Caribbean Cueing – Jagessar Wins in Trinidad and Tobago

Caribbean Cueing – Jagessar Wins in Trinidad and Tobago

Sham Jagessar ousted Damien Bisnath in the final to claim the first BSOTT Trinidad and Tobago National Snooker Championship last weekend.

Organised by the Billiards Sports Organization of Trinidad and Tobago (BSOTT), the event was supported by and held at the Chinese Assocation Club in St. Ann’s, a district of the capital city’s Port of Spain.

An impressive field of 40 players entered the tournament which was played across several weeks and streamed live on BSOTT’s Facebook page. It featured a double elimination format meaning all competitors had two ‘lives’.

Jagessar had already orchestrated four match wins before defeating Clint Bachan 2-1 in the winners’ side final. He was met in the grand final by Bisnath, who had walked a tightrope in the losers’ section having lost to Jagessar in his second outing of the competition. Following that setback, Bisnath needed to wade through seven matches to make the championship fixture, which he duly did, culminating in a 2-1 victory against Bachan.

Due to the double elimination nature, Bisnath was required to overhaul Jagessar twice in the best-of-five finals to complete a remarkable recovery. He was on course to do so when he won the first encounter 3-1 and led 2-1 in the conclusive rubber. However, Jagessar turned things around again, chalking up the fourth frame and then the decider to secure the historic title, trophy and $6,000 (Trinidadian Dollars) in prize money.

Snooker to make waves in the country?

BSOTT Public Relations Officer Adrian Mora is one of the people behind the championship and who will be pushing the sport of snooker forward in the island country. Following the championship, we spoke to Adrian to learn about snooker’s past, present and future there.

Hello Adrian, thank you for talking to us at such a busy time. Could you tell us a bit about BSOTT and the people behind the organisation?

The Billiards Sports Organization of Trinidad and Tobago has been in existence since August 2018. Our interim executive consists of Nazim Mohammed (President), Kazim Daniel (Vice President), Fidel Mohammed (Secretary), Carlos Poyer (Treasurer) and myself. We hope to have elected officers in the positions when our first general meeting takes place early in 2021.

You must be very pleased with the way the championship panned out, especially in a year with the coronavirus pandemic. How did you overcome such obstacles?

This was BSOTT’s first individual national championship and we are really happy with how things turned out. Obviously, being a first, there were some hiccups along the way but at the end of it all there were many more positives than negatives.

The coronavirus scuppered many of our plans for 2020 but the window of opportunity opened for us when our government – on the advice of the Ministry of Health – relaxed restrictions with regard to Members’ Clubs. The Chinese Association venue in T&T is one of the few accessible places where snooker is played. They normally host a pre-Christmas tournament so with BSOTT’s limited activity for the year, we seized the opportunity to partner with them to host our first national snooker championship.

What is the overall picture for snooker in Trinidad and Tobago in terms of history, participation and visibility?

In the 1960s, English billiards was more popular on the 12ft table. Snooker took off in the 70s and 80s with as many as 11 venues in Port of Spain – the nation’s capital in the north of the island. Elsewhere there were at least ten other venues that had snooker facilities.

In the 70s there was a very active North Association, so much so that a Trinidad and Tobago representative team of four participated in the International Snooker League in New York. Also, in the same decade snooker greats Alex ‘Hurricane’ Higgins and Rex Williams visited Trinidad on separate occasions, which helped the game’s popularity. Those names were familiar to many because of the hugely popular BBC TV series Pot Black – incidentally, the theme song used for this was ‘Black and White Rag’ written by Winnifred Atwell, a native of Trinidad and Tobago.

With regard to present day coverage, we are lucky to have some willing reporters across both print and electronic media, and while we are not at the stage where matches are shown live on local television, we will get some help promoting the sport.

Can you tell us about your efforts and plans to revive the sport in your country? What are your hopes for the near and distant futures?

Our mandate is to add structure and a level of professionalism to all cuesports. Pool, by far is the more popular sport in Trinidad and Tobago – it is more accessible with more public venues. Unfortunately, snooker’s popularity waned with the closure of many snooker establishments; maintaining tables was apparently too costly for many and you found tables being sold to homeowners and private entities.

What BSOTT hopes to do is engage as many stakeholders as possible – our Ministry of Sport, corporate T&T, international organizations, anyone who may be able to help in our cause to raise the standard and profile of the game.

We hope to one day have our own headquarters where we can train, offer training (maybe with the help of professional coaches), and so on. We were recently accepted into the PABSA (Pan American Billiards and Snooker Association) family so, with some luck, we will be taking part in their events.

