English Amateur Billiards Association

EABA : The Amateur Billiard Player : February 2000

The Amateur Billiard Player : February 2000

NORTHERN OPEN BILLIARDS CHAMPIONSHIP

North Ormesby Institute, Middlesbrough

29th November – 2nd December 1999

The Players and Seedings
Australia
 Robby Foldvari (4)
England
 Paul Bennett
 David Causier (3)
 Roxton Chapman (8)
 Bob Close (14)
 Brian Dix
 Peter Gilchrist (5)
 Mark Hirst
 Mike Russell (1)
 Andrew Sage
 Peter Sheehan (11)
 Chris Shutt (6)
 Mark Wildman
 Rex Williams (16)
 Ian Williamson (12)
 Lee Lagan (Am)
 Tony Mackinder (Am)
India
 Arun Agrawal (15)
 Balachandra Bhaskar
 Manoj Kothari (13)
 Devendra Joshi (10)
 Nalin Patel (7)
 Geet Sethi (2)
 Ashok Shandilya (9)
Russia
 Ashot Potikyan
Thailand
 Rom Surin (Am)

The professional tour arrived in Middlesbrough on Monday 29th
November with both Joe Grech and Mike Ferreira still absent. In
addition, Mark Wildman withdrew due to prior commitments in his
new role as Chairman of the WPBSA. This prevented what would
have been an interesting encounter with the outgoing Chairman, Rex
Williams, who he was scheduled to meet in the first round. Special
“wildcard” entries had been granted for English Amateur Champion,
Lee Lagan, and National CIU Champion Tony Mackinder, both of
whom also represented North Ormesby Institute in various local
Leagues.

In addition to rescheduling the opening matches to take account of
absentees the early rounds were also reduced from the advertised 750
up to 500 up. This was based on an analysis of scoring at the Harrogate
event which convinced Tournament Director, Stuart Bennett, that he
would be unable to complete the fixed points matches if they were
played over the longer run. (Holding the event in a Social Club meant
that all matches had to be finished by 11.15pm)

Round One
R. Surin
121, 118, 97, 54
500 (26.3)L. Lagan
185 (9.3)
T. Mackinder
w/o J. Grech
scr 

Lee Lagan failed to reproduce the form he has been showing lately on
the Amateur circuit, being unable to come to terms with the new match-
cloth which was giving a pronounced sliding effect from both cushions
and bed. There were expectations that Lagan would be a serious
challenger to the IBSF Champion, but the test did not prove as difficult
as it might have been. Surin progressed easily enough, as Lagan with a
top break of 33 was never in the picture.

Round Two
R. Surin
98, 88, 78
500 (26.3)P. Bennett
69, 59
303 (15.2)
T. Mackinder
50, 63unf
500 (12.2)B. Dix
204 (5.0)

The last meeting between Surin and Bennett—in the final of the IBSF
World Championship—resulted in a comfortable victory for the Thai
player. With a target of just 500 points, Bennett must have felt he was
in with a real chance to reverse that result. However, he was always
struggling to keep in touch with Surin who drew steadily away and
won comfortably. Ian Williamson, Surin´s next opponent, was an
interested spectator, taking his first look at the Thai player.
Brian Dix held Tony Mackinder for the first hundred points of their
match, but thereafter the CIU Champion had matters all his own way
and never looked to be in danger of losing.

Round Three
B. Bhaskar
158, 51
500 (15.2)A. Agrawal
66, 63, 50
397 (12.0)
B. Close
54, 50, 56unf
500 (15.6)M. Hirst
80
339 (10.3)
R. Surin
137, 63, 56
500 (20.0)I. Williamson
116, 68
399 (16.0)
T. Mackinder
81
500 (13.5)M. Kothari
297 (7.8)
D. Joshi
135, 59
500 (17.9)A. Potikyan
135 (4.7)
A. Shandilya
90, 85, 53, 191unf
500 (45.5)A. Sage
67 (6.1)
P. Sheehan
w/o M. Ferreira
scr 
R. Williams
w/o M. Wildman
scr 

A solid performance by Bangalore based B. Bhaskar gave him a notable
victory over Arun Agrawal. A break of 158 by Bhaskar was countered
by runs of 66, 63 and 50 in consecutive visits by Agrawal, which gave
him a nine point advantage within 200 of the required target. From this
stage however, Bhaskar proved the more consistent and finished a
winner by 103 points.

