Declan Lavery defended the Northern Ireland Amateur Snooker Championship last weekend after a thrilling 10-9 deciding frame victory over youngster Robbie McGuigan in the final.
With a proud history dating back to as far as 1927, this is one of the world’s oldest national snooker championships. Former winners include 1972 and 1982 world champion Alex Higgins and 2018 Masters champion Mark Allen.
Organised by the Northern Ireland Billiards and Snooker Association (NIBSA) – a member of the World Snooker Federation (WSF) – the event was moved from its original date in the spring due to the coronavirus pandemic. Featuring a total of 90 competitors, it was held over three consecutive weekends at the Antrim Sports Club. Sections of the draw were completed across the opening weekends before the eight remaining cueists returned for the conclusion.
Reigning champion Lavery was a man on a mission in Antrim, dropping just one frame on his way to the final. The 36-year-old first defeated John Robinson 3-0, Paschal McKenna 3-1 and Brian Milne 4-0 to book his place at ‘Finals Weekend’. There he continued his campaign with clean sweeps of Darren Dornan 5-0 in the last eight and Stephen Brady 6-0 in the semis. In the previous round Brady had eliminated former top 16 star and two-time Crucible semi-finalist Joe Swail 5-2. Swail – runner-up in this event twice before – missed the 15th black (113) during a maximum attempt in the last 32.
Lavery’s opponent was exciting 16-year-old prospect McGuigan, who was aiming to become the youngest ever winner of this title. Already a Challenge Tour event finalist, McGuigan crafted a plethora of breaks on his way through, which featured a 5-1 quarter-final win over former professional and seven-times winner Patrick Wallace and then a gripping 6-5 pink ball triumph over Raymond Fry in the last four.
A Fantastic Final
The first four frames of the two-session final were shared with both players making a half-century. McGuigan then compiled breaks of 110 and 76 in two of the next three frames which sandwiched Lavery’s effort of 57 in frame six, but it was the latter who finished the first session stronger as he claimed the final two frames for a 5-4 lead.
On resumption, Lavery swelled his advantage, moving one away from glory at 9-5 up. However, impressive McGuigan refused to quit, stringing together four consecutive frames including back-to-back breaks of 128 and then 132 (the two highest breaks of the tournament) to force a decider.
Despite this onslaught of scoring from his rival, though, Lavery composed himself in the last frame. An initial run of 46 helped him take early control of the decider which he later converted into victory and a successful defence of the championship.
Winner Lavery said “I played great up to the final winning 18 frames in a row, followed by the opening frame of the final. Then it was about hanging on to Robbie.”
“I couldn’t believe I was 5-4 up as he played some great snooker in the first session. I took control at 9-5 and should have killed the match off but he cleared twice and then made two of the best breaks I’ve ever seen in about only ten minutes for 9-9. Robbie is already a fantastic player but he will only get better the next couple of years and I really fancy him to go to the top tier of the sport.”
“I’m really proud the way I held myself together in the decider and over the moon to retain my title. It might be hard to get the hat-trick next year, though, with Robbie being another year older!”
Tournament Director Simon Cooke added “We got to witness a great match between Declan and Robbie. Massive thanks to all those who helped out behind the scenes in order to run and showcase the tournament, the staff at Antrim Sports Club for their hospitality and Rory Mallon from RTM Mortgages who sponsored the event.”
Full results from the championship can be accessed via WPBSA SnookerScores.
Article by Michael Day.
In the final part of our round-up looking at national snooker events that have taken place over recent weeks, we travel to Turkey, Iceland, the Isle of Man, Ukraine and Wales.
Enes Bakirci won the 2020 Turkish Snooker Championship at the Bilardo Akademisi in Istanbul last month.
A total of 71 players from across the country competed in the third staging of this week-long event. The top eight seeds automatically went through to the last 32 knockout phase and were joined by qualifiers that emerged from groups at the start of the week.
Bakirci lived up to his billing as the pre-tournament favourite dropping just one frame – during his 3-1 defeat of Melih Egemen in the quarter-finals – on his way to the title. In the last four he eliminated Yilmaz Senel 4-0 and then repeated that scoreline against Serdar Istanbullu in the final. In reaching the final, Istanbullu survived two deciding frame finishes before getting the better of Kivanc Karahan 4-2 in the semi-finals.
A competitor at this year’s EBSA European Amateur Championships in Portugal, Bakirci also registered the competition’s highest break of 108.
The predominant cuesport in Turkey is currently Carom, but snooker continues to grow in the country and there are plans to hold more of these types of event each year. Players as young as 11-years-old featured in the Championship.
It was a case of third time’s a charm for Thorri Jensson when he claimed his maiden Icelandic Snooker Championship.
