European Accolades Awarded in Belgrade

European Accolades Awarded in Belgrade

Several continental titles were decided during the recent 12-day stay of the European Billiards and Snooker Association (EBSA) at the Hotel Crown Plaza in the Serbian capital city of Belgrade.

Players from 31 different countries took part in this festival of European amateur snooker with 6-Red, Open, Women’s, Seniors and Team Championships on the agenda. It was the first time that the Snooker Federation of Serbia had hosted such an event.

6-Red Championship | Champion Callewaert

In the 6 Red discipline, Alexis Callewaert won his and France’s first ever European accolade when he ousted fellow debut finalist Pawel Rogoza.

Callewaert finished second in his group to qualify for the knockouts where his most impressive victory was a 4-1 success over defending champion and KO top seed Shachar Ruberg (Israel) during the last eight. The 23-year-old followed that up in the semi-finals by denying Spanish national champion Francisco Sanchez-Ruiz, 4-2.

Both players traded frames in the final, but despite Poland’s Rogoza reaching the hill first, it was Callewaert who claimed the last two frames to come through as a 5-4 victor. The Frenchman is set to be the EBSA nomination for the SangSom 6-Red World Championship that takes place in Thailand during September.

European Open | Ice Cool Kristjan

Former Crucible qualifier Kristjan Helgason added another continental trophy to his collection after he was victorious in the 2019 European Snooker Open – an event that reverted back to the traditional 15 red format.

Icelandic Champion Helgason saw off opponents from England, Albania and Bulgaria on his way to the last eight where he stopped the charge of promising 12-year-old Bulscu Revesz (Hungary), 4-1, and then Ruberg by the same score to book a spot in the final.

Better known for his skill on the American Pool table, Sanchez-Ruiz once again showed off his cuesports versatility to make his maiden European snooker final. However, highlighted by a top effort of 73, experienced Helgason came up trumps in recording a 4-1 triumph. The 1998 European Amateur Champion will be rewarded with a wildcard into the main draw of the 2020 Gibraltar Open.

Women’s Championship | Stateczny Shocks

The European Women’s Championship conjured up a surprise as Diana Stateczny became only the sixth different winner in the 23-year history of the event.

Germany’s Stateczny bossed her round robin group, qualifying top after winning all four of her fixtures 2-0. The 39-year-old was pushed in the last 16 by Ewelina Pislewska (Poland), but a 40 break in the decider was perhaps the crucial factor as she squeezed through, 3-2. A second final berth in this competition – nine years on from her first – was confirmed when she subsequently ended the ambitions of teenagers Polina Astakhova (Russia) and Linda Erben (Germany).

In the opposite chair for the final was Russia’s Anastasia Nechaeva, who had created a huge upset when she dethroned defending champion Wendy Jans, 4-1, in the quarter-finals. Belgium’s Jans was aiming for a record-extending seventh title in a row; incredibly, she had also reached the final in every one of her 19 previous appearances in this tournament.

Defeated by Jans in the 2013 and 2014 finals, Nechaeva initially went behind in this year’s showpiece but efforts of 49 and 31 contributed to her moving 2-1 up. Stateczny though would be the one celebrating her maiden triumph after stringing together the next three frames for glory to etch the first German name on the trophy. 

Seniors Championship | Ten-Time Morgan

Darren Morgan continues to dominate the 40s and over category as he defended and won his tenth European Masters Championship.

Since retiring from the professional ranks in 2006, the former world number eight has been a serial winner on the amateur circuits. The 53-year-old Welshman qualified for the knockouts without dropping a frame and only lost three in total getting to the final with standout victories over Helgason (4-1 in the last 16) and England’s Wayne Brown (4-1 in the semi-finals).

Fellow experienced cueist Alan Trigg (Ukraine) was Morgan’s opponent in the final. Likewise, Trigg finished top of his group without reply before enjoying a relatively serene passage through the knockouts that included a 4-2 win over a returning Tony Drago (Malta) in the last eight.

Breaks of 48 and 46 helped Morgan take the first frame in the final, although 60-year-old Trigg responded by acquiring the next two to move 2-1 up. However, Morgan wasn’t to be denied as runs of 46 and 44 assisted him back in front before success in frame six meant he raised the trophy for a fifth consecutive year.

As a result of this win, 1994 World Championship semi-finalist Morgan will return to the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield for August’s ROKiT World Seniors Championship.