Surin continued his winning ways with a fine victory against that tough
competitor Ian Williamson. With nothing between the players at the

half-way mark, a break of 137 gave Surin a lead he would keep until
the end.

Manoj Kothari’s form has taken a nose-dive in recent years, as he
continues to experiment with his technique. His quest still looked a
distant goal in his match against Mackinder where he didn’t even show
the glimpses of form he had displayed against Paul Bennett at Harrogate.
Mackinder started with a break of 81 at his first visit and thereafter was
given all the opportunities he needed to take the scalp of the 1990
World Amateur Champion.

After a cautious start, Ashok Shandilya warmed up for a fourth round
meeting with Geet Sethi by producing an impressive display against
Andrew Sage—his last six visits producing 459 points with runs of
53, 90, 85, 40 and 191 unfinished.

Round Four
C. Shutt
101, 90, 88, 88, 58, 51
750 (20.3)R. Williams
70, 56, 53
448 (11.8)
P. Gilchrist
210, 92, 75, 64, 56
750 (32.6)T. Mackinder
98, 64, 50
462 (19.3)
M. Russell
245, 122, 82, 69, 62
750 (41.7)B. Bhaskar
123
293 (15.4)
D. Causier
195, 100, 91, 78, 61, 54, 78unf
750 (26.8)P. Sheehan
152, 128, 60
435 (15.5)
A. Shandilya
103, 91, 81, 76, 70, 50, 144unf
750 (25.9)G. Sethi
191 (6.4)
R. Chapman
262, 168, 112, 84
750 (50.0)B. Close
99, 58
248 (15.5)
N. Patel
101, 93, 86, 67, 53
750 (21.4)R. Surin
135, 78, 67, 53
501 (14.3)
R. Foldvari
101, 70, 133unf
750 (15.6)D. Joshi
238, 53
702 (14.3)

Chris Shutt was struggling to keep pace with Rex Williams for the
early part of his match, at one stage training 190-165; but in the space
of seven visits he produced breaks of 88, 101, 90, 88 and 51 to take
him clear of the ex-World Champion. Another run of 58 sealed what
was eventually a comfortable victory. After the game, Williams admitted
that he found it very frustrating to play so far below the standard which
he could produce in his prime, and was contemplating leaving the
professional circuit.

Photo of Tony Mackinder (5k)

Tony Mackinder showed that he
could successfully compete on
the professional circuit.

Nobody gave Tony Mackinder a realistic chance of beating Peter
Gilchrist, although after he had put together consecutive breaks of 50,
98 and 64 to lead 326-216, it began to look a distinct possibility.

However, this seemed to spur
Gilchrist into life as he responded
with a fine run of 210. Immediately
following this with breaks of 92 and
52, he put the game beyond the reach
of the CIU Champion, who
nevertheless must be well satisfied
with his performance in this
tournament.

Mike Russell entered the
competition in characteristic style.
His first scoring visit against
Bhaskar was a run of 245 and from
this point he proceeded to dominate
the game. Bhaskar provided little in
the way of opposition, a break of 123
when nearly 500 points behind,
being by far his highest in the match.

Peter Sheehan’s ability is held in high
regard amongst the top seeded

players, although perhaps due to being deprived of a “warm-up” match
in the previous round, he started his game against David Causier rather
slowly. Not so Causier, whose first two scoring visits produced 54 and
91. Adding breaks of 195, 61, 78 and 46, he opened a 558-142 lead
before Sheehan struck back. Seemingly unperturbed by the deficit, he
coolly put together breaks of 152 and 128 at his next two visits, drawing
to within 140 points of the No.3 seed. Not wishing to leave any further
chances, Causier resorted to some effective safety tactics which
produced just two chances. From the first of these he made a break of
100, and from the second he ran to game with 78 unfinished.

