English Amateur Billiards Association

EABA : The Amateur Billiard Player : Spring 2003

The Amateur Billiard Player : Spring 2003

WBA World Billiards Championship

The Jerma Palace Hotel, Marsascala, Malta. 1st-3rd April, 2003

Mike Russell added to the WPBSA World Billiards Championships
he had won in 1989, 1991, 1996, 1999 and 2002 when he saw off
all opposition at The Jerma Palace Hotel in Malta to win this title for
the sixth time.

After considering several options, it had been decided to allocate the
entire WPBSA annual grant of £23,400 as prize money for this, the
only event to be held on the professional circuit this season. An offer to
stage the event in Malta was gratefully accepted, with First International,
a Maltese Computer Company, meeting the costs of the venue, the
billiards following on from four days of snooker competition.

A number of conditions applied to the deal meant that the final stages
would be restricted to 16 players with four of these being Maltese
“wildcards” nominated by the local Association. It was also felt necessary
to append the title of “World Championship” to the event, although
the selected format of 100-up games hardly
supported this status, and the increased importance
from a billiards perspective seemed to make little
difference as far as attendances were concerned. It
was also insufficient to persuade the TV cameras of
Eurosport, which were in place to cover the Snooker,
to remain for the billiards, even to provide a tape of
proceeding which might have been used for future
promotions.

Photo of Mike Russell and Peter Gilchrist (8k)

Mike Russell and Peter Gilchrist after their final in Malta.

The top eight ranked professionals were seeded
through to the final stages and qualifying groups were
arranged to take place in England and India for the
remainder of the WBA membership. The difficulty
of placing Thailand’s Rom Surin in these groups was
overcome by offering him a “wildcard” entry directly
to the last 16. This meant that there would be only
three qualifying places and it was decided to allocate
two of these to the Indian group and one to the English. This apparent
injustice was resolved when Rom Surin failed to take up the offer and
his slot was allocated as an additional place to the English qualifiers.

There was at least some welcome news in that No.7 ranked Roxton
Chapman, who had missed last season’s World Championship after
enrolling with the Royal Air Force, made a return for this event.

Steve Mifsud, the Australian-based IBSF snooker champion who had
also put up a good showing in the corresponding billiards event, was
originally intended to be one of the Maltese wildcards. However, “due
to unforeseen circumstances” he had to withdraw and his place was
filled by another Maltese nomination, Frans Mintoff.

English Qualifiers

Jesters Snooker Club, Swindon – 5th March 2003

It is said that ‘beggars can’t be choosers’ and this was reflected in the
choice of venue for the English qualifying group. Hardly a convenient
location for the majority of the English players, it nevertheless provided
the necessary facilities for a competition of this status, at a price which
was commensurate with the WBA budget. Three days had initially
been reserved, but with the prospect of only a single qualifier recovering
their travel expenses, it was no doubt met with some relief that the
combination of a second qualifying place and some absentees meant
that the fixture could be decided in a single day.

Always the two most likely winners, Lee Lagan and Peter Sheehan,
were drawn in separate groups and duly won through to book their
places for Malta. Lagan certainly had the tougher group with potentially
difficult matches against Ian Williamson and Paul Bennett. In the event,
he dropped only one game to defeat both opponents in convincing
fashion. Robin Wilson, who was making his professional debut, was
also in the same group, but was eliminated by Bennett in the first
round. Sheehan was also suitably impressive, producing a 4-1 scoreline
in both of his matches against Brian Dix and Clive Everton.

Results
First Round
Paul Bennett
4  Robin Wilson
2  
Lee Lagan
4  Ian Williamson
1  
Qualifying Round
Lee Lagan
4  Paul Bennett
0  
Clive Everton
4  Andrew Sage
0  

Indian Qualifiers

The Elphinstone Cricket Club, Mumbai – 10th March 2003

There was a very disappointing turn-out from the Indian players, with
just five deciding to enter. Ashok Shandilya and Devendra Joshi won
through to the final stages, although the latter had a hard fight to overcome
Dhruv Sitwala, with their match going to the deciding game.