We understand that BSOTT is very keen to engage and encourage younger and female players?

If a sport has no injection of youth, it will ultimately die. So yes, we are very interested in introducing the game to younger players – boys and girls – so there is continuation going forward. That is where the ‘headquarters’ will play a major role by offering a more controlled environment for any educational or instructional programmes on offer.

Article by Michael Day.

WPBSA International Round-Up | November 2020

WPBSA International Round-Up | November 2020

Reviewing amateur snooker action from across the globe, this month’s edition of the WPBSA International Round-up takes us to Eastern Europe, Asia and Oceania…

New Zealand

Mark Canovan claimed his fourth New Zealand Snooker Championship following a 6-3 final victory over Bayden Jackson at the Papakura Club in Auckland.

Winner of the title previously in 2003, 2004 and 2014, Canovan qualified for the knockout portion of the event comfortably, dropping just two frames as he finished top of his group. In the last 16 he eliminated Steve Addison 4-0 before dispatching Rob Redgrove 5-1 and then Neil Cameron 5-0 in the quarter and semi-finals respectively. Cameron had dethroned defending champion Shannon Swain via a deciding frame in the last eight.

Jackson – victor in 2011 and 2017 – relinquished just seven frames in eight matches to reach another final, defeating Ian Muir 5-1 in the other last four tie. However, it was Canovan who started the best-of-11 final better, establishing a 3-2 advantage at the interval. On resumption he then compiled the highest break of the match with an 82 and would later secure his first head-to-head triumph over Jackson to lift the trophy once again and retain his number one spot in the national rankings.

The Canterbury cueist also collected the tournament’s highest break prize with an effort of 98.

Estonia

Andres Petrov continues to dominate the domestic snooker scene in Estonia as he won the national championship for an eighth consecutive year.

Held at Club 147 in the capital city of Tallinn, 24-year-old Petrov was seeded through to the knockout portion of the competition where he eliminated Heigo Harend 4-0 and Alexander Leitmäe 4-1 to progress to Finals Day.

There, he defeated recent Tallinn Snooker Cup finalist Mark Magi 5-1 in the semi-finals before a 6-3 victory over Denis Grabe 6-3 in the final. Grabe – who is a distinguished American Pool player on the international stage – got to the final again courtesy of a 5-0 win over Marko Jersov.

Former EBSA European Amateur Championship runner-up Petrov produced a series of breaks over 60 on the final day, including a 109 – the highest of the tournament – against Grabe.

Georgia

Nodar Bakradze triumphed at the Georgian Snooker Championship for a fourth year in succession, although he had to come from behind and survive a deciding frame in the final to retain the title.

Snooker in Georgia continues to grow in popularity and standard – a total of 35 players took part in this the fifth edition of the championship at the Star Snooker Academy in capital city Tbilisi, and a record-breaking number of breaks were recorded during it.

Bakradze enjoyed a straightforward passage to the final, not dropping a frame as he eliminated Erekle Khitalishvili, Giorgi Durglishvili and Alex Almasia all 3-0 before ending the hopes of Levan Rcheulishvili 4-0 in the semi-finals. It was the fourth time that Bakradze had defeated Rcheulishvili at the last four stage.

Making his way through to the final for the first time was Shavlego Chigogidze who had seen off Zurab Tsereteli in the other last four meeting. Despite going 2-0 down in the best-of-seven frames final, it looked like an upset was on the cards when Chigogidze strung together three in a row to move 3-2 up. However, Bakradze wasn’t to be denied as he finished strong to win 4-3.

 

Hong Kong

Three-time world women’s snooker champion Ng On Yee made a winning return to competitive action when she claimed the 2020 Hong Kong Women’s Open on home soil.

The current women’s world number two last took to the baize for a tournament back in February during the WWS Belgian Open which she won following a defeat of Reanne Evans in the final.

Held at the Legends Snooker Club in Cheung Sha Wan, On Yee made breaks of 66, 51 and 49 as she saw off Cheung Yee Ting 4-0 in the final.

So Man Yan compiled runs of 49 and 43 as she got the better of Jaique Ip Wan In 3-1 in the third/fourth place play-off.

Thank you to everyone that helped contribute to this month’s edition.

Article by Michael Day.

Snooker Prosperity in Latin America

Snooker Prosperity in Latin America

Snooker’s growing global appeal has accelerated at a swift pace over the past decade. As a result, previously unheralded territories have been welcomed into the sport’s community.

One region that is beginning its snooker journey appears to be in and around Central America, with influential cuesports enthusiast Junior Umaña Alvarado recently appointed to the Pan American Billiards and Snooker Association (PABSA) as its Latin American Co-Ordinator.

