English Amateur Billiards Association

EABA : The Amateur Billiard Player : November 1999

The Amateur Billiard Player : November 1999

WORLD PROFESSIONAL BILLIARDS CHAMPIONSHIP

Taj Residency, Chennai, India (3rd-8th August 1999)

The Players and Seedings

Australia
Robby Foldvari (4)
England
David Causier (3)
Roxton Chapman (8)
Peter Gilchrist (5)
Mike Russell (2)
Chris Shutt (6)
Peter Sheehan (11)
Ian Williamson (12)
India
Arun Agrawal (15)
Subhash Agrawal (13)
Satish Amarnath
Balachandra Bhaskar
Michael Ferreira (16)
Harish Gandhi
Aditya Goenka
Manoj Kothari (14)
Devendra Joshi (10)
Alok Kumar
Ishmit Malik
Nalin Patel (7)
Mukesh Rehani
Geet Sethi (1)
Rupesh Shah
Ashok Shandilya (9)
Dhruv Sitwala

The 1999 World Professional Championship was held in the
luxurious surrounding of the Taj Residency Hotel in Chennai,
previously known as “Madras” before it became part of the current
Indian fashion for renaming their cities. Playing for a total prize
money of £45,000 the 25 entries were slightly down on year´s 31,
mainly due to a reduction in the Indian contingent. Of the top 16
ranked players, only Bob Close (15) was absent.

Using the new format of fixed points matches, the early rounds were
1000 up, played as a single session. The semi-finals were 1500 up with
an interval scheduled when one player reached 1000 points or the
aggregate score reached 1500, and the final was 2000 up, the interval
criteria also being extended by 500 points.

First Round
M. Rehani
1000 (14.7)D. Sitwala
672 (9.7)

Most of the interest in a rather pedestrian opening match between
Mukesh Rehani and Ashok Sitwala focused on an interruption of almost
half an hour to adjust the lighting, which had been raised to
accommodate the overhead zoom of the television cameras. As the
match resumed, neither player showed particularly good control, but
Rehani was the steadier of the two and won by 328 points in 3½ hours.
“It could have been brighter” said Rehani, referring to the lighting,
“but after a while we got used to it”.

Second Round
A. Kumar
91
1000 (14.1)M. Ferreira
572 (7.9)
A. Agrawal
100
1000 (12.8)I. Malik
542 (6.8)
A. Shandilya
125, 110, 99
1000 (21.7)M. Rehani
554 (12.0)
P. Sheehan
240, 121, 96unf
1000 (14.7)A. Goenka
494 (7.2)
M. Kothari
1000 (12.0)H. Gandhi
899 (10.8)
D. Joshi
1000 (16.9)S. Amarnath
576 (9.7)
B. Bhaskar
129
1000 (16.9)I. Williamson
151, 119
996 (16.9)
R. Shah
147, 127, 102, 96
1000 (19.6)S. Agrawal
127
768 (15.0)

The first surprise of the tournament came with the defeat of Michael
Ferreira. He was suffering the effects of a slipped disc and was obviously
still in some pain as he entered his match with Alok Kumar. “I got
over-enthusiastic” said Ferreira “One day recently I practised for seven
and a half hours and something went in my back”. Obviously in some
pain, he was unable to put up any opposition to Kumar who did not
have to produce anything special to record a 428 point victory. Ferreira
is now over 60 years old, but despite this setback, and the general
problems of advancing age, seems as keen as ever to continue playing.
Asian games gold medal winner, Ashok Shandilya managed two
centuries in his 446 point victory over fellow-countryman Mukesh
Rehani. The winning margin could have been much greater, but he
regularly failed on easy chances when looking good enough to put
together some sizeable contributions.

Photo of Peter Sheehan (19k)

Peter Sheehan produced the
best result of his career to
defeat Robby Foldvari.

Peter Sheehan made the first double-century of the competition with a
break of 240 which helped him to overcome the challenge of Aditya
Goenka. With a style and speed which is second to none in the
professional game, Sheehan made significant progress up the rankings
last year, and looks determined to make further gains this season.
Manoj Kothari made hard work of defeating Harish Gandhi in a match
which saw many blank and single figure visits. A top break of 77 by
Kothari did not bode well for his chances in the next round.

Tournament director Alan Chamberlain announced before the event
that referees had been instructed to “get tough with players slowing
down the game”. This didn´t seem to work out too well for the encounter
between Ian Williamson and Balachandra Bhaskar. After 3½ hours the
score had only reached 609-593 in favour of Bhaskar when Alan
Chamberlain was obliged to step in and suspend play, allowing the
table to be prepared for the following match. The pair returned for a
late-night sitting where Williamson had the agony of missing a
regulation pot red when 4 points from game. He then had to watch as
Bhaskar put together an unfinished break of 54 to snatch victory in a
total match time of six hours.

Another giant of Indian billiards, Subhash Agrawal, was forced to bow
to the power of youth, as Rupesh Shah´s fluent break-building and
effective safety play left Agrawal trailing in his wake. It was only towards
the end, with the winning post in sight, that Shah´s concentration
wavered, allowing Agrawal to make the score a little more respectable—
his last three visits producing 78, 62 and 127.