Results
Preliminary Round
Dhruv Sitwala

4 Shrushrut Pandia

0 
Qualifying Round
Devendra Joshi

4 Dhruv Sitwala

3 
Ashok Shandilya

4 Arun Agrawal

0 

Competition Proper

The main tournament took place between 1st-3rd April, at The Jerma
Palace Hotel in Marsascala. The opening groups stages were played on
a round-robin format, each match being the best of 7 games of 100-up,
with two baulk-line crossings (between 40-49 and 80-89) in any one
break.

The first major upset came on the opening day, when Lee Lagan defeated
Geet Sethi 4-1. Sethi, like Mike Russell, has not been too impressive
over short games in previous outings and was caught out on this occasion
by the qualifier from England. The result ensured that Lagan progressed
from Group A at the expense of the four-times winner
of this championship. Mike Russell, despite his
distaste for the short format was in imperious form,
going through all his group matches without losing a
single game.

The Maltese wildcard, Paul Mifsud, was the other
surprise package, defeating Peter Gilchrist and Robby
Foldvari on his way to topping Group D. A 4-1
victory for Gilchrist over Foldvari meant that the
Australian made an unexpectedly early exit from the
competition.

Another seeded player to miss out was Roxton
Chapman, whose defeats by both David Causier
and Devendra Joshi meant that he would make no
further progress from Group C.

Chris Shutt shrugged off the handicap of a wrist in
plaster to head Group B and was joined in the knock-out stages by
Nalin Patel, the results going largely to expectations. The match between
these two was finely balanced throughout. Standing at three games all,
Patel took command with a break of 83, but could only watch as Chris
Shutt clinched the match with an unfinished 95.

Group A
Mike Russell
4  Pullu Grech
0  
Mike Russell
4  Lee Lagan
0  
Mike Russell
4  Geet Sethi
0  
Lee Lagan
4  Geet Sethi
1  
Lee Lagan
4  Pullu Grech
0  
Geet Sethi
4  Pullu Grech
0  
Group B
Chris Shutt
4  Frans Mintoff
0  
Chris Shutt
4  Ashok Shandilya
1  
Chris Shutt
4  Nalin Patel
3  
Nalin Patel
4  Ashok Shandilya
2  
Nalin Patel
4  Steve Mifsud
1  
Ashok Shandilya
4  Frans Mintoff
0  
Group C
David Causier
4  Joe Grech
0  
David Causier
4  Devendra Joshi
1  
David Causier
4  Roxton Chapman
3  
Devendra Joshi
4  Roxton Chapman
0  
Devendra Joshi
4  Joe Grech
1  
Roxton Chapman
4  Joe Grech
1  
Group D
Paul Mifsud
4  Peter Gilchrist
2  
Paul Mifsud
4  Robby Foldvari
1  
Paul Mifsud
4  Peter Sheehan
3  
Peter Gilchrist
4  Peter Sheehan
1  
Peter Gilchrist
4  Robby Foldvari
1  
Robby Foldvari
4  Peter Sheehan
1  

The quarter and semi-final matches were increased to the best of 9
games, Russell again coming through both rounds with ease. He
despatched Nalin Patel 5-0 then Chris Shutt 5-1, although Shutt had
some consolation in being the first person to win a game against him.

Peter Gilchrist joined Russell in the final with a good 5-1 win over
David Causier followed by a convincing win over Devendra Joshi, who
is particularly skilled in these short-format games. The hopes of the
host nation had been dashed when Joshi had defeated local hero Paul
Mifsud in the quarter-finals. A match which produced a desperately
tight 5-4 finish.

The final was played over the best of eleven games and Gilchrist at
least put up some opposition for Russell, winning four games before
the Champion secured the tenth to win 6-4. Gilchrist had finished two
of his games at a single visit, and Russell one.

Results. Quarter-finals: Mike Russell 5 Nalin Patel 0; Christ Shutt 5 Lee Lagan 3; Peter Gilchrist
5 David Causier 1; Devendra Joshi 5 Paul Mifsud 4. Semi-finals: Mike Russell 5 Christ Shutt 1;
Peter Gilchrist 5 Devendra Joshi 2. Final: Mike Russell 6 Peter Gilchrist 4.

Attendance’s at most sessions were disappointing, the exception being
the quarter-final match involving local hero Paul Mifsud, which was
packed to capacity.

Russell received £7,000 for his victory and Gilchrist £4,000 as runnerup.

The remainder of the field had the opportunity to acquire an early
season sun-tan. Alan Chamberlain was tournament Director and local
referees were provided by the Maltese Association.


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