STRACHAN WORLD MATCHPLAY CHAMPIONSHIP
Centurion Hotel, Midsomer Norton, Radstock, Somerset
1st-4th March 1999
The Players and Seedings
Australia Robby Foldvari (5) England David Causier (6) Roxton Chapman (4) Bob Close (9) Brian Dix Peter Gilchrist (3) Mark Hirst Brian Morgan Mike Russell (1) Andrew Sage Peter Sheehan Chris Shutt (15) Mark Wildman (16) Ian Williamson (10) Eire Eugene Hughes India Arun Agrawal Subhash Agrawal (11) Satish Amarnath Michael Ferreira (13) Devendra Joshi (7) Manoj Kothari Alok Kumar (14) Nalin Patel (12) Mukesh Rehani Geet Sethi (2) Ashok Shandilya (8)
The £25,000 Pounds Strachan World Matchplay billiards tournament
moved to the West Country giving a welcome opportunity to billiard
enthusiasts from that region to see the World´s best in action. The
experiment of inviting top amateur player´s to compete in these events
appears to have been at least temporarily abandoned, even though it
had encouraged Mark Hirst to join the professional circuit after his
appearance as an amateur in the UK Championship.
The early rounds were two hours duration, with the quarter´s and semi´s
being three hours, and the final four hours. An entry fee of £1 per
session did not deter attendances which were sufficiently encouraging
to mark this area for a return fixture next season.
|A. Agrawal||654||(17.7)||B. Morgan||392||(10.6)|
|M. Hirst||480||(10.7)||M. Rehani||449||(10.2)|
|M. Kothari||713||(13.7)||B. Dix||399||(7.7)|
|P. Sheehan||w/o||A. Goenka||scr.|
|A. Sage||w/o||B. Bhaskar||scr.|
|E. Hughes||w/o||H. Gandhi||scr.|
The tournament commenced on Monday morning with something of a
nightmare for tournament organiser Stuart Bennett. Three of the
scheduled six matches were decided by walkovers due to absentee´s
from the Indian contingent.
Although a fax had been received from Peter Sheehan´s opponent
Aditya Goenka, no notice was given of Bhaskar’s absence. However,
the day after his scheduled match, news did come through that he had
been unable to catch a flight from India as all carriers to England were
fully booked ! This came as a bonus to Andrew Sage, giving him an
unexpected progression into the second round. It also exposed Bhaskar
to the possibility of a statutory fine of £250 from the WPBSA. Eugene
Hughes was the other recipient of a walkover, courtesy of Harish Gandhi
who also failed to appear.
Of the matches which did go ahead, new professional Mark Hirst
completed a narrow win over Mukesh Rehani while Arun Agrawal
and Manoj Kothari progressed more comfortably against Brian Morgan
and Brian Dix respectively.
|A. Agrawal||612||(11.3)||S. Agrawal||549||(10.2)|
|B. Close||654||(17.2)||S. Amarnath||330||(8.5)|
|M. Kothari||765||(17.0)||A. Kumar||488||(10.6)|
Sheehan, who is playing some fine billiards this season, was reported
to have been disappointed to be deprived of match practice by his first
round walkover, and certainly took some time to settle down in his
game against Michael Ferreira. Then, with both players neck and neck
at 200 points after some 30 visits, Sheehan settled the matter with a
magnificent break of 325. Ferreira never looked like making up the
deficit, but finished strongly to make the score a little more respectable.
Also deprived of his “practice” game, Eugene Hughes started well
enough against Chris Shutt, and with a break of 107 established an
early lead of 120 points. This seemed to act as a spur to Shutt, who
then slipped into top gear, responding immediately with 96. He followed
this with an inspired spell when consecutive runs of 56 and a superb
420 put him into a commanding lead of 471 points. Hughes, despite
another century later in the game, could do nothing against such an
onslaught as a full house at the Centurion Hotel witnessed Shutt rattle
up nearly 1,000 points in his two hour game.
