CHIPPER BEATS THE FIELD FOR MAIDEN VICTORY
The final of this year’s Midlands Classic pitted two players together with entirely different background – one perennial face on the GB 9 Ball Tour in Manchester’s James Kay, alongside a relative newcomer to the sport in Norwich’s Shaun Chipperfield. Both players were seeded inside the top 32 coming into this event and so started their campaigns in the last 64.
Given the drama in the opening two competitions, every single player was eager to hit the ground running and push on in the main event, with once again some staggering results coming throughout the two days’ play. As with Paul Taylor in the Challenge Cup against Mark Shepherd, Shaun Storry secured one of the biggest wins ever seen on the tour, coming back from 8-2 down to eliminate Challenge Cup champion Craig Waddingham 9 racks to 8. Waddingham explained after the match that there’s very little he could have done to stop defeat. “I missed one ball in the whole match. It was my break that let me down I gave Shaun too many chances after them and ultimately that cost
Kay’s route to the final started in the best possible way, handing Tom Staveley a donut with a convincing 9-0. His next two triumphs were much more challenging, but he came through a thrilling 9-8 encounter against Belfast’s Mark McDonald before eliminating Adam Benn Smith 9 racks to 6 to reach the quarter finals. Waiting for him there was the daunting prospect of British number 1 Imran Majid, but a cool and collected Kay held his nerve to pull of a tremendous 9-7 victory and send the Londoner home. After taking out one of the most feared names on the tour, he then came up against another one at the semi-final stage in the form of Daryl Peach. The fact that each of the four opening racks resulted in break and runs showed the class both players showed to get to this stage. It was Kay who made it to the finish line first, however, with a final score of 9-8 ending a match of tremendous quality and ensuring Kay of his first GB9 final since The Paul Medati Trophy in April 2010.
Chipperfield has, in a relatively short time, found himself as one of the most feared names in this season’s Challenge division, and it’s those same kind of players he had to despatch in his opening four matches on his route to the final. One of the best in the south west in the form of Gary Bullocke was his first victim – an excellent 9-7 victory putting Chipperfield into the last 32. Reading’s Phil Wildman was next up, and a slightly more convincing 9-5 scoreline ensured he continued his charge towards the last 16. He went one rack better in eliminating Chris Hall 9 racks to 4 before taking out Chris Buckmaster in another gruelling 9-7 match to book a mouth-watering showdown against world number 7 Darren Appleton. Chipperfield came flying out of the blocks and meant that Appleton couldn’t light the dynamite and end the Norfolk man’s route to the final. With four break and runs to his name come the end, a quite brilliant 9-5 victory put Chipperfield into his maiden GB9 final.
Neither player gave each other an inch in the final – at only one stage in the whole match did either player lead the other by more than a single rack. In amongst the balls, however, Chipperfield really was unstoppable, and his breaking was simply second to none. Kay threw absolutely everything he had at Chipperfield but it didn’t bring rewards with it, with Shaun taking the match 11 racks to 10. He wins the £2,000 top prize for his efforts, the coveted gold medal and, perhaps most important of all, becomes the first player in GB9 history to win a main event from the Challenge division – an amazing effort. “I’m shocked to have won a tournament and to have beaten such great players on the way”, said the new Midlands Classic champion. “I’m new to the game but I think I’ve finally found the right one having given snooker a try. GB9 is certainly up there with the best tours and tournaments I’ve been involved with – given how it’s organised and run it’s very professional and the tour itself will grow in the next few years. With so many good players currently on the tour it can only get better and stronger.”