Team Championships | Open, Women’s and Masters

Represented by reigning national champion Duncan Bezzina and the legendary Drago, European Team Championship gold went to Malta.

The duo formed a cohesive unit in the two-player competition that involved frames of singles and doubles action. Malta were strong throughout; losing just a frame in the groups and therefore attaining top seed status for the knockouts. Bezzina and Drago then eliminated teams from Croatia, Belgium and Ukraine to make the final, where they got the better of Polish pairing Mateusz Baranowski and Tomasz Skalski, 4-2.

Russia’s Nechaeva and Astakhova retained the Women’s Team Championship title they won in Bucharest last year following a 3-0 defeat of Germany (Stateczny & Erben). There was more kudos for Morgan, who alongside Wayne Morgan, triumphed as Wales 1 in the Masters Team Championship when they pipped England 1 set-up of Brown and Chris Hart in the final.

For the full results from all of the championships, please visit the EBSA website.

Watts Wins in Norway

Watts Wins in Norway

Christopher Watts won his fifth Norwegian National Snooker Championship last weekend when he defeated Andre Hellerud live in front of Eurosport cameras.

Held across five days at the Oslo Snooker Club in the capital city, nearly 50 players (aged from 12 to 76), lined up for the most prestigious snooker event on the Norwegian Billiard Federation calendar. Divided into round robin groups of either six or seven, the top two from each pool qualified for the last 16 knockout stage.

Watts, who is based at the venue, had no issues in qualifying as he topped the group, winning all five of his matches and dropping just two frames in the process.

During the knockouts, 35-year-old Watts ramped up his scoring power. He registered breaks of 85 and 86 whilst eliminating Sondre Sundt, 3-0, in the last 16 and then made another half-century in dismissing Henning Svensson by the same 3-0 scoreline during the quarter-finals.

The closest finish Watts would experience on his way to the trophy was against Audun Risan Heimsjo in the semi-finals. Having earlier chalked up his first century of the tournament – an effort of 117 – he squeezed through, 4-3, to secure another final berth.

In the final Watts faced fellow club-mate Andre Hellerud, who likewise had remained undefeated throughout. It was the third time the pair had met in the championship decider; on both previous occasions in 2009 and 2015, two-time victor Hellerud had emerged successful.

Aiming for third time lucky, Watts began the showpiece incredibly with back-to-back breaks of 126 – the highest of the competition – and 107. He then extended his lead and moved to the brink of victory with the aid of a 62. Hellerud managed to get a foothold in the match by taking the next two frames, but a 55 in frame six helped Watts secure a very impressive 4-2 win.

It is the third year in a row that Watts has claimed the title, and the fifth time overall since 2011. In what was a first for the country, the semi-finals and final were both shown live on Eurosport Norge; snooker is one of the most watched sports on the channel.

A delighted Watts said “It was great to finally get a win over Andre as he has defeated me twice before in the final. The most important thing was to put on a high-quality display in front of the live Eurosport cameras as we really wanted to promote Norwegian snooker – this is what I am pleased with the most. The next focus is getting more youngsters interested in snooker.”

Morgan Pockets a Welsh Snooker Hat-Trick

Morgan Pockets a Welsh Snooker Hat-Trick

Former world number eight Darren Morgan defeated Gavin Lewis 7-2 to win the 2019 Welsh Amateur Snooker Championship earlier this month.

The most prestigious tournament on the Welsh Billiards and Snooker Association circuit was first contested in 1928 and boasts big name previous winners such as Ray Reardon, Doug Mountjoy, Terry Griffiths, Dominic Dale, Ryan Day and Michael White. Winner of the title for the first time in 1987 and then more recently, after coming off the sport’s top tier, in 2015, this was the third time that 53-year-old Morgan has claimed the accolade.

Played across the domestic season, the competition is initially split into north and south regional qualifying. Morgan began his campaign with victories over Stephen Ellis (4-0 – 103 break), Andrew Pagett (4-1) and Matthew Farrant (4-3) before receiving a walkover in the quarter-finals against defending champion Jackson Page who withdrew in order to focus on World Championship qualifying.

The final four players congregated at The Royal Hotel in Rhymney earlier this month where the championship was played to a conclusion. Morgan chalked up the last three frames to defeat Richard King, 6-3, whilst in the second session, another experienced cueist, Gavin Lewis, ended youngster Tyler Rees’ hopes with a 6-4 win. It would be Lewis’ second final appearance, 16 years on from his runner-up finish in 2003.