Third Round
G. Sethi
126, 102
1000 (31.3)A. Kumar
441 (14.1)
A. Agrawal
138, 108
1000 (23.8)R. Chapman
121, 98
695 (16.5)
P. Gilchrist
110, 106
1000 (22.7)A. Shandilya
193
709 (15.7)
P. Sheehan
219, 196, 150, 95
1000 (27.8)R. Foldvari
114, 91
682 (18.4)
D. Causier
144, 92, 91
1000 (24.4)M. Kothari
441 (10.7)
C. Shutt
149, 137, 127, 109, 102, 93
1000 (37.1)D. Joshi
420 (15.0)
N. Patel
241, 137, 128, 107, 95
1000 (27.8)B. Bhaskar
96, 95, 93
840 (23.3)
M. Russell
216, 93, 582unf
1000(100)R. Shah
99
221 (20.1)

Thursday´s play saw Mike Russell take centre stage and produce a
performance which must have dismayed his challengers. At his eleventh
visit with the score 418-221 in favour of the Peterborough professional,
he ran up a sparkling unfinished break of 582 in just 39 minutes. Russell
described it as technically one of the best breaks he has ever made, and
felt that if the format had allowed it, he could have gone on the register
the first 1,000 break under modern rules. Earlier in the game he had
produced a break of 216 which ended at a missed pot red. The match
took just 1 hour 50 minutes, the fastest of the championship so far, and
gave Russell an average of exactly 100.

Sethi had expressed the opinion that he was very happy with his game
prior to his match with Alok Kumar. However, he did not display
anything like the form of which he is capable. He started well enough,
breaks of 62, 77 and 76 establishing an early lead of 300-27, and he
threatened to inflict a runaway victory. Then came a slump with a long
spell of low scoring which allowed Kumar back into the game. This
spell was ended with a break of 102 and shortly afterwards another of
126 set him on the road to victory by 559 points. Despite the winning
margin, and a respectable match average of 31.4, Sethi was not happy
with the way he played, admitting that he would have to raise his game
if he was to retain his title.

Roxton Chapman´s miserable run of form continued unabated as he
went out to Arun Agrawal in a late-night encounter.
Ashok Shandilya´s fourth meeting with Peter Gilchrist resulted in his
fourth defeat. Gilchrist looked well set to complete a comfortable victory
as he raced into a lead of 858-298. Then a break of 193 by Shandilya
demonstrated the Indian´s class, but was insufficient to overcome such

a massive deficit. Gilchrist remained unruffled and did no more than
was required to win, closing the match with an unfinished 85.

Peter Sheehan turned in a
magnificent performance to
overcome No.4 seed Robby
Foldvari and record the best result
of his professional career. A break
of 150 nosed him ahead on his sixth
visit, before another of 219 saw him
pull away. However, the tough
Australian fought back to within 40
points before Sheehan ran in a
superb 196, and followed this with
breaks of 95 and 71 to complete a
318 point victory, his last five visits
producing 389 points.

It took David Causier 180 minutes
to demolish Manoj Kothari by 559
points. Although he made just one

century break, he was consistent enough to record an average of 24.4
and cruise through to the quarter-finals.

The residents of Chennai take relief from the heat by beginning their
activities early in the morning, and Chris Shutt also decided to get into
this habit, rising at 4.00am for his practise sessions. This idea seemed
to work well enough, as he took even less time than Causier to dispose
of Devendra Joshi, five century breaks helping him to complete the
task in exactly two hours. Joshi was never in contention as Shutt, starting
with a break of 127, and ending with consecutive runs of 109, 93, 149
and 39 unfinished averaged 37.0 for his 1,000 points.

Bhaskar´s draining match against Williamson didn´t prevent him from
putting up a gallant fight against Nalin Patel. The turning point was a
break of 241 by Patel who also ran in three other centuries. Some self-
imposed pressure at the end saw him miss some easy shots, but his
earlier work was enough to see him through to meet Russell in the
quarter-finals.

Quarter finals
A. Agrawal
110, 105, 92, 92
1000 (20.0)G. Sethi
124, 101, 98, 94
999 (19.6)
P. Gilchrist
210, 99, 96, 94
1000 (37.1)P. Sheehan
125, 114
647 (23.1)
C. Shutt
158, 132, 98
1000 (29.5)D. Causier
167, 134
829 (24.4)
M. Russell
158, 155, 150, 143, 99, 149unf
1000 (58.8)N. Patel
246, 149
720 (40.0)
Photo of Arun Agrawal (20k)

Arun Agrawal punched the air
with delight as he scored the
final points which eliminated
the World Champion.

