Jackson Page has realised his professional ambition courtesy of his dominant victory in the 2019 EBSA European Under-21 Snooker Championship earlier today in Eilat, Israel.
In recent years the talented Welsh teenager has been highlighted by many as one of the hottest properties on both the amateur and youth circuits. Among other titles and accolades, Page won the European Under-18 category in 2017 & 2018 and is the current Welsh amateur champion too. A practice partner of reigning world champion Mark Williams, he also reached the last 16 of the Paul Hunter Classic last summer.
Held in Israel for the first time, this year’s Under-21 event had a cosmopolitan feel to it with over seventy entries from twenty-six different countries taking part.
Page topped his group after winning all three of his round robin fixtures and progressed into the knockouts as one of the top seeds. There he continued his relentless assault on the championship by eliminating Richard Wienold (Germany) 4-0, Attila Horváth (Hungary) 4-0 and Hamim Hussain (England) 4-0 to reach the semi-finals with relative ease.
In the final four Page came up against the Republic of Ireland’s Aaron Hill, the player who had just succeeded him as the new European Under-18 champion at this same venue a few days previously. However, Hill’s hopes of a historic double were brushed aside as he lost 4-0. It meant that Page had reached the final with the loss of just the single frame he relinquished in the group stages.
His opponent in the final was fellow 17-year-old Ross Bulman, who was keeping alive the dream of dual Irish youth glory. Bulman, like Page, had advanced throughout the tournament undefeated. He secured his berth in the final following a 4-2 success over Dylan Emery (Wales) – the losing finalist to Hill in the Under-18s on Tuesday.
Runner-up to Alexander Ursenbacher in this competition in 2017, Page settled down well in the final, opening an ominous looking 3-0 lead with the aid of 63 and 65 breaks. ‘Action’ Jackson also looked poised to chalk up frame four, but a gutsy snatch 34 clearance to the pink by Bulman made the scoreline look competitive going into the mid-session interval.
Page was unperturbed by this minor setback, though. On the resumption it was business as usual as he crafted a break of 57 to move one away before sealing the title in a virtuoso finish with a run of 102 for a 5-1 win. He had also made the tournament’s highest break – a run of 129 – during the last sixteen.
The youngster follows in the footsteps of previous European youth champions such as Mark Allen, Michael White and Luca Brecel. Page is the first winner of this event from Wales since it was rebranded from Under-19 to Under-21 in 2011.
Claiming the championship means that Page has lived up to the widely believed prediction that it was only a matter of time before he broke onto the top tier of the sport. As the European Billiards and Snooker Federation is a member of the World Snooker Federation, he will be offered a guaranteed two-year professional main tour card for the 2019/20 and 2020/21 seasons.
2019 EBSA European Under-21 Snooker Championship
Results (from the quarter-finals onwards)
Wesley Pelgrims (Belgium) 0-4 Dylan Emery (Wales)
Julien Leclercq (Belgium) 3-4 Ross Bulman (Republic of Ireland)
Hamim Hussain (England) 0-4 Jackson Page (Wales)
Aaron Hill (Republic of Ireland) 4-0 Ivan Kakovskii (Russia)
Emery 2-4 Bulman
Page 4-0 Hill
Bulman 1-5 Page
Alex Pace won the Oceania Under-21 Snooker Championship for the first time in his career on Wednesday in New Zealand.
Held at the Havelock North Club in Hawkes Bay, sixteen of the continent’s brightest youngsters took part in this annual Oceania Billiards and Snooker Federation (OBSF) event. Split into groups of four, the top two from each pool advanced to the quarter-final knockouts.
Tasmanian cueist Pace topped Group B after winning all three of his fixtures. He then defeated fellow Australian Denzil Nicholson 4-2 in the last 8 and dethroned defending champion Mario Hildred (NZ) 5-2 in the semis.
Pace’s opponent in the final was another one of the host nation’s contingent, Adam Lilley. Runner-up to Hildred in a deciding frame twelve months previously, Lilley also qualified top from his group with a 100% match record. During his 4-1 quarter-final victory over Cody Turner (NZ), Lilley crafted a 112 clearance, he also came through with change to spare in his last four clash against Sam Martin (NZ), 5-1.
The tone for an intriguing trans-Tasman final was set in the opener. Pace went in with a break of 47, Lilley responded with a 58, but it was the Australian who cleared from blue to a tricky black along the top cushion to go 1-0 up.
The New Zealander’s reaction was a positive one, though. He chalked up the next two to go in front and then bettered his, and the tournament’s highest break effort, when constructing a fantastic 128 clearance in frame four to move two clear at 3-1.
However, the direction of the match changed again. Pace was able to claim the next two to square, and in a tight finish where modest breaks were exchanged, he managed to emerge as a 6-4 winner.
Pace, who was the eighth different winner in as many editions, said: “I’m overwhelmed and just so happy that I was able to get the win in my last year”.
