding a lane pattern that holds up for that much bowling and provides a fairly equal difficulty for lefties and righties is nearly impossible — there is just so much play on the right side.

All we ask of competitors and fans is to patronize the sponsors who help make this such a great tournament: drink Coors Light if you have a beer, eat and gamble at Cherry Lanes and the Diamond Jo, stay overnight in Dubuque, and patronize Storm Products and Logo Infusion if you can. And, yes, please subscribe to 11thFrame.com!

If you do gamble, please get a player’s card and use it! This is VERY important to continue the tournament and sponsorship! (The Diamond Jo is part of Boyd Gaming, so whenever you are in a city with a choice in gambling facilities and one is a Boyd property, you could patronize the Boyd property and let them know why.)

And please thank Hochrein and everyone else at the center and the Diamond Jo. Hochrein is a USBC Open Championships Eagle winner and PBA regional title holder who cares about the sport and manages a top notch staff.

GIBA administrator Joe Engelkes and his family are taking no expense fee for running the tournament, which again will be a points tournament in GIBA’s schedule for 2018-19. All the Engelkes ever do is take a portion of the bracket proceeds while donating the rest back to the prize funds. 

Joe is one of the top tournament operators I know and I couldn’t think of a better guy and group to run the 11thframe.com Open.

The GIBA is sponsored by EBI and we thank EBI for graciously allowing my Storm-sponsored tournament — I have been on Storm’s staff since 1996 — to be part of the GIBA schedule.

The only extra fee entrants must pay is the GIBA $10 season membership fee, and that gets you the right to compete in other GIBA events like the great Fusion Realtors/Community First National Bank Open tournaments in Waterloo, Iowa.

Engelkes will begin accepting entries soon for the 11thFrame.com Open. The only way to reserve a spot and make a squad and crossing bowler(s) request will be to send your $150 check made out to GIBA to GIBA, c/o Joe Engelkes, 3018 Saratoga Drive, Waterloo, IA  50702. He can be reached at 319-236-0955 or jengelkesgiba@gmail.com.

Like the Fusions, the 11thFrame.com Open is open to any USBC certified bowler, including the top pros, though they typically have other tournaments to compete in.  

The format again will feature 6-game qualifying squads at 9 a.m., 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. on Saturday with pins carrying over and one-third of the bowlers advancing to Sunday and cashing. With three squads full, there will be a 156-bowler field and 48 players advancing and cashing, and four others cashing.

Re-entries will be allowed on B and C squads, with priority given to first entries in this way: New entries will have priority if they are paid before Saturday. Re-entries will come next if they are paid before Saturday. For those paid on Saturday, new entries will get priority over re-entries up to half an hour before the final two squads’ scheduled start time, then it will be first come, first served until the squads start.

As in the Fusions, bowlers can request to bowl with specific bowlers but lane assignments for pairs will be by random draw.

Sunday's "Flanagan format" will feature 12 games of bowling starting at 9 a.m. with bonus pins based on score from highest to lowest. For example, if 48 advance to Sunday in each game the highest scorer will get 48 bonus pins, the second-highest scorer 47 pins, so on down to 1 bonus pin for the lowest score each game. Whatever number of finalists there are, that number of bonus pins will go to the high scorer down to 1 pin for the lowest score each game.

Yes, it’s not head-to-head; instead, it’s all-against-one. The idea is to reward the consistently solid bowler and not the one who may bowl the right people at the right time. And everyone who makes the cut gets to bowl all of Sunday's games.

After those 12 games, the top five will compete in a stepladder finals on fresh oil.

There will be optional prize funds for seniors and women similar to the Fusions, along with brackets and pot games. And there will be a SMART option for youth bowlers, as GIBA offers with the Fusions.

Seniors and women each are guaranteed a 1-in-3 cashing ratio paying at least $150 per check. For example, if 15 seniors enter and two cash in the regular prize list there would be three separate senior checks so five cash.

There also will be brackets, pot games and a Bet You Win pot.

And a separate $20 entry fee for a separate additional prize fund likely will be offered for both seniors and women — this is not noted on the flyer.

With 156 entries, the top five spots will be $2,700, $2,200, $1,700, $1,300 and $1,000, down to $190 for the last four checks.

If additional sponsorship is obtained, it will be used to pay extra spots, senior and/or female checks, or improve the overall prize list.

My 11thFrame.com sponsorship again will be $400 that goes directly into the prize fund for the tournament. Diamond Jo in turn will take $400 of its sponsorship and turn it into 10 $40 free slot play cards for a fun post-qualifying drawing for non-cashers only.

As soon as the final standings are determined, we will draw 10 numbers representing all the non-cashing positions. The bowlers who finished in those positions will get the free slot play — if they have a Diamond Jo players card and are present when their names are called. 

If a winner is under 21, I will take the free slot play and pay the youth $40 out of my pocket.

If there are ties in the standings, the higher position goes to the player with the higher game.

This encourages people to get Diamond Jo player cards, stick around or return if they bowl early, and gives something back to non-cashers that they might be able to turn into some significant money as if they made the cut. That happened last year when one of the non-cashers who won the free slot play won a jackpot of several hundred dollars.

It’s uncertain if my girlfriend Susie "Fever" Dyhr will be able to run a fundraising effort for Green Acres Boxer Rescue of Wisconsin, which brought into our lives a lovable, knucklehead of a boxer named Otis. She has in the past designed T-shirts for the tournament with Green Acres benefiting from each sale. However, earlier this year she started a full-time job with Exact Sciences and might not have the time to design the shirts and run the fundraiser.