The IPA tour was a thrilling experience for me as a young fan of English Black-ball. The tour opened up a wide range of opportunities to explore the different areas of pool. I had been given the chance to play in the open and the amateur events although the standard of playing was very high and I was therefore knocked out twice straight away in both tournaments as each player had been given two lives in the qualifying stages. However, despite my poor performance, playing on the high standard tables against some very experienced pool players as well as young and improving players was a great experience to enjoy.
The role of an assistant table engineer was given to me which was a big responsibility as it was my task to make sure that the tables had been brushed before each match took place and the pool tables would also be ironed, if required, to ensure they were in the best possible condition. Any damages or marks on the table had to be reported immediately to the tournament director Paul Bebb.
The first experience of commentating over a live stream match, between Luke Wrigglesworth and Joe Hood, was with IPA’s number one commentator James Hanney. James allowed me to join him in the commentary box mid-match. The nerves were very high to begin with, however my confidence in speaking over the microphone grew as the match went on. On Sunday afternoon another expedient chance came across to commentate; only this time it was over an amateur last eight match between David Compton and Chris Bowron, alongside professional pool player Mark Smith. My confidence had expanded by this point therefore it was more moderate and much more had been said. Meanwhile, as well as commentating, the opportunity arose to explore behind the scenes of the live stream production. This indicated how the production team were able to stream in high quality, by using a small device, and also have the score line being updated at the bottom of the screen, which was done by using Adobe Photoshop. Two cameras had been set up at different viewing points with different angles; one which had a high-angle shot and the other had a long shot from the corner of the table to view across the table from another angle.
A lot of hours were spent behind the top table which was where the admin work was done such as; announcing fixtures, collecting results, keeping track of results and identifying which tables needed to be prepared by me (the assistant table technician). The facility arose to be sat with the IPA committee which featured Mel Harley (The senior referee), Karl Nunn (Secretary), Nik Hammond (Technical Coordinator), and Sean Trivass (Press Officer). The Chairman Kevin Barton also sat at the top table when he was needed although he was a very busy man having to run a professional pool tournament! The team at the top table were often very active in keeping the tournament running smoothly; however four members of the committee took part in playing either in the amateur or in the open. Those members were Nik Hammond, Karl Nunn, Carl Fitzsimon and James Hanney. Kevin Barton also had games to play in the open event; however he played in the professional event as opposed to the amateur.
The IPA tour will definitely be an experience to remember and I will assertively be attending future events. It is suitable from youngsters all the way up to middle-aged men and women who have a high interest in pool. Furthermore, it is an open door for a wide range of opportunities and adventures.
James Hammond, a regular for the Robin Hood Pub in the Woking & District Pool League, is a 16 year old school student about to attend college to study English, Maths, Sociology and Media Studies A levels.