|From Boston NABC Bulliten for Wednesday, November 24, 1999|
Barrow shatters Top 500 record
Jim Barrow of Lake Charles LA has broken the record for the most masterpoints earned in a year, officially referred to as the Barry Crane Top 500 masterpoint contest.
Barrow, who was a member of a winning knockout team Tuesday evening, earned enough masterpoints in the event to surpass the 15-year-old record of 3270 points established by Grant Baze. Barrow's unofficial total now stands at 3282 masterpoints.
"It's a full-time job," said Barrow, who has planned to perform this feat for many years.
"I first tried this in 1980, but at the time I wasn't experienced enough and, more importantly, I forgot to ask Barry Crane's permission." Crane, the renowned matchpoint wizard, dominated the contest for decades and was such a force that he frequently decided who would win the race (if he didn't do so himself) by playing with a particular person that he would designate as that year's heir-apparent.
"I think I hurt his feelings by not asking, too" said Barrow who finished second in the 1980 race.
With Crane's murder in 1985, the cult-of-personality that so influenced the contest disappeared, but Barrow would have to wait several years for another opportunity to win the race to present itself.
Barrow, 57, decided he wanted to wait for a year in which he had the time and the money to pursue the race full-time. He also wanted to keep a day-to-day journal of the race in order to write a book about his experiences.
"A woman named Kay Blake, from Lake Charles, is putting together a book for me based on my notes," said Barrow. "I don't expect it to be a money maker, but there might be some players interested in reading about what the daily grind is like."
Barrow said that he has played with 150-175 partners and teammates over the course of 1999. He has semi-regular partnerships with David Adams, John Potter, Jim Robison, Hugh McLean and David Siebert, and Phil Brady. Brady was on the team that put him over the top, along with Jim Murphy, Dar Afdahl, Judi Cody and JoAnne Casen.
"I knew that I would win this race unless someone like Soloway or Meckstroth set out to win the thing themselves. But it's a lot of work, a lot of travel and it wasn't always fun. In order to break the record, I knew that I'd have to win 75-80 masterpoints a week. Even when I did well at a regional, I knew I'd have to get up the next morning, travel to a new tournament and do it all over again."
The quest was a personal one for Barrow, but despite the tiring, year-long schedule, he seems philosophical about the race.
"I don't equate it with a national or world championship. It was just for fun."