In March, the OBSF, which is part of snooker’s international federation the World Snooker Federation, will hold the mixed gender 2019 Oceania Snooker Championship in New South Wales, Australia, where the winner will be offered a two-year professional main tour card. Before this, at the same Mounties venue, the Oceania Women’s and 6 Red Championships will also be staged.
Photo courtesy of the New Zealand Billiards and Snooker Association.
Results (from the quarter-finals onwards)
Mario Hildred (NZ) 4-2 Kyle Thomson (Aus)
Denzel Nicholson (Aus) 2-4 Alex Pace (Aus)
Denin Bunn (NZ) 0-4 Sam Martin (NZ)
Cody Turner (NZ) 1-4 Adam Lilley (NZ)
Hildred 2-5 Pace
Martin 1-5 Lilley
Pace 6-4 Lilley
Aaron Hill became the second Irish player within the last three years to have claimed a European Billiards and Snooker Association youth title following his success in the 2019 European Under-18 Snooker Championship earlier this week.
Held at the U Magic Palace Hotel in the Israeli coastal city and resort of Eilat, this was the first of three events that make up this year’s EBSA Championships. Running until 2 March, the subsequent Under-21 and Main categories will complete a busy programme. It is the first time that Israel has held the championships.
In what was the fourth annual staging of the Under-18 discipline, representatives from a healthy 24 different nations took part – further evidence of snooker’s growing appeal on the continent.
Cork cueist Hill qualified from his round robin group, finishing second behind Hungary’s promising 12-year-old prospect Bulcsú Révész.
During the knockout portion of the competition Hill made breaks of 54 and 57 to dispatch Bradley Tyson (Wales), 3-0, and 60 and 81 in seeing off Iulian Boiko (Ukraine), 3-1, to reach the quarter-finals.
Hill then capped off a 4-1 win over Belgium’s Julien Leclercq with a run of 70 before eliminating number 1 seed Florian Nüßle, 4-2, in the semis with a further brace of half-centuries. Current Austrian National champion Nüßle was the runner-up to Jackson Page in this tournament twelve months ago in Sofia, Bulgaria.
Awaiting Hill in the final was the undefeated Dylan Emery of Wales, who was looking to follow in the footsteps of fellow countrymen Tyler Rees (2016) and Page (2017, 2018) as the only other winners of this championship.
Emery eased through his group without dropping a frame, also constructing the highest break of the event, a 141. That was one of three centuries he would make in total.
He then dispatched Dean Young (Scotland) 3-2 and Nicolas Mortreux (France) 4-2 in the last 16 and 8 respectively. In the last 4 he stopped the possibility of an all-Irish final when he denied Ross Bulman, a stablemate of Hill’s, 4-0.
A predictably close and tense final ensued; Emery took a 2-1 lead with the aid of 54 and 59 breaks, but Hill responded to move in front for the first time and just one away from the trophy as he chalked up runs of 59 and 50.
The Welshman, a year older than his opponent, levelled it up at 3-3, however, Irish eyes were smiling when Hill kept his nerve in the decider as he coolly amassed a decisive 84 break.
The action continues with the Under-21 Championship which concludes this Friday and will see the winner claim a two-year ticket to the World Snooker Tour from the start of next season.
Igor Figueiredo will return to the World Snooker Tour from the start of the 2019/20 season following victory at the 2019 Pan American Snooker Championship earlier this month.
Held at Q Ball Snooker & Pool in Houston, Texas, the event was the first staged by the new continental federation, the Pan American Billiards and Snooker Association (PABSA) responsible for the development of snooker in the Americas region and supported by the World Snooker Federation.
Staged across five days spanning the end of January and early February, the Championship welcomed 48 players from countries including the United States of America, Bermuda and Canada, but it was Brazil’s Figueiredo who entered as the hot favourite to take the title.
Round-robin qualifying took place across the opening three days with the top three in each group advancing to the knockouts.
Figueiredo, who hails from Rio de Janeiro, eased through his section; topping Group A without losing a frame. Along with the seven other group winners, he went straight into the last 16 where he awaited the winner of a preliminary tie. For him that would be Saif Ibrahim (USA), whom he swiftly dispatched 4-0.
In the quarter-finals he faced current and four-time United States National Champion Ahmed Aly Elsayed. Despite dropping his first frame of the week, he progressed as a 4-1 victor. Local Houston player Mark White was next to feel the dominance of Figueiredo in the semi-finals, as he went down 5-1.
Figueiredo’s opponent in the final was Chicago’s Renat Denkha who was also undefeated throughout. Denkha booked his final berth after ousting former professional John White (Canada), 5-4, in the other last four tie.
However, the final would prove to be a step too far for the American, as Figueiredo raced away into a 5-0 lead. Despite dropping the sixth on a black-ball game, Figueiredo was not to be denied as he claimed victory in the next frame on the colours to capture the title, trophy and a two-year professional tour card to commence from the start of the 2019/20 campaign.
The 41-year-old is no stranger to snooker fans around the world, having spent six seasons on the professional circuit, most recently in 2017 when he reached the last 16 of both the Welsh Open and Gibraltar Open tournaments. He also reached the final qualifying round of the World Championship qualifiers in Sheffield back in 2015.
