Gino and Carlo Sweep Hockey sur Table Quebec
Carlo Captures 3rd Consecutive Quebec Cup
Quebec City, May 23, 2010
In a season-long display of truly invincible
table hockey, Carlo and Gino Bossio emerged as the dominant
forces in the 2009-10 Hockey sur Table Quebec Colceo tour.
They split the four tournaments between them: Carlo won
Montreal and Sherbrooke in 2009, while Gino prevailed in
Drummondville and Quebec City in 2010.
Even though Carlo lost to Gino in the Drummondville
final, he mathematically clinched the 2009-10 Quebec Cup
in Drummondville. His three results at that stage were 1-1-2
, while Gino's were 1-3-3. By winning Quebec City, Gino
improved his best results to 1-1-3, but was still edged
out by Carlo's 1-1-2. In any case, the Bossio brothers were
unbeatable this season, at least on the HTQ tour.
Honorable mentions go to Pat Cote and Sam
Anoussis. Pat was the finalist in Quebec, his best performance
on the tour this year, forcing Gino to the limit in a high-scoring
3-game series. Pat also won the Montreal league this year,
the premier league for Coleco, which features 8 of Quebec's
top-10 players. Pat won the inaugural Quebec Cup in 2006-07,
but that cup has since become the annual property of Carlo.
Sam Anoussis owned an impressive 2-2-3-3
record on the year, losing two finals to Carlo and finishing
3rd in Drummondville and in Quebec. Sam is a ferocious competitor,
now in his late forties but playing the greatest table hockey
of his life -- even better than he was 30 years ago, when
his speed and ferocity were already well-established.
Sam's comeback in 2007 has taken him tantalizingly
close to an HTQ tournament win. Close, but no cigar. Since
the Quebec Cup was inaugurated in 2006, there have been
16 tournaments, and only 5 players have been tournament
winners: Carlo (10) , Martin (2), Gino (2) , Pat (1), and
It's no accident that Martin Labelle used
to drive from Sherbooke to compete in the Montreal league,
as did Burt Brassard from Quebec. I did it a couple of times
from New York, and it was well-worth the trip. The best
way to get to the top of your game, and beyond, is to compete
against the best. The top 5 players -- Carlo, Gino, Sam,
Pat and Dany -- are all playing out of Montreal. They play
each other regularly, with all the speed and power attainable
on the current generation of 5380 boards.
Carlo Bossio (left) wins third straight
presentation by Burt Brassard (right)
Champions Start Young
A new feature in the 2009-10
season, thanks primarily to Dany Leclerc, was the introduction
of a children's pool in the Drummondville tournament. Just
as in music as well as in sports, most of the best players
start young, typically around 5 years of age. The nervous
system is still quite immature at that age, so it's possible
to "hardwire" many new neural pathways. Skills
acquired at this age will be deeply embedded in the brain,
allowing gifted players to rise to ever-greater heights
later in life.
Beyond this, table hockey is
an ideal sport for developing attention span, depth of concentration,
hand-eye coordination, competition against real (as opposed
to virtual) opponents, and all the virtues of sportsmanship.
Table hockey is therefore a remedy for many of the current
ills afflicting our youth: ADHD, social dsyfunctions, TV
and video-game overdose, and so on. Exposing our kids to
organized table hockey is incomparably better than drugging
them with Ritalin, baby-sitting them with Nintendo, or sending
them into deep cyberspace, where they lose touch with reality.
The kids who played in Drummondville
had a great time. They discovered the challenges and thrills
of competitive table hockey, and they got a lot of positive
reinforcement from the adult players. The memory of this
day will remain with them for a long time, and I hope we
will see them play in future HTQ events. They *are* the
future of table hockey. If we fail to transmit the game
to the next generation, they will lose a priceless cultural
Drummondville 2010: Intense action
from the children's final. No ADHD here.
Gino's Route to the
Nobody can accuse Gino of doing things the
easy way, at least not in Quebec City. Coming in as a favorite,
having defeated Carlo for the Drummondville title, Gino
found himself relegated to the B-pool after a first round
mêlée in Quebec. Denis Begin, another top-10
player, fell all the way to C-pool. I missed the A-pool
by one game, and joined Gino and Michel Decarie in B. We
all played our way back to A for the playoffs, but as necessarily
lower seeds. Gino began the round of 16 in 11th place, better
than my 13th, but not exactly enviable or advantageous.
Unless you happen to be Gino.
His attitude was clear: "I don't care.
