English Amateur Billiards Association

EABA : The Amateur Billiard Player : February 1999

RILEY NORTHERN OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP

North Ormesby Institute, Middlesbrough (16th-19th November 1998)

The Players and Seedings

Australia
Robby Foldvari (5)
England
David Causier (6)
Roxton Chapman (4)
Bob Close (9)
Norman Dagley
Brian Dix
Peter Gilchrist (3)
Mike Russell (1)
Andrew Sage
Peter Sheehan
Chris Shutt (15)
Mark Wildman (16)
Rex Williams
Ian Williamson (10)
Paul Bennett (Am)
Tony McKinder (Am)
Eire
Eugene Hughes
India
Arun Agrawal
Subhash Agrawal (11)
Michael Ferreira (13)
Adiyta Goenka
Devendra Joshi (7)
Manoj Kothari
Alok Kumar (14)
Nalin Patel (12)
Mukesh Rehani
Geet Sethi (2)
Ashok Shandilya (8)
Russia
Ashok Potikyan

The first domestic tournament of the professional season commenced
at North Ormesby Institute in Middlesbrough on Monday 16th
November. This was the second year that the Northern Open had been
held at this venue and as defending champion, Mike Russell was
automatically seeded No.1

This season, in a welcome innovation, it has been decided to invite
leading amateur players from the local area to take part as “wild card”
entries. For this event, the honour went the English Champion, Paul
Bennett, and North Ormesby club player, Tony McKinder, both from
Middlesbrough. All games up to the final were 2 hours duration.

First Round
A. Agrawalw/oM. Rehaniscr.
P. Sheehan
194, 118, 114, 102, 96, 85, 73, 99unf
950(21.1)T. McKinder245(5.3)
M. Kothari
73, 71
588(11.5)P. Bennett419(8.2)
A. Goenka393(5.6)B. Dix311(4.5)
A. Potikyan329(4.8)A. Sage256(3.7)

The opening day saw the appearance of the amateur players, with most
expectations focused on Paul Bennett, who had experienced some
measure of success against professional opposition in the recent IBSF
Championship in Australia. His opponent, No.20 ranked Manoj Kothari
would have represented his best victory to date, but unfortunately the
match did not live up to expectations. With both players determined to
give no chances, the game quickly became bogged down with extensive
safety tactics, with the greater experience of Kothari seeing him through.
Tony McKinder was given little opportunity against an in-form Peter
Sheehan. The Widnes professional found top-of-the-table with unerring
regularity, piling in the breaks to leave McKinder as one of the spectators
for most of the match.

Viewing the form in the other two first round matches, both of the
amateurs must have felt that with a different draw, progression to the
next round—and a cheque for £250—would have been a realistic
possibility. Arun Agrawal was given a bye when Mukesh Rehani was
forced to withdraw from the tournament with a recurring shoulder injury.

Second Round
R. Williams
100, 80, 61
521(21.7)N. Patel
75, 64, 63
432(18.0)
I. Williamson
67, 64
478(13.6)A. Agrawal287(8.2)
B. Close
111, 102, 88, 85, 84, 167unf
771(36.7)N. Dagley
87, 71
280(12.7)
P. Sheehan
262, 118, 88, 86, 71
847(25.7)S. Agrawal
121, 103
610(17.9)
E. Hughes
93, 93
554(14.2)A. Kumar
119
535(13.7)
C. Shutt
136, 103, 102, 92, 83
897(24.2)M. Kothari
98, 73
479(12.6)
M. Ferreira
101, 89
655(16.8)A. Goenka377(9.4)
M. Wildman677(17.8)A. Potikyan318(8.4)

Much interest was shown by the older Teesside fans in the pairing of
Bob Close and Norman Dagley. These two players met regularly for the
English Amateur Championships when it was staged in Middlesbrough
in the 1970´s. On those occasions it was usually Dagley who came out
on top, but now 68 years old, and apparently in poor health, he showed
few glimpses of his former skills. Close, however, appears totally
undiminished by the years, running to game with 167 unfinished and
making an average of 36.7 for the two hour match—a performance
which would have given him satisfaction twenty years ago.

