When it comes to writing up the various pool tournaments it can often be a case of “you had to be there” but on this occasion, so much happened (and all good for a change) that I am hoping I can somehow pass on that accomplished feeling via a few words?
Friday night saw the Awards Ceremony which I missed (no prizes for oldest pool hack then?), but I am told it was a roaring success and no surprises meant no arguments, which may well be an all time first in the World of pool (and typically, I missed it). Food, comedy, and good company is what it is all about and from what I have heard, expect a repeat performance next year (so I may have to dust off my suit IF I get an invite).
IPA Secretary Andy McDonald with Player of the Year Lee Clough
As for the pool over the rest of the weekend, well there was so much going on that keeping up with it had my head spinning at times. Seventeen tables of action left me tweeting results like a man possessed, and I can add it must take some setting up and organising with draws, results, timings, refereeing, spreadsheets and so on – and everyone thinks it just sorts itself of course!
As always, the pool was of the highest quality both amateur and professional, but as a bystander it was the “recorded for television” Grand Prix that really took my breath away. Personally, I get a little rattled if my team mates watch too closely during a local league match, so how they cope with the TV pressure is beyond me but more than just cope with it, the pool was simply sublime with the odd touch of human error to bring it back down to reality. Since I started with the IPA I have always been told just how good Gareth Potts is, but as an ignorant bystander I had only seen glimpses of his ability in various tournaments, but this was different class. Poor Lee Clough who is a top player in anyone’s book hardly got a look in, with the first semi final a one sided affair ending 2-0 in sets but with some of the nearest to perfect pool I have personally ever seen played by Gareth, who was very much “in the zone”. The second semi was between Ben Davies and Craig Marsh in an all-Welsh affair that created some vocals from supporters (and why not) before Ben won his way through to what looked like a mouth-watering clash, with the man I would have had as favourite. Despite some outstanding pool when the opportunity presented itself, poor Ben was up against a man possessed who played like an unstoppable juggernaut (and all the other well worn clichés). Although the two sets to nil scoreline recorded in the pool archives will never tell the full story, it would be
fair to say it was a very well deserved success, and a great advert for our game (and soon to be seen on Sky as well)!
Moving on to the latter stages of both Open and Amateur events, the live stream coverage kept the players very much on their toes, with French challenger Christophe Lambert causing scheduling issues by progressing so far in both events! If there was a man of the tournament award then it was his by default with a quarterfinal loss in the amateur and a win in the Open itself. Despite looking up against it playing Clint I’Anson in the final, the French maestro pulled out all the tricks as needed, from startling snookers to relentless potting, grinding out a deserved victory in the end to the delight of his travelling fans though it would be fair to say tat Clint can paly a lot better – it just didn’t go his way when it mattered.
Tour winner Christophe Lambert with IPA Media head Dan Rush
Finally, a new pool star was discovered as Chris Steel had a day to remember for which we want to thank everyone involved, headed by Gareth Hibbott and all the players who made up the jeering audience the occasion needed! Chris suffers from Williams Syndrome (http://www.williams- syndrome.org.uk/vebo/), but he loves his pool so a surprise match (live streamed) was set up against Gareth with Chris getting to use a brand new cue kindly given to him by Steve Grice (thanks Steve). “Generous” refereeing saw Chris go 1-0 up with Gareth growing in to his “bad guy” role by the minute, though he withstood all the boos and jeering from the audience to claw it back to 1-1, much to the displeasure of the raucous crowd! Chris was clearly loving every minute (which is what it was all about, after all), but against the run of play, Gareth took the decider before swiftly exiting knowing full well the best man lost (thanks Gareth, you’re a good sport), and Chris ended the day plus a cue, and plus some special memories – see you next year mate when you might be able to get your revenge?
Next stop Glasgow for the 3rd instalment of this fascinating season.