The Indian National Billiards Championships
Geet Sethi was surprisingly not amongst the competitors for the
66th Indian National Billiards Championships which took place
at the KSBA Hall, Bangalore, between 7th-12th February. Instead, he
was to be found in London, reporting on the Benson & Hedges Masters
Snooker Tournament for The Hindu newspaper. Sethi blamed a conflict
in his commitments after the Championship was rescheduled from it’s
original dates in January. Whatever the reason, Sethi is still considered
to be the best player in India, and his absence can only devalue the
national championships to some extent.
As the competition reached it’s conclusion, Ashok Shandilya emerged
from an otherwise strong field to win the title for the fourth time,
narrowly defeating Devendra Joshi 1192-1183 in the four-hour final.
The early games featured a sensational win by 14 year-old Pankaj
Advani who defeated the vastly experienced Subhash Agrawal 770-
646 in the first match of his round-robin group. Subhash later recovered
to finish top of this group and Advani also qualified for the later stages.
In the first round of the knock-out stages, Subhash Agrawal seemed
well placed for success against the eventual Champion, Ashok
Shandilya. With just seconds to go in his two hour match, Subhash
took the lead 655-653, but then unexpectedly missed a simple in-off,
allowing his opponent to snatch victory by 7 points.
Last year’s runner-up Devendra Joshi was in fine form as he crushed
the ambition of the teenage star Pankaj Advani. He followed this with
equally comprehensive wins over Manoj Kothari and local hero,
Balachandra Bhaskar to enter his second consecutive final. Shandilya,
meanwhile, put out defending champion Alok Kumar in the semi-final,
with a confident display.
The final opened with Shandilya playing at his best as he stretched out
a 799-362 advantage at the interval, but shortly after the resumption,
Joshi closed the gap with breaks of 138 and 228 to set up an exciting
finish. Trailing by 46 points with four minutes remaining Joshi seemed
unaware of the time remaining as he set about an unhurried reply. A
belated check on the time-clock towards the end of the game made him
aware of his position, but only served to take up valuable seconds and
he finished just 9 points short when the bell sounded for the end of the
match. “I thought there was enough time to make a fifty break, but I
obviously miscalculated” said Joshi afterwards.
B. Bhaskar beat Alok Kumar 740-521 in a play-off for third place. The
highest break of the competition came from Rupesh Shah who made a
run of 383 in one of his group matches. All games were played under
the professional “baulk-line” rule.
Last 16 (2 hrs) : Ashok Shandilya 662, Subhash Agrawal (134, 102) 655; Alok Kumar 677,
Varun Taneja 509; Dharmendra Lily 767, Amit Sharma 509; Rupesh Shah (171, 168) 783, I.
H. Manudev 418; Devendra Joshi 972, Pankaj Advani 487; B. Bhaskar (104, 266unf) 663,
Dhruv Sitwala 346; Manoj Kothari 663, J. S. Dawar 528; Yasin Merchant 658, Md. Asim 466.
Quarter-finals (3 hrs) : Alok Kumar (118) 1386, Dharmendra Lilly 797; Ashok Shandilya (121,
118, 110, 100) 1275, Rupesh Shah (204) 695; Devendra Joshi (300, 242, 162)1262, Manoj
Kothari (111) 847; B. Bhaskar (141, 112, 108) 1370, Yasin Merchant 725.
Semi-finals (4 hrs) : Ashok Shandilya (145, 134, 106) 1418, Alok Kumar (112) 1062; Devendra
Joshi (203, 185, 181, 137, 135) 1857, B. Bhaskar 805.
Final: Ashok Shandilya (184, 107) 1192, Devendra Joshi (228, 138, 113, 100) 1183.
The Women’s National Championship
The 8th Women’s Billiards Championship was completed at the
KSBA Hall on 6th February and resulted in Farah Khan taking her
fourth successive title. However, this is likely to be her last success as
the 23 year-old from Karnataka has announced her retirement from the
game. The matches were comprised of a series of timed games. For the
later stages these were one hour duration and the best of five.
Results. Semi-finals: Farah Khan bt Anuja Thakur 3-1 (72-104, 100-85, 102-85, 118-108) R.
Umadevi bt Meenal Bhairagi 3-0 (59-57, 102-56, 107-64).
Final: Farah Khan bt R. Umadevi 3-0 (122-65, 93-68, 114-55).
Junior National Championship
The Junior event was the last billiards title to be decided at the KSBA
Hall which concluded on 21st February. Pankaj Advani followed
his good showing in the Senior billiards by taking the 24th Junior
Championship, setting a new record by remaining undefeated in all
the series of group matches. Playing the round-robin format throughout,
the final group of four players also included last year’s champion Manan
Chandra from Delhi, 18 year-old Kamal Chawla, and Jasvinder Singh
from Rajasthan. Advani was the only player to make a century, which
came together with additional breaks of 92, 92 and 91 in his game
against Kamal Chawla. Manan Chandra would also have passed this
target but fouled under the baulk line rule in his game against Kamal
Chawla, so terminating his effort at 98. Advani clinched the title when
he defeated Manan Chandra 1210-984.
Final Group : Manan Chandra (98, 63, 60, 57) 965, Kamal Chawla (66, 41) 835. Pankaj
Advani (100, 92, 92, 91, 43, 76, 64, 58, 58, 56, 51, 45, 40) 1449, Jasvinder Singh (53) 505.
Pankaj Advani (89, 87, 80, 69, 50, 48, 48, 47, 43, 43, 41, 40, 40) 1472, Kamal Chawla (49, 41)
719. Pankaj Advani (86, 66, 65, 60, 47, 44) 1210, Manan Chandra (93, 71, 54, 47, 42) 984.
Manan Chandra (88, 83, 77, 46, 46) 981, Jasvinder Singh (42) 737. Jasvinder Singh 760,
Kamal Chawla (46, 43, 40,) 690.