Runner-up in 2012 and 2016, Jensson was the first new winner of the tournament in 12 years. Held at the Billiard Barinn in Reykjavík, the top 16 players from the national rankings were invited to compete.
Jensson defeated Jonas Jonasson 5-2 and then Gunnar Hreidarsson 5-3 before a 7-3 triumph over last year’s beaten finalist Jon Ingi Ægisson in the semi-finals.
Returning the following weekend, Jensson faced Guðbjörn Gunnarsson in the final who had seen off Unnar Bragason 7-5 in the other last four tie.
Gunnarsson took the opening frame on the black and then doubled his lead, but Jensson came back and would end the first session 5-3 up. On resumption he went up a gear, crafting breaks of 88 and 63 to run out a 9-4 victor.
A winner of this competition 14 times, reigning champion Kristjan Helgason did not enter due to injury. However, earlier in the season Jensson got the better of the former professional and Crucible qualifier in another Icelandic ranking event – Helgason’s first domestic loss in the country for 10 years.
Isle of Man
Former EBSA European under-21 champion Darryl Hill regained the Isle of Man Snooker Championship – the fifth time he has captured the island’s most prestigious title.
Played throughout the domestic season, 24-year-old Hill qualified top of his group without dropping a frame. He continued that sequence with a 4-0 victory over Paul Smith in the last eight, but was taken all the way by Sean Corkish before coming through a decider in the semi-finals 4-3.
For the third year in a row Hill would clash with fellow four-time winner John Kennish in the final. Kennish stunned Hill in last year’s showpiece when he recovered from 4-0 down to win 5-4, and he booked his place in the 2020 title match when he eliminated Peter Crellin 4-1 in the other last four meeting.
However, 2016 World Snooker Tour Rookie of the Year Hill gained revenge with a 5-3 win at the Douglas Snooker Bar, finishing off with a 53 break in the last frame.
Several national junior champions have been crowned over the last few weeks.
Iulian Boiko warmed up for his upcoming professional debut by winning all his matches to claim the Ukrainian Under-21 Championship. Mykyta Rudenko came in second.
Elsewhere in Ukraine, Kiril Baidala defeated Artem Surzhykov in the final of the under-18s championship and Marharyta Lisovenko finished ahead of second placed Oleksandra Yudchits to become the under-16 girls’ champion.
In Wales, Liam Davies won the Welsh under-14, 16 and 18 championships with respective final victories over Riley Powell (3-0), Ollie Briffett Payne (3-2) and Luke James (3-2).
Davies nearly completed a unique quadruple but his bid for the under-21 accolade was ended by Dylan Emery in the final. Emery – a semi-finalist at this year’s World Snooker Federation Open in Malta – registered runs of 56 and 64 in a 3-0 success.
Our thanks to everyone that contributed to this edition.
Just like other sports, snooker’s international amateur scene came to a sudden halt earlier this year due to the global Covid-19 pandemic. However, as lockdowns and restrictions eventually eased, national competitions were deemed safe to resume in several countries.
In a two-part series rounding up the action, we focus on such events that have taken place during the European summertime.
One to look out for in the future is nine-year-old Matvei Lagodzinschii who won this year’s Moldavian National Snooker Championship and made the highest break of the event.
An emerging snooker nation, 28 players started out at the Classic Billiard Club in Chisinau for this the second edition of the tournament.
Lagodzinschii came through his opening round 3-0 before constructing impressive breaks of 81 and 52 as he dispatched Alexei Balan 3-2 in the last eight. In the semi-finals he defeated 11-year-old Vladislav Gradinari 4-2 and then dethroned defending champion Pavel Baciu 4-1 in the final.
Earlier this year Lagodzinschii won a match at the WSF Junior Open in Malta and qualified for the knockout stages of the EBSA European Under-18 Championship in Portugal. He also scored a victory in the under-21 category.
Having taken up the sport initially as a six-year-old, Lagodzinschii regularly travels to Kiev, Ukraine to play with 14-year-old newly inducted professional Iulian Boiko.
Teenager Jovan Todorovic now holds all the major accolades in Serbia after claiming the national championship there for the first time earlier this summer.
Held at the Snooker Federation of Serbia’s academy base in Belgrade, the ninth staging of the event featured the country’s top eight ranked players. 16-year-old Todorovic – who is ranked number one in both the national junior and main rankings and is the national junior champion – registered runs of 92, 71 and 67 as he eliminated Leo Vig 5-2 in the first round.
In the last four he saw off Serbia’s number two ranked junior cueist Vasilije Pesic 5-0 with efforts of 70 and 51 before a 6-1 success over four-time winner Marko Stoilkovic in the final confirmed him as the youngest ever winner of this title. In a previous round Stoilkovic made the highest break of 100.
