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Update: Lane pattern set for 2023 GIBA 11thFrame.com Open Aug. 18-20 at Cherry Lanes in Dubuque, Iowa

JEFF RICHGELS | Posted: Wednesday, August 16, 2023 5:00 am
Update: Lane pattern set for 2023 GIBA 11thFrame.com Open Aug. 18-20 at Cherry Lanes in Dubuque, Iowa
Nick Pate, center, after winning the 2022 GIBA 11thFrame.com Open. GIBA administrator Joe Engelkes is at left, and some aging writer/bowler is at right. Photo by Rosie Engelkes.

If you want to bowl the 2023 GIBA 11thFrame.com Open, you should contact GIBA administrator Joe Engelkes as soon as possible.

The demand is so strong for entries that the 156-player field sold out in just days last year and some people who wanted to bowl were shut out. 

The situation prompted Engelkes, Cherry Lanes General Manager Bob Hochrein and myself to talk about turning the Friday night sweeper into a fourth squad, which for a variety of reasons we decided not to do.

Update: On Wednesday, three days after this story posted originally, Engelkes said in an email that the 156-player field is full and he has started a waiting list. On July 27, he said he still had a long waiting list but players could add their names to it. Engelkes posted the squads here on Facebook on Aug. 9.

The only way to reserve a spot and make a squad and crossing bowler(s) request is to pay the entry fee. Send your $160 check made out to GIBA to GIBA, c/o Joe Engelkes, 1805 Quail Ridge Road, Cedar Falls, IA 50613. He can be reached at 319-269-6909 or jengelkesgiba@gmail.com. PayPal also can be used to enter.

Everything about the tournament will look familiar to anyone who competes in 2023.  

I have not had a chance to talk with Joe and Bob about the lane pattern, but as soon as it is determined I will add it to this story.

Update July 27: Engelkes said the 2022 lane pattern would be used again this year. Hochrein said Cherry Lanes had gotten more Brunswick Connect oil so that would be used again.

The 2022 pattern famed pattern designer Nick Hoagland crafted working with Hochrein was 37 feet with 24.63 mL of Connect oil and pattern ratios by volume of 1.11-1 on the left and 1.66-1 on the right. The PDF of the pattern is attached to the bottom of this story.

For years we used a modification of the 2015 U.S. Open pattern designed by Nick Hoagland for USBC, but for last year Hoagland helped Hochrein craft a shorter pattern.

The 11thFrame.com Open generally has been feast or famine for lefties and it just seemed like trying something different instead of tweaking what we had been using was a better choice.

The challenge is finding something that holds up on the right side for the 12 games on Sunday without having players ending up lofting the left guttercap as happened in 2014. That generally means a pattern that plays from the outside, but it’s very hard to use such a pattern without having lefties dominate. Compensating for that domination can easily shut them out.

We also aim for a challenging pattern with a relatively low scoring pace, which adds to the challenge of crafting the pattern.

I’ll say again something I’ve written and said numerous times: the margin between lefty dominance and shutout, and excessive softness and brutality is smaller now than it ever has been in bowling history. Equity between sides and styles and a middle ground in scoring has never been harder for a lane pattern designer to find.

I think we would gladly would accept a slightly higher scoring pace than preferred if it meant equity left-right and for styles.

The one thing I promise is transparency in what we put out and the reasoning that goes into it — I would not allow my name and brand to be part of any tournament that didn’t offer transparency.

The 2022 11thFrame.com Open pattern ended up being 37 feet with 24.63 mL of Connect oil and pattern ratios by volume of 1.11-1 on the left and 1.66-1 on the right. Hoagland said before the tournament that “The pattern should play out for everyone and I do expect urethane to be in play. I think that the pattern will hold up for 12 games due to the fact that everyone’s ball will be outside of the first arrow at the breakpoint; thus saving the track and middle parts of the lane for later in the block.”

PBA Tour player Nick Pate won the 2022 11thFrame.com Open and in my story I wrote that urethane was not as dominant as I expected.

