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.”
Snooker enthusiasts on the Isle of Man are eagerly awaiting the opening of a new top-class facility where they will be able to play to their heart’s content.
Located in Ballasalla in the south of the island, The Cue Zone IOM will span an area of 7,500 square feet across two levels. The groundbreaking cuesports venue will house seven full-sized snooker tables and three smaller six-foot training tables, as well as American and English pool amenities. The ambitious project is the brainchild of former island professional Darryl Hill.
“My family always used to say when I was playing on the English junior tour that it would be great to have a venue of our own. We’d say it a bit tongue in cheek, although we did have a serious think about it several years ago, but when I turned pro we forgot it all and I concentrated on that.” said the 2015 EBSA European Under-21 champion.
“Now, though, with limited venues on the island, this is the right time for a facility like this to open. It is needed to get junior and new players into the sport and for our coaches to operate properly. It will also allow the island’s top players to knuckle down and prepare for major amateur events that we travel to. It will be a venue that the Isle of Man has never had before.
“Whilst we want to keep the venue social for all ages and abilities, I have veered towards a state-of-the-art academy style centre of excellence that is based on similar models I have seen before. ‘The Arena’ will hold seven snooker tables, one being the first, and only, XingPai table on the island with an enclosed seated viewing area. In total we will have four ‘competition’ tables with steel block cushions, while the other three will be for all abilities to enjoy.
“I am working with the chairman of our association – who is also the island’s head coach – and he has agreed for us to house the association’s small training tables where we can hold junior coaching but still take them to schools for sessions too.
“The Cue Zone IOM will also feature an American Pool table, its own ‘Pool Lounge’ that has four smaller English Pool tables and a separate lounge/dining area with a TV where we will serve hot and cold drinks and meals.”
Problems Overcome and a Bright Future Ahead
Hill’s vision was put on hold in recent months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but with restrictions lifted over the last few weeks, he is hoping that the ribbon will soon be cut.
“The pandemic hit us at the wrong time. We planned a launch night on Good Friday (10th April) and we had Stuart Bingham – who I got friendly with when I was on the pro tour – to officially open it. Sadly, when we went into lockdown we had to down tools with jobs left to complete, although things have opened up again here and we have been able to get back to it. Some equipment is still on the mainland and with the situation there different it is proving difficult to get it across.
“We are anticipating opening in July, however I will only do it when everything is right. Stuart is still on hand to attend an evening here in the future when the situation allows him to.
“My family and I have received a lot of support from key individuals and skilled workpeople. The building was not in great condition originally and it has taken a mammoth team effort to make it the venue it is now. We are very grateful for everyone’s help – thank you!”
The Manxman is positive about the prospects of snooker on the Isle of Man and believes the new venue will have a big impact on hosting new, exciting events for all.
“This will hopefully generate further interest in the sport here – bringing in new players and enticing former ones back. Now we have the capacity under one roof, we can run competitions and hopefully re-establish international friendlies and challenge matches that we used to run in the 1980’s. I have already had positive talks with Northern and the Republic of Ireland about these. Now we have top quality tables in almost perfect condition, it feels like the possibilities are endless for Isle of Man cuesports.”
Main Tour Return
In terms of his own playing career, 24-year-old Hill is upbeat about the future and getting back into the big time after a frustrating end to his maiden stint as a professional.
“When I turned pro after winning the European Under-21s in 2015 I hit the ground running in the first season, reaching number 75 in the world and winning the Rookie of the Year award.
“Unfortunately, my second season was hit with major health problems as I developed Ulcerative Colitis which along with Crohn’s Disease is Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Because of many hospital visits and procedures, I wasn’t playing or willing to travel much, and by the end of my second year I had lost a lot of love for the game and wasn’t fussed about returning to the tour.
“After some time out my condition settled, and I got on top of it. I was told it could take five years to sort but I seem to have sorted myself after 18 months to two years. I’ve now started playing in big amateur events again including the World Snooker Federation Open in Malta in January. I’ve really enjoyed going back and seeing everyone involved with the organisation of them.
“I haven’t performed well enough for what I was hoping, but I do feel that moving my table in the club and finally being in a proper environment that I’ve always wanted will give me a push and enable me to get back challenging in the latter stages of big events.
“Maybe there will be a return to the tour, but one thing I would love this new venue to do is encourage those players that are capable of performing well in international events to travel to them. We can then go to these together and cheer each other on. The Isle of Man has achieved strong results in team events before and we’d like to do that more often in the future, so I rather think the venue will also be a second wind for me as well!”
Promising youngster Rodion Judin was in a league of his own as he claimed the Latvian National Snooker Championship for a fifth time last weekend.
Held at the Hotel A1 in the capital city of Riga, over 40 players took part in the event organised by the Latvian Billiards Federation, a member of the World Snooker Federation.
Judin – winner of this title for the first time in 2014 – made his intentions clear from the start, coasting through the groups stage and opening knockout rounds. The 22-year-old dropped his first frame of the tournament against Andrejs Pripjoks in the last four but still ran out a comfortable 4-1 victor.
The final was a repeat of the title decider from two years previously as 2015 winner Maris Volajs ousted Aleksandrs Zaicevs via a deciding frame in the other semi-final affair. Judin eased into a 5-0 lead, and although Volajs avoided a whitewash, the Salaspils cueist had plenty to spare with a 7-2 triumph.
Judin has featured as a wildcard in the professional Kaspersky Riga Masters on multiple occasions and regularly competes in major international amateur events. Last year he won several matches at Q-School and earlier this year he qualified for the knockout stages of the World Snooker Federation Open in Malta.
“I’m glad to have won what is my 16th national title overall (across different categories) and hope there are many more to come. I would like to dedicate this win to my fiancée Alena,” said Judin.
2020 Latvian National Snooker Championship
Results from the quarter-finals onwards
Maris Volajs 4-1 Anna Prisjazhnuka
Aleksejs Jankovskis 2-4 Aleksandrs Zaicevs
Nikita Bazilevichs 3-4 Andrejs Pripjoks
Sergey Soversennijs 0-4 Rodion Judin
Volajs 4-3 Zaicevs
Pripjoks 1-4 Judin
Volajs 2-7 Judin