Todorovic went on a brilliant run at the WSF Junior Open in January where he reached the quarter-finals before losing 4-2 to eventual runner-up Sean Maddocks.
It was a perfect ten for Martyn Desperques (image by Tom Videlo) as he reclaimed the Guernsey National Snooker Championship at the Gremlin Club in St. Peter Port last weekend.
During the opening two rounds – held before the coronavirus lockdown – Desperques didn’t drop a frame on his way through, making a break of 104 during his last 16 match with Colin Gilbert.
The remaining rounds were completed in recent weeks. In the quarter-finals he defeated Seb Priaulx 3-0 to set up a meeting with defending champion and long-time rival Adam Shorto. The pair have contested several finals on the island over the last two decades, including the previous three in this tournament. Desperques was triumphant in 2017 and 2018, but he avenged his loss in 2019 with a 4-2 win on this occasion to reach yet another title match.
In the final he faced two-time champion Glenn Le Provost. Despite relinquishing the opening frame, Desperques ran out a 5-2 victor to secure the trophy for a tenth time. He is now just two behind the all-time record holder Norman Wale who captured it 12 times during the 1950s and 60s.
Kate Le Gallez won the Guernsey Ladies Snooker Championship for a third consecutive year after defeating Becci Walsh 3-0 in the final.
Article by Michael Day.
Daniel Kandi produced a string of impressive breaks on his way to securing an eighth Danish National Snooker Championship at the Copenhagen Pool and Snooker House last weekend.
The 36-year-old from Sæby went into the event as the defending champion and top seed. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the tournament was rescheduled and shortened, but that didn’t bother Kandi who lived up to his billing as the favourite, dropping just three frames across five rounds.
In the first round he defeated Casper Petersen 3-0 before constructing breaks of 128 – the competition’s highest – and 92 as he eliminated Hari Prasad Subedi by the same score line in the last 16.
Returning for finals day, renowned trance DJ Kandi lost the opening frame of his quarter-final tie with Allan Norvark, but an effort of 78 in the next got him on course for a 3-1 victory. Another final berth was later assured following a 3-1 triumph over Allan Bruun, where Kandi once again demonstrated his scoring prowess with runs of 125 and 63.
His opponent in the championship match was the number two seed and debut finalist Per Micki Christensen. Kandi was relatively comfortable throughout; breaks of 65 and 102 – his third century of the weekend – helped him establish a 3-0 lead, and although EBSA Level 1 Coach Christensen got on the board after a tight pink ball finish in frame four, the champion retained the title with a 96 in the next.
During this event in 2018, eventual victor Kandi compiled a 147 maximum break – the first time the feat had been achieved in a competitive match in Denmark.
2020 Danish National Snooker Championship – Results from the quarter-finals onwards
Daniel Kandi 3-1 Allan Norvark
Allan Bruun 3-2 Michael Orbech Larsen
Martin Sondergaard 2-3 Asif Iqbal
Jakob Lund Andersen 2-3 Per Micki Christensen
Kandi 3-1 Bruun
Iqbal 0-3 Christensen
Kandi 4-1 Christensen
Image used courtesy of Mikkel Bo Rasmussen/1st Down Photo
The World Snooker Federation (WSF) is today pleased to announce Russia as the latest country to become a WSF member.
Russia has seen the popularity of snooker increase significantly in recent years with both male and female players making an impact on the international stage.
Following positive talks with representatives of the Federation of Billiards Sport of Russia (FBSR), the WSF is now delighted to be able to welcome Russia to its international network. Both parties are confident that this will help further promote the development of snooker in Russia and provide opportunities for its elite players to compete at the sport’s most prestigious events.
Earlier this month 21-year-old Ivan Kakovskiy made his debut at the professional Betfred World Snooker Championship, impressing many by claiming three frames against six-time World Championship finalist and current World Seniors Snooker Champion Jimmy White. His selection was merited after he claimed his fifth national title in six years, having emerged from a 57-player field at the Polygon Billiards Club in Moscow.
At the 2019 World Women’s Snooker Championship, 11-year-old Ksenia Zhukova became one of the youngest women to win a match at the sport’s biggest tournament for female players, successfully qualifying from the group stages before losing to former world under-21 champion Varshaa Sanjeev at the last 24 stage.
Jason Ferguson, WSF President said: “It is a great honour for us to welcome Russia to our federation. There is real passion for billiards sports in Russia and the team at the FBSR should be highly commended for the way in which they are developing young talented players in the region. I look forward to the day when a player from Russia qualifies to the full World Snooker Tour.”
Sergei Riabinin, Vice-President of the FBSR said: “We are very happy to join the WSF and believe that this will help our best players to reach the professional World Snooker Tour in the future.”