After a couple of months off (holidays for some, practice time for others), the IPA Pool Tour is back, and this time they have moved on to Coventry ahead of the weekend action.
For those unfamiliar with the sport (fair enough), the IPA is the official professional arm of Blackball pool, which in turn is the ONLY recognised rule set that goes all the way to the top and the Olympic Committee. Played by millions of us, both in the UK and around the World, any win on the IPA Tour would be the holy grail for most players and trust me, the competition is fierce and of the very highest quality.
All the usual suspects will be in attendance (close to 300 in total) with the matches to be played on 22 tables at the Hilton Doubletree from Friday onwards, with a record number of entries in the Amateur section, but with four major trophies up for grabs there is precious little time for pleasantries, and I need to get down to previewing each event.
Fayre IPA British Professional
Obviously the flagship event with the World’s best players fighting it out for both prize and trophy, and with their ability unquestionable, this will be all about the draw, the mental stamina, and perhaps a modicum of luck at a crucial stage – but that’s all my excuses used up in one go. Nothing comes with any guarantee in this game (the unpredictability is what gets to me personally), but I would still expect to see at least one of the four players named in the final (draw allowing) – but in what order? Marc Farnworth is rarely far away in these events and he doesn’t sit at number two in the IPA rankings without good reason and he is one to consider very seriously, though he will no doubt be delighted to know I am not tipping him here aka
the kiss of death, and it is Jon McAllister who has that extra weight to carry this week. The former World Champion (2020) showed signs of a return to his very best at the last IPA event in my opinion, and if you can get a bet on, he may well prove to be the best value option. Liam Dunster (current World Champion and IPA ranked number one), and perhaps the in-form Clint I’Anson make up my four against the field here.
Fayre IPA British Open
I am happy enough to suggest a professional will win the Open event, but before we get that far, some of the better amateurs, vying for the chance to turn pro next season, will take a few notable scalps along the way. I try not to be biased (not as easy as it sounds),and it would come as no surprise if my Professional and Open suggestions swap victories, but it is a rarity to see a player pick up both, so on this case my money would be on Liam Dunster. His mental strength and focus may be telling here – he never lets go – and when others may put in a costly lapse of concentration in the earlier rounds, I cannot see Liam making that sort of schoolboy error. Ross Fernie is another to take seriously when he is on his A game, while Marc Farnsworth, as mentioned earlier, is not a player you can ever ignore in any tournament he ever enters.
Fayre IPA British Amateur
Although this is generally a lot more open that any of the other competitions on the IPA tour, that only makes it all the more difficult to even try to guess the winner. Michael Oliver is a player I have a lot of time for, and I would be hoping he can go pretty deep in this event with a favourable draw, along with Cole Bedford who is very capable on his day, but if I was given a charity bet here, I guess that Liam Clark looks the more sensible option. He reached the last 16 on Tour One, and the semi-finals on Tour Two, and with that level of consistency on his side, he certainly has a sporting chance. Joe Prince and Jordan Evetts are others on a very long shortlist, in what should be an open and fascinating tournament as always.
Fayre IPA British Ladies
At the time of writing we have a dominant force in the World of Ladies pool in Harriet Haynes, the winner of the World Championship In February, The European in March, and the UK Ladies in May. At this moment she is an unstoppable force and very hard to oppose, but the women’s game is improving week on week, and her rivals will have been putting in the hours looking to topple her at the first opportunity. A long list of capable opponents may be headed by Danielle Randle, who will surely win a major tournament in the very near future, while both Amy Beauchamp and Kerry Griffiths will come out fighting looking to gain momentum ahead of the rest of the season.
For those within range of Coventry, entry for spectators is free of charge and you will be warmly welcomed by one and all – for those further away, the matches can be enjoyed via the IPA Youtube Channel from 3.00pm Friday and all-day Saturday and Sunday – enjoy.