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News – 2011

28 November 2011

2011 British Grand Prix – event report

The 2011 GB9 season has come to its conclusion with Jayson Shaw, Craig Osborne and Darryn Walker coming away with the final spoils of the year. With this being the final event of the season, and indeed with just under three months until the 2012 season is due to begin, this was the last chance of the year to soak up the atmosphere that GB9 creates until the curtain rises again in February.

STROLL IN THE PARK FOR WALKER

Former snooker professional Darryn Walker took his maiden final berth at a GB9. His progression to the final began with a 9-6 win over Jaspal Bamotra in the last 64, and after this a demolition job of Ryan Fleming with a 9-1 victory saw him comfortably into the last 16. 9-4 was the scoreline against Finlay Laing in his next encounter, but his sternest test of the tournament came in March’s Challenge Cup winner – Damian Massey who took Walker all the way. But it was the man from Wolverhampton who denied the Pro Cup-bound Massey his third Challenge final of a quite brilliant season, deafeting the Omen 9-8 and booking his place in a second successive semi-final. Jack Whelan was his opponent in the semi-finals, himself looking to book a spot in his second final of the season. It wasn’t to be, however, with Walker claiming his first final berth with a 9-5 victory over the Derbyshire youngster.

Darryn Walker - 2011 GB9 Daventry Challenge Cup (V) Winner (© Andy Warden)

Joining him in the final was English pool hotshot Craig Waddingham. His ranking ensured he started one round sooner than Walker, but a 9-0 annihilation of James Lawless soon made that a thing of the past. The last 64 saw the end of Jonny Cooper’s campaign who stared straight down a 9-4 defeat. Like Walker, it was in the quarter-finals that Waddingham’s sternest challenge was waiting. Another Yorkshire youngster in Sam Hirst gave everything in his game, but still it was Waddingham that came through to the semi-finals 9-8. The only thing more tiresome than coming out of a hill-hill encounter is finding yourself straight in another one. This time it was Chris Hall looking to qualify for his first final of the season, but it was the Scunthorpe shooter who saw Hall off with another 9-8 scoreline to ensure his place in 2011’s final Challenge Cup final.

In the final, it quickly looked as though the toil of 34 consecutive racks was taking its toll on Waddingham, and Walker quickly asserted a lead which proved ultimately to be unassailable. He saw out the match 9 racks to 5, and earned a thoroughly deserved promotion to the Pro Cup for next season alongside his quarter final victim Damian Massey, with Matt Lawrenson and Andrew Morris taking the other automatic promotion spots.

DOUBLE BARREL SHOTGUN CAN’T STOP SHOOTING

Coming into the Pro Cup, the provisional British rankings made Imran Majid and Craig Osborne the two highest ranked players in the country. It was little surprise, therefore, that it was these two players who ended up contesting the last Pro Cup Final of the season. With Majid and Osborne also sitting pretty at second and third in the Pro Cup rankings respectively, each began their campaign in the last 16 of the competition.

Craig Osborne - 2011 GB9 Daventry Pro Cup (V) Winner (© Andy Warden)

Majid’s first victim on Friday evening was Adam Shaw, the Wirral potter bravely fighting but ultimately succumbing to the Maharaja 9-6. The quarter finals saw Scottish hopes of the Pro Cup title end when Michael Valentine was knocked out by a score of 9-5. In the semi-finals Majid went one rack better again, with 2011 Southern Masters champion Kevin Uzzell falling at the penultimate hurdle by 9 racks to 4. This result saw Majid into his fourth final in all competitions this season – a quite staggering achievement in the ever more difficult world of GB9.

Osborne appeared to adopt the attitude that steered him towards the Northern Masters title back in August to start his campaign. Luke Rollison was the Suffolk man’s first victim in the last 16, leaving the competition with a 9-2 defeat. James Kay suffered an identical scoreline at the hands of Ozzy in the quarter finals. Young prodigy Phil Burford was looking to end this 2011 GB9 season the way he made it begin, but his quest fell apart at the penultimate hurdle. 9-4 was the scoreline in favour of Osborne, and with it his third final of the 2011 season was upon him.

Despite Majid being docked a rack prior to the final for illegal practicing between matches, both players saw out what was a final of tremendous quality and it was unfortunate that there had to be a runner-up. On this occasion, and indeed for the fourth time this season, that happened to be Imran Majid – Craig Osborne held his nerve to win the fifth and final Pro Cup of the season and a second gold medal to add to his Northern Masters victory back in August. Both players consolidate their positions in the top 4 of the Pro Cup rankings going into next season.

WIZARD SPELLS THE END OF SEASON CLIMAX

Just as the final divisional tournaments of the season were coming to an end, along came the opening gambits in the weekend’s main event – the British Grand Prix. The event was certainly a grand affair, with the new GB9Live scoring system given a debut trial run before being rolled out as standard for the 2012 GB9 season.

Jayson Shaw - 2011 GB9 Southern Masters Champion (© Andy Warden)

The first player to book his place in the final was Scotland’s Jayson Shaw. Already having one gold, two silver and three bronze medals from this season, he was looking to add one more to the gold tally before the season came to a close. He started with a defeat of outgoing GB9 Chairperson Jonathan Mathers, a 9-6 win spelling the end of his season. This set off a ruthless streak in Shaw’s game which saw Robin Cripps’ campaign come hurtling back down to earth, going down 9-1 to the Glaswegian. Shane Appleton, out in the last 16 of the Pro Cup on the Saturday morning, also left the British Grand Prix at the last 16 stage – a resounding 9-2 sealing Shaw’s place in the quarter finals. The quarter-final and semi-final matches saw him come up against both the Northern Masters and Southern Masters champions. First to take up the gauntlet was September’s champion Kevin Uzzell, who was hoping to extend his ongoing run of GB9 main event victories to ten. After his 11-4 defeat to Uzzell last time around however, Shaw was adamant on revenge – a 9-7 victory was enough then to see him into the semi-finals. This scoreline was repeated in the semi-finals, where Craig Osborne’s own eight match winning streak across the weekend came to an end. Shaw had fought his way into his fourth final of the season and was in no mind to stop there.

Imran Majid’s season has been one of sheer consistency right from the beginning of the season in March. Only he had more medals around his neck than Shaw – four silver and four bronze – coming into this tenth and final competition of the season. That one gold medal of the season was eluding him, however, and knowing this was his final chance of the season to strike gold he took no chances in eliminating Mark Hughes in the last 64 by a 9-2 scoreline. Craig Dixon soon followed in the last 32, with the man from Hemsworth heading home 9 racks to 3. Majid matched this scoreline against Neil Margossian, who saw a terrific season come to a close with a defeat to the same score. A different game altogether on paper at least was waiting for him in the quarter-finals, as the darling child of Darlington Phil Burford came up against the Maharaja. Burford’s heroics in this season’s Midlands Classic weren’t to be repeated, however, as Majid eased to a 9-4 victory and sealed his ninth semi-final of the season. Here he met European number 2 Chris Melling in a repeat of this season’s Paul Medati Trophy final – a player who will be spearheading Europe’s bid in December’s Mosconi Cup in Las Vegas and was only playing his third GB9 weekend of the season through other international commitments. This ended up being a homecoming to forget, however, with a heartbreaking 9-8 defeat seeing Majid through to final of 2011 – a victory which meant that he would play a part in half of the ten finals in the Pro Cup and main events combined.

The final itself was, perhaps, surprisingly one-sided. The drive for gold simply didn’t turn up for Majid in the final and, for the fifth time in five finals, he saw himself on the wrong end of the scoreboard. Jayson Shaw roared home to an 11-4 victory, sealed his place as British ranked number 2 and took home the final gold medal of 2011. Congratulations must go to Imran as well, who consolidated his provisional ranking as British number one and ensured he will retain that as his official ranking for the 2012 season.

