In an exciting climax to the 2019/2020 WEBSF Gold Series season, Ryan Mears completed an incredible trio of tour event triumphs at Top Q Snooker Club last weekend, in the process claiming the prestigious overall rankings title for the first time by just one point.
Going into the fifth and final event of the campaign in Gloucester, only events 3 and 4 champion Andy Symons and Mears were able to finish as number one in the standings. A semi-final defeat for Symons at the hands of Mears, coupled with the Aldershot cueist winning the competition meant that Mears’ name would be etched onto the roll of honour, in this the 16th year of the series.
The Groups Stage
In Group A, teenage debutant Oliver Sykes took the event by storm. A player on the invitational EPSB Under-21 Premier Development Tour, Sykes brushed aside all in front of him as he won all six matches to top the group and qualify for the knockouts with several half-century breaks to boot. Joining him in the last eight was late addition to the tournament Matthew Hulatt, who recovered after losing his opening two fixtures to finish in second. Tour regular James Height narrowly missed out on making it through by just one frame in third place.
The tour gave a warm welcome back to Lee Walters, and the Plymouthian proved his class by winning Group B. In a fascinating outcome to the group where several permutations were possible going into the final round of matches, it ultimately came down to a father and son clash between Wayne and Dale Branton for the remaining quarter-final spot. It went all the way to the final black in the deciding frame which Dale duly deposited.
Symons went into the event as the rankings leader, although his day did not start according to plan, as the car he was travelling up in broke down. He managed to get to the venue in time for his first match, though, and regrouped from the morning drama to win all his matches and finish first in Group C. Former Gold Waistcoat/Series champion Greg Batten continues to be consistent upon his return to the WEBSF as he also advanced to the single elimination phase.
Group D was arguably the toughest to call at the start of proceedings, perhaps exemplified with former gold event winners Haydon Pinhey, Andy Rogers and Steve Brookshaw all failing to progress. With five wins Mears headed the group, whilst Worcester’s Andy Smith ended second with four wins. Brookshaw looked well placed for qualification having won his first four fixtures, but two late defeats opened the door for Smith to get in front.
A plethora of breaks was produced during the groups phase with Brookshaw compiling the highest with a 98. Symons was not far off with a 94.
The Knockout Rounds
With the two contenders for the coveted number one spot still involved, an intriguing evening’s action played out at Top Q.
First to book his place in the semi-finals was Tavistock’s Symons, who spent little time denying Hulatt 2-0. The remaining three matches went the distance, with most eyes on the Mears v Branton tie. Despite losing the first frame, Mears recovered to record a 2-1 victory and keep his hopes of the overall prize alive. Smith (76 break, first frame) overcame Walters and youngster Sykes continued to impress with performances beyond his years as he dispatched the experienced Batten.
The meeting everyone wanted to see materialised in the last four as Symons faced Mears – this was a repeat of this term’s event one final from Jesters in Swindon. In a thrilling opening frame, Mears established a handy lead before Symons constructed a run of 51. However, Mears got the opportunity to re-counter, clearing from yellow to black to go 1-0 up. To Symons’ credit, he kept his cool and focus to level up, but he was unable to seize the advantage in the decider as Mears ousted him 2-1 to move into another final. Elsewhere, Smith was quietly going about his business as he ended the ambition of Sykes, 2-1; chalking up efforts of 52 in the first frame and 70 in the third.
Following a long day’s play in Gloucester, in what was a relatively scrappy final with few chances to score big, Mears converted to score a 2-0 success and shelf his third title of the 2019/20 season after his back-to-back glories at Swindon and Torquay. With Symons reaching the semi-finals undefeated earlier in the piece, Mears destiny was in his own hands, although he needed to win the competition in order to secure the overall Gold Series Championship. In one of the tightest finishes to a WEBSF campaign we’ve ever seen – he did.
A huge thank you must go to all the volunteers – including series referee Nick Harry – venues, players, parents, guardians and supporters who have joined us for the journey this season. The series would not be possible without you all.
The next stop for the West of England Billiards and Snooker Foundation is the invitational Gold Masters which takes place on Saturday 4th April 2020 at Frames Snooker and Pool in Weston-super-Mare. This unique straight elimination event brings together the top 16 ranked players from this season’s Gold Series. Featuring some of the best amateur snooker players from the south-west and beyond, the WEBSF is searching for an event sponsor to help support the 2020 Gold Masters. If you are able to assist us with this, please visit our ‘Contact’ page here for ways to get in touch.
Steve Brookshaw became the fourth different cueist in as many years to lift the West of England English Billiards Open trophy following his triumph at Jesters Snooker Hall in Swindon last weekend.
Two times a winner of the WEBSF Billiards Open, Brookshaw emerged from a quality and varied entry of 25 players to claim his first WoE Billiards Open success.
Finalist at this season’s WEBSF Billiards Open, Terry Azor went undefeated, winning all six of his fixtures to top Group A. Joining Azor in the last 16 knockout rounds were second placed David Gillingham (5 out of 6 wins), third placed Roy Jenkins and fourth placed Graham Riley.