Peter Sheehan continued to impress, making the first double century
of the competition with 262 in winning his game against Subhash
Agrawal.

Eugene Hughes was involved in a tight finish as Alok Kumar came
back at him with late breaks of 119, 51 and 34. But the Irishman held
his nerve to win by a slender 19 points.

Chris Shutt made two early centuries in his match against Kothari, to
establish a lead which was never seriously threatened. Plagued by
“kicks” Shutt lost some of his fluency in the middle part of the game,
but still did sufficient to win comfortably. With the match secure,
Shutt treated the spectators to some exhibition billiards as he rattled
off breaks of 136 and 33 unfinished in the last 10 minutes.

Third Round
M. Russell
350, 186, 113, 89
985(57.9)R. Williams
107unf
310(18.2)
D. Causier
102, 84, 78
587(16.3)I. Williamson
79
408(11.3)
A. Shandilya
100, 99
575(17.9)B. Close
123, 86, 72
543(16.9)
P. Sheehan
181, 96, 85
667(26.6)R. Chapman
186, 83
389(15.5)
P. Gilchrist
175, 92
611(23.5)E. Hughes
171, 78
441(16.3)
C. Shutt
205, 153, 168, 113, 111
1041(38.6)D. Joshi327(12.5)
R. Foldvari
89
412(11.4)M. Ferreira254(7.2)
G. Sethi
83
500(19.2)M. Wildman
101, 82, 73
465(18.6)

Mike Russell made an impressive entry to the competition, setting a
new standard with a top break of 350. Rex Williams could do little
against the Peterborough professional, leaving his best effort until the
end when he made an unfinished break of 107.

Bob Close also looked a favourite to progress to the quarter finals in
his match against Shandilya. Taking a lead from the start, he kept it
until the very last visit, when Shandilya held the table to compile a
break of 57 unfinished and secure victory by 32 points.

Peter Sheehan provide the biggest upset of the tournament by defeating
No.4 seed Roxton Chapman, who seemed totally out of touch as
Sheehan raced into an early lead. A late break of 186 by Chapman
raised the brief prospect of a recovery, but he failed to build upon this
and fell back again as Sheehan completed an impressive victory.

Chris Shutt was once more in top gear against Devendra Joshi, making
breaks of 113, 153, 205 and 111 in his first eight visits. After this it

was just a question of how many
he would score, and in the event
he set the competition´s best two
hour aggregate with 1,041
points.

Mike Ferreira, who is
experimenting with new contact
lenses this season, was never on
terms with Robby Foldvari,
eventually losing by 158 points.
Newly crowned World
Champion, Geet Sethi also
found it hard going against Mark
Wildman, coming from behind
to win by just 35 points.

Quarter Finals
M. Russell
189, 131, 97, 97
667(20.8)D. Causier
176, 116, 73
661(20.6)
A. Shandilya
96, 95, 78
600(17.1)P. Sheehan
118, 71, 73, 73
553(15.8)
C. Shutt
168, 102, 90, 74unf
565(24.5)P. Gilchrist
266
560(24.3)
R. Foldvari
136, 79
451(20.5)G. Sethi
81
266(11.6)

The Quarter-finals opened up with two matches which could hardly
have been closer. First, David Causier kept up his current good form
by giving Mike Russell a real fright. Russell had looked to have the
match well under control when he established a lead of 269 with less
than 30 minutes remaining. Causier´s response was to compile
consecutive breaks of 73 and 176, and was in play with 24 unfinished
at the bell—falling just 6 points short of a major upset.