As well as all the winners over the weekend special mention must also go to CueSportTV, who rounded off a fantastic season of live streaming coverage of GB9 tour spots with another superb production from the event. Thanks goes to Pete and Angie Williams, from all the GB9 team, who encourage everyone to tune into CueSportTV to watch GB9 , as well as a multitude of other CueSport action at http://www.cuesport.tv/

So, that is it from GB9 for 2011 and indeed for this fourth season of the tour. Every tour player will be hard at work over the Christmas period looking to sharpen up their games for the start of the 2012 season in February, and many new 9-ball players will be gearing themselves up for the new season’s qualification tournaments taking place in January. Dates for these qualifiers will be available very shortly, but in the mean time GB9 would like to thank its fans across Great Britain itself, the continent and indeed the world, for their continued support of the tour. We hope you’ve enjoyed every rack of this season and look forward to seeing you once again in February.

See full event results

In 2011 GB9 was proudly sponsored by Barceló Hotels, SAM Leisure, Simonis Cloth, Aramith Billiard Balls and CueClubInternational.com which together made the perfect combination of the very best equipment in the most outstanding venues.


15 November 2011

2011 EVENT 5 – GB9 BRITISH GRAND PRIX

9-ball players from across the length and breadth of Great Britain will descend on Daventry in Northamptonshire for the last time this season as the 2011 edition of the GB 9 Ball Tour reaches its climax with the prestigious British Grand Prix.

This season feels as though it has come and gone in a flash and few players would argue otherwise. That said, this has been perhaps the most action-packed and wide open GB9 season since its inception back in 2008. As the fourth season of this increasingly fascinating and difficult tour comes to its conclusion, we’ll look back here on some of the most memorable moments from the past 8 months.

This season’s Midlands Classic was one where one of Great Britain’s brightest young prospects put his mark on the world of 9-ball pool. On the verge of a move over to the USA, Darlington’s Phil Burford took up a coveted reserve spot in the competition and subsequently swept all who stood in his path. He took out two of Britain’s best players – former British #1 Mark Gray and reigning #1 Imran Majid – on his route to the final, and saw off the challenge of Craig Osborne in the final to take a GB9 title over to the States with him. Jayson Shaw stormed to victory in the first Pro Cup of 2011 and Damian Massey was the Challenge Cup’s victorious counterpart with both players laying down markers of the quality they could show in the season.

Emotions were high as ever in the season’s second tournament, the 3rd annual Paul Medati Trophy. Guest referee Michaela Tabb and US Open champion Darren Appleton were the star attractions, and the latter came away with yet another title to add to his CV with victory in June’s Pro Cup. Another one of Britain’s hottest young stars in Mat Lawrenson ran away with the Challenge Cup, defeating in the final yet another player from the crop of young talent in the form of Mark Lunn. 2011 China Open champion Chris Melling was fresh back from the orient and in the form of his life, and it was this form which took him to his second GB9 main event title in the space of three events. This was also, once again, GB9’s annual event supporting Macmillan Cancer Support, and Phil Morgan’s sponsored row prior to the event was the tremendous highlight to a fundraising drive which saw over well over £2,000 raised for the charity.

The Northern Masters was next up in the calendar, and most of Britain’s premier cueists came to this event this time off the back of the 2011 World Championship held in Qatar. Whilst the atmosphere in GB9 often feels like it matches the heat out in the middle east, it was Craig Osborne who avenged his runner-up spot from March taking victory this time round in the main event. Tony Drago took a break out from the newly rejuvenated World Snooker calendar to enter into this tournament weekend, and his frighteningly quick playing style saw him walk away with the Pro Cup title. Even more of the best young talent that British 9-ball has to offer came to the summit of the Challenge Cup, with Colchester’s Shaun Storry taking his first competitive 9-ball title.

Not even four weeks after the Northern Masters came to a close, the Southern Masters title was up for grabs in another fiercely contested weekend. A relative newcomer to the sport of 9-ball in the shape of Eric Dockerty came into each match more confident than ever as the weekend went on, and that confidence peaked on the Saturday evening when he took his maiden GB9 Challenge Cup title. Daryl Peach ended his 10 month long GB9 drought in picking up the Pro Cup title back in September. As for the main event itself, Kevin Uzzell was somewhat of an outsider coming into the weekend. However, his preparation for the event was second to none and this showed with him claiming his first GB9 title – a stalwart of the tour earning a just reward.

Now, with the 2011 schedule coming to a close, the British Grand Prix will see the finest players in the country battle it out for the title, all aiming for the ranking points to challenge Imran Majid’s coveted status as British #1.

GB9 will also be introducing electronic laptop scoring systems for this event in readiness for the 2012 season – more information on this will be available throughout the competition to players and spectators on request. Fans of the tour and the sport across the world can now follow every single match on tour in real time through http://www.gb9balltour.com/livescoring/m_scores.htm, bringing them closer to the action than ever before.

Karl Boyes - Winner of the 2010 GB9 British Grand Prix (© Andy Warden)

Spectator entry is free as ever, and play begins with the Challenge Cup opening round at 5pm on Friday 18th November, with play concluding with the British Grand Prix Final on Sunday evening. Don’t miss out on what will doubtless be yet another breathtaking display of 9-ball pool.

In 2011 GB9 is proudly sponsored by Barceló Hotels, SAM Leisure, Simonis Cloth, Aramith Billiard Balls and CueClubInternational.com making the perfect combination of the very best equipment in the most outstanding venues.


20 September 2011

The 2011 GB9 Southern Masters – event report

The penultimate event of the 2011 GB9 season has come to a conclusion with Kevin Uzzell, Daryl Peach and Eric Dockerty taking the gold home with them at the Southern Masters. Only 26 days after the players had left Daventry off of the back of the Northern Masters, they returned to the same venue to have another stab at those crucial ranking points that are fast running out as the season draws to a conclusion. Dozens of the country’s top cueists gave it their all again, and the weekend saw more than one surprise gold medal winner.

NO MORE HELL FOR CHAMPION UZZELL

The season’s penultimate Sunday night battle was contested between two players both with vastly varied experience in finals. Jayson Shaw qualified for his fifth GB9 final after falling just short in his fourth final in the Pro Cup the day before. Kevin Uzzell, however, came into the tournament as only the 24th seed and had yet to make a GB9 final of any kind in his four years on the tour.

Kevin Uzzell (© Andy Warden)

Both players’ campaigns began at the last 64 stage, with Shaw’s first victim being London’s Lionel Brown with a 9-5 victory. Martin Chapman was next to bite the bullet, and with a 9-2 hammering it might as well have been a bullet that shot right through him. The Wizard then cast a spell over the Paul Medati Trophy’s shock semi-finalist Neil Margossian, booking his place in the quarter finals with another clinical 9-2 victory. Craig Waddingham, one of the best of the new faces on this season’s tour, was the unfortunate soul in the quarter finals succumbing to a 9-3 victory. With just 12 racks conceded prior to the semi-finals and 6 break-and-runs made, Shaw had every right to be confident going into his clash with Scott Higgins. Higgins did give him a serious run for his money, but with Shaw coming through 9 racks to 6 it was he who was entering his second final of the weekend, his third of the season and fifth of his career.

