Russia Joins World Snooker Federation

Russia Joins World Snooker Federation

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.”

New Cue Zone To Boost Isle of Man Snooker

New Cue Zone To Boost Isle of Man Snooker

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!”

Five-Star Joy for Judin in Latvia

Five-Star Joy for Judin in Latvia

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

Semi-finals

Volajs 4-3 Zaicevs

Pripjoks 1-4 Judin

Final

Volajs 2-7 Judin

Kolpačenko Claims Lithuanian Snooker Championship

Kolpačenko Claims Lithuanian Snooker Championship

Teenager Nikita Kolpačenko won his maiden Lithuanian National Snooker Championship last weekend in Vilnius.

Originally due to take place in May, the event was rescheduled because of the COVID-19 Pandemic. With safety measures in place, the tournament was staged across the weekend at two venues in the capital city – the Cue Club and the KN Billiard Club.

Exciting prospect Kolpačenko – who turns 17 later this month – dished out some payback on his way to lifting the trophy. He came through his opening two rounds without dropping a frame – making a 96 break during his last 16 victory – before eliminating Mindaugas Maisiejus 4-2 in the quarter-finals.

In the last four the youngster faced defending and three-time champion Vilius Schulte in a repeat of the 2018 final. Schulte had constructed the competition’s all-time highest break of 110 in the previous round, but it was Kolpačenko booking a place in the title match following a narrow 4-2 win. 

Joining Kolpačenko was Tadas Andrejavas who reached the final for the second year in a row after surviving a deciding frame finish against Konstantin Afanasjev in the other last four affair. 

Andrejavas – chasing the title for the first time too – had defeated his rival during the semi-finals in 2019, and he was on his way to denying him again when taking the opening frame this time around. However, it was his only impact of the match as Kolpačenko – aided by two breaks of 59 – strung together four consecutive frames to triumph 4-1 and become the youngest ever champion. 

The championship was organised by the Lithuanian Billiards Federation, a member of the World Snooker Federation. 

2020 Lithuanian National Snooker Championship

Results from the quarter-finals onwards: 

Vilius Schulte 4-0 Sergej Korolkov 

Mindaugas Maisiejus 2-4 Nikita Kolpačenko 

Konstantin Afanasjev 4-1 Mindaugas Eimutis 

Tomas Vilmanas 0-4 Tadas Andrejavas 

Semi-finals 

Schulte 2-4 Kolpačenko 

Afanasjev 3-4 Andrejavas 

Final 

Kolpačenko 4-1 Andrejavas 

Japan – A Snooker Journey

Japan – A Snooker Journey

Japan is no stranger to hosting and embracing major sporting events the FIFA World Cup, the Rugby World Cup and the next Summer Olympic Games. Could snooker also become big in Japan?

The island nation already has a proud cuesports heritage with former world champions in three-cushion billiards and 9-ball pool. Smaller table disciplines are widely played in Japan and it appears that snooker is starting to have an impact too with tables now featuring in pool clubs in capital city Tokyo.

Yutaka Fukuda has been instrumental towards the prosperity of snooker in the country. In 2000, Fukuda was part of a team that formed the Japan Snooker Association (JSA), an organisation that is still going strong today and holds national events. A TV commentator for professional snooker coverage in the past, Fukuda competed as a player when the sport was part of the 2001 World Games programme in Akita.

“Our president Mr. Maeda, the Nippon Billiards Association (NBA) and my great friend Jason Ferguson all did very well for snooker at those World Games” said Fukuda. “As these are closely connected to the Olympic Games, I believe the Japanese government would strongly support hosting another major snooker event in the future.”

Fukuda is well positioned to assess the growth of snooker in his homeland as he has been a qualified coach for many years and is currently working with pool players, including the high profile Naoyuki Oi. “In 2002 the Thai Snooker Association invited me to take a World Snooker coaching course that was led by Mr. Steve Prest. I was delighted and took no time in deciding to accept the offer. I used to live in Bangkok before, and I am grateful towards the Thai association – I owe them a lot. Japan and Thailand share a snooker friendship.

Japan’s most promising snooker prospect is Keishin Kamihashi, who last year compiled his maiden 147 maximum break. The teenager has already played in several major international amateur events such as Q-School, the Challenge Tour and the recent World Snooker Federation Open in Malta where he successfully qualified for the knockout phase. With hopes of breaking through onto the professional circuit, youngster Kamihashi has become a frequent resident at the Q-House Snooker Academy in Darlington, England where he practices with main tour players based there.

Another positive sign is the increasing interest amongst women players. Tani Mina and Muramatu Sakura featured at last year’s memorable World Women’s Snooker Championship in Thailand where they participated individually and came together as a team to represent Japan and register a match victory in the preceding World Cup. Fukuda, who also works with women cueists, said “Since last year’s World Championship, parents are starting to think about their kids becoming a snooker player. I told them about how great the tournament was and that there is more to come in the future.”

With a plethora of Asian talents making their way up snooker’s world rankings – and seemingly with more to come – it may just be a matter of time before Japan joins the snooker party and Fukuda is excited about the future. “I met Jason Ferguson in China just before the World Women’s Snooker Championship and told him my short and long-term hopes of making snooker popular in Japan – he has the same ambition and I was really delighted.

New Agreement to Promote Global Cue Sports Governance

New Agreement to Promote Global Cue Sports Governance

The World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA) and the Professional Billiards Association (PBA) are today delighted to jointly announce a new Memorandum of Understanding which will see both organisations cooperate in the global governance of cue sports.

The agreement will see both organisations assist each other in the general promotion of cuesports. This is to include the promotion of diversity, equality and to share best practice of sports governance, event organisation and player membership models.

The PBA was inaugurated in May 2019, together with its Commissioner Young-soo Kim, a former Minister of Culture and Sports who has a wealth of experience in the sector having previously served as the 3rd Incheon Asian Games Organising Committee Chairman. Last season’s PBA Tour saw seven prestigious events staged during the second half of last year, before its scheduled finals were postponed due to the current Coronavirus outbreak.

The agreement between the WPBSA and the PBA will also see both organisations co-operate to promote the selection of billiards sports as part of the Olympic Programme for the 2032 Games.

WPBSA Chairman Jason Ferguson said: “I am very pleased that the WPBSA will now work together with the PBA on the promotion and governance of our respective cuesports disciplines on a long-term basis. We have kept a close eye on the growth of the PBA and it has been particularly encouraging to see development of the organisation in such a clear and transparent manner.

“The high quality of events delivered by the PBA Tour to date and the number of blue-chip companies that have been attracted is most impressive and we look forward to working on projects together in the future.”

PBA Commissioner Young-soo Kim said: “It is a big honour for the PBA to cooperate with the WPBSA, which has been settled as the greatest professional sport association with a history of more than 50 years. We will try our best and cooperate to promote and develop billiards to the world, especially for the billiards to be designated as an official Olympic Games sports programme.”