World Open Billiards
Billiard Player (No 6) last reported that
the EABA were not prepared to fund
the entry and expenses of our English
Amateur Champion Paul Bennett to the
World Open event in Malta because of the
involvement of professionals in what was formally known as
the World Amateur Championship.
This decision was consistent of the EABA ruling a year earlier
relating to Chris Shutt. As was then the EASB, to whom we are
affiliated, determined that the English Amateur Champion should
represent England and the entry should be submitted and the
costs be deducted from the EABA budget allocation.
Before the EASB determination, Paul and the Teesside public
were made aware of the EABA decision and there was strong
reaction to it.
The clubs that Paul represents in local leagues considered that
Paul should be allowed to compete in Malta and vowed to fund
Some 20+ years ago clubs in the area rallied to send Bob Close
to New Zealand and more recently Mike Russell’s trip to India
to compete in World events when no funding was available to
them, indeed Hemlington Social Club were prepared to fund the
whole anticipated cost of £650 if required.
Support from the Cowpen Social Club and Acklam Garden City
meant that Hemlington didn’t have to bear the brunt of the cost
but they did provide the bulk of the required funding.
The Hemlington ‘A’ and ‘B’ games league teams played against
each other on a home and away basis with blind cards, raffles,
etc; providing incomes.
The clubs ladies darts section provided further impetus to funds
by organising a 12 hour dart marathon on Paul’s behalf.
With funding assured from local sources Paul’s entry to the
World Open was submitted without recourse to the EABA funds.
Meanwhile a 2nd place was allocated to an English player
providing that costs were met by the player. Fellow Teessider
Darren Kell, the national CIU Champion, was invited to fill the
slot and the Teesside fund raising machine swung back into
The CIU recreation Committee granted their champion the sum
of £200 and the Cleveland branch of the CIU chipped in with a
further £50, Nottingham’s Tom Terry, the former editor of the
BQR, became aware of events and made a personal contribution
The Beechwood and Easterside Club along with the Ironopolis
Club, for whom Darren competes, provided sufficient support
to ensure that Darren would join Paul on the flight to Malta.
Look out World, the Teesside boys are on their way!
Organised by the Maltese Billiards and Snooker Association
between 25th September and 5th October the event attracted 28
entries of whom 3 have professional status.
The Maltese openly stated that there would be no prize money
on offer to dissuade the professional involvement in the
tournament which they hoped would accentuate the Amateur
status of the event. Billiards pro’s Ashok Shandilya (No 9) and
Bhaskar (No.25) of India chose to enter as did snooker pro Joe
Grech (No.l55) of Malta.
What surprised me was that the Maltese restricted pro billiards
entry to those outside the top 8 when my understanding of
IBSF rulings states that “open” means pro’s regardless of
rankings are entitled to enter IBSF events.
The 28 players were split and seeded into groups, where
possible, countrymen would not be expected to compete against
each other in the round robin groupings.
There were 9 different countries represented with home country
Malta providing 5 entrants, India 4, Australia 4, New Zealand 4,
Eire 3, Northern Ireland 2, Sri Lanka 3, South Africa 1 and England
Play was to be held in the Maltese Association Snooker Centre
in Rabat with accommodation in the Kennedy Nova Hotel in
Sliema some 25 minutes drive away.
25th-30th September 1997
Group “A” Table
|2||David Elliot (N.Ireland)||4||1|
|3||Wayne Carey (New Zealand)||3||2|
|4||Richard Brennan (Eire)||2||3|
|6||Ray Habgood (New Zealand)||0||5|
The Maltese snooker pro came through round robin group ‘A’
unbeaten and was joined by Northern Ireland bookmaker David
Elliot whose only defeat was by Grech.