Having played and coached pool for several years, Alvarado was later introduced to snooker and has since spread the word of the sport in his home country of Costa Rica and beyond. His passion and drive for cuesports is remarkable; he has been successful in receiving funding from his government to educate players, and he founded the ‘Asociación Deportiva de Billar Americano’ which was recognised and accepted by PABSA last year. Amongst over things, the association organises charity events that help elderly people with incurable diseases.

Alvarado also runs a YouTube show titled ‘Snooker, Famosos y Más’ that combines snooker, Costa Rican celebrities and other topics such as entertainment and science, which he has a significant background in.

We spoke to Junior about his journey to date and his future plans for snooker in the emerging region…

Hello Junior. Thank you for talking to us. I understand you have been involved with cuesports for quite a while. Pool has an established community in your region, so how did you come across snooker?

I started out playing pool and at the time found it to be the best sport on Earth. I discovered and appreciated the scientific side of it and thought that it must be taught in high schools and universities. Against all odds, after working four years with scientists, I got an administrative decree from the Ministry of Public Education to teach pool.

I came across snooker in 2016 when my late pool playing partner Tulio Fernandez bought a table. Because I love challenges, very soon I spent a lot of time on it and learnt a lot. I quickly understood that pool was not the best sport on Earth…

What is the current snooker scene in Costa Rica and Latin America like? Can you tell us about the work you have put in and what you have achieved so far?

Previously very few people spoke about snooker in Latin America. However, through my promotional work including my YouTube channel, we have several countries that are interested to join Costa Rica in running the first snooker leagues in the region very soon. Honduras, Colombia, Uruguay and El Salvador are preparing to be a part of PABSA and hopefully Argentina, Belize, Guatemala, Panama and Venezuela will also be part of PABSA next year.

I already have more than 80 players waiting for the Costa Rica Snooker League to start. Unfortunately, due to the coronavirus restrictions we have been unable to – despite people stopping me on the street asking when it will begin! I have also been working very hard every day speaking to the government and private institutions in order to secure investment for the concept.

I understand that you have the backing of several well-known names in Costa Rica who have been involved with your cuesports work in the region and appeared on your YouTube channel.

I have the support of many famous people here in Costa Rica – some of whom are friends of mine that participate in my pool events. They are also keen to learn more about snooker and want to get involved in the future. One of my country’s all-time most famous footballers – Walter Centeno Corea – supports me and my Facebook and YouTube programs. With their endorsements and inclusion, it will help boost the profile of snooker throughout the Latin America region.

Can you tell us a little bit more about your new role with PABSA and what it involves?

My role with PABSA is very simple – I promote snooker in all Latin America. I have created contacts and relationships with fellow officials across the region who trust and believe in me because of my achievements such as my high schools teaching decree initiative.

We participate and keep in touch via a WhatsApp group where they ask me questions about snooker and its organisation. I explain to them that snooker is a huge sport, it can offer them so much and there are many possibilities to grow.

Besides what you have already mentioned, what are your other short-term hopes for Costa Rican / Latin American snooker?

Following discussions with Ajeya Prabhakar (PABSA President) there are possibilities of hosting an Open tournament and the Pan American Junior Snooker Championships in Costa Rica in the future. I have the support of the National Tourism Association and the Costa Rican Tourism Bureau for these.

The national association would also like to open its own facility – we are seeking funds for this, but every day I am getting closer.

Article by Michael Day.

WPBSA International Round-Up | October 2020

WPBSA International Round-Up | October 2020

Reviewing amateur action from across the globe, the latest edition of the WPBSA International Round-Up takes us through Europe and to the other side of the world.

Jersey

Former World Seniors Snooker Champion Aaron Canavan was once again crowned king of Jersey following a dramatic and high-quality final victory over rival Gary Britton at the First Tower Billiards and Snooker Club in Saint Helier.

The annual island championship was halted mid-tournament earlier in the year due to coronavirus restrictions but was recently commenced and concluded. Either side of the suspension, Canavan didn’t drop a frame on his way to yet another domestic final where he faced familiar adversary and defending champion Britton – between them the pair have claimed the majority of the island’s major snooker honours over the past 15 years.

In a fantastic start to the final six-time winner Britton took the opening frame with an 85 break but Canavan registered runs of 98 and 67 to move 2-1 up. The next two frames were shared before Britton forced it all the way with the aid of a 75. However, Canavan managed to win the decider and claim the national championship for a ninth time, avenging a deciding frame final loss to Britton in the 2019 final.