Uzzell’s quest for his maiden GB9 title began the way the Shaw’s semi-final ended; a 9-6 victory against Mark Foster being the case. Knowing that he had a long way to go until the business end of the competition, you would have thought he’d pick his game up – to send him back home on his short trip from Daventry to Rugby. James Kay holds a rather unfortunate stat – no player in GB9 history has won more money without actually winning a competition. His quest for that elusive title will have to wait until at least November, with Uzzell taking him out 9-4 and going through to the quarter finals. Credit at this stage must go to Norwich’s Shaun Chipperfield who, in eliminating both Mark Gray and Karl Boyes earlier in the competition, is proving to be arguably the best tour debutant of 2011. It was Uzzell who came out on top again, however, taking out the East Anglian hero 9 racks to 6 to line up a semi-final against GB9’s Mr. Consistency, the one and only Maharaja Imran Majid. When two players of such methodical and calm-mannered pool come face to face, it’s nigh on impossible to pick a winner. This time around it was Uzzell’s turn to shine, making only his second final in 36 attempts in sending home Majid 9-7.

Everybody would have seen a mouth-watering final in their imagination – one of Great Britain’s fastest and finest cueists in Jayson Shaw against the old guard of Kevin Uzzell, known for his composure and immaculately level-headed pool. In a rare instance, psychology for once very quickly got the better of Shaw, not once being ahead in the match and often conceding racks which would never have been deemed an easy run out in most circumstances. Uzzell offered words of support during the match to an evidently uncomfortable Shaw, but it wasn’t enough to help his game. Uzzell ultimately sealed the match 11 racks to 4 and, at just 35 minutes, will go down as one of the fastest ever GB9 finals from any division.

At the tournament’s conclusion, Uzzell confessed that a trip abroad was responsible for his majestic return to form. “Before this event I’d been playing in Thailand for 7 weeks playing competitions, money games and getting back to my A-game. When I needed to produce on Sunday I sort of went back into ‘Thai mode’, got my belief and focus back then when I needed to produce it was easy again”. Kevin has at last won his first GB9 title, with it the champion’s gold medal, and rises to a commanding 7th in Britain. Ever the gentleman and sport whilst still showing his pride, he acknowledged that the road to victory wouldn’t get any easier, saying “In GB9 events previous to this one I’ve played very inconsistently and never done myself justice, so I’m very proud to win this event when the standard is so exceptionally high nowadays”.

A UNIQUE CHALLENGE CUP CLIMAX

The Challenge Cup saw two very different players reach the summit, with 9-ball stalwart ‘The Omen’ Damian Massey and recent English pool convert Eric ‘Unique’ Dockerty reaching the final of the year’s fourth competition.

Eric Dockerty (© Andy Warden)

Coming into the event as a clear favourite for promotion to next season’s Pro division, Massey began his quest for a third career Challenge Cup final berth with a 9-1 Victory over Norwich’s Mark Bolton. He then removed Craig Waddingham by 9 racks to 6 in the last 32, needing the same score to take out Mark Lunn in the next round. Just when he thought he would need to up his game against the ever-present Arfan Dad in the quarter-finals, he actually breathed significantly easier with another 9-1 demolition job. He met Mat Lawrenson in his semi-final, with both players looking to make it into their second final of the season, but Massey repeated the 9-6 score line once again to book his place in the final.

Dockerty started one round further back than his final opponent, but comfortably ended Ian McCormick’s campaign at the round of 96 with a 9-4 win. He followed that up when he removed Robin Cripps and August’s champion Shaun Storry from the tournament each by 9-2 and 9-6 scores respectively. 9-6 was also the result in his last 16 defeat of Glenn Cooney. Like Massey in his quarter-final match, Dockerty actually could afford to take his foot off the gas from thereon in; he eliminated Jason Howard 9 racks to 4 before hammering Darryn Walker 9-1 to book his place in the final showdown.

Dockerty’s ruthless attitude in the previous two rounds shone through in the final, emulating Shaun Storry’s August final in storming to a 5-0 lead in no time at all. Unlike back then, however, Massey just had nowhere near enough fuel left in his tank to catch back up and, to the most rapturous cheers and applause heard this season, Dockerty pocketed the final 9-ball and wrapped up a 9-5 win which catapults him from a lowly 65th in the Challenge rankings to a very much commanding 17th. Congratulations must also go to Damian Massey – alongside Mat Lawrenson, they have become this season’s first two players to be mathematically assured of a Pro Cup spot next season. The battle for the other six slots, however, will be a fascinating saga played out over just 24 hours in November.

ALL IS PEACHY IN THE PRO CUP

he Pro Cup final saw a repeat of the March event when Jayson Shaw and Daryl Peach clashed for the season’s first gold rush. With both players commanding 2nd and 1st in the provisional Pro rankings coming into the event, both players had the pleasure of a bye through the opening round.

Daryl Peach (© Andy Warden)

Peach’s run into the final was one that, as any tournament draw would normally suggest, got progressively tougher the longer he stayed in. Matt Ford was his first victim by a score of 9 racks to 5, with Kevin Uzzell the next to fall to Peach’s sword, going one rack better but still only taking a 9-6 defeat on his way. His semi-final opponent was none other than British number 1 Imran Majid, who managed to keep up his phenomenal record of semi-final appearances in all 2011 competitions with this being his sixth out of seven attempts. However, it was Peach who came out on top by 9 racks to 7 to book his place in the final showdown.

Shaw, on the other hand, had the rare claim of eliminating three of the previous season’s promoted Challenge Cup players on his route to the final. His last 16 match saw the end of Shane Appleton’s campaign with a 9-5 defeat of the Yorkshireman. Gary Bullocke was the next man unable to jump Shaw’s hurdle, coming away with a 9-3 defeat. Scotland’s finest then ended any hopes Stewart Colclough had of being the first man to win both a Pro and Challenge event, but only a brave final rack at hill-hill saw the Wizard through by 9 racks to 8. This was, almost predictably, the score in the final itself – something we as spectators have come to expect when seeing players of this caliber fighting it out for the major bragging rights.

In another nail-biting and clinical encounter, it was Peach who just about managed to scrape through 9-8. For his success he takes home the coveted gold medal and, most importantly to him, his first GB9 title for almost 10 months.

CORR INVADES THE GB 9 BALL TOUR

The GB 9 Ball Tour were also pleased to welcome WPBA Professional Karen Corr to the event after she accepted a Pro reserve spot that came available at the last minute.

Karen Corr (© Andy Warden)

In the main event “The Irish Invader” overcame Nathan James and Stuart Daff 9-5 and 9-2 respectively in the early rounds, before coming up against an in-form Jason Howard in the last 64 where she fell with a 9-2 scoreline. Her progression in the Pro cup was halted early with a 9-5 defeat to Matt Ford in the last 32 stage. Testiment to the strength in field in what many regard as “The Toughest National Tour on the Planet”.

The GB 9 Ball Tour will return to the Barcelo Daventry Hotel on the 18-20 November for the final event of the 2011 season – “The GB9 British Grand Prix”.

See full event results

In 2011 GB9 is proudly sponsored by Barceló Hotels, SAM Leisure, Simonis Cloth, Aramith Billiard Balls and CueClubInternational.com making the perfect combination of the very best equipment in the most outstanding venues.


2 September 2011

The 2011 GB9 Southern Masters

GB9 returns with another bang as the summer season draws to a close and, as the nights draw longer once again, the 2011 Southern Masters comes to the Barceló Hotel in Daventry.

This season’s penultimate event is already upon us. Although few players would complain, this event seems to have come around extremely quickly, giving players precious little time to hone their game to the standard GB9 has come to demand. Indeed, at only 26 days after the Northern Masters came to a close this is the shortest ever gap between two individual tournament weekends in almost four years of the GB 9 Ball Tour. Given the rapid succession of the two tournaments, players may not realise at first that opportunities to score vital ranking points are wearing very thin now for the 2011 season, so it is more important than ever for all players to be at the peak of their game.