|A. Rao||766||R. Habgood||694|
|W. Carey||874||R. Brennan||753|
|W. Carey||936||A. Rao||737|
121, 121, 102
|D. Elliot||1,354||W. Carey||579|
187, 173, 135, 133, 121
|R. Brennan||1,310||A. Rao||910|
412, 193, 144, 141, 127, 103, 100
184, 184, 151, 101
|W. Carey||972||R. Habgood||568|
171, 156, 144, 140, 135, 121
|R. Brennan||1,148||R. Habgood||675|
Group “B” Table
|1||Paul Bennett (England)||6||0|
|2||B. Bhaskar (India)||5||1|
|3||David Meredith (New Zealand)||4||2|
|4||Neil Croft (Australia)||3||3|
|5||Philip Martin (Eire)||2||4|
|6||Alfred Micallef (Malta)||1||5|
|7||John McIntyre (Nth. Ireland)||0||6|
Paul Bennett having seen the grouping wanted to meet Indian
pro Bhaskar first “to get it out of the way”. The 21 year old
English Champion got his wish and was heartened by a 627 –
309 first session and ran out an easy winner 1,335 – 674. A 1,669
– 618 victory over Eire’s Philip Martin followed.
A problem arose at the mid-point of his match against Australian
Neil Croft when Paul was decidedly unwell with a stomach illness.
A retirement was contemplated but with an extensive gap
between sessions Paul thanks to acceptable medication
managed to recover sufficiently to win 1,049 – 791.
New Zealander David Meredith went down 1,279 – 770 and Alfred
Micallef of Malta followed 1,594 – 913. Paul rounded off his
group with a 1,631 – 759 victory over Northern Ireland’s John
McIntyre to go through to the quarter finals unbeaten.
Bhaskar recovered sufficiently from his opening defeat to win
all other games to qualify in 2nd place.
|P. Bennett||1,335||B. Bhaskar||674|
|N. Croft||983||A. Micallef||797|
|D. Meredith||1,136||P. Martin||554|
138, 121, 110, 109
|P. Bennett||1,049||N. Croft||791|
168, 118, 114
|A. Micallef||1,148||J. McIntyre||729|
|P. Martin||1,020||J. McIntyre||680|
237, 133, 123, 111, 101
108, 106, 103, 103, 100
Group “C” Table
|1||Paul Mifsud (Malta)||5||0|
|2||P.Pradesh Sivalingaiah (India)||4||1|
|3||Danik Lukas (Australia)||3||2|
|4||Aidan Murray (Eire)||2||3|
|5||Paul Stocker (New Zealand)||1||4|
|6||Terry Reilly (Sth. Africa)||0||5|
Malta’s Paul Mifsud won group ‘C’ by being unbeaten and
was joined by Indian Prem Pradesh Sivalingaiah who lost only
206, 187, 122, 108, 101
|A. Murray||658||P. Stacker||464|
|A. Murray||810||T. Reilly||496|
122, 117, 112
|P. Mifsud||1,507||P. Stacker||933|
|P. Pradesh||798||A. Murray||698|
|P. Stacker||1,205||T. Reilly||619|
137, 129, 124, 101
|D. Lukas||950||A. Murray||785|
Group “D” Table
|1||Ashok Shandilya (India)||6||0|
|2||Darren Kell (England)||5||1|
|3||K.H. Sirisoma (Sri Lanka)||3||3|
|4||Derek Gibb (NewZealand)||3||3|
|5||Frans Mintoff (Malta)||2||4|
|6||George Gannim (Australia)||2||4|
|7||Alfred Borg (Malta)||0||6|
Tournament favourite Ashok Shandilya was Darren Kell’s first
opponent. The Indian was untroubled and went on to win 1,389
– 696, He next won 1,395 – 932 before hitting some fine form with
victories of 2,333-553,2,012-863,1,968-780 and 1,925-967.
Darren qualified by winning his other group games, Malta’s
Alfred Borg went down 1,327 – 924 then Darren beat Australia’s
George Ganim 972 – 850 then New Zealander Derek Gibb 943 –
695, he was much more comfortable when beating Frans Mintoff
of Malta 1,536 – 687 then Sri Lankan K.H. Sirisoma 1,083 – 932.