Both players returned the following day for the multi-session final. Morgan started stronger establishing a 4-0 mid-session lead after taking frames three and four on the black and pink respectively. Lewis managed to get on the board with the next, but the two-time ranking event finalist responded with a break of 128 and then by potting a terrific, decisive long-range final black to finish the session 6-1 in front.

That evening Lewis briefly threatened a comeback when he deposited a tight frame eight, but Morgan made sure there would be no recovery with an effort of 50 in the ninth and clearing from green to pink in the tenth to record a 7-2 victory.

A former world semi-finalist during his 18 years as a professional, since coming off the tour by choice in 2006 Morgan has focused on amateur events, winning several other significant titles such as the 2011 World Seniors Championship. Last year in Malta Morgan also reached the final of the inaugural World Snooker Federation Seniors Championship.

Chaperon Is Canadian Snooker Champion Again

Chaperon Is Canadian Snooker Champion Again

Bob Chaperon was back lifting silverware earlier this month after winning the Canadian National Snooker Championship for the second time – an amazing 38 years on from his maiden triumph in the competition.

The event was once again held at the Corner Bank in Toronto, a club part-owned by another prominent former Canadian professional player, Jim Wych. Over 50 players from Ontario and beyond travelled to the Canadian Billiards and Snooker Association’s most prestigious event that has been claimed in the past by national greats Cliff Thorburn, Bill Werbeniuk, Kirk Stevens, Alain Robidoux, Alex Pagulayan and Wych himself.

Defending champion and former Crucible qualifier Brady Gollan – whose two victories in this event also came 30 years apart – was an early casualty when he lost to Lobsang Lama 4-3 in his opening match. Lama followed this up with wins against Amar Sadig (5-0), Steve West (5-2) and Derrick Claus (5-3) to reach the final for the first time.

Chaperon, surprise winner of the 1990 British Open, dropped just a frame during rounds one and two but he had a tougher time dispatching three-time champion Floyd Ziegler, 5-3, in the last 16. The 60-year-old then eliminated youngster Edward Ling 5-2 in the quarter-finals and John Everekian was given the same treatment in the next round.

In a meeting of varying scales of experience, the opening four frames of the final were shared before Chaperon established an advantage and moved one away from victory at 5-2. A determined Lama refused to give in, forcing a deciding frame after a trio of frames for himself, but Chaperon regrouped in the eleventh to get his hands back on the trophy that he first lifted in 1981. The former world number 25 pocketed $4,000 for his work; he also made the highest break of 120 earlier on in the tournament.

In the proceeding Canadian National Seniors Championship at the same venue, 1980 world champion Thorburn defeated last year’s victor Ziegler, 4-2, in the final to claim the title.

2019 Canadian National Snooker Championship

Results (from the quarter-finals onwards)

Lobsang Lama 5-2 Steve West

Derrick Claus 5-0 Ricky Leon

Alan Whitfield 3-5 John Everekian

Bob Chaperon 5-2 Edward Ling

Losers each received $800

Semi-Finals

Lama 5-3 Claus

Everekian 2-5 Chaperon

Losers each received $1,500

Final

Lama 5-6 Chaperon

Lama received $2,700 / Chaperon received $4,000

Morris Crowned Irish Champion for Fourth Time

Morris Crowned Irish Champion for Fourth Time

The Republic of Ireland Billiards and Snooker Association (RIBSA) recently held their end of season ‘Finals Weekend’ at the Ivy Rooms in Carlow where several national champions across various categories were confirmed.

In a meeting of two recent ex-professionals, David Morris defeated Josh Boileau to claim the most prestigious prize on the RIBSA domestic circuit; the Irish National Championship.

The opening rounds of the event culminated in 16 players qualifying for the showdown in Carlow last week. Morris, who reached the last 16 of the UK Championship in 2013 and 2014, eliminated John Farrell, Paul Dunne and then 2000 winner Rodney Goggins, another former top tier competitor, to reach the final.

European Under-21 champion in 2016, youngster Boileau only fell off the main tour at the end of the 2017/18 campaign. Back in the amateur ranks, he acclimatised himself well to make his maiden final in this tournament after dispatching Robert Murphy in the last four.

The final started off as a predictably close affair with the pair locked at 3-3 come the end of the first session. However, 30-year-old Morris broke free on the resumption, stringing together four frames in a row to seal a 7-3 success. This is the fourth time that the Kilkenny cueist has won the accolade having lifted the trophy in three consecutive years between 2004-2006.