Fourteen years ago Arun Agrawal was a spectator at the Taj Palace
Hotel in Delhi as Geet Sethi won his first World Amateur
Championship. This inspired him to take up the game seriously, and
on Friday 6th August his efforts culminated in a magnificent victory

over his hero. Agrawal who has only
been in the professional ranks for
three years raised his game to stay
in close contention throughout the
match. Trailing 826-943 he then ran
up a timely 110 break to pressurise
the Champion. Even so, Sethi
seemed to have the measure of the
match, when, needing only 23 to
win, he put together 22 before
missing a straightforward in-off red.
Agrawal, who must have been
preparing to concede defeat, then
had to summon all his reserves to
play out an unfinished break of 53
in a nerve tingling climax. As the
winning shot was made, Agrawal
released the pent-up tension by
punching the air with delight.

On his performances in the previous rounds, Peter Sheehan looked to
stand a realistic chance of progressing to the semi-finals. Perhaps it
was in Sheehan´s mind that Gilchrist had defeated him twice last season,
one of those in the World Championships. Whatever the reason, he
failed to reproduce his earlier form and Gilchrist, assisted by a break of
210, sailed through to the semi-finals.

Russell, who was known to be unhappy with his cueing, was also below
the form he displayed in the previous round, but to his credit was able

to raise his game when most needed. When Patel put together a break
of 246 to establish a lead of 58 points, Russell responded with a break
of 155, following this with runs of 150 and 158. Later, when Patel
threatened to pull level, Russell closed out the match with a 69 and
143 unfinished.

It would have taken a brave person to bet on the result of the match
between Teesside rivals, Chris Shutt and David Causier. These rapidly
improving players seem destined to break up the long held cartel of
Sethi and Russell and little separates them in terms of ability at the
moment. In just over an hour, Shutt had established a lead of 520-168
before Causier struck back with a break of 134 and then raced past his
opponent with a superb 167 to open up a lead of 702-692. But he
failed to keep up the momentum, and Shutt responded in the manner
of a champion to complete a 171 point victory.

Semi finals
P. Gilchrist
189, 171, 139, 119, 119, 99, 145unf
1500 (30.0)A. Agrawal
102
569 (11.1)
M. Russell
352, 291, 283, 247, 96
1500 (93.8)C. Shutt
183
336 (21.0)

In a slightly nervous opening, Chris Shutt must have regretted
squandering several chances early in his semi-final match against Mike
Russell. Although at one stage he held a 133-109 advantage, this was
cancelled by the first significant break from Russell, 96, at his ninth
visit, and was immediately followed by a run of 247. To his credit,
Shutt responded with 183, but thereafter it was all Russell, as the World
No.1 started to flow, adding runs of 352, 283 and 291 in his next five
visits. Russell completed his victory in a little under two hours with an
average of 93.8

Still little more than a “rookie” professional, Arun Agrawal seemed a
little overawed by reaching his first semi-final and could not reproduce
the fighting billiards he had displayed against Sethi. Gilchrist made his
first century (119) at his third visit and thereafter drew steadily away
with three more centuries in his next 14 visits. After the interval,
Agrawal faded away completely, adding only 86 points to his score as
Gilchrist romped through the 500 he needed, ending the one-sided
contest with an unfinished 145.

Final
M. Russell
341, 332, 294, 194, 192, 124, 245unf
2000 (74.1)P. Gilchrist
124, 115, 99, 98
832 (31.0)

An all-night party by some of his fellow competitors in an adjoining
room, ensured that Mike Russell only had three hours sleep on the eve
of his final with Peter Gilchrist. Starting his match at 10.00am Russell
admitted he was “shattered by lack of sleep” and both players opened
the game by missing good chances. It took a break of 99 by Gilchrist to
stir Russell into action. This brought a response of 74 which was his
way of warming up for a break of 294 which followed almost
immediately. Drawing deeply from his reserves of concentration, Russell
added runs of 192, 195 and 124 to set himself firmly on the path to
victory. Gilchrist kept in touch with breaks of 115, 88, 72 and 124
keeping the deficit down to 1,065-651. Then Russell went away again,
an unfinished run of 285 taking him into the interval leading 1350-
651. “I was glad of the interval. I could go to sleep for a while” said
Russell. “My knees were giving way and my eyelids were getting heavier
by the minute”.

Returning slightly refreshed, Russell took his break to 332 before
electing to play for safety after losing position. Shortly afterwards
Gilchrist was given an excellent chance of posting a substantial response,
but this ended disappointingly after just a few shots with a missed in-
off red. Russell´s punishing reply was a break of 341 which saw him
widen his lead to 1750-670.

Perhaps stung by the failure at his previous visit, Gilchrist at last seemed
to be getting things right, but sensationally forgot about crossing the
baulk-line as he approached the century and had to settle for a break of
98. He had just one more chance, adding another 60 to his score, before
Russell wrapped things up with a run of 245 unfinished.

Russell´s winning cheque for £12,500 was supplemented by another
for £1,000 in recognition of the highest break, 582 unfinished, which
he made in his opening match. “I like playing in Madras” said Russell,
who has now won five of the six tournaments to be held in the city.
Peter Gilchrist, unhappy that he had not been able to make more of his
chances in the final, still made a very respectable match average of
31.0, and was at least partially consoled with the runner-up´s prize of
£7,500.


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