Graham Ward showed fine form as he went the day undefeated in winning the 2019 WEBSF Billiards Open at Frames Snooker and Pool Club in Weston-super-Mare; a competition in memory of WEBSF legend Bryan ‘Pops’ Canniford.
Decorated exponents of the three-ball discipline from the south west region and beyond took part in this annual event with 100% of entry fees paid out as prize money. Initially split into four groups of five players, the top two from each pool progressed to the knockouts. All matches were fifty-minute affairs.
During the groups phase Ward produced a string of sizeable breaks, including a 130 which would stand as the day’s highest. The Sidmouth cueist won all four fixtures to top Group A and he was joined in the quarter-finals by group runner-up David Gillingham who had three wins.
Current World Billiards number nine ranked player and defending champion Steve Brookshaw made his intentions clear as he racked up six half-centuries to head Group B with a perfect record, while the experienced Chris Mitchell came second. Group C reference point was Barry Russell who also notched up maximum points; chalking up a top effort of 70 unfinished in the process. Welshman Eddie Duggan qualified behind him. Terry Azor – Group D winner with four wins – crafted runs of 52 and 61, and second-placed Chris Coumbe hit a trio of 50 pluses.
The Quarter-Finals onwards
Ward continued his bid for the title rattling in a break of 78 to defeat Duggan 262-174. In an all-Plymouth clash, a break of 95 aided Coumbe in a 242-129 victory to dethrone regular travel and playing partner Brookshaw. The bottom-half of the draw saw Russell (50 break) comfortably dispatch Gillingham 251-98, and in the closest of all last eight matches, Azor overcame Mitchell 195-148.
The winning line was in sight for the four remaining competitors and there was plenty of drama to come, although Ward eliminated Coumbe with plenty of change to spare by 311-149. This contrasted with the Russell/Azor semi-final that was decided by just six points – Azor, who made a break of 65, ousting it 177-171.
After a long, but enjoyable day in North Somerset, it was no surprise that the final was close, with Ward triumphing by only a margin of ten points, 193-183.
Big thank-yous go to all the staff at the Frames venue, the tournament referee David Cook and plate finalist Jenkins, who is an electrician and was our savior when the lighting on one of the tables went awry.
The West of England English Billiards Open is due to take place on Saturday February 22nd, 2020 at Jesters Snooker Club in Swindon. Entries opened Saturday but there is still limited space to play in it; for further information on the event and how to pay, please click here.