As we announced back in December, the Greater Iowa Bowling Association 11thFrame.com Open at Cherry Lanes inside the Diamond Jo Casino in Dubuque, Iowa, is set for Aug 21-23, 2020.
How it happens and even if it happens are questions that can’t be answered right now as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact the U.S. — far more in some areas than others.
Update Aug. 7, 2020: Cherry Lanes opened on Friday, Aug. 7, and barring some dramatic changes in the situation in Iowa, the tournament will happen.
Update July 30, 2020: GIBA administrator Joe Engelkes announced that the 156-player field already was full, with 17 on the waiting list, even with the pandemic.
Engelkes said this in his email annoucing the tournament that:
“There will be a few limited restrictions which have worked well for other tournaments being held currently. We will have a table set up outside of the room where we have done check in for past tournaments. The tournament staff will wear masks and we will ask that bowlers try to socially distance as much as possible while checking in. We will still have 4 bowlers per pair of lanes, and ask that bowlers wait to move pairs until all the pairs are finished with each game so everyone can move at the same time. The tournament staff will work out of the room we have normally used during competition. We ask that bowlers limit the number of spectators attending with them to just one person.”
Update Aug. 7, 2020: Dubuque passed a local mask mandate starting Monday, Aug. 10 that means everyone inside the Diamond Jo complex will need to wear a mask at all times, except when eating and drinking and smoking, which is allowed only in the casino. That includes while bowling, as Engelkes detailed in this email:
"There will be a requirement in place for everyone in the bowling center to wear a mask. The City of Dubuque put in place an ordinance requiring masks in all public buildings and Cherry Lanes falls under that umbrella. All bowlers and spectators will be required to wear a mask. Bowlers will be allowed to lower their mask while on the approach, but must have it back in place when they exit the approach. There will be security guards in place to ensure compliance. Spectators will be allowed, but we would request a limit of one spectator per bowler."
The weekend again will feature a Friday sweeper, qualifying Saturday and semifinals and stepladder finals on Sunday. The formats have not changed from 2019 and are detailed lower in this story. The tournament's Facebook event page is here
Cherry Lanes General Manager Bob Hochrein has worked out a group rate deal starting at $85 per night for the Holiday Inn in downtown Dubuque that is about a 5-minute walk from the casino and center. The group booking is here.
We have been using the 2015 U.S. Open lane pattern as our base pattern since 2016, but the results have not been great after a great year in 2016
Update Aug. 8, 2020: Hochrein said he will be working on the pattern and hopes to give me information to post soon.
Update Aug. 14, 2020: Hochrein sent me a PDF of the lane pattern and it is attached to the bottom of this story as a PDF.
The pattern is similar to what we've used in the past few years at 43.5 feet with high volume of 37.38 mL of oil, which we need to hold up through 12 games on Sunday. The pattern is asymmetrical with a left side ratio of 1.43-1 and a right side ratio of 1.7-1 for the zones of 18-18 and 3-7 boards
The pattern is closest to the 2018 pattern, which was 43.5 feet, 37.58, 1.43-1 on the left and 1.66-1 on the right. In other words, the right should play a little softer.
Our goals always include not losing control of the lane (no excessive lofting) with 12 games on Sunday, as much equity as possible between left-handers and right-handers (the hardest thing to achieve in bowling), and a tough pattern with a relatively low scoring pace, though we gladly would accept a slightly higher scoring pace than preferred if it meant satisfying the first two things.
In 2016, the scoring pace was low (cut 1,196 and cash 1,191 for six games) but the left-handers really had it tough after dominating in 2015, with none making the top five.
In 2017, a different oil (the oil used in 2016 no longer was available) led to higher scores with no change in the pattern (cut 1,293 and cash 1,287), but still tough times for lefties: only Kyle Anderson made the top 48, though he made adjustments and with a big rally on Sunday finished 11th.
In 2018, a tweak of the pattern produced lower scores (cut 1,214, cash 1,208) and a decided advantage for lefties, who went 2-3-4 in qualifying and finished 3-5-6.
For 2019, we left the left side unchanged and tweaked the right side so the shot outside 5-board had slightly less hang, hopefully to provide more equity between the sides.
Unfortunately, it didn’t work: After Kyle Anderson won and left-handers took three of the top six spots in the sweeper on Friday, Hochrein made a slight tweak to the lane pattern, adding a little bit of volume to the left side.
That slowed the left-handers down a bit, but certainly didn’t shut them out as Anderson and Junior Team USA member Nate Stubler finished first and second in Saturday’s qualifying, and Stubler won the tournament.
Total sponsor money is down a bit this year, understandably so with the horrendous impact of the pandemic, but still will be at least $3,000 and the total prize money still will be well above total entry fees.
Engelkes increased the entry fee to $160 from $150 to try to keep the prize fund in line with last year, and every dollar of entry fees goes to the prize fund.
The only way to reserve a spot and make a squad and crossing bowler(s) request will be 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 319-260-1356 or 319-269-6909 or [email protected]. PayPal also can be used to enter.
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.
Flyers for the tournament and sweeper are attached to the bottom of this story as PDFs.
The sweeper, which replaced the practice session in 2016, starts at 5 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 21, 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.
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.
There will be optional prize funds for seniors and women similar to the GIBA Ebonite Classics, along with brackets and pot games. 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 $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. Since Stubler did not enter the Bet You Win pot last year, $530 carries over to this year's Bet You Win pot, Engelkes said.
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 of $400 again will lead to 10 $40 free slot play cards for non-cashers only. In past years, we have held a drawing for the 10 cards, but that won't be the case this year as I handled it and I am coming down only for Sunday's stepladder finals.
This year we plan to have the cards go to the top 10 non-cashers, who will need to check-in right after the cash number is official and must present a Diamond Joe player's card. I'll add details when they are finalized.
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: 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.
Logo Infusion is offering a 20 percent discount on jerseys ordered using the code GIBA20 through the end of the year, GIBA administrator Joe Engelkes said, adding that "Continued sponsorship from Logo Infusion will be based on the use of this discount code so if you are in need of a new jersey, please use this code when you place an order"
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 2020-21. 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 Brunswick and we thank Brunswick for graciously allowing my Storm-sponsored tournament — I have been on Storm’s staff since 1996 — to be part of the GIBA schedule.
At this point, I do not plan to bowl in the tournament — or anything — for quite a while, as I explained in this story.
My girlfriend Susie “Fever” Dyhr and I have issues that have us pondering when we again will be doing anything outside of working, hanging out at home, and doing essential things. (We both are able to work at home indefinitely.)
Susie’s dad is 80 with some serious underlying health conditions and he relies on her for many things for which he has no other good options. My mom is 87 and her husband is 91 and we help them out some as well, though they do have other options.
Basically, getting COVID-19 probably would be a death sentence for them. And that means Susie and I must do everything we can to avoid getting COVID-19.
We did get some N95 masks at Menards, so that makes me feel somewhat protected and I plan to come down for the stepladder finals to do a Facebook Live broadcast.