In arguably the ‘group of death’, defending champion Ryan Mears won Group B with a 100% record and the highest break of the event, 113. Brookshaw racked up a plethora of sizeable contributions including efforts of 108 and 106 in coming second; third placed Chris Coumbe fashioned a 98. Qualifying alongside this recent world championship trio was Phil Davis.
In Group C experienced campaigner Jamie Wayman (77 and 51 breaks) headed the section with five from five, whilst a hat-trick of half centuries aided Wales’ Eddie Duggan into second. WEBSF Billiards newcomer Naufer Saleem (third) and Mark Hill (fourth) also progressed.
Just one win seperated the top four in Group D; Korbin Lowe (60 and 56 breaks) ousting Martin Phillips to the group number one spot after finished on four wins each. 2018 runner-up Michael White (third – 58, 58 and 54 breaks) and Mahmoud Alzaid (fourth) were the others to advance.
The Knockout Phase
Mears’ quest to retain the title remained on course when a run of 92 helped him eliminate Alzaid. Coumbe (60 break) edged past Gillingham by just 13 points in the closest climax of the last 16 round, although Riley’s 141-123 success over Wayman was not far behind. Saleem’s spirited debut was ended by Brookshaw, whose 61 break was well timed in a 165-118 outcome. Azor, White, Jenkins and Davis (55 break) were the others to make it through to the last eight following their 40-minute wins.
The upset of the tournament came in the quarter-finals when Mears was dethroned by Jenkins 116-60, whilst a run of 57 from White proved not to be enough as Azor pipped him by only five points (142-137). The biggest breaks of the round were crafted by Coumbe (98) and Brookshaw (60) as they ended the hopes of Riley and Davis respectively.
An all-Plymouth final was later confirmed as 2017 finalist Coumbe got the better of Azor 148-128 and Brookshaw did likewise to Jenkins 119-84 in the semi-finals. Teammates and travel partners for major billiards events around the UK, Europe and beyond, Coumbe and Brookshaw met in the title match. In a relatively low scoring final, the decorated Brookshaw (55 break) completed the WEBSF English Billiards double with a 163-89 win.
In the plate competition for those who didn’t qualify for the knockout phase of the main event, Martin Howell overcame David Riley 114-99 in the final to become victorious.
The West of England Billiards and Snooker Foundation would like to thank host venue Jesters Snooker Hall, its staff and volunteer referee David Cook for all their hard work and dedication throughout the day.
Andy Symons joined an exclusive band of cueists who have won back-to-back Gold Waistcoat / Gold Series tour event titles following an emotional victory at Frames Snooker and Pool Club last weekend.
Tavistock maestro Symons emerged from a 27-player strong entry in Weston-super-Mare, featuring several former overall series and tour event champions, and other top-quality opposition from across the south west and beyond. A man on a mission, Symons made his intentions clear early on as he headed Group A with six wins from six and relinquished just two frames. Going through to the knockouts with Andy was James Height (four wins from six), who narrowly ousted Billy Ginn to qualification by just one frame.
In Group B, former Gold Series champion Haydon Pinhey got off to a fast start as he rattled in a 121 clearance during his opening match; this would stand as the highest of the day. Pinhey would progress through to the last eight but he finished behind event one and two winner Ryan Mears who racked up a full quota of match wins.
Greg Batten – another former claimant of this coveted series title – continues to impress on his return to the circuit as he topped Group C. Late entrant Tom Peasland was certainly pleased that he made the commitment to come as he also advanced to the last eight in second place.
There was a Torbay lockout in Group D as century break makers James Lee and Andy Neck qualified. Lee, runner-up at the West of England Open earlier this season, notched up maximum wins, although record three-time series winner Neck was less comfortable as he pipped Wes Peters into second by virtue of a frame.
Along with all eight qualifiers, Steve Brookshaw (60), Ginn (70,66), Darran Lock (83 – highest non-qualifier break, 75), Andy Rogers (61), Jamie Trump (73), Ben Freeman (53) and Wayne Branton (59) all crafted half-century plus breaks, too.
In the knockouts, Symons constructed a run of 61 as he eliminated Peasland 2-0; Lee (62 break) defeated Pinhey by the same scoreline. Deciding frames were required as Mears and Height saw off Neck and Batten respectively.
Symons (64 clearance) ended the hopes of Mears 2-0 in an exciting semi-final – a result that could have a big bearing on the overall rankings at the end of the campaign – while Height denied Lee consecutive gold event final appearances, 2-0, in the other last four tie.
For the second time in the tournament, Symons would face Height, but this time it was for the title. Again, it was Symons coming out on top, this time with a 2-0 result and the help of a 60 break.
Considering the personal tragedy that Symons has endured over recent weeks, this is an astonishing triumph and performance in which he dropped just two frames throughout the entire day.
