The Amateur Billiard Player : February 1999
The 1998 Asian Games, held in Bangkok, Thailand, during the first
half of December, was the first major games to included Billiards.
There were two competitions, singles and doubles, with the doubles
being played first. The matches in both were of the 150-up format.
Doubles : The first round did not provide a good start to the competition
with three of the five games being walkovers. Thirteen teams were
entered, but the two teams from Mongolia and the team from Uzbekistan
failed to appear, to leave two teams each from India, Malaysia, Taipei
and Thailand, and one team from the Philippines and Sri Lanka. The
Indian team of Sethi and Shandilya were seeded through to the Quarterfinals
as were the Thai No.1 pairing of Chaithanasakun and Kanfaklang.
These teams ultimately winning through to the final in which Sethi
was very confident about winning the gold. Writing in “The Hindu”
before the match, he said “With almost sixteen days of practice which
I got since arriving here along with the Indian contingent, I am hitting
the ball so sweetly and with such authority that I could stick my neck
out and say with a fair degree of certainty that Shandilya and myself
should get India that prized gold medal.” These words almost came
back to haunt him, as the Indians needed to win four of the last five
games, including a break of 141 by Sethi in the decider, to overcome
the Thai team 5-4.
Thirteen players representing six nations competed for the
individual title. The early rounds were best of five games, with the
semi-final being best of seven, and the final best of nine. Geet Sethi
and Ashok Shandilya, as the top two seeds, entered the competition at
the quarter-finals. Sethi played almost flawless Billiards, making breaks
of 90, 150 unfinished and 153 unfinished in his 3-0 win over Chung-
Ming Hung from Taipei. Shandilya was far less convincing, but
fortunately for him, Sirisoma did not take advantage of the opportunities
and Shandilya won 3-0. Both players also progressed through the semifinals
to make it an all Indian shoot-out for gold.
Sethi won the first game in the final, but Shandilya, with breaks of 132
and 89, won the next two games to take a 2-1 lead. Sethi then made a
break of 83 to draw level 2-2, but was unable to build on this and
Shandilya took two of the next three games to lead 4-3. Sethi, writing
in “The Hindu” said “I was unable to control the balls and that, more
often than not, is a sign of tension”. Sethi won the eighth game, scoring
a break of 139 in the process, but Shandilya, showing belief in his own
ability, made a break of 100 unfinished to win the final game and his
second gold medal. In the play-off for bronze Chaithanasakun Praput
(Thailand) beat Grandea Reynaldo (Philippines).