Matthew Bolton completed another unique double when he added the 2019 Australian National Snooker Championship title to the national billiards crown he claimed in June.
Held at the RACV Club in Melbourne, home of the upcoming World Billiards Championship in October, players from across the country contested this prestigious annual Australian Billiards and Snooker Council event that was first played for in 1953.
Bolton, who briefly spent a short spell on the professional circuit courtesy of winning the Oceania Snooker Championship a few seasons ago, got his campaign off to a fine start as breaks of 61 and 51 helped him defeat Robin Beggs 4-0. Finishing off with an effort of 126 he eliminated Stan Gorski 4-2 in the last 16 and then registered a top run of 59 ending Shaun Dalitz’s hopes in the quarter-finals, 4-0.
Returning for ‘Finals Day’, the 40-year-old from Perth in Western Australia put on an excellent performance to dismiss last year’s runner-up Charlie Chafe 5-2 in the last four, compiling breaks of 54, 137, 124 and 50.
During the same session, 2016 winner James Mifsud sealed his spot in the final after ousting Kurt Dunham 5-4, despite Dunham crafting a 136 in the second frame of the match. This temporarily stood as the tournament’s highest break before Bolton bettered it by one point not long after.
The opening frame of the final went to Bolton, although Mifsud levelled with the aid of a 46. Bolton then went into the mid-session interval 3-1 up, and although his opponent closed the gap when taking frame five on the last black, contributions of 60, 55 and 52 got him over the line as a comfortable 6-2 victor and saw him lift the trophy for the second time in his career.
Dave Collins and Steve Mifsud have previously won both the Australian National billiards and snooker titles in the same year, but Bolton, who also secured both in 2014, becomes the first player in history to have achieved the feat twice.
Woods and Lynch Win Women’s Championships
Earlier in the month, defending champion Jessica Woods won her sixth Australian National Women’s Snooker Championship at SA Snooker Venue in Adelaide.
Cueists from five different states featured in the event with the players initially split into round robin groups. Woods was supreme as she eased into the knockouts after winning all four of her group games 2-0.
New South Wales’ Woods eliminated Carlie Tait 3-0 in the quarter-finals, and despite dropping her first frame of the championship, she defeated Theresa Whitten 4-1 in the last four, a match in which she recorded a 52 break.
Her opponent in the final was Taylor Meyer, who had come through three consecutive deciding frame finishes to make it there. However, Woods remained relentless and retained the trophy following a 4-0 victory. She has now won this event the last six times she has entered it.
At the same venue before the snooker event, Anna Lynch got the better of Caroline Ruscitti by 255 to 222 in a ninety minutes final to triumph in the Australian National Women’s Billiards Championship. Lynch had previously won all three of her group games before denying Lyndal Ellement in the semi-finals. During the final she also made the highest break of the event with an effort of 54.
Photo credits: George Spiteri, Matt Huart
Welcome back to our monthly international round-up feature that reports on the latest tournament news from across the globe, including nations who are a part of the World Snooker Federation structure. This month we cover events from three different continents.
In case you missed it, you can read our April edition edition HERE.
Isle of Man (Isle of Man Billiards and Snooker Association)
John Kennish produced an astonishing comeback in the final to win the 2019 Isle of Man Snooker Championship.
A tournament that ran throughout the domestic season, Kennish serenely qualified top of his group before eliminating Nick Stephens (4-0), Paul Smyth (4-1) and then Tom Miller (4-1) in the knockouts to reach yet another island final. In a repeat of the 2018 title decider, Kennish faced the 2015 European Under-21 champion and former professional Darryl Hill.
Defending champion Hill was coasting towards retaining the title as he went 4-0 up in the best-of-nine frames clash. However, after the interval, Kennish stunned his young opponent by stringing together five straight frames to take the trophy for the fourth time.
Slovakia (Slovak Billiard Association)
Qualifier Jakub Koniar won the Slovakian National Snooker Championship for a second time.
Held across three days at the Elite Snooker Club in the capital city of Bratislava, 32 players made up the final stages of the competition. Due to his national ranking before the event, Koniar was unseeded and therefore had to play a qualifying match to reach the main draw.
After duly navigating that hurdle, the 26-year-old eliminated back-to-back defending champion Balazs Koles, 4-0, in the first round with a brace of half-centuries. Koniar subsequently dispatched Danijel Vranjes (4-2), Marian Kepsta (4-0), Martin Kollar (4-1) and then Kevin Cizmarovic (4-1) in the final to win the title five years on from when he first did so.