Northern Ireland

Fergal Quinn won his maiden Northern Ireland Under-21 Snooker Championship after a thrilling climax to the final against Robbie McGuigan at the Antrim Sports Club.

The scheduled date for the final was held over due to McGuigan having contested the overall national championship the week before. He made a bright start to the match, crafting efforts of 62 and 65 as he established a 3-1 lead in this junior encounter.

Quinn, though, was persistent after the mid-session interval, levelling the tie and then forcing it all the way after McGuigan had gone back ahead with frame seven. In a tense deciding frame, McGuigan came back after trailing early on, but having potted a long pink, he missed a tricky black down the cushion with the rest which allowed Quinn to step up and become the champion.

At the same venue the following week Chucky Preston won the 2020 Car Repairs Northern Ireland Women’s Snooker Championship.

The Newtownards cueist qualified for the knockouts after five out of six victories in the group before a 2-0 triumph in the semi-finals and then a 2-0 defeat of Cathy Pegg in the final.

Preston – who has risen up the world women’s rankings in a short space of time – has recently dominated the domestic women’s circuit in Northern Ireland, but it is the first time that she has secured the national title.

New Zealand

Kimberley Cullen defeated Corien Simpson 3-1 to capture her second New Zealand Women’s Snooker Championship at the Porirua Club.

Cullen won three of her four group games to qualify for the knockouts. After receiving a bye in the quarter-finals she got the better of Suzanne Hart 3-1 and then repeated that scoreline against Simpson.

Previously the winner in 2015, Cullen is also the current Oceania women’s snooker champion.

Elsewhere in New Zealand, Vincent Tate staged a notable recovery to claim the national seniors snooker title, coming back from 3-0 down to oust Dale Kwok 4-3 in the final.

The overall New Zealand Snooker Championship is due to take place in November.

Bulgaria

A fifth Bulgarian National Snooker Championship was won by Georgi Velichkov – the nation’s number one ranked player having triumphed at seven of this season’s eight events.

Velichkov dropped just one frame in seven matches on his way to the final at the Arena Zapad Academy in Sofia. He then ended the hopes of youngster Viktor Iliev 5-3 in the title decider. Velichkov also constructed the tournament’s highest break with an effort of 92.

Iliev – who dethroned defending champion Bratislav Krastev 4-3 in the last four – would be celebrating a fortnight later when he defeated Maxim Kostov 4-2 to retain the national under-21 championship.

Slovenia

Winner of the competition in 2018, Miha Zajc is once again the snooker champion of Slovenia.

Played throughout at the Biljardnica Kaval in Ljublijana, Zajc advanced through the early rounds and would end the reign of defending champion Kieman Sorak 5-1 in the final.

Like many countries across Europe, snooker continues to grow in Slovenia. Plans are being made for further playing opportunities in the near future. You can learn more about the championship and ambitions here.

 Thank you to everyone who contributed to this month’s edition. 

Article by Michael Day.

Kakovskii and Nechaeva defend Russian Championships

Kakovskii and Nechaeva defend Russian Championships

Ivan Kakovskii and Anastasia Nechaeva retained national titles in Russia earlier this month at the Star Klassik venue in Tyumen.

Promising prospect Kakovskii continues to dominate the domestic scene as he won his sixth Russian Snooker Championship in the past seven years. He didn’t drop a single frame throughout.

The 21-year-old from St. Petersburg made a string of breaks, including a 111 as he topped his group and qualified for the knockouts where he defeated Sergey Samokhvalov 2-0 in the last 16. He registered runs of 65 and 67 as he eliminated Sergey Bolotin 3-0 in the quarter-finals and then repeated that scoreline against Kirill Zhizduk in the last four.

In the final Kakovskii faced 17-year-old Andrei Karasov who progressed courtesy of a deciding frame black ball finish over Aleksei Koren in the other semi-final tie. However, Kakovskii’s experience proved too much and with efforts of 107 and 61 he ran out a comfortable 5-0 victor.

Earlier this year Kakovskii showed glimpses of what he is capable of when taking three frames off Jimmy White on the TV table at the Betfred World Championship in Sheffield.

Nechaeva lost just one frame as she claimed her seventh Russian Women’s Snooker Championship and her fourth in a row.

The 27-year-old – who reached the final of last year’s EBSA European Women’s Snooker Championship in Serbia – defeated teenager Aleksandra Riabinina 3-0 in the final.

Thank you to Ryabinin Sergey for his help in compiling this article.

Article by Michael Day.

WPBSA International Round-Up | September 2020

WPBSA International Round-Up | September 2020

As amateur snooker across the world attempts to return to some normality, further national championships within the World Snooker Federation family have been contested over the past month. Here is our round-up of the action.

