Success can cause its own issues as the IPA Pool Tour had to source more tables with over 200 entries for the Open which may be a recent record.
Lucky for us, the Grand Hotel at Gosforth Park had one of the best conference rooms in the area, and the added tables were fitted in with ease, and left each table with plenty of space for the players and spectators, which is how exactly it should be.
Part of the fun of the tour is the geographical differences with us southerners yawning after long long journeys, and those more locally located having the last laugh (at our expense), but the next stop after this is in Bournemouth and we will see how funny they think it is then.
After arriving Thursday night, the pool action kicked off Friday morning with the early rounds of the Open, and you could soon see those struggling to play in the mornings (pre beer), and those perhaps better prepared. The pros don’t join until the evening at the last 128 stage and if I’m honest, that is when the stories start to happen that are worth telling.
As you would expect, the professionals have earned the right to be seeded and they joined Friday evening in the last 128 so I sat down between losing frames, listening out for any shocks and they came in thick and fast. Ryan Clark out, Ben Davies out, Jordan Shepherd out, Craig Marsh out, Jason Hill out and so on – I have never seen carnage like it so early in a tournament , but it just goes to show the high standards among the amateur ranks, and that IPA pool is no “closed shop”, pay, enter, play, and take your chances against the best, they are beatable (just not by me).
Anyway, the first two days just flew by and on Saturday evening we had a healthy (and noisy) crowd for the UK Open Final when Marc Farnsworth, the dominant force in pool a few years and the winner of the European Open from Coventry, took on Cory Rees on his hunt for back to back titles. Young Cory is a player I think can go a long way in this game over the years ahead, but it wasn’t to be on this occasion as Marc came home a comfortable winner with a scoreline of 7-3, looking close to his best once again, which is not good news for the rest of the players over the months ahead.
Sunday was the final day and also finals day – we had the Professional, Ladies, and Amateur finals to look forward to, keeping me busy running around with a camera as the livestream audience continued to build. We had some outstanding matches on the stream as well as elsewhere in the arena, with Marc Farnsworth and Mark Boyle a personal favourite, but by late Sunday afternoon we were left with four in each event all in with a shout at the prize – Amy Beauchamp, Deb Burchell, Kerry Griffiths and Ashley-Marie Bird in the Ladies, Kyle Brown, Adam Bassoo, Jake Dylan-Newlove, and Michael Tomlinson in the Amateur, and Mark Boyle, Jack Whelan, Jordan Shepherd and Clint I’Anson – some line ups those!
Final Number One on the stream saw Amy Beauchamp v Ashley-Marie Bird in the Ladies, in a match that stared off well for Amy before a mini -fight back from her opponent and eventually a 5-2 success as she added the UK crown to her World title, as predicted here in my preview, by the way.
The finalists for the Professional event were Clint I’Anson and Mark Boyle, two of the very best in the game, and we all knew we were in for a treat and so it proved. Clint strolled in to what looked like an unassailable lead but anyone who ever writes off Mark Boyle is dafter than me and, as expected, he launched a magnificent comeback before finally succumbing 8-6 in one of the most engrossing finals I can remember.
Lasty, we had the amateurs, or perhaps future professionals is a more realistic phrase for the best of them as Jake Dylan-Newlove took on the in-form Adam Bassoo. In a ding-dong battle that could have gone either way and was nip and tuck throughout, it was Jake who came home the winner by seven frames to five (7-5), and will be looking to build on that performance over the rest of the IPA Tour.
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