Keeping in line with the 26 day stat above, here are a few more gems of stats that have accumulated over those years:

  • Since February 2008 there have been 20 tour weekends consisting of 60 individual competitions; 20 Pro Cups, 20 Challenge Cups and 20 title events.
  • In that time, £227,025 has been awarded in prize money.
  • Tour weekends have taken place in 11 towns and cities in 9 counties, as far south as Croydon in south London and as far north as Scarborough in North Yorkshire.
  • The all-time money leader on the tour is reigning British number 1 Imran Majid, winning a staggering £14,550 in that time; only 3 other players (Daryl Peach, Darren Appleton and Mark Gray) can join Majid in the exclusive £10,000 club.
  • Those four players alone have won a remarkable 27 tournaments between them (13 main event titles and 14 Pro Cup titles).
  • A grand total 349 players have battled over a combined 65,323 racks since the tour’s inception, 6,588 of those resulting in break and runs.
  • Just 14 players have entered into every one of the 20 tournament weekends since February 2008, with a further 14 players missing just three events or less.
  • In testimony to the quality of the professional game in Great Britain, only eight players have ever won main event titles on the tour.
  • In a similar testimony to the divisional system used on the GB 9 Ball Tour, 24 different players have won either a Challenge Cup or Pro Cup title. No player, however, has yet won one of each.

Imran Majid will be defending the title he won back in Daventry last year and, with Craig Osborne hot on his heels as the other standout player so far this season, he has both an event title to keep safe and his British number 1 title to try and keep intact. A further 142 players from every stretch of the country will also be locking horns, looking to prove to the pool world just what they are capable of.

Imran Majid - 2010 GB9 Southern Masters Winner (© Andy Warden)

Craig Osborne - Provisional UK Number 2 (© Andy Warden)

Spectator entry to the tournament is, as ever, free of charge. The opening round of the Challenge Cup will begin at 5pm on Friday 2nd September, with action taking place all day Saturday and most of Sunday, culminating in the Southern Masters final on the Sunday evening.


14 August 2011

The 2011 GB9 Northern Masters

The 2011 edition of the Northern Masters has concluded with Craig Osborne, Tony Drago and Shaun Storry reigning supreme in the weekend’s three competitions. This was the second of the three quick fire events in the GB9 calendar, and players were expecting to be fresh from the Paul Medati Trophy back in June. Knowing that the Southern Masters is less than four weeks away itself, every one of the 144 players was looking to pick up a head of steam that they can keep up as the season starts to take some real shape.

TORNADO WREAKS HAVOC IN PRO CUP

The third Pro Cup final of the season was contested between Karl Boyes and Tony Drago – a terrific matchup of two of the most clinical and fast-paced 9-ball players on the planet. Boyes’ pathway to the final began with a relatively routine 9-4 win over Luke Rollison. Good friend Scott Higgins was the next victim, but it was at this stage the going got tougher. 9-6 was the score line in that match, with Craig Osborne going down in the quarter finals 9 racks to 7. Imran Majid, a player so used to playing in GB9 finals, couldn’t quite put another one onto his CV as he succumbed 9-6 to Guapo.

Drago’s attitude to the competition, just as any competition he enters requiring the use of a cue, was to simply pot balls and virtually fly around the table. His route was a little simpler to start with, needing just 81 minutes over the course of two matches to dispose of Paul Williams 9-1 and June’s Paul Medati Trophy winner Chris Melling 9-4.

He nearly came unstuck in both the quarters and semis, with Daryl Peach falling in the former 9 racks to 8. The loser of the latter was Jayson Shaw and, although he was defeated in a last rack thriller himself, the whole seventeen racks in the match were completed in an almost ridiculous 45 minutes – more than three times quicker than the slowest match in the competition between Martyn Royce and Mark Collins.

Throughout his matches, even in the hill-hill encounters, he lived up to his Tornado nickname; the final itself was no different and, despite recording another victorious score line of 9-6 in the match, he managed to wrap up the title in a blisteringly quick 48 minute battle. He pocketed the £800 and the gold medal for his incredibly speedy exploits – not bad for a player finding time to attend Daventry in an increasingly busy snooker calendar.

Tony Drago - GB9 Pro Cup (III) winner (© Andy Warden)

THE GREATEST STORRY EVER TOLD

The Challenge Cup was once again contested by two players never to have made a GB9 final before. Derby’s Jack Whelan is a relatively new convert to the sport of 9-ball, but anybody watching his gutsy performances throughout the weekend would see he is somewhat of a seasoned player already.

His first victim was Gravesend’s Scott Foley 9-7, followed up with a 9-6 last 32 victory against Chris Hall. Remarkably he recorded his most comfortable score line against March’s Challenge Cup winner Damian Massey with a 9 racks to 4 victory. He struggled his way through his quarter final against Jason Howard by coming through on the hill and, in securing his berth in the final, he managed to make it back to back 9-8 victories with a triumph against Craig Dixon.

Shaun Storry really showed his worth back in the Paul Medati Trophy main event back in June, with only a gut-wrenching 9-8 defeat in the last 16 at the hands of Michael Valentine halting his run. He came to Daventry this time around as one of the favourites for the gold medal, and started his campaign with a convincing 9-3 win against Dylan Thomas. New practice partner and good friend Phil Morgan was his next challenge, but saw this off with a 9-6 win.

Tour stalwart Chris Buckmaster was next to bite the dust succumbing to a 9-4 defeat, before Craig Waddingham’s impressive run came to a halt in the quarter finals with a 9-8 loss. In a strange twist, Storry also managed to take out the other Challenge Cup winner from this season, with Mathew Lawrenson falling short of his second successive Challenge final in losing 9-6.

In the final itself, Storry stormed into a 5-0 lead. Whelan rightly took a timeout at this stage and, after winning eight of the next ten racks to go within one of the title at 8-7, Storry managed to find the same grit needed throughout the competition, pegging back to hill-hill before Whelan broke dry in the decider and left the table wide open for Storry to see out the win by 9 racks to 8.

He wins the gold medal and £800 for his efforts, along with 14 ranking points to take him to an all time high Challenge ranking of 2nd; surely now a strong candidate promotion to the elite Pro Cup next season.

Shaun Storry - GB9 Challenge Cup (III) winner (© Andy Warden)

BLACK SABBATH FOR MAHARAJA AS OZZY ROCKS TO VICTORY

Two of Karl Boyes’ victims in his Pro Cup campaign were to meet ultimately for the title of 2011 Northern Masters champion in the weekend’s main event. Quarter final loser Craig Osborne and semi final loser Imran Majid were the two players who battled through the 144 man field to reach the showdown at sunset on Sunday evening.

Ozzy’s campaign began with a last 64 clash and an easy 9-2 victory over Sam Thistlewhite. Craig Waddingham and Mathew Lawrenson can both make the very rare and unfortunate claim of being knocked out of both their divisional and main events by the eventual winner of the respective competitions; in this instance it was respective 9-5 and 9-6 defeats which saw Osborne through to the quarter finals. There he faced Scott Higgins in a bruising encounter, ultimately coming out on top by 9 racks to 7.

His path to the final was completed after the run of Rugby local Andy Barnett came to an end, with a 9-2 win showing his opponent in the final that he was ready for anything. What he didn’t bargain for, however, was coming up against a player so used to playing in GB9 finals that his nameplate might as well stay permanently fixed onto Table 1.

Imran Majid’s campaign saw him start as the number 1 seed, and with 9-4 and 9-2 defeats of James Taylor and Finlay Laing he showed all and sundry why he’s top of the GB9 tree. His ruthless form continued in the last 16, ending the brave run of Penzance’s Robin Cripps with a 9-1 demolition job. Another brave run came to an end in the next round; Reading’s Phil Wildman, responsible for dumping Pro Cup finalist Karl Boyes out of the competition in the previous round with a stunning 9-4 score line, was put to the sword by Majid with a 9-4 defeat of his own to come to terms with.