Geet Sethi has a dismal record at Middlesbrough and he didn’t improve
on it with his latest appearance. A break of 110 made up the majority
of his final score of 191 with his second-best break being just fourteen!
Although Sethi was sadly out of touch, nothing should be taken away
from Shandilya’s performance. His first visit produced 103 and his
last an unfinished run of 144. In between he made a string of good
breaks and was probably as amazed as everyone else by the margin of
his victory.

Fresh from his victory at Harrogate, Roxton Chapman produced a
series of big breaks to overwhelm Bob Close. Heading for a substantial
defeat, Close produced late contributions of 99 and 58 to make the
score a little more respectable.

Rom Surin made a good showing against Nalin Patel who is one of the
best of the Indian players, keeping level with him for the first 280
points of their game. Then Patel, with breaks of 86, 93, 46 and 101
opened a gap of almost 300 points, and, despite a run of 135 by Surin,
scored consistently heavily to maintain this advantage to the end.
The format of this competition had been specifically introduced to
counter a perceived advantage by “slow” players in time-limit matches.
However, what may suit the players doesn’t always help the organisers,
and Tournament Director Stuart Bennett was given some problems by
Robby Foldvari in his match against Devendra Joshi. In a slow-paced
game Foldvari carved out a lead of 174 points before Joshi took the
initiative with runs of 238 and 53. With the evening sessions looming,
the match ground on, well past its allotted time, until the score stood at
702-618 in favour of Joshi. At this point Foldvari defied the odds and
put together a fine 133 unfinished to clinch what had appeared to be
an unlikely victory in 4½ hours.

Quarter Finals
M. Russell
292, 188, 187, 113, 98, 58
1000 (62.5)N. Patel
106, 99, 77, 58
449 (26.4)
D. Causier
189, 119, 106, 97, 85, 75, 71, 68, 61unf
1000 (40.0)R. Chapman
281, 84, 67
567 (22.8)
C. Shutt
214, 168, 121, 117, 72, 57, 52unf
999 (25.6)A. Shandilya
68, 57, 56
523 (13.4)
P. Gilchrist
292, 127, 111, 98, 88, 72
1000 (41.7)R. Foldvari
122, 100, 98, 82, 54, 54
671 (26.8)

Russell and Patel started their quarter-final match 40 minutes late,
having had to wait for the completion of the Foldvari/Joshi epic. Not
seeming to be perturbed in any way by the delay, Russell again started
impressively, his first scoring visit being a break of 187. Patel never
really looked like posing a threat to the World Champion, although on
occasion producing some stylish play. Russell piled on the points with
a devastating sequence of 58, 113, 118 and 292 to take him within 50
points of game. Patel then added his highest of the match—106—to
improve his final total, but the result was never in doubt.

Roxton Chapman had every right to expect new-found respect from
his fellow professionals after his victory in Harrogate last week, but in
David Causier he encountered someone who was simply determined
to reverse the result of their last meeting, and with the confidence that
he could do just that. After some tentative opening play, Chapman
unleashed a tremendous break of 281 full of the wonderful touch-play
which characterizes his game. Causier however, has some experience
of coming back at Chapman, and proceeded to do so with runs of 85,
68, 75, 106 and 119 within the space of six visits. Now finding himself
164 points in arrears, Chapman responded with a break of 67, but the
fluency which marked his double-century was absent. Now he was
missing unexpectedly and frequently, but still managed to put together
another run of 84 to bring him back within 100 points of Causier. At
his following visit he looked set to produce another good contribution
as he secured perfect top-of-the-table position, but a tremendous “kick”
on a run-through cannon stopped his ball in its tracks and handed
perfect position to his opponent. Causier made no mistakes until he
had taken his break to 189, and now relaxing, added runs of 97 and 61
unfinished to complete a satisfying victory.

Photo of Ashok Shandilya (7k)

Ashok Shandilya was involved in a
controversial incident at the end of
his match against Chris Shutt.