I'm gonna beat them all." And so he would. Playoffs
are about match-ups, not seedings. As the playoffs began,
I said to Gino, "You certainly have more attitude than
anyone. Now all you have to do is score more goals than
anyone." And so he did.
Gino's first victim was Dany LeClerc. Dany
won the opening game, but Gino roared back to take the next
two. That set up a quarter-final match between the Bossio
brothers, which Carlo seemed anxious to avoid. Normally
Carlo is fearless, but on that day he must have sensed that
Gino was especially dangerous. If not for an astounding
comeback by Eric Larochelle against Remi Lemieux in the
round of 16, Carlo and Gino would not have met in the quarters.
After splitting the first two games 4-3 and 3-4, Remi led
Eric 5-0 in game three. Carlo was the ref, and he decided
to change pucks at that point. Suddenly, Eric's luck changed
too, and he stormed back to tie Remi 5-5. Then Eric won
in overtime. And because of that, Carlo and Gino met in
the quarterfinals. Carlo kept saying "If only I hadn't
Carlo won the first game against Gino (5-3).
But once again Gino won games two (7-4) and three (5-1).
In the semi-finals, Gino met Sam. Sam has given him trouble
in the past. But on this day Gino prevailed in two close
games, both 4-3. That propelled Gino to the finals.
The other semi-final was between Pat and
Eric. Pat's offence was very productive on the day, and
he defeated Eric 6-3 and 5-4. I had asked Pat who he would
rather play in the final, Gino or Sam. Pat wanted no part
of Sam, who had demolished him 7-1 in the A-pool. So Pat
said he preferred Gino. And he got his choice.
I had also asked Gino who he preferred to
play in the final, Eric or Pat. Gino said "I don't
care. I'm going to win." This was not egotism. It was
supreme self-belief, the most prized asset of any competitor
-- in love, in war, or in table hockey.
Pat won the opening game of the final series,
in an 8-7 score-fest. But once again, Gino elevated his
play, crushing Pat 6-0 in game 2. Game three was another
shoot-out, a seesaw battle, in which Gino triumphed 8-6.
Gino scored 21 goals in these 3 games, a relentless offensive
pounding, while his defense held Pat mostly at bay.
Gino (left) versus Pat (right) in
the Quebec City final
I have participated in 14 of the 16 HTQ
tournaments in the past 4 years, and have never seen a more
impressive playoff performance than Gino's on this day.
Think about it. Gino started in 11th place, and disposed
of Dany, Carlo, Sam and Pat -- the top 4 players other than
himself, winning 8 of 11 playoff games against them. And
he came from behind in three of the four series, having
lost game one in every case except against Sam. Truly formidable.
I can personally attest to how strong a
player Gino can be. For it is Gino who has stopped me from
reaching tournament semi-finals on no fewer than three occasions
in the past two years. Each time I had won the first game
of the series, only to lose the next two. I guess I felt
a bit consoled, seeing Gino doing the same thing to Dany,
Carlo and Pat (well, maybe not). An amazing performance
by Bossio the Elder.
Congratulations also go to Burt Brassard,
who organized his 10th consecutive tournament in Quebec
City. Burt is an accomplished organizer and a talented player,
breathing down the necks of Carlo, Gino, Sam, Pat and Dany
Quebec 2010: Sam Anoussis #3 (left),
Gino Bossio #1 (center), Pat Cote #2 (right)
King Carlo's Three Quebec Cups
Gino's outstanding performance in Quebec
City illustrates just how great you have to be, on a given
day, to win an HTQ tournament. Now put that in perspective:
Carlo and Gino, between them, won all four tournaments in
this 2009-10 season -- two apiece. That's keeping it in
the family. And there are quite a few top-notch players
out there, hungry to collect some hardware.
Now put all that in perspective: Carlo and
Gino have won 12 of the 16 HTQ tournaments to date. And
10 of those victories are Carlo's. That is an incredible
degree of domination. It has resulted in Carlo winning 3
consecutive Quebec Cups. In the table-hockey hotbed of eastern
North America, the Quebec-Ontario-New England-New York region,
that is a feat of legendary proportions. Let's review how
Carlo managed it.
Quebec Cup #1, 2006-07.
There were only three tournaments in 2006-07, and Carlo
actually won the first two. But Carlo was unable to play
the third event, and so his 1-1-0 record was eclipsed, on
total points from three events, by Pat's 1-3-8, Gino's 2-2-8,
and Burt's 3-4-5 records. Pat defeated Gino in the 2007
Quebec City final to win the inaugural Quebec Cup. Had Gino
defeated Pat in that series, the Cup was Gino's that year.