The final man standing in Majid’s way was Glasgow’s powerhouse Jayson Shaw. A run to the semi-finals of the Pro Cup was emulated in the main event, and with Majid coming through 9-7 he set up a mouth-watering clash with Osborne. After Osborne took an early lead, both players took their timeouts. This seemed to rejuvenate Majid who managed to keep up with Osborne right until the end, but it was Osborne who managed to hold on for the victory. Where both main event finals have seen all 21 racks played so far this season, Osborne managed to keep a rack in hand in wrapping the tournament up with a gritty 11-9 win over the British number 1.

The win sees Osborne rise to a career high of British number 2, and few would doubt his credentials and potential of perhaps dethroning Imran Majid as the king amongst the staggering group of players coming through into British 9-ball.

Craig Osborne - GB9 Northern Masters Champion (© Andy Warden)

Osborne, Majid and the vast pool of talent that Britain has to offer in this sport will return for the Southern Masters competition in just three weekends time – the shortest space of time between two GB9 events in the tour’s four year history. Players will expect to still be in red hot form and, with over half the season now completed, time is running out for players to grab themselves ranking points for the all important end of season rankings.

See full event results

In 2011 GB9 is proudly sponsored by Barceló Hotels, SAM Leisure, Simonis Cloth, Aramith Billiard Balls and CueClubInternational.com making the perfect combination of the very best equipment in the most outstanding venues.


29 July 2011

The 2011 GB9 Northern Masters – Pre-event report.

The GB 9 Ball Tour returns swiftly to the Barceló Hotel in Daventry in August for this season’s Northern Masters – just seven weeks since the last action packed weekend took place. This event comes fresh off the back of the 2011 World 9-Ball Championship held in Doha, Qatar, which will go down in many people’s books as one of the closest fought and most dramatic tournaments in years, perhaps ever. GB9 was well represented over in the middle-east, with some gutsy and often stunning pool guiding our players to some highly notable finishes.

The most prestigious competition in the 9-ball calendar contained no less than 6 current GB9 players; joining them also was former tour player and now United States resident Darren Appleton, all hoping to bring the world title home as Daryl Peach did four years ago. Expectations were high as Darren and Daryl, along with new British number 1 Imran Majid, and also Karl Boyes, Chris Melling, Mark Gray and Scott Higgins progressed through their respective group stage matches to make the round of 64. It was at this stage that Karl Boyes and Imran Majid bid farewell to the field, with last month’s Paul Medati Trophy winner Chris Melling and Scott Higgins knocked out in the very next round.

Next on their way home was Darren Appleton in the last 16, whereas Daryl Peach fell just two matches short of his second World Championship final, succumbing in the quarter-finals to eventual runner-up and reigning 8-Ball World Champion, Dennis Orcullo. Despite Mark Gray losing his status as British number 1 after last month’s Paul Medati Trophy, he made a remarkable run to the semi-finals in Doha, dispatching the likes of Shane van Boening and his very own compatriot Chris Melling before being eliminated at the penultimate hurdle in a pulsating, ultimately heartbreaking, hill-hill encounter by the eventual winner, Yukio Akagariyama of Japan.

With the exception of the typically vast and omnipresent Filipino contingent, no country was better represented in the knockout stages of the tournament than Great Britain – a grand yet thoroughly true testament to the state of 9-ball pool in Great Britain.

Chris Melling - GB9 Northern Masters Reigning Champion (© Andy Warden)

Chris Melling will be looking to defend the title he won back in November 2010, with a further 143 players trying their best to snatch the title away from him. One of those players will be snooker professional Stuart Pettman. He follows in the line of ex-professional Darryn Walker at trying his hand at competition level 9-ball pool, and the man from Preston, a regular in the top 64 official World Snooker rankings, will be keen to hit the ground running. All of the GB9 players in Doha will be appearing in Daventry, along with many other highly talented cueists looking to ink their name onto the ever growing map of 9-ball talent on these shores.

Pro snooker star Stuart Pettman makes his GB9 debut at the 2011 GB9 Northern Masters (courtesy of Lancashire Evening Post)

Play at the Northern Masters will begin as ever with the Challenge Cup first round at 5pm on Friday August 5th, concluding on the evening of Sunday August 7th. Everybody is welcome to come along and watch and, with so many world class players on show, it’s sure to contain the same top quality action that we’ve seen so far this season.


25 June 2011

The 2011 GB9 Paul Medati Trophy

GB9’s second event of the 2011 season came to a conclusion with Chris Melling, Darren Appleton and Mathew Lawrenson coming away with the major spoils. This was the third edition of the annual memorial competition, with both this event and the tour in general now hosting a mix of players, young and old, all of whom are at least aware of Paul Medati’s standing in the world of cuesports. Tournament Director Lee Rigby was audibly choking up as he spoke to players and spectators before the Pro Cup and Challenge Cup finals, and the emotion was clear amongst all other players and spectators throughout the weekend. Ultimately, however, there was a lot of pool to be played across the weekend, with many tremendous performances highlighting the strength in depth of American pool players that are developing in Great Britain – a depth that Paul would doubtless have been proud of.

DYNAMITE BLOWS APART THE MAHARAJA

In the Pro Cup final, it was London’s Imran Majid coming up against old Pontefract nemesis and now ex-pat Darren Appleton. Imran handed a 9-0 donut to Brett Armer in the opening round, before disposing of GB9 chairperson Jonathan Mathers 9-5. He got fully back into his stride against Glastonbury’s Gary Bullocke with a 9-2 victory before recording another 9-5 scoreline in the semi-finals against March’s Pro Cup winner Jayson Shaw. Appleton’s route to the final was slightly longer, opening his account with 9-6 and 9-4 wins over Kevin Uzzell and James Kay respectively. His most convincing win came over ‘Barney’ Andy Barnett by 9 racks to 2, then making his way into the final by disposing of Craig Osborne 9-4. The final itself, refereed by guest referee Michaela Tabb, was more of a one-sided affair than many were expecting. That said, Appleton was in imperious form, beating his rival 9-2 and picking up £800 – or almost $1,300 – to take back to the States with him.

Pro cup Winner Darren Appleton with John Medati (© Andy Warden)

LAYING DOWN MATHEW’S LAW

The final of the Challenge Cup was contested by 23-year-old Mathew Lawrenson from Wigan, and Morley’s 17-year-old sensation Mark Lunn. Both players had a slightly longer route to the final than their equivalents in the Pro Cup, with Lunn starting right back in the opening round taking out Dave Smith 9-2. He followed up a round 2 bye with another 9-2 win over Dean Thompson. He eliminated Dylan Thomas 9-6 in the last 32 before coming through a gruelling hill-hill encounter against Norwich’s Shaun Chipperfield in the last 16. He surprised Darryn Walker – the only person to record a whitewash in the last 32 (against Mark Singleton) – with a 9 racks to 5 quarter-final triumph, following this up with an elimination of another player tipped as a potential winner in Arfan Dad 9 racks to 4.

Challenge Cup Winner Mathew Lawrenson, Referee Michaela Tabb and Pro Cup Winner Darren Appleton (© Andy Warden)

Lawrenson laid the first bricks of his path to the final with a round 3 victory against Gabor Szalay 9-5. Now in last 32, he continued with the elimination of Reading’s Phil Wildman and Hemsworth’s Craig Dixon by scorelines of 9-5 and 9-2. His quarter final saw him take out defending Challenge Cup champion Damian Massey 9-4, with Cambridge’s Ricardo Jones becoming his semi-final victim 9 racks to 6. Lawrenson kept up the momentum of his previous round, leading for all but one rack in the final and won the competition with a 9-5 victory. He too received the £800 winner’s cheque and, along with Darren Appleton, became the first recipient of a winner’s GB9 gold medal.

Challenge Cup Winner Mathew Lawrenson with Steve Medati (© Andy Warden)

FROM CHINESE WHISPERS TO MEDATI MAGICIAN

With such a high quality of pool evident, it was anybody’s guess who would make it to the final of this year’s competition. Chris Melling was widely tipped before the tournament began thanks to his fantastic victory in the China Open earlier this month, but his defeat in the opening round of the Pro Cup 9-3 to Dave Nelson led many to believe that he still hadn’t quite gotten over his jetlag. That said, anyone would be a fool to rule out Chris from a competition before a ball’s hit, and he shattered all doubter’s presumptions with a stunning run to the final. He ground out victories against his first two opponents in the last 64 and last 32 by 9-8 and 9-5, the unfortunate victims being Pro Cup winner Darren Appleton and the man who took Melling out of the Pro Cup , Dave Nelson. His last 16 match saw Matthew Ford eliminated by a 9-4 score, with his quarter final victory seeing the end of Mark Gray’s reign as British number one, taking him out 9 racks to 2. In the semi-finals, he took out surprise package of the weekend Neil Margossian, conceding just 4 racks out of the 13 played to book his place in the final.

His opponent in the final was Imran Majid – a player whose record of reaching finals eclipses that of any other player on the tour. His run began in the last 64 with a 9-3 victory over Greg Jansz, followed up by defeating Challenge Cup finalist Mark Lunn 9-2 and Paul Williams 9-5 in the last 32 and last 16. His next two matches, however, saw Majid staring defeat in the face in both. Andy Croasdale had a semi-final berth in his grasp at 8-8, but it wasn’t to be. As if one hill-hill encounter wasn’t enough to bear already, exactly the same happened in his semi-final with Michael Valentine, who himself had already had to deal with an epic hill-hill encounter with Shaun Storry in the last 16. No player had a lead of more than a rack in the entire match, but it was the Maharaja who saw off Valentine in the final rack to set up what was sure to be a thrilling final against a player who now once again appeared to be overflowing with self belief.

The final itself was a somewhat curious match, with Melling storming into a 5-1 lead before Majid won 7 of the next 9 to lead for the first time in the match at 8-7. Both players were giving away nothing at all, and it came as no surprise to anyone that Chris took three of the next five racks to take the match to hill-hill – Majid’s third consecutive match going all the way. The decider, as expected of any hill-hill encounter, was a nervy affair, but after Majid failed to convert a tricky combo with ball in hand Melling was able to hold his nerve, clearing the table to come away victorious from a stunning match where both finalists can hold their heads high. Melling took home the gold medal, the winner’s cheque for £1,300, and finished the event as British number two. ‘I knew I had a good chance to win as I’ve been plaing well for a while now’, Melling said after clinching the title. He revealed too that his mother’s passing last year, also to cancer, helped to spur him on during the competition. ‘It crippled me but I knew she would have wanted me to carry on and never give in as that’s what she did until the very end. Every title I win I dedicate to her and this is up there with the best as it means so much. I fly out to the World 9-Ball Championship on Thursday and there’s no reason why I can’t win – I feel like I’m up there with the best of them now.’ Not all was lost for Imran, however, whose run to the final ensures that he rose once again to the coveted ranking of British number one – a deserved outcome for two players truly on the very top of their games right now. The losing finalists and losing semi-finalists in the Pro Cup, Challenge Cup and the Paul Medati Trophy also receive silver and bronze medals respectively for their efforts, and deserved congratulations go to them all for their contribution to a brilliant weekend of pool.

Chris Melling - Paul Medati Trophy Winner (© Andy Warden)

PUTTING THE WEEKEND IN CONTEXT

Long before the competition took place, GB9 expressed their aim to try and raise £1,000 for Macmillan Cancer Support during the weekend. That, however, wasn’t enough for one of our players. Ipswich’s tour stalwart, Phil ‘Popeye’ Morgan (a new nickname coined by Paul Medati’s sons John and Steve during their visit at the weekend), announced that he was going to attempt a sponsored 30km row within three hours in Rileys Ipswich in an effort at first to raise £500. The popularity of this challenge grew at some pace, ultimately achieving a revised target of £1,000. He completed the row in a time of 2 hours 35 minutes, and his finishing total was a staggering £1168.32. He was presented with an honorary gold medal for his quite incredible solo fundraising achievement by the tour committee. Phil, however, remained humble in his achievements. ‘To do this for Macmillan Cancer Support, Paul Medati and GB9 was a privilege. The response I got from all parties just makes me want to do something like that again next year’. He also recognised the collective efforts of his fellow tour players, acknowledging the importance of such a special event. ‘I believe the tour comes together like a big family in situations like this and I had no problems getting donations as everyone has been affected by cancer during their lives, whether it’s a loved one, a family member or a friend. I want to thank every person for the love and support shown – I could not have done it without you.’

A raffle was also once again kindly run by Aslam Abubaker, raising a grand total of £445. Prizes included generous donations of Premier League snooker tickets from Matchroom Sport, a pair of referee’s gloves signed by Michaela Tabb, and a prized Mosconi Cup shirt given by Karl Boyes who was a member of last year’s winning European team. Every player was also given the option to donate 5% of any winnings they might earn over the weekend, with this drive alone earning £407.50 for the fund. Collection pots were placed around the venue across the weekend, willing to pick up any loose change – these, along with a cut from entry fees to the two weekend flyer tournaments on Friday night and Sunday afternoon, raised £153.97. With all the above taken into consideration, we are proud to announce a final grand total of £2,154.79 for Macmillan. GB9 and the Medati family would like to thank every player for their donations across the weekend, however big or small they may have been. Your donations will go towards helping Macmillan assist those suffering from cancer and giving them, along with their friends and families, support when they most need it.

GB9 player and fundraiser, Phil Morgan with Macmillan's Ted Thompson (© Andy Warden)

See full event results

In 2011 GB9 is proudly sponsored by Barceló Hotels, SAM Leisure, Simonis Cloth, Aramith Billiard Balls and CueClubInternational.com making the perfect combination of the very best equipment in the most outstanding venues.


7 June 2011

GB9 to feature in Virtual Pool 4

The GB 9 Ball Tour are proud to announce that a strategic co-marketing partnership has been formed with computer games developer Celeris, which will see the inclusion of GB9 and its players in their upcoming release, Virtual Pool 4.

The Virtual Pool franchise has been the market leader in billiards computer games since the first installation of the series all the way back in 1995. Its opening title contained 9-Ball, 8-Ball, 14:1 and Rotation. The series grew rapidly, and just two editions later, in 2000, Virtual Pool 3 boasted no less than 20 different games with the likes of three cushion carom, and even snooker, taking pride of place. Such is the success of the brand that 11 years on from its launch there is still an active online community who play the game on a regular basis. Celeris have recently been hard at work producing what will surely be the most comprehensive and realistic billiards simulation ever seen…. Virtual Pool 4.

Both Celeris and GB9 have been quick to praise this partnership:

Chief Executive Officer of Celeris, Steve Chaplin, kindly spoke to GB9 prior to this release; “We are very excited about this partnership with one of the premier professional pool organizations in the world. GB9 and Celeris are very similar in terms of providing high quality in the game. GB9 and many of its players will be part of our pro tour career mode. The GB 9 Ball Tour and Celeris will work together to promote both ‘games’.”

GB9 chairperson, Jonathan Mathers, commented; “It’s fantastic news that Celeris and GB9 are able to work together at a time when both are striving to promote American pool to a wider audience. We’re sure that current GB9 players will relish the opportunity to feature in the world leading Virtual Pool franchise, giving recognition to their talent and achievements at a time when 9 ball pool in Britain is rapidly growing in popularity.”

All current GB9 members playing in the 2011 season are eligible to sign up to take their place in the game; please visit http://www.celeris.com/celeris_player_signup.html and follow the instructions.