Competing as an amateur in recent years he has enjoyed considerable success in international Seniors events, most notably at the 2018 WSF Championships in Malta where he defeated highly decorated Welsh star Darren Morgan 5-3 to win the Seniors competition. The victory earned him a place at the 2018 World Championship qualifiers in Sheffield where he lost out to another Welsh player, Ryan Day.
Earlier this season he also reached the final of the UK Seniors Championship at the Bonus Arena in Hull, England. There he defeated 1986 world champion Joe Johnson, reigning world seniors champion Aaron Canavan and former professional Leo Fernandez, before losing out to another former world champion in Ireland’s Ken Doherty.
But next season he will return to the top tier looking to break into the world’s top 64 for the first time in his career and in light of his recent form few would bet against it.
2019 Pan American Snooker Championships
Results (from the quarter-finals onwards)
Igor Figueiredo (Brazil) 4-1 Ahmed Aly Elsayed (USA)
Mark White (USA) 4-2 Ajeya Prabhakar (USA)
John White (Canada) 4-2 Mark Collier (USA)
Levi Meiller (Canada) 1-4 Renat Denkha (USA)
Figueiredo 5-1 M.White
J.White 4-5 Denkha
Figueiredo 6-1 Denkha
Learn more about PABSA: https://www.pabsa.org/
It is with regret that we have taken the responsible decision to postpone the 2019 World Snooker Federation Championships.
It was disappointing that at this late stage the UAEBSA were unable to host us, however in order not to let down players and officials, the WSF board and management team took immediate action and formally secured an alternative location and date in just a few days. We must thank the China Billiards & Snooker Association (CBSA) for their offer of assistance in this matter.
Having reviewed this alternative plan and consulting with federations and partners, it is clear that a number of players may suffer due to travel arrangements and late visas. With this in mind, we feel it would not be appropriate to stage such a prestigious global event without a full international field of entry. We have therefore decided not to proceed with the event at this stage.
The WSF has become a large network for snooker and billiards development and is working to support many projects in regions around the world. World Snooker Tour Qualification is already being earned through WSF membership in the European Championships, Pan American Championship, Africas Championship and Oceania Championship. World Snooker Tour places are also granted to the CBSA through their national tour.
Further playing opportunities are also being developed through WSF member regions and national federations. We are excited to be the supporting partner to the African Billiards & Snooker Confederation for snookers inclusion in the 2019 African Games, something which can only be described as a landmark achievement for our sports globalisation.
The official 2019 World Women’s Snooker Championship, part of the World Women’s Snooker Tour will continue to be staged in the next few months. Further opportunities will be available for federations to nominate players for this event and venue details and dates will be communicated to you soon.
Danish cueist Daniel Kandi won the Nordic Snooker Championship for the first time last weekend at the Snookerhallen in Stockholm, Sweden.
The annual event, organised by the Nordic Billiard Council (and this year hosted by the Swedish Billiard Federation), features players from all five Nordic countries. As with previous editions, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden each sent eight representatives to the 40-player tournament.
Split into eight groups of five, the top two from each round robin qualified for the last 16 straight elimination phase. Every country had a player in each group.
Kandi, who won the 2018 Danish National Championship making a 147 maximum break along the way, finished top of group 8 after winning all four matches and dropping just one frame. He then dispatched Finnish pair Janne Häkkinen (4-1) and Antti Tolvanen (4-2) in the last 16 and 8 respectively.
In the semi-finals Kandi made a half century break in each frame as he ended the defence of 2018 champion Belan Sharif (Sweden) with a comfortable 4-0 victory. It meant some revenge for Kandi having lost to Sharif in the final twelve months before.
His opponent in this year’s final was another one of the pre-tournament favourites, Patrik Tiihonen, the 2017 runner-up. The Finnish teenager topped group 6 with three wins out of four and relinquished just two frames when denying Timo Salovaara (Finland) 4-1, Jim Johansson (Sweden) 4-1 and Mats Eriksson (Sweden) 4-0 afterwards.
Tiihonen made a positive start to the best-of-nine frames final when he took the opener with the help of a 68 break, however Kandi chalked up the next three to go 3-1 up at the mid-session interval. On resumption Tiihonen squared the match at 3-3 (60 break, frame 6). Kandi then moved onto the hill after a run of 75, but the younger of the pair forced it all the way when securing frame 8.
In a close and dramatic conclusion, Tiihonen held a small advantage in the decider but failed to pot one of the four remaining reds. It would be his last shot as Kandi kept his nerve with a gutsy break of 42 as he won on the final pink.
Kandi, a competitor at 2018 Q-School in Burton, pocketed 1,000 Euros, whilst Tiihonen received 500. Semi-finalists Sahrif and Eriksson each banked 250.
To see the full results, please either visit cuetracker.net or here.
The final is available to watch in full at YouTube.
Article originally written by Michael Day for The Cue View.