Bradford’s Mark Hirst looked like causing an upset, being in front for
most of his match against Nalin Patel, but the highly ranked Indian
drew upon his greater experience to produce a timely 147 followed by
a 56 in the last fifteen minutes to win by 168 points.
In a surprise result, Arun Agrawal got the better of elder brother
Subhash, the match virtually being decided in the first hour as Arun
carved out a commanding lead of almost three hundred points. Subhash
came back in the later stages, but is obviously struggling to regain the
form which saw him lift the UK Billiards Championship in 1994
Calcutta’s Manoj Kothari provided the other shock of the round when
he eliminated Alok Kumar, India´s new National Billiards Champion
who seemed completely out of touch. He managed only three breaks
in the 50´s with two of these coming in the last three visits, with the
result already a formality. Kothari played a steady if unspectacular
game, providing a top break of 94. He has recently been paying a great
deal of attention to his technique, which has seen several alterations to
bridge, stance and cueing. His progress in this tournament, following
his semi-final appearance at Harrogate, would seem to indicate that he
has at last hit upon a winning formula.
Ian Williamson was always in charge of his encounter with Rex
Williams, a break of 137 helping him to a lead of 178 after three visits.
The highlight of Williams´ game was a break of 92, apart from which
he failed to produce any useful contributions.
Bob Close lead from the start against Satish Amarnath and never looked
to be in trouble. Close wrapped up victory with a strong finish which
saw him put in runs of 61, 69, 54, 62 and 53 unfinished, against a 46
by Amarnath, which was his best of the match.
131, 129, 106
|A. Shandilya||545||(16.5)||M. Wildman||464||(14.5)|
246, 178, 154, 122
199, 172, 118
171, 101, 296unf
Mike Russell, although scoring three centuries, never left first gear in
completing an easy win against Peter Sheehan, who also struggled to
find any form. Russell appeared to be edgy and tense throughout the
match, performing without his usual enthusiasm.
With Wildman and Shandilya battling neck and neck for most of their
match, the encounter looked to have swung in favour of the
Peterborough player when a break of 78 put him into a lead of 153
towards the end of the game. Shandilya however, struck back with his
next three visits putting him into a lead of just six points. This he
gradually extended in a tense finish to win by 81 points.
David Causier was in fine form against Arun Agrawal, starting the
game with a break of 246 at his fourth visit. Adding 178 mid-session
he finished with consecutive breaks of 154, 122 and 99 to record a
massive 1,248 point aggregate in the two hour game. Not surprisingly
Agrawal was unable to find any form in the face of this onslaught,
breaks of 79 and 83 being his only contributions over 30.
Roxton Chapman, who has failed to win a match in the ranking
tournaments so far this season, reversed this trend with a comprehensive
victory over veteran campaigner Bob Close. Things started to look
ominous for Close when Chapman put together breaks of 46, 172, 43,
199 and 83 in the space of six visits. This gave him an advantage of
441 which he had extended to 661 by the end of the match.
Chris Shutt failed to reproduce the form of his previous round as Peter
Gilchrist dominated their match from the start. He completed an
overwhelming victory with a break of 296 unfinished, giving him a
winning margin of exactly 700 points.
Devendra Joshi paid the penalty for giving Nalin Patel too many
opportunities, losing by 52 points. Patel, was excluded from the recent
Asian Games because he holds a British passport and has now declared
his intention to concentrate on the professional circuit. This win over
Joshi should prove enough to give him the important breakthrough
into the top eight in the world rankings next season.
Robby Foldvari and Ian Williamson played a typical low scoring match
which Foldvari won with some ease.
Geet Sethi marked his entry into the competition with two century
breaks as he cruised to a comfortable win, finding little in the way of
opposition from Manoj Kothari who could only muster a top break of
51 in their two hour encounter.
