The Story of Billy and Dave and International Standard Carrom, Volume One, 1986 – 1996

Late eighties: Dave learns carrom in Nepal. Billy learns carrom in Sri Lanka. They don’t know each other.

Early 90’s: Dave makes a few carrom boards. Plays with friends at the camp for 10 years, kicking ass and taking the names of all of his future 2Square customers. Billy travels, meets more carrom players around the world, gets connected up with ICF India, International Carrom Federation.Meets cool players from all over Europe, and hatches the idea for an international tournament, ‘It’s time for me to have a global tournament in the US, invite all the best players, get on TV, and make this game famous!). 

Spring 1996: Billy organizes 1996 US Open International Carrom Tournament for July in Raleigh NC. (video below). By coincidence, Dave becomes aware of the tournament and calls Billy in NC  in mid April. They meet in NC in April 1996 and can’t believe another white guy loves carrom as much as the other does. Everything is totally karmic and meant to happen of course. Dave says ‘I want to start my carrom company and make all the boards for the best players in the world!’. Billy says, ‘That would be so cool to play on American boards!’.

Early May, 1996: Dave makes test board and in May 1996 tests are performed with experienced Indian NC locals and extra finicky Germans flown in to prove they are right about everything. Approvals are given when their initially peevish but eventually mellower demands are met. The carrom gods sing.

May 15th  July 12, 1996 – Dave stays in his Meredith worksop for 76,000 straight and burns through 3) Porter Cable sanders, 2) 2 3/4 hp Makita 1/2 routers, 3) bags of HWP, and listens to the Bodeans Joe Dirt album nonstop for 57 days.

I don’t think I had time to change the tape. The results are below. Welcome.

July 1996: The first ever International Standard Carrom Tournament is held on US soil. India wins. Nagsen Etambe was the singles champion. He shook Billy’s hand, and took one of my 6/96 series 2Square ‘Tournament’ model Carromboards – the first carromboards of their kind ever manufactured in America – back home to Mumbai. He hung it on the wall in his living room. Last time I heard from Nagsen, he told me he has never played it again.

Unfortunately, all planned media coverage  for the tournament was sidetracked by a weekend hurricane. But the players all had a blast. Evidence in videao below.

July 1996: Billy Stevens, Srinivas Mallishetty, and Dave Maccrellish formally founded the United States Carrom Association. It is still thriving. At high point, Billy and Dave win US Doubles championships over Narayan Paranjape and US Champion Amit Kelkar in Dedham MA in 1999.

March 2016: Dave and Billy travel together to India for two weeks. Dave meets many of the top level carrom manufacturers and players. Dave takes 3-day training with Arun Deshpande in Thane, India. Arun recommends a change of grip for long term improvement in control. Dave begins to implement changes in his game.

May 1996: playing without practice or confidence, Dave fails break the top 40 in the 80-person field at the US National Championships. He is, after 20 years, one of a few non-Indian players in the room.


And below: is my old friend GDog explaining how fun carrom is. If further explanation is still required, just turn your sound back up and click play again, lol. Yer welcome. GDog certainly seems to be having a lot of fun in the video. It would have been a lot more fun for me that night if I had kicked GDogs cackling Texan ass like I usually do.

But alas – it was not to be that night. We don’t bother to keep game score anymore but he definitely won. It seems my visit to Arun Deshpande in Mumbai in March for ‘advanced strategic carrom study’ – and a grip change- while delightful, has advanced my game to a full stop. I did not break the top 40 at the last Nationals in May 2016. By contrast, back In 1999 Billy and I were National Doubles champions. We got as high as 8th in doubles Internationally at the 2000 French Open (allo Denis!). We could be pretty darn tough back in the day. Billy and I always had an easy teamwork

But last spring, If I remember correctly, I was out of the tournament and washing the chai pots in the conference room by 2:00. I was napping in my room by 2:30. Out. A broken shell of my long ago carrom self. Now I know how Tiger feels. My personal plea to the TWoodster: come back to Augusta strong in April and grind Speith’s face into the trap at 18 with your heel. Pretty please? My faith in an old timer’s ability to kick serious ass is in need of restoration. Tell you what – help me get my grip back? I’ll help you with your putting.

Take it away, GDog: