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.
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
Lama 5-3 Claus
Everekian 2-5 Chaperon
Losers each received $1,500
Lama 5-6 Chaperon
Lama received $2,700 / Chaperon received $4,000
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
Morris 6-3 Goggins
Murphy 4-6 Boileau
Morris 7-3 Boileau
Photo by RIBSA.
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)
Gary Thomson (110) 6-5 Craig MacGillivray
Michael Collumb 6-3 Ross Vallance
Gary Thomson (108) 4-7 Michael Collumb (73, 71)
Former European Amateur champion and main tour professional Kristján Helgason won his 14th Iceland National Snooker Championship on Saturday.
A member of snooker’s top tier for a total of eight years in the past, Helgason made history in 2000 when he came through World Championship qualifying to appear at the Crucible Theatre; becoming the first player from his nation to do so.
Since his exit from the professional circuit in 2004 he has mainly appeared in big amateur events, winning titles such as the Nordic Snooker and European 6-Red Championships. At last year’s World Snooker Federation Championship in Malta, Helgason reached the semi-finals before losing to Adam Stefanow in a deciding frame.
Throughout the Icelandic Snooker Association’s domestic season eight open ranking events were held with the top 16 players qualifying for the national championship. Once again, defending champion Helgason was simply in a class of his own at the Billiardbarinn venue in the capital city of Reykjavik.
After receiving a walkover in the opening round, he eliminated Unnar Bragason (5-0) and Ásgeir Jón Guðbjartsson (7-1) in the quarter and semi-finals respectively. In the final Helgason faced Jón Ingi Ægisson; the duo had previously teamed up together to win the European Masters Team Championship in 2017.
Helgason took the opening frame although Ægisson responded well in going 2-1 up. However, Helgason showed his pedigree and broke away by reeling off the next eight frames in a row to run out a 9-2 victor. During the match he made nine half-century breaks – one in every frame he won.
Both Helgason and Ægisson will travel to Serbia at the end of May to compete in both singles and team action at the European Billiards and Snooker Association’s 6 Red and Team Championships.
2019 Iceland National Snooker Championship
Results – from the quarter-finals onwards
Kristján Helgason 5-0 Unnar Bragason
Ásgeir Jón Guðbjartsson 5-2 Guðni Pálsson
Jón Ingi Ægisson 5-4 Gudbjörn Gunnarsson
Bjarni Jónsson 3-5 Örvar Guðmundsson
Helgason 7-1 Guðbjartsson
Ægisson 7-6 Guðmundsson
Helgason 9-2 Ægisson
In a tournament that was first contested for in 1947, Duncan Bezzina added his name to the distinguished roll of honour for a fourth time when he won the 2019 Malta National Snooker Championship on Friday evening.
Organised by the Malta Billiards and Snooker Association, the event was held over several weeks with the top players in the country being whittled down via two different group phases. Eventually, just four hopefuls remained for the semi-final knockouts.
Held on consecutive nights at the purpose-built Malta Snooker Academy in Hamrun, the latest champion was discovered. Bezzina began his match against reigning champion Brian Cini with breaks of 64 and 53. The opening four frames were shared but Bezzina found some freedom after the mid-session interval to ultimately win 5-3.
In the other last four encounter Aaron Busuttil ousted the vastly experienced former professional Alex Borg – a 13-time winner of this championship – in a deciding frame, 5-4.
Seeking a maiden victory in this competition, but now in his third successive final, Busuttil started the showdown impressively by constructing a 99 break in frame one. Bezzina struck back in the next before an effort of 44 helped him to a 2-1 advantage, although his opponent levelled things up with a clearance from green to black in the next.
Frame five may have proved to be crucial come the final outcome. After making a 44 earlier in proceedings, Busuttil rattled a mid-distance frame ball pink when stretching. Bezzina capitalised by potting the pink and getting pin-point position on the final black that he duly sank.
On resumption after the interval Busuttil regrouped with a 60 to square up at 3-3 but runs of 47 and 69 saw Bezzina establish a two-frame cushion and move just a frame away from glory. A 40 break aided a determined Busuttil to reduce the gap back to one, but 38-year-old Bezzina kept his cool in the tenth to emerge a 6-4 victor. It was perhaps a case of déjà vu as this was the same scoreline when the two met in the 2017 final.
Former winners of Malta’s biggest domestic snooker title include Paul Mifsud, Joe Grech and Tony Drago.
During last year’s World Snooker Federation Championship that was held on the island, several host nation representatives qualified for the knockout stages with Bezzina finishing as the best performer after losing to eventual runner-up Adam Stefanow in the last 16.
Busuttil, Cini and Borg are all set to feature at Q-School in Wigan later this month as they aim to secure a ticket onto next season’s professional circuit.