Belarus (Belarusian Association of Billiard Sports)
Held at the Classic Club in Minsk, Aleksandr Kostkovec claimed a record sixth Belarus Championship.
The annual showcase featured a double elimination format with eight players eventually making it through to the knockouts. Kostkovec qualified for those quarter-finals from the winners’ section, getting the better of reigning champion Vladislav Romanovski in a deciding frame along the way. Romanovski’s defence later ended in the last eight when he lost to Sergey Vasiliev.
Kostkovec then enjoyed 3-0 victories over Alexey Shirokov and Vasiliev in the quarter and semi-finals respectively before pipping Yevgeniy Saltovski, 3-2, in the final, to re-capture the crown he last won in 2016.
Earlier in the season Yana Shut won her third national women’s snooker title when she defeated Albina Leaschuk in the final.
Latvia (Latvian Republic Billiards Federation)
Youth overcame experience in the final of the 2019 Latvian National Championship as 18-year-old Arturs Kengis tasted his maiden success in the event.
In what was the 24th edition of the competition, a total of 43 hopefuls entered. Due to his position inside the top eight of the national rankings, Kengis was seeded through to the last 16. In the semi-finals he ended the hopes of Latvia’s number one ranked player and a previous owner of this title, Maris Volajs, 4-2.
The final paired Kengis against another former champion, Sergej Sergejev. The teenager – a winner of the National 6-Red title in 2018 – controlled proceedings throughout as he enjoyed a comfortable 7-1 triumph.
Finland (Finnish Billiard Federation)
Amid a festival of different cuesports disciplines and categories at the Finnish Billiard Federation’s recent ‘Finals Weekend’, the destiny of the national snooker championship for 2019 was discovered with Jani Kananen being the last player standing.
The snooker event began in the opening weekend of May when 78 players were whittled down to just four; all of whom qualified for the showpiece event at the Culture House in Helsinki.
Kananen dropped just two frames in his opening three matches before stopping 2017 winner Patrik Tiihonen, 4-2, in the quarter-finals. Having made his way to the capital city later in the month, Kananen saw off Jyri Virtanen, 4-1, in the semi-finals and then Antti Tolvanen – last year’s runner-up to Robin Hull – 4-2, in the final to secure the title for the first time.
Australia (Australian Billiards and Snooker Council)
Peter McCullagh defeated Joe Minici to win the 2019 Australian National Masters Championship for players aged 40 and over.
Regular host the Mingara Recreation Club in Tumbi Umbi staged the four-day annual event that featured 49 players from five different states. Western Australia’s McCullagh, who played on the professional circuit for ten consecutive seasons between 1991-2001, qualified top of his round robin group after winning all three of his fixtures without dropping a frame.
As one of the top seeds McCullagh advanced straight into the last 16 knockouts where he whitewashed Andrew Siddons, 4-0, before eliminating Steve Ebejer, 4-2, in the quarter-finals. His toughest assignment came in the semi-finals when he met former winner, Glen Wilkinson. In going 3-2 up and on the brink of victory Wilkinson crafted the tournament’s highest break of 119, however, McCullagh managed to win the last two frames and advance to the final.
New South Wales’ Minici was featuring in the final for the fourth time in five years but looking to lift the trophy for the first time since 2012. The opening four frames were split but McCullagh finished stronger with breaks 47 and 56 to record a 5-2 victory and regain the title he last won two years ago.
A few weeks earlier during April at the Brunswick Club in Melbourne, Matt Curwood defended the Australian Under-21 Snooker Championship when he defeated Josh Burns 5-0 in the final. Teah Raeburn ousted Lilly Meldrum 3-2 to win the Australian Under-21 Women’s Championship while in the three-ball discipline Marc Fridman denied Burns to win the National Under-21 Billiards Championship.
Japan (Japan Snooker Association)
The 18th Japan National Snooker Championship recently took place in Ikebukuro, Tokyo and was won by Hiroshi Matsumura for the first time.
After advancing through the earlier rounds 48-year-old Matsumura defeated Julian Serradilla in the last four and then Keiichi Sudo in the final. Takao Kurimoto was the other losing semi-finalist.
A former professional pool player, Kyoto based native Matsumura started playing on the bigger sized baize a decade ago and is now a coach to youngsters at his local club. Two years ago, he reached the final but lost to Keishin Kamihashi, who went on to defend the title in 2018. Kamihashi has been an entrant at the recent Q-School in Wigan.