Finland

Former top 32 professional Robin Hull dropped just two frames on his way to winning the Finnish Snooker Championship for a 12th time.

Like so many events this year, the competition was moved from its original date in April due to the coronavirus pandemic. Despite the enforced switch, a sizeable entry still made its way to the City Billiards venue in Oulo.

Hull – the 2016 Shoot Out champion and a three-time Crucible qualifier – eliminated Petri Pitkänen 4-0, Juha Erkinmikko 4-1, Jani Venäläinen 4-1 and Tuure Lappalainen 4-0 before ending the hopes of Eelis Lappalainen 4-0 in the semi-finals.

In the final Hull met Heikki Niva, a player who was just one match away from a maiden professional tour berth earlier this year having reached the final of the EBSA European Amateur Championship in Portugal. The 27-year-old was untroubled in the early rounds but he did require a decider to get past former winner Patrik Tiihonen 4-3 in the last four, where he constructed a break of 109 in the last frame. In an earlier round Niva compiled a 128, which would be the championship’s highest.

Hull was totally dominant in the final, though. A figure on the sport’s top tier for over two decades, he registered runs of 55, 73, 94 and 89 to win 4-0 and reaffirm himself as Finland’s top player.

At the 2017 World Cup in China, Hull and Niva played alongside each other for Finland.

Sweden

Bairaq Al-Urfy won nine consecutive matches on his way to claiming a second Swedish Snooker Championship title.

A field of 57 players took part at the Snookerhallen in Stockholm across four days of busy action that featured groups, double and straight elimination formats.

Seven years on from his maiden triumph in the competition, 28-year-old Al-Urfy made a trio of half-centuries as he coasted through his group, then navigated two further matches to qualify for the knockouts.

Breaks of 51 and 52 aided him to dispatch Kai Parvianen 4-0 in the last 16 before a 4-1 victory over Arpat Pulat put him in the last four. He then showed different qualities to defeat 2018 winner Henrik Svedstedt 5-4 in a match where there was never more than a frame between them.

In the other half of the draw, 2007 victor Jim Johansson dethroned defending champion Simon Lindblom in the last eight – gaining some revenge for his loss to him in last year’s final – then crafted breaks of 115 (highest of the tournament) and 82 as he ousted Suleman Kukka Salam 5-4 in the semi-finals.

Johansson held the initiative throughout much of the final, twice holding a two-frame advantage and highlighting a break of 92 in going 3-1 up. However, Al-Urfy managed to stay in touch and – despite having never led – emerged via a deciding frame 6-5 after over six hours of play to become the fourth different winner in as many years.

Since his triumph 13 years ago Johansson has reached the final a further six times but lost on each occasion, including the last three years.

Ukraine

Denis Khmelevskiy won the Ukraine Snooker Championship for the first time last month at the Leader Billiard Club in Kiev.

Khmelevskiy won all his group matches to qualify for the last 16 knockouts where he defeated 9-year-old Matvei Lagodzinschii – the current champion of Moldova – 2-0, Nikita Rudenko 3-0 and Vitaliy Patsura 3-1 to reach the final.

There he faced 15-year-old defending champion Anton Kazakov. The Dnipro cueist didn’t drop a frame early on but was pushed to a decider by Sergey Petrash in the quarter-finals. In the last four he faced fellow youngster Kirill Baydala where he recovered from losing the first frame to win 3-1, with a 57 break in the last frame.

The title match brought together two players who had recently teamed up to secure the national pairs championship. Vinnyystia based Khmelevskiy claimed the opener, but breaks of 58, 37 and 44 helped Kazakov move 2-1 in front. However, Khmelevskiy strung together the next three frames on the colours for a 4-2 success.

There was also a new winner of the national women’s championship after Lyubov Zhygailova pipped Margarita Lisovenko 2-1 in the final.

Thailand

Siripaporn Nuanthakhamjan created a piece of Thai snooker history by becoming the first woman to reach the final of an open category national event in the country.

Nuanthakhamjan – also known as Baipat – reached the final of the Thailand Under-21 Snooker Championship in August where she was narrowly defeated by Jongrak Boonraud 4-3.

However, just a few weeks later Siripaporn would be celebrating a national title when she claimed the Thailand Women’s Championship following a 4-1 victory over Waratthanun Sukritthanes in the final.

Siripaporn has recently returned to the sport after a small break away from it. Along with teammate Sukritthanes, she won last year’s inaugural World Women’s Snooker World Cup on home soil for Thailand.

Thank you to everyone who contributed to this month’s edition.

Article by Michael Day.