161, 136, 119
|F. Mintoff||998||G. Gannim||977|
|D. Gibb||1,100||A. Borg||594|
230, 140, 110
|D. Gibb||946||F. Mintoff||685|
180, 159, 133, 132, 122, 108
110, 75, 80
257, 150, 128, 111, 102, 109
|F. Mintoff||1,352||A. Borg||1,058|
261, 216, 169, 150, 124, 106, 101, 100
|K. Sirisoma||1,357||F. Mintoff||964|
99, 96, 87, 84
|D. Gibb||844||G. Gannim||810|
265, 128, 121, 100
2nd October 1997
155, 147, 119, 104
|P. Bennett||1,282||P. Prakash|
The quarter finals pitched Darren against Grech and 3
centuries put Joe in an unstoppable interval lead at 730 –
428 which was taken to an overall 1,405 – 937 result to end
Darren’s continuing involvement.
Paul Mifsud held a slender 593 – 557 lead at the interval and
ran out comfortable winner over Bhaskar 1,374 – 988.
Paul Bennett trailed Prem Pradesh Sivalingaiah 688 – 564 at
the interval but came through 1,282 – 1,171 to move into
David Elliot was still in touch with Shandilya at the interval
when trailing 636 – 517 and ran the Indian Pro all the way
to the bell before losing 1,159 – 1,070.
3rd October 1997
272, 211, 189, 120, 117, 110
127, 121, 116, 106, 105
212, 202, 188, 152, 104, 101
164, 135, 118, 115
The semi-finals put the Maltese pair of Grech and Mifsud
together. Grech appeared to have things his way as he held
a 400 + lead at the interval 1285 – 830. Breaks of 272, 211
and four centuries took Grech to a 2,160 total while Mifsud
had five centuries and made a creditable response to total
Ashok Shandilya gave Paul Bennett little opportunity to win
and by the interval led 1,365 – 615. Ashok accumulated
2,641 points with runs of 212, 202 and 4 other centuries.
Paul made 4 century breaks to score 1,757 in response.
4th-5th October 1997
|Session 1||Joe Grech|
107, 105, 223unf
|Session 2||Joe Grech|
238full, 242, 126
310, 192, 54unf
|Session 3||Joe Grech|
184full, 218, 210
|Session 4||Joe Grech|
101full, 226, 161, 140, 128, 109
|Final Score||Joe Grech||2,895||Ashok Shandilya||2,836|
The final brought the snooker pro Joe Grech against top ranked
billiards pro Ashok Shandilya, Grech had been a world billiards
finalist in 1987 when losing to Geet Sethi.
Joe’s competence was never questioned in the 3 ball game as
his major breaks in the tournament had proved. Played over 4
sessions the final saw Shandilya leading early in the first stint
but as the bell sounded Grech was in play with a 223 unfinished
The run ended shortly after at 238 but further breaks of 242 and
126 took him to a mid-point 1,466 points. Shandilya made breaks
of 192 and 310 to have 1,350 on the board and be 54 unfinished
at the bell.
The 3rd session was all Indian as Grech scored only 369 points
while Shandilya piled on 989 points thanks to breaks of 184,218
and 210. Many would have thought that the end of the struggle
but Grech returned to the arena with revived determination.
The crowd had diminished as Grech had wilted but news quickly
spread of a revival and supporters appeared to come out of the
woodwork to spur on the home based player.
Grech made runs of 101, 226, 109, 140, 161 and 128 to total 2,895 to
overtake Shandilya’s 2,836 total by 59 points. There is already
the prospect of Grech and Sivalingaiah joining the billiard pro
Statistically there were 136 century breaks in the tournament, 11
double centuries a 300+ and tournament best of 412 made by
Both Darren and Paul relished the experience of the tournament
and acted as marvellous ambassadors for their country with
their exemplary conduct and manner throughout their stay.
They both expressed their thanks to their sponsors who provided
the funds for their stay and to the EASB for providing the
opportunity to compete.