Had Carlo played and finished in the top-10 (inconceivable
that he wouldn't), the inaugural Cup would have been Carlo's.
But credit Pat Cote for seizing his opportunity in 2006-07.
Quebec Cup #2, 2007-08.
Carlo Bossio left nothing to chance in 2007-08, winning
the first three tournaments in a row. He defeated Pat in
the Montreal final, Dave Kraehling in Sherbrooke, and Martin
Labelle in Gatineau. So this time Carlo didn't even have
to show up in Quebec City to claim the top prize. But of
course he showed up, hoping to win there too, thus completing
the table-hockey equivalent of the ATP's "Grand Slam."
No tennis player since "Rocket" Rod Laver has
won all four majors in the same season (Australian Open,
French Open, Wimbledon, US Open), and Laver did it twice!
Andre Agassi and Roger Federer have won all four, but not
in the same season. So when Carlo arrived in Quebec City
to attempt this feat, he met with stiff opposition. There's
a lot of pride on the HTQ circuit, and on that day Junior
Gelinas stepped up and took down both Carlo and Pat in the
playoffs. Junior ran out of gas in the final series, losing
to Danny Leclerc. But Carlo had already clinched his first
Gatineau 2008: Carlo clinches his first Quebec
left-to-right: Martin Labelle, Carlo Bossio, Pat Cote, Eric
Quebec Cup #3, 2008-09.
Would Carlo repeat in 2008-09? Not if Martin Labelle had
his way. Martin had been sidelined in spring 2008, almost
losing his arm to a severe bacterial infection. But Martin
recovered and came charging back in the 2008-09 season.
Carlo won the Montreal event, while Martin placed 3rd. But
Martin won in Sherbrooke and again in Drummondville, while
Carlo was eliminated twice by Sam Anoussis. So after 3 tournaments,
Martin led the race with a strong 1-1-3 record, while Carlo
trailed badly at 1-5-9. But there were five tournaments
scheduled that season, so Carlo could overtake Martin by
winning in Gatineau and Quebec. They met in the quarter-finals
in Gatineau, and that was the turning point. Carlo defeated
Martin and went on to win the event, while Martin finished
7th. Now Carlo was 1-1-5, still trailing Martin's 1-1-3,
with one event remaining. Carlo won in Quebec City, thus
overtaking Martin and capturing his second consecutive Quebec
Cup. That was an amazing feat. The greatest players are
able to come from behind, and Carlo (like his brother) possesses
Quebec City 2009: Carlo Repeats as
Quebec Cup Champion
Quebec Cup #4, 2009-10.
As we have seen, Carlo continued his winning ways this season,
taking the Montreal and Sherbrooke tournaments. Those victories
gave him 4 tournament wins in a row in 2009 -- Gatineau,
Quebec, Montreal, Sherbrooke -- an historic feat. Gino finally
derailed his superstar brother in the Drummondville finals
2010, and Gino went on to win in Quebec City as well. But
Carlo's 1-1-2 record edged out Gino's 1-1-3, giving Carlo
an unprecedented three Quebec Cups in a row. Carlo can justly
lay claim to being the greatest Coleco player of all time.
Drummondville 2010: Gino Defeats
Carlo in Final
But Carlo Clinches Third Consecutive Quebec Cup
Best Meets Worst
I consider myself fortunate to be playing
on the HTQ tour, competing against the huge talents of this
generation of Quebecois players, and witnessing the greatness
of today's Coleco champions. My best HTQ result this season
was 5th (in Sherbrooke), while Carlo's worst result was
also 5th (in Quebec). It's a thrill to cross paths with
Carlo any which way, and it's even kind of inspiring to
know that my best was as good as his worst this season!
Anyone who wants to play classic Coleco
5380 table hockey (nowadays Labelle-Coleco and Carleco boards)
at the absolute highest levels, must compete in an HTQ tournament.
Or arrange to be a guest in the hospitable but brutal Montreal
league, which is basically equivalent to playing in the
A-pool at an HTQ event. Either way, you will encounter the
Bossio brothers. You will probably emerge on the short end
of the score, but you will experience the ultra-high-end
of talented play in this fiercely competitive and formidably
Chez Bossio: Montreal league date,
Congratulations to Carlo and Gino for sustaining
such a high standard of table-hockey, and for being unbeatable
in this 2009-10 season. A la prochaine, mes amis!
Hockey Sur Table Quebec