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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Declan Lavery defended the Northern Ireland Amateur Snooker Championship last weekend after a thrilling 10-9 deciding frame victory over youngster Robbie McGuigan in the final.
With a proud history dating back to as far as 1927, this is one of the world’s oldest national snooker championships. Former winners include 1972 and 1982 world champion Alex Higgins and 2018 Masters champion Mark Allen.
Organised by the Northern Ireland Billiards and Snooker Association (NIBSA) – a member of the World Snooker Federation (WSF) – the event was moved from its original date in the spring due to the coronavirus pandemic. Featuring a total of 90 competitors, it was held over three consecutive weekends at the Antrim Sports Club. Sections of the draw were completed across the opening weekends before the eight remaining cueists returned for the conclusion.
Reigning champion Lavery was a man on a mission in Antrim, dropping just one frame on his way to the final. The 36-year-old first defeated John Robinson 3-0, Paschal McKenna 3-1 and Brian Milne 4-0 to book his place at ‘Finals Weekend’. There he continued his campaign with clean sweeps of Darren Dornan 5-0 in the last eight and Stephen Brady 6-0 in the semis. In the previous round Brady had eliminated former top 16 star and two-time Crucible semi-finalist Joe Swail 5-2. Swail – runner-up in this event twice before – missed the 15th black (113) during a maximum attempt in the last 32.
Lavery’s opponent was exciting 16-year-old prospect McGuigan, who was aiming to become the youngest ever winner of this title. Already a Challenge Tour event finalist, McGuigan crafted a plethora of breaks on his way through, which featured a 5-1 quarter-final win over former professional and seven-times winner Patrick Wallace and then a gripping 6-5 pink ball triumph over Raymond Fry in the last four.
A Fantastic Final
The first four frames of the two-session final were shared with both players making a half-century. McGuigan then compiled breaks of 110 and 76 in two of the next three frames which sandwiched Lavery’s effort of 57 in frame six, but it was the latter who finished the first session stronger as he claimed the final two frames for a 5-4 lead.
On resumption, Lavery swelled his advantage, moving one away from glory at 9-5 up. However, impressive McGuigan refused to quit, stringing together four consecutive frames including back-to-back breaks of 128 and then 132 (the two highest breaks of the tournament) to force a decider.
Despite this onslaught of scoring from his rival, though, Lavery composed himself in the last frame. An initial run of 46 helped him take early control of the decider which he later converted into victory and a successful defence of the championship.
Winner Lavery said “I played great up to the final winning 18 frames in a row, followed by the opening frame of the final. Then it was about hanging on to Robbie.”
“I couldn’t believe I was 5-4 up as he played some great snooker in the first session. I took control at 9-5 and should have killed the match off but he cleared twice and then made two of the best breaks I’ve ever seen in about only ten minutes for 9-9. Robbie is already a fantastic player but he will only get better the next couple of years and I really fancy him to go to the top tier of the sport.”
“I’m really proud the way I held myself together in the decider and over the moon to retain my title. It might be hard to get the hat-trick next year, though, with Robbie being another year older!”
Tournament Director Simon Cooke added “We got to witness a great match between Declan and Robbie. Massive thanks to all those who helped out behind the scenes in order to run and showcase the tournament, the staff at Antrim Sports Club for their hospitality and Rory Mallon from RTM Mortgages who sponsored the event.”
Full results from the championship can be accessed via WPBSA SnookerScores.
Article by Michael Day.
A new name will be etched onto the Northern Ireland Amateur Snooker Championship trophy after Antrim’s Declan Lavery claimed the national title for the first time last weekend.
Dating back to as far as 1927, this prestigious event has been won in the past by major champions Alex Higgins and Mark Allen. Organised by the Northern Ireland Billiards and Snooker Association (NIBSA) – a member of the World Snooker Federation (WSF) – this year’s edition featured over seventy hopefuls who contested the competition across three consecutive weekends. The early rounds were played at the Minnesota Snooker Club in Ballymena and a subsequent ‘Finals Weekend’ was held for the eight remaining contestants at the 147 Snooker Club in Antrim.
Lavery began his bid with victories over Kevin McGlinchey (3-0), John Robinson (3-1) and Paul Currie (4-2) to book a berth in the quarter-finals at his home venue. Three breaks of 90 and a 59 helped him to a 5-0 last 8 win against youngster Christopher Clifford, thus setting up a clash with ex-professional and seven-time champion of this tournament, Patrick Wallace.
The 35-year-old held 4-1 and 5-3 advantages in the best-of-11-frames encounter, but seasoned campaigner Wallace struck back to force a deciding frame. However, aided by a run of 55 – his fifth half century of the tie – Lavery came through to reach the final for the first time following four semi-final defeats in the past. Waiting for him there was Darren Dornan from Drumaness, who had eliminated Raymond Fry, 6-2, in the other semi.
During the first session of the final Lavery made breaks 51 and 106 to take control, but efforts of 70 and 63 kept Dornan in touch as he trailed by just one frame at 4-5 come the end of the opening salvo. On resumption, though, Lavery wasn’t prepared to relinquish his lead as he won five of the next six frames to emerge a 10-5 victor and secure the most significant accolade of his career so far.
A former Under-16 and 19 national champion too, Lavery’s latest success means he has earned a wildcard into the professional Northern Ireland Open at the Waterfront Hall in Belfast later on in the year.
A jubilant Lavery said “I’m overjoyed to win the title. It was my real goal in snooker to win it and get my name on the trophy alongside three of my best mates (Mark Allen, Colin Bingham, Jordan Brown) and Alex Higgins. I can’t wait to play in the Northern Ireland Open at the Waterfront”.
Earlier in the week, Shea Moore defended the Under-21 championship title with a 5-3 comeback final win over Christopher Clifford.
Clifford opened a 3-0 lead in the final before Moore turned the tables with a five-frame winning streak that included a half century break in each of the last three frames.
2019 Northern Ireland Amateur Snooker Championship
Results from the quarter-finals onwards (breaks in brackets)
Patrick Wallace (60, 62) 5-3 (56, 50, 54) Stephen Brady
Christopher Clifford 0-5 (90, 90, 90, 59) Declan Lavery
Anto Heaney 4-5 Darren Dornan
Mark Jackson (50) 4-5 (57) Raymond Fry
Wallace 5-6 (73, 52, 54, 53, 55) Lavery
Dornan 6-2 Fry
Lavery (50, 51, 106) 10-5 (70, 63, 58) Dornan