11 May 2011

2011 GB9 Paul Medati Trophy

 

Fond memories will doubtless be rekindled as the GB 9 Ball Tour returns to the Barceló Hotel in Daventry next month for the third annual Paul Medati Trophy.

As many people throughout various codes of billiard sport will already know, Paul lost his fight against lung cancer in 2008 at the age of 65, very shortly after the inaugural GB9 season had come to a close. During his career as a snooker player throughout the 80s and early 90s, as well as his briefer stint within American pool, his was an infectious and warm character which has been missed by countless players and fans alike, and naturally the decision to rename a GB9 tournament in his honour was well received back in 2009. Mark ‘Granite’ Gray will be in attendance trying to defend the title he won last April in Blackpool, amongst a strong field of 144 players each hoping to steal the crown off of him, all of whom will ensure this year’s event will be more fiercely contested than ever. Cherill Medati, Paul’s widow, was proud to give her endorsement to the competition once again. Their son, John, said “I’m very much looking forward to attending the event named in honour of my dad and helping GB9 and its players raise funds for a very worthy cause in Macmillan Cancer Support.”

GB9 is proud to announce that world famous female referee Michaela Tabb will be making an appearance in Daventry. In a first for the tour, Tabb will referee alongside current referees Mel Harley, Phil Turner and player/referee Martyn Royce to add a special touch to proceedings for what will surely be another emotional competition. Her refereeing record speaks for itself, having resided over 7 World 9-Ball Championship finals (including Daryl Peach’s triumph in 2007), taking the reins as head referee in the Mosconi Cup since 1999, and she also became the first woman ever to take charge of a World Snooker Championship final for the 2009 clash between John Higgins and Shaun Murphy. Alongside these major accolades she is a permanent fixture within the World Snooker tour and she will now have a GB9 event to add to her already glowing portfolio of cue sports officiating. “I’ve heard a lot of good things about the tour so I’m very much looking forward to refereeing in Daventry, and I hope I can do my bit to help the GB9 team raise as much money as possible for Macmillan.” said Tabb. “I know I’ll be amongst world class players, many of whom I’ve refereed in the World Championship and Mosconi Cup before, so it’s clear to me why people claim this is the toughest national pool tour in the world.”

As with the events in 2009 and 2010, the weekend will see a fundraising drive for Macmillan Cancer Support taking place throughout the entire competition. GB9 are hoping to raise a grand total of £1000 for Macmillan over the course of the weekend, and numerous fund raising drives will take place right from the first break-off on Friday evening. A sweepstake will take place for the main event containing the names of every player in the Paul Medati Trophy draw, with a portion of proceedings going directly into the Macmillan pot. A raffle will also take place offering many terrific prizes, including, amongst others:

• A Mezz Power Breaker break cue valued at £250
• Two pairs of tickets to a Premier League Snooker event of the winners’ choosing, featuring this year’s two World Championship finalists John Higgins and Judd Trump, courtesy of Matchroom Sport
• Two cue re-tips courtesy of cuemaker and GB9 player, Paul ‘The Craftsman’ Morgan
• Two prizes of £50 discounted from GB9 tour fees for the remainder of the 2011 season, and
• A set of refereeing gloves signed by guest referee Michaela Tabb

The action, as ever, kicks off with the opening rounds of the Challenge Cup at 5pm on Friday 17th June 2011, with play going right through to around 9pm on Sunday 19th June. Entry to spectators is free of charge throughout the weekend, but any donations made to Macmillan Cancer Support would be extremely welcome and we at GB9 encourage you to visit http://www.macmillan.org.uk, where you can see for yourself just what Macmillan do to assist those suffering from cancer and their families.


18 March 2011

2011 GB9 Midlands Classic Results

Phil Burford, Jayson Shaw and Damian Massey were the title winners at the first GB9 event of 2011 at the Barceló Hotel in Daventry.

Most players will agree that the 93 days since Chris Melling sank the final 9-ball in Blackpool back in November 2010 have flown by, and it was plain to see that the off-season brought with it a certain anticipation for the best American pool players in Great Britain to hit the ground running on the tour’s return to Northamptonshire. Countless new faces entered the cauldron of pool knowing they were taking their place in what many people, players and spectators alike, are quoting as the best national pool tour on the planet.

Darryn Walker (© Andy Warden)

WIZARD PULLS TRIGGER ON SHOTGUN

Drama was to be expected from the word ‘go’ and early results certainly didn’t disappoint. Paul Williams and Jonathan Mathers both came through 9-8 against Adam Shaw and Paul Stoves respectively, with Craig Osborne scraping past newly promoted Ben Finch 9-7. Certainly the upset of the competition, perhaps indeed the weekend, was Shane Appleton; in his first match since winning last season’s Challenge division, he eliminated British number 1 Mark Gray 9-5. The hunter at that point became the hunted with David Nelson then blitzing Appleton 9-1. He too was then defeated by Phil Burford, with Burford joined in the quarter-finals by Daryl Peach, Craig Osborne and Jayson Shaw. The Shotgun from Ipswich appeared more comfortable and took a methodical approach in dispatching the 2007 World Champion from the tournament, with both only managing 3 break-and-runs between them in the match.

Craig Osborne (© Andy Warden)

‘The Wizard’ was much more ruthless in his semi-final, hardly giving Burford a chance to breathe in taking a 6-0 lead, including 2 break and dishes of his own. Burford could only split the next six racks with Shaw, rallying with a dish of his own in rack 11 before Shaw saw out the match in the 12th rack to complete a resounding 9-3 victory in less than 42 minutes.

Both Osborne and Shaw appeared to bring the same attitudes with them to the final table; Osborne was calm, prepared and literally dancing his way to the table, whereas Shaw was somewhat more focused and primed for battle. It was the latter, and ruthless, attitude which prevailed, with the Glaswegian storming to a 9-2 victory to give him his first GB9 title since August 2008.

Jayson Shaw -Pro cup (I) winner (© Andy Warden)

“It feels great to win the first event of the season”, said Shaw. “I have been practicing every day for a month now as I have a new club with my own table in it. I want to thank the Q Club (in Glasgow) and all the GB9 staff for a great tour”.

“OMENOUS” MASSEY SECURES CHALLENGE CUP

With such an influx of new players on the 2011 tour, the first Challenge Cup event of the season could have been one of the most open competitions in GB9’s three year history. In the end, however, two of the tour’s stalwarts in ‘The Omen’ Damian Massey and Andrew Morris came through to contest the final. The early rounds still drew out names to watch out for in future competitions; congratulations must go to the likes of Sam Thistlewhite, Shaun Chipperfield, Shane Davies, Neil Craycraft, Gabor Szalay, James Topliff and Phil Wildman, who all reached the last 32 at their very first attempt. Standout new player of the competition was Welshman Kristian Phillips; starting his campaign at 5pm on Friday evening, managing to beat James Shade, Mark Shepherd, Mark Morris, Jason Howard, Gabor Szalay and Kevin Simpson before finally falling in the semi-finals to Andrew Morris 9 racks to 5. Massey’s 2011 campaign also started at 5pm, seeing off Darren Murray, Danny Orme, Chun Hao Man, Dean Reeve, Adam Stevens, Richard Main and finally Glen Cooney to secure his berth in the final to face Morris almost exactly 24 hours later.

Playing some clinical pool in the final itself, Massey took a 7-0 lead before a then dejected Morris rallied with four back to back racks of his own, showing he wasn’t giving in just yet. A tricky 9-ball halted Morris’ run and Massey took an 8-4 lead. The Bournemouth man then held his nerves to see out the 13th rack as he secured the 14 Challenge ranking points, the £800 winner’s prize and, most important of all, his second GB9 title.