137, 135, 125
117, 109, 101
166, 137, 100
With the quarter-finals extended to three hours, the biggest upset of
the round was undoubtedly Ashok Shandilya´s win over Mike Russell.
Although Russell had performed well below par in the previous round,
he had done much the same in the UK Championship at Harrogate, on
that occasion bouncing straight back to record some spectacular
performances. This time, Shandilya put Russell under severe pressure
right at the beginning of their encounter with runs of 164, 51 and 106
to establish a lead of 267. Although Russell responded with three
centuries during the course of the match, he was never able to catch
the Indian player. Russell later said that he could not read the angle of
the in-off´s, or even simple pots. Ashok Shandilya, is currently playing
with supreme confidence, having taken two gold medals at billiards in
the recently concluded Asian Games in Bangkok, he followed this
with a notable victory over Geet Sethi in the Indian Billiards
Championship. His win over Russell is also not his first, having defeated
him four years ago in the UK Championship.
David Causier defeated Roxton Chapman even though the brilliant
but erratic Peterborough player hit breaks of 193 and an 212 unfinished.
At the conclusion, Chapman was still 159 points short of Causier´s
total and his inconsistency is all too apparent on the scorecard which
shows that sixteen of his 29 visits resulted in no score.
Peter Gilchrist was put under pressure by Nalin Patel who put in an
early 174 break, but then Gilchrist with contributions of 70, 137, 166
and 100 in his next five visits threatened to run away with the match.
To his credit Patel refused to be dominated by the World No.3, an 87
break by Gilchrist at his penultimate visit being the deciding factor in
his 130 point victory.
Sethi won his game against Robby Foldvari in the opening exchanges
as he put in breaks of 81, 235 and 89against a best of 25 by the
Australianto establish a lead of 373 points. Adding another
contribution of 176 after the interval, Sethi extended his lead to 567
and could afford to cruise for the remainder of the match. Although
Foldvari hit back with good breaks of 158 and 138, they were made
after the game was beyond his reach.
200, 150, 101
The first session of the semi-finals, which were played on adjacent
tables, saw both the English players establish big advantages over their
Indian opponents. Causier raced to an interval score of 778-306, while
Gilchrist put together the biggest break of the competition with 453 to
lead by a massive 528 points at one stage, but Sethi set the scene for a
remarkable come-back with breaks of 101 and 149 unfinished taking
him to the interval 278 points in arrears.
After the restart, Sethi took his unfinished break to 200, following this
with another of 150 to put him within striking distance of Gilchrist. In
an exciting finish, Sethi held the table with an unfinished 55 break to
win by 46 points.
On the other table, Shandilya produced a magnificent break of 375 to
bring him 141 points behind Causier. The ensuing safety battle was
won by the Teesside player who made a break of 123 from the opening
and thereafter was not challenged to his place in the final.
222, 191, 114
form to take the World
A large and appreciative audience witnessed a final where neither player
managed to perform to their usual high standard, Sethi´s greater
experience of tournament finals probably being the deciding factor in
seeing him through to victory. A break of 191 by Sethi at his tenth visit
was the main difference between the players after two hours, as the
World Champion took an advantage of 179 points into the interval.
The second session commenced with HTV, the local television channel
covering the start of the session live. This lasted for slightly less than
four minutes, enabling viewers to glimpse Sethi as he continued his
break of 6 unfinished. This was concluded at 93, and at this point
Causier had his best spell, with breaks of 125 and 89 in his first three
visits. Sethi responded well to this brief threat from Causier, putting in
a run of 93, then consecutive breaks of 222 and 68. Another break of
114 two visits later, put Sethi into a
lead of 510 with just one hour
remaining. This proved too much
even for the enterprising Causier,
who still plugged away and
succeeded in at least making the final
scoreline look a little more
Sethi received the trophy and a
cheque for £6,500 from a
representative of Strachan. Causier
took £4,000 as runner-up and Peter
Gilchrist received £500 for the
highest break of 453.