Pate, a Brunswick staffer, used reactive resin in the stepladder finals.

Pate said he used urethane his first two games on Sunday, “and then once I saw that I had to go to like, second arrow with urethane and throw it to the gutter, I was like, 'Nah, I won't do that.' “

The format will remains the same as it has been for years, with a sweeper on Friday night, qualifying on Saturday, and “Flanagan format” semifinals on Sunday, followed by a stepladder finals.

Engelkes said there will be more than $4,000 in added money from GIBA sponsor Ebonite and returning sponsors the Dubuque Regional Sports CommissionDiamond Jo CasinoCherry LanesIAMBowling, and 11thFrame.com

(As part of my semi-retirement from competitive bowling, I decided to retire from the staffs of Storm Products, Turbo 2-N-1 Grips, and IAMBowling, although I will be a life staffer with all three in my heart. But this does enable GIBA to have its overall sponsor Ebonite pick up the 11thFrame.com Open as well. I appreciate Ebonite allowing Storm to sponsor the 11thFrame.com Open while I was a staffer.)

The entry fee again will be $160, with every dollar of entry fees going to the prize fund, thanks to Cherry Lanes donating the lineage again this year.

The result is that with the usual full field of 156 players, first through fifth this year will be $2,800, $2,300, $1,800, $1,400 and $1,100. The rest of the prize fund will be essentially the same and is detailed in the PDF of the flyer attached to the bottom of this story.

Engelkes said on Monday that there was a block of 25 rooms available for Friday and Saturday nights at the Holiday Inn in downtown Dubuque, about a 5-minute walk from Cherry Lanes. The rate is $129 per night, plus tax and the group name is 11thFrame Open. You need to contact the front desk at the hotel at 563-556-2000 to reserve a room under the block, which is available until July 20.

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 in 2023-24.

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

The sweeper starts at 5 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 18, and features a simple format of five games with total pins determining finishing position. The tournament lane pattern will be used.

The entry fee will be $50, with $40 to the prize fund and $10 to lineage. The cashing ratio will be 1-in-4 with a first prize of $500 based on 60 entries, and $500 added by the Dubuque Regional Sports Commission and GIBA.

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

Saturday’s qualifying again will feature 6-game squads at 9 a.m., 1 p.m. and 5 p.m., 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, 48 players advancing and four more 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 is GIBA policy, bowlers can request to bowl with specific bowlers but lane assignments for pairs will be by random draw.

Sunday’s innovative format that comes from the fertile mind of Mike Flanagan features 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.

Round Two in Peosta, Iowa, about 13 miles from Cherry Lanes, is offering a tournament on Sunday, Aug. 20 for players who miss the cut at the 11thFrame.com Open on Saturday, Aug. 19. Details on the 11thFrame.com Open Didn’t Make it Squad are in this story.

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

Seniors and women each are guaranteed a 1-in-3 cashing ratio paying at least $160 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.

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.

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 of $400 again will lead to 10 $40 free slot play cards for non-cashers only.

As soon as the final standings are determined, we will draw 10 numbers representing all the non-cashing positions. If there are ties in the standings, the higher position goes to the player with the higher game. The bowlers who finished in those positions will get the free slot play — if they have a Diamond Jo player’s 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.

This encourages people to get Diamond Jo player’s 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 in 2017 when one of the non-cashers who won the free slot play won a jackpot of several hundred dollars.

All we ask of competitors and fans is to patronize the sponsors who help make this such a great tournament: including eating and gambling at Cherry Lanes and the Diamond Jo, and staying overnight in Dubuque.

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.

As usual, 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 2023-24. 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.

McNiel won in 2012Matt Gasn in 2014McNiel again in 2015Jay Watts in 2016Adam Morse in 2017Andy Mills in 2018Nate Stubler in 2019, Jerry Marrs in 2020, and Stubler again in 2021. (No tournament was held in 2013.)