But the play on the adjoining table was no less dramatic. Shutt had
established a lead of 250 points with Gilchrist having made only one
break in double figures in the first hour. Then came the fireworks,
which started with a break of 266 from Gilchrist, followed by 43 and
57 to give him an unlikely lead of 110 points. Shutt replied with a
break of 168 to go in front again, but some careless safety play let
Gilchrist in for an immediate reply of 61, putting him one point in
front. A “do or die” scoring attempt from Shutt appeared to have sealed
the match when he let Gilchrist in again with just 10 minutes on the
clock. After Gilchrist had occupied the table for six of these minutes—
making a determined break of 68—he would have been forgiven for
thinking he had done enough. Shutt however, had other ideas and
quickly gaining top-of-the-table position, he rattled in 74 points before
the bell sounded to take the match by 5 points. Having misread the
scoreboard, and thinking that he actually required 79 points, Chris
Shutt must have been the most relieved person in the room when the
result was announced.

Sethi must have known that he needed to produce a better performance
than his previous round if he was to defeat Australia´s top player, Robby
Foldvari. However, he simply added to his dismal record in the Teesside
event making just 40 points in his first 16 visits, while the Australian
IBSF Champion was building up a commanding lead which he held to
the end.

Sheehan and Shandilya played a tight tactical game which could have
gone either way, but having the better of the late exchanges, Shandilya
edged home by 47 points.

Semi Final
M. Russell
266, 236, 128, 79
893(38.8)A. Shandilya
94, 85
415(18.0)
C. Shutt
322, 226
657(65.7)R. Foldvari
131
399(36.2)
Photo of Chris Shutt (4k)

Chris Shutt
“Future World Champion”.

After the excitement of the quarter finals, the semi´s came as something
as an anticlimax, with Russell and Shutt both recording comfortable
victories. Shandilya started well against Russell, but a break of 236 by
the No.1 seed gave him a lead he would never lose. With his final visit,
Russell added another 266 to ease his way into the final.

Chris Shutt was undoubtedly playing well above the standard suggested

by his lowly No.15 ranking, but even so, he could not have relished a
meeting with World No.5 Robby Foldvari. The Australian is noted for
his careful play which is the complete opposite to the quick-fire style
of Shutt. An early break of 226 by the Teessider was immediately
countered by one of 131 by Foldvari and subsequent smaller
contributions brought him within 20 points of the local hero. At this
point Shutt produced his biggest break of the tournament with 322,
leaving the Australian insufficient time to stage another comeback.

Final
2 x 1½ hrs.
M. Russell
408, 268, 198, 118, 110, 86, 78, 71, 73, 73
1719(74.7)C. Shutt
89, 86, 86, 81
554(24.0)
Photo of Mike Russell (6k)

Mike Russell
turned on the
power to
overwhelm
local favourite
Chris Shutt
and win the
Riley Northern
Open at North
O r m e s b y
Institute, in
Middlesbrough.

Despite holding the final on a night when the majority of Middlesbrough
billiard players were involved in league action, there was still a good
crowd at the start of the final, which gradually increased as various
league matches were completed. The previous performances of Chris
Shutt raised expectations that the local lad had a realistic chance to
carry off the top prize.

Chris had two early opportunities to put together one of his big breaks,
but both ended unexpectedly in the 80´s while attempting to negotiate
the “baulk-line crossing”. Meanwhile Russell, with solid play, forged
a lead of 210 by the interval.

If Chris Shutt entertained any ideas of a come-back he was given plenty
of time to reconsider his opinion as Russell took an unfinished break
of six to 408—the highest of the event. He followed this with
consecutive breaks of 71, 268, 198 and 118 to show anyone who may
have been in doubt, just why he is regarded as the best player in the
World. Russell´s average for the second session was 141.1, and for the
match 74.7

In his capacity of Chairman of the WPBSA Billiard Committee, Peter
Gilchrist presented the trophies and prize money. Russell collected
cheques totalling £7,000 which included £500 for the highest break,
and Chris Shutt returned to Norton £3,000 the richer. In his closing
address Gilchrist echoed the feelings of many present when he forecast
that Chris Shutt, who had reached his first tournament final in this
event, would be a future World Champion. If he is to achieve this
position, he has at least been given a demonstration of the standard of
play he will be required to produce.


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