UK PROFESSIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP
Final – Barbican Centre, York (Monday 10th December 2001)
David Causier confirmed his mastery of the short-game format when
he retained his United Kingdom billiards title with a nail-biting 5-
4 victory in the final against Middlesbrough rival Peter Gilchrist.
The early rounds took place at the North Ormesby Institute,
Middlesbrough between 2nd-4th December, with the final held over
and played alongside the UK Professional Snooker Championships in
the hope that some of their extensive television coverage would be given
to the billiards. To this end, the short-game format was again adopted,
although extended from the 50-up of last year, to best-of-seven matches
of 100-up. The final being a best-of-nine match. This move was
apparently in order that “spectators might see a hundred break”, although
this particular task was not made any easier by imposing a requirement
for a baulk-line crossing between 40-49, and again between 80-89 in any
single break. Faced with these difficulties only four centuries were
actually made during the competition, two of them by Chris Shutt (vs.
Sitwala and Gilchrist), the others being made by Ashok Shandilya (vs.
Russell) and Peter Gilchrist (vs. Shutt).
The preliminary round was notable only for a marathon match between
Brian Dix and Clive Everton which lasted 4 hours 15 minutes, eventually
concluding at 11.00pm and 4-3 in Dix’s favour. Not exactly in the spirit
of short exciting matches suitable for television transmission, but
nevertheless a satisfying result for Brian Dix, bringing his first win on
the professional circuit.
The entry of the seeded players to the competition saw the results go
much as expected, with the exception of Mike Russell’s elimination by
Ashok Shandilya. This match was closely fought throughout, but
Shandilya managed to edge the deciding game 100-44 helped by a break
of 77. Another match which went to the ninth game was the encounter
between Chris Shutt and Dhruv Sitwala. Breaks of 54, 86 and 100
carried Shutt into a 3-1 lead before Sitwala recovered to level the match,
but Shutt clinched victory with an 88 break in the decider. The total
playing time for this match was just 1 hour 40 minutes, an average of
just over 14 minutes per game.
Neither Shandilya nor Shutt survived the quarter-final stage, going out
to Nalin Patel and Peter Gilchrist respectively, these two winners meeting
in the semi-final. After taking the first two games, Gilchrist always
looked to be in command although a tendency to dwell in the 90’s
caused some anxious moments for his supporters as chances came and
went for Patel. The 4-2 scoreline not really reflecting the closeness of
On the adjacent table, the semi-final between David Causier and Geet
Sethi was another contest which went down to the deciding game.
When Causier raced into a 3-1 lead it looked as though he may finish
proceedings early, but Sethi, cheered on by a group of supporters from
the Indian team, looked a transformed player as he took the next two
games to level the match 3-3. Encouraged by this turn-around, predictions
from the Indian contingent that Sethi would not only win this match,
but also the Championship, proved somewhat premature. Under great
pressure, Causier made the most of an early opening to construct a
break of 84 and earn his place in the final by taking the last game with a
Photo: Paw Print Consultancy.
Nine-thirty on a Monday morning is not the ideal time of day for
players to produce their best form, but such was the schedule of the
Snooker at the Barbican, that this was
the only time-slot available for the
climax of what was once the most
important professional billiards
competition next to the World
The sacrifices of location, timing and
format in pursuit of television
exposure, once again came to nothing,
as no coverage of the event was given.
The two finalists certainly did their
best to produce an exciting spectacle,
Causier coming from behind to set up
a deciding game. In this, a break of 79,
the highest of the match, brought him
to the brink of victory at 86-2. Gilchrist
battled back with 25 and 36 before
Causier finally made the points he needed to win the game 100-65 and
the match 5-4. He collected the trophy and a cheque for £5,200.
It is difficult to see how the professional players can now advance their
quest for TV coverage having twice been rejected, even as a “filler”, by
the networks in the UK. Without positive promotion of the game by
the WPBSA the existing WBA billiards committee seem to have
insufficient influence in such matters. There is still talk of introducing
a striped ball to the professional game, but the ability to view the
effects of side-spin would seem to be of limited value without TV
close-ups and slow-motion replays.
4 Clive Everton 3; Paul Bennett 4 Mark Hirst 3; Dhruv Sitwala 4 Michael Ferreira 2.
Foldvari 4 Brian Dix 0; Geet Sethi 4 Peter Sheehan 1; Peter Gilchrist 4 Paul Bennett 1; Chris
Shutt 4 Dhruv Sitwala 3; Nalin Patel 4 Devendra Joshi 3; Ashok Shandilya 4 Mike Russell 3.
Gilchrist 4 Chris Shutt 2; Nalin Patel 4 Ashok Shandilya 2.