Ashok Shandilya struggled to reproduce the fine play of his earlier
rounds as Chris Shutt established a lead of 515-131 with breaks of 72,
121, 168 and 117. There followed an extended period of inactivity
until Shutt opened up again with a break of 214 and looking to finish
the game, followed this with a run of 52. This ended when Shutt—still
requiring one point—was faced with a red just above the centre pocket
and his cue ball in hand. He tried to complete the match with a
“grandstand” pot red at high speed along the side cushion, when an
easier option would perhaps have been a screw in-off to the middle
pocket. He failed in his ambitious attempt which rattled the jaws of the
top pocket. Shandilya, who felt that he should have been afforded more
respect from his opponent, promptly conceded the match with Shutt’s
score still standing on 999. The referee later reported Shandilya to the
Tournament Director for “refusing to continue with the match”.

Starting at ten minutes early at 7.50pm, the encounter between Peter
Gilchrist and Robby Foldvari proceeded at a leisurely pace until “time”
was called at 11.15pm with the scores standing at 918-644 in favour of
Gilchrist—the players being required to continue at 10.00am the
following morning. The scoreline at the “interval” could have been a
lot lower, but was greatly accelerated during five consecutive visits by
Gilchrist when he made contributions of 111, 48, 127, 88 and 292 to
take him clear of his tough opponent. Continuing the next day, Gilchrist
completed his victory in just two visits, which included a run of 72.

Semi-Finals
C. Shutt
302, 138, 134, 122, 109, 74, 68, 66, 75unf
1250 (44.6)D. Causier
158, 156, 126, 108, 60, 56, 50
901 (31.1)
M. Russell
463, 217, 103, 95, 94, 76, 62
1250 (48.1)P. Gilchrist
100, 98, 97, 70, 53, 52
649 (25.0)

Although now based in Peterborough, Mike Russell prefers to be known
as a Teesside player, which made the semi-finals an entirely local affair.
There was a great deal of interest in the contest between Chris Shutt
and David Causier, both are amongst the most likely candidates to
succeed Mike Russell as the game´s No.1 and are currently engaged
on a campaign to establish supremacy between themselves. On this
occasion it was Chris Shutt who came out on top, a fine break of 302
taking him to a lead of 523-292 approaching the mid-point of the game.
Consistent high scoring followed from both players, but Causier could
not close this gap, Shutt completing the match with runs of 109 and 75
unfinished to win by 349 points.

Mike Russell was once more in devastating form against Peter Gilchrist.
His first four scoring visits produced 94, 76, 463 and 103 leaving
Gilchrist trailing in an impossible position at 736-74. Sticking to his
task, Gilchrist still produced a creditable performance, but another break
of 217 by Russell merely underlined his supremacy.

Final
M. Russell
661, 444, 92, 84
1500 (60.0)C. Shutt
115, 111, 68, 51
591 (23.6)
Photo of Mike Russell (4k)

Mike Russell makes it three in a row
with his latest Northern Open title.

Mike Russell looked strangely tentative at the start of the final against
Chris Shutt, an early break of 84 being by far the best he could muster
as his opponent crept to a 301-195 advantage. The situation was then
changed dramatically as Russell moved into top gear, producing a
technically excellent break of 444. From this point Russell always
looked in control. Breaks of 115 and 68 by Shutt were countered by a
run of 92 from Russell, who then, in true theatrical style, waited until
the end to produce the break of the tournament. As the local League
activities finished, the audience was steadily increasing, and those
amateur exponents who managed to arrive in time were treated to an
exhibition of top-of-the-table play. Russell was even obliging enough
to lose position every 100 points or so, in order to demonstrate how it
should be recovered—baulk-line crossings merely forming part of his
normal routine. When seeming as though he must surely run to game,
the break terminated at 661. Failure at a run-through in-off into the

treacherously tight top left-hand
pocket had left him just 23 points
of his required total.
A few visits later and Russell
completed his victory and
collected prize money totalling
£4,700, which included £200 for
the highest break. Chris Shutt
received £2,200 for his efforts.
Presenting the trophies, Geet
Sethi paid tribute to Mike Russell
acknowledging him as the best of
today´s players.


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