Another 14 titles were awarded across the weekend in the Leinster based venue. Michelle Sherwin won her 16th Irish Ladies Championship when she defeated Ronda Sheldreck, 4-0, in the final, while Michael Judge ousted Goggins, 5-4, to secure the Masters Championship.

In the youth competitions, Aaron Hill completed a double with victories in both the Under-21 and Under-18 divisions, although his bid for the Under-19s was stopped by champion Ross Bulman in the final. Leone Crowley, Aaron Smith and Jack O’Brien won the Under-16, 14 and 12 Championships respectively.

Titles in the three-ball discipline were also showcased; Wayne Doyle got the better of Aidan Murray, 4-1, to capture the 150 Up Championship, but the roles were reversed the following day in the Long Format Championship when Murray came through as a 690-553 victor.

2019 Irish National Snooker Championship

Results (from the quarter-finals onwards)

Paul Dunne 1-5 David Morris

Colm Gilcreest 0-5 Rodney Goggins

Robert Murphy 5-0 Aaron Holland

Josh Boileau 5-0 Aaron Hill

Semi-Finals

Morris 6-3 Goggins

Murphy 4-6 Boileau

Final

Morris 7-3 Boileau

Photo by RIBSA.

Collumb Conquers Scottish Snooker’s Premier Event

Collumb Conquers Scottish Snooker’s Premier Event

Several national championship titles were decided at Scottish Snooker’s recent 2018/19 Finals Weekend held at the Minnesota Fats Snooker Club in Glasgow.

In the weekend’s main event, Michael Collumb won his maiden Scottish National Snooker Championship following a victory over Gary Thomson in the final.

Runner-up in 2015, 30-year-old Collumb progressed through the early rounds to reach the quarter-finals. Breaks of 74, 62, 108 and 52 helped him defeat Darren Ellis, 5-0, in the last eight, and then a 6-3 elimination of Ross Vallance put him through to another final.

Thomson was looking to again lift the trophy that in the past has been won by Scottish greats such as Stephen Hendry, Alan McManus and Graeme Dott. The 2001 champion secured his final berth via a 6-5 success against Craig MacGillivray where he crafted a top effort of 110. In the previous round MacGillivray was on the right side of a deciding frame finish when he dethroned defending champion Fraser Patrick.

The best-of-13 final brought together the top two ranked players from this season’s domestic ranking circuit. Thomson took a 2-0 lead before a 73 break got Collumb on the board. He then chalked up the next two frames to lead going into the interval.

On resumption Collumb extended his advantage but a break of 108 from Thomson stopped the rot. The pair traded frames again (71 break from Collumb in frame eight) before Collumb claimed what would be the last two frames of the match to confirm a 7-4 triumph. The new champion’s next action will be at the upcoming Q-School in Wigan where he aims to achieve a main tour card for the first time.

Whilst Thomson may be disappointed at missing out on the silverware, he will be consoled by the fact that he finished the campaign top of the rankings and therefore receives a wildcard into the Scottish Open professional event in December.

Elsewhere throughout the weekend Richy McDonald won the Masters Championship when he dispatched last year’s winner Michael Philbin, 6-0. Dean Young defended the Scottish Under-21 title after defeating Aaron Graham 5-0 in the final.

Sam McKay went home with a pair of trophies. First, he ousted Amaan Iqbal 3-2 to secure the Under-14s and he doubled up the next day with a 4-1 win against Kieran Kay for the Under-16s top prize.

In the three-ball sport, Davie Sneddon further strengthened his incredible record in the Scottish National Billiards Championship. Despite being over 100 points down half way through the final, Sneddon recovered to get the better of Paul McGowan 526-449 to retain and claim the title for a mind-boggling 31st time.

2019 Scottish National Snooker Championship

Results (from the quarter-finals onwards – breaks in brackets)

Gary Thomson (98, 54, 88) 5-1 Lee Mein (54)
Fraser Patrick 4-5 Craig MacGillivray
Michael Collumb (74, 62, 108, 52) 5-0 Darren Ellis
Dean Young (76) 2-5 Ross Vallance (51)

Semi-Finals

Gary Thomson (110) 6-5 Craig MacGillivray
Michael Collumb 6-3 Ross Vallance

Final

Gary Thomson (108) 4-7 Michael Collumb (73, 71)