Damian Massey - Challenge Cup (I) winner (© Andy Warden)

An ecstatic Massey said “I’m delighted to win my second Challenge event on GB9. I seemed to hit form in the quarter finals and from then I was confident of the win; to be honest I’ve never been more focused than I was in the final.” Massey also had kind words for GB9 player/referee Martyn Royce. “He was superb – very professional, spoke clearly and with authority, and I hope he continues to referee more games in the future.”

LOCOMOTIVE STORMS THROUGH THE FIELD

The main event resulted in one of the latest finishes and gutsiest tournament finishes seen since GB9’s inception. Ipswich’s Craig Osborne saw himself in his second final of the weekend, but this time facing fellow Pro Cup semi finalist Phil Burford. Both entering at the last 64 stage, Osborne saw off Jonathan Mathers 9-5 and Louis Callaghan 9-6, before recording 9-7 victories against Damian Overton in the last 16, Kevin Uzzell in the quarter-final and Daryl Peach in the semi-final. ‘The Locomotive’ Burford, in contrast, seemed to breeze his way through to the final, conceding only 14 racks in five matches before his clash with Osborne. He defeated both Paul Wensley and Challenge Cup finalist Andrew Morris by 9 racks to 2 to reach the last 16, and then dispatched Luke Rollinson 9-3, Mark Gray 9-1, and Imran Majid 9-4 to set up the County Durham v Suffolk finale.

The pair took no risks in splitting the first six racks for a score line of 3-3, which include Burford’s first two of three break and runs in racks 2 and 4. Osborne was on course to record a break and run of his own in the 7th, but missed a cannon on the 6-ball, following up with a clumsy safety shot which allowed Buford to take the back four balls and lead for the first time at 4-3. He extended that to 5-3 with the third break dish of the match, including some remarkable cueing over the 9-ball in potting a tricky 5-ball.

Just when Osborne could have done with a turn in fortunes, he lost rack 9 after a very unfortunate in-off playing the 2-ball, with Burford clearing the remainder of the table to take a three rack lead for the first time. In rack 10 Burford broke dry for the first time resulting in Osborne again reducing his deficit to two. This was quickly reduced to one rack in the 11th, before another safety battle resulted in Osborne once again to bring he score line level once again leaving people wondering if the match was going all the way. Burford poached the 13th rack before also taking a perhaps undeserved 14th after Osborne potted a magnificent 3-ball before going in-off, leaving Burford to see out the rack. Osborne cut the deficit back to one again after a clever safety shot on the 4-ball. Burford scratched off of the 16th break, and within 90 seconds the match had become a best-of-5 match for the £1300 first prize.

Mistakes then started to appear in both players’ games. Osborne’s clumsy shot on the 6-ball in rack 17 allowed Burford to sneak into the lead once again, and an equally clumsy push out appeared to pave the way for Burford to move into a two rack lead once again there and then, but in the 18th rack Burford missed a tired shot himself on the 4 before Osborne did almost exactly the same on the 5, ultimately moving Burford into a 10-8 lead and one away from the title.

Osborne asserted control over the 19th rack, kept hold of it and reducing the deficit to 10-9. Nerves were tested to the limit in the penultimate rack with an epic 10-minute safety battle on the 3-ball which was finally won by Osborne, who went on to win the rack and send the first main event of the season all the way to the wire. Osborne was perhaps unlucky to break dry in the final rack of the match, but youth came through at exactly the right time. Burford, as he had done both throughout the match and the whole tournament, showed experience far beyond his 20 short years to take his first ever main GB9 title and become the youngest ever winner of a GB9 main event.

Phil Burford - Midlands Classic winner (© Andy Warden)

“I would like to thank Stan Shuffet for teaching me Pro One/CTE. I use this system full time now and after living in America for five months last year, I believe my game has jumped up at least a ball!” claimed an understandably delighted Burford. “The level of player certainly got harder each round. I’m moving to America in about 4 months and will be playing full time out there”.

Despite the goliath nature the match ended up taking, credit should be given in heaps to both Burford and Osborne for a truly memorable match. Seldom has a single match shown such spirit by both players, not least with the match finishing at just shy of midnight, and many will feel there was no better advert for both the tour and the sport of 9-ball in general than seeing two fine players giving their all. Needless to say, the same passion will return back to Daventry on 17 June when the finest American pool cueists in the country come back for their second shot at glory in the 3rd GB9 Paul Medati Trophy.

See full event results

In 2011 GB9 is proudly sponsored by Barceló Hotels, SAM Leisure, Simonis Cloth, Aramith Billiard Balls and CueClubInternational.com making the perfect combination of the very best equipment in the most outstanding venues.


8 March 2011

2011 GB9 Midlands Classic

The top American pool players in Britain will be starting their campaigns to become the best in the land when the GB 9 Ball Tour returns to Daventry for the 2011 Midlands Classic from Friday 11th to Sunday 13th March.
Now in its fourth season, GB9 has come an extremely long way since its inception in 2008. Last year was the first time that national 9 ball tour events have ever been hosted in hotel venues, with GB9 establishing a partnership with the Barceló hotel group. The tour kicked off in Buxton this time last year, and also visited Blackpool and Daventry along the way. Now featuring 144 of the most talented players across Britain, Europe and the World, GB9 has played its part in cementing the reputation of British cueists on the American cue sport international stage.

Almost £190,000 in prize money has been distributed since the first GB9 event in 2008, and the 2011 season will see a record-breaking £63,500 being fought for by GB9 members. Those newly qualified to the tour this season will be looking to make their mark, whilst the established professionals look to defend their positions within an ever expanding pool of British talent. The GB 9 Ball Tour introduced an innovative format to British tour events back in 2008, catering for the nation’s international elite as well as the rising stars of the game. Once again in 2011 each tour weekend will consist of three keenly fought competitions;

  • The Pro Cup – featuring 32 of the leading cueists in Great Britain, including 2007 9-Ball World Champion Daryl Peach, 2010 8-Ball World Champion Karl Boyes; former English 8-Ball World Champion Chris Melling; and multiple Eurotour event winners and Mosconi Cup players Imran Majid and Mark Gray.
  • The Challenge Cup – consisting of 112 of the nation’s most promising 9-Ball players each aiming for promotion into the pro ranks, with names such as Morray Dolan, Adam Benn Smith and Chris Buckmaster along with new qualifiers Arfan Dad, Chris Hall and Andy Croasdale all looking to grab Challenge titles throughout the season.
  • The Main Event – the full complement of 144 players will take to the floor for the main competition at each event aiming for the £1300 winner’s share.

Following on from the impressive feedback from both players and spectators, all five events in the 2011 season will take place at the Barceló Daventry Hotel. With easy access from the M1, M6 and M40, the hotel offers great accessibility for both players and their supporters. Once again the tour would like to extend its sincere gratitude to our sponsors and supporters, all of whom play a major part in providing the best playing conditions, equipment and coverage in what GB9 feel is the finest, most modern tournament venue of its kind in Great Britain:

  • SAM Leisure are the leading supplier for pool and snooker operators in the UK. GB9 is proud to use 16 SAM Magno Pro® tables. Once again they shall be partnered with Iwan Simonis 860 cloth, and Aramith TV Pro Cup Balls, together creating the most exact and challenging playing conditions for a pool tour of any code in the world.
  • We are also delighted that Cuesport TV will be providing live online streaming of the action on each Saturday and Sunday which can be accessed via www.Cuesport.Tv for the duration of 2011 campaign

The GB9 Midlands Classic starts at 5pm on Friday 11th March 2011. Access to live coverage is available at www.cuesport.tv from 10.15 am on Saturday 12 March. Live scoring and full details about the event are available here.

In 2011 GB9 is proudly sponsored by Barceló Hotels, SAM Leisure, Simonis Cloth, Aramith Billiard Balls and CueClubInternational.com making the perfect combination of the very best equipment in the most outstanding venues.

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