Symons’ victory sees him move up into first place on the rankings list as he seeks a maiden overall Gold Series title. Mears – also looking for the same accomplishment – trails by just six points, though. In what is sure to be a thrilling climax to the season at Top Q in Gloucester on Saturday 7th March, third placed Lee is also in contention for the accolade.
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.
Ryan Mears became the first player for over five-and-a-half-years to claim consecutive WEBSF Gold Series event titles following his comeback victory last weekend in Torquay.
Familiar tour stop Galaxy TQ was the host for the second event of this season’s prestigious series, as 28 players from across the region and beyond lined up for the honours and a slice of the 100% entries in prize fund.
In a tight finish to Group A, local cueist James Lee and Darran Lock both qualified after each winning four out of six matches.
Going into the final round of fixtures there were several permutations still possible. This season’s West of England Open Snooker finalist Lee topped the pool despite losing his final game to Alex Mucklow and Lock only went through after seeing Huw Carpenter lose to James Height in a deciding frame. Height and Mucklow also ended on four wins apiece, although Carpenter – who bagged three wins – achieved third spot due to frames won and then frame difference. An effort of 88 from Height enabled him to pocket the non-qualifier highest break prize.
Continuing the good form from his maiden tour triumph at Jesters Snooker Hall in Swindon last month, Mears headed Group B, dropping just one frame in the process and making a 119 break; at the time, the tournament benchmark.
He was joined in the last eight by former Gold Series champion Greg Batten. Batten, who has only just made his return to competitive action this campaign, proved correct the adage that ‘class is permanent’ when he conjured up a 135 total clearance, the highest break of the day, during his progress in second place with five wins.
Haydon Pinhey was irresistible in topping Group C, winning all six of his fixtures 2-0. The Plymouth potter made his intentions clear early on, registering the first ton of the day with exactly 100 in his opening match.
Wales’ Andy Rogers – a former Gold Series event winner in the past – made the trip to South Devon worth his while as he advanced to the quarter-finals in second.
Another Plymouth baizeman in Chris Coumbe won Group D, and he was joined on five wins by Chay Mearns who came second having taken one less frame than Chris.
Rogers eliminated Lee 2-0, while Mears chalked up runs of 63 and 79 in dispatching Mearns by the same scoreline. Lock, who said he was fortunate to get through the groups, ousted Pinhey 2-1 on the colours, despite his opponent fashioning an 85 break to take the tie to a third frame. Batten received a walkover after Coumbe withdrew from the competition (Chris was OK, by the way!)
Mears ended the hopes of Rogers in the semi-finals 2-0 and after being taken to a final frame, Cornishman Lock once again held his nerve there to deny Batten a return to the winner’s circle.
WEBSF tournament stalwart Lock was aiming for a deserved, first gold event title, and it looked as if it was coming when he went 1-0 up and was carefully minding his work in frame two. However, in getting to the position of requiring just one further ball to leave his opponent needing penalty points, Lock failed at a couple of attempted pots. Plucky Mears remained ‘hang tough’ and compiled a gutsy 35 clearance to force a decider.
Having come so agonisingly close in the previous frame, it appeared difficult for Lock to gain any momentum in the third. In what was a scrappy frame, Aldershot star Mears held the advantage pretty much throughout, eventually getting across the line to emulate Andy Neck who last collected back-to-back Gold Waistcoat/Series events towards the start of 2014. Mears also had the satisfaction of being the last WEBSF snooker event winner of the decade.
Event three of the 2019/2020 series takes place on Saturday January 4th, 2020 at Top Q Snooker Club in Gloucester. Entry is open, although spaces are limited. For information on the event and how to enter, please see here.
Ryan Mears got his 2019/20 West of England Billiards and Snooker Foundation Gold Series campaign off to a perfect start when he claimed the event one title at Jesters Snooker Hall last Saturday.
Top amateur players from across the south-west region and further afield made their way to Swindon to break off the 16th consecutive edition of the prestigious series. With the overall end-of-season champion decided by a ranking list, hopefuls were keen to build an early platform from the first of five events.
Having only recently returned from Melbourne, Australia where he reached the knockout phase of the 2019 World Billiards Championship, Mears qualified top from Group A with four wins out of five. Joining him in the last eight was record three-time Gold Series champion Andy Neck who came second, just behind on frame difference. Elsewhere in the group, debutant Huw Carpenter adapted to the new environment well as he finished third, and there was a warm reception for 2008 champion Greg Batten, making his long-awaited return to the WEBSF scene.
Former winner Haydon Pinhey was one of two players to end the groups stage with a 100% record; highlighting breaks of 85, 93 and 104 in leading Group B. Reigning Gold Series Champion Alan Tunney advanced through in second place with his only loss coming at the hands of Pinhey. Steve Brookshaw and Chris Coumbe – like Mears, had both just come back from ‘Down Under’ after making the KOs of Billiards’ biggest event – came fourth and fifth respectively.
Current Gold Masters Champion Andy Symons was in scintillating form in Group C, chalking up six wins out of six and producing a fantastic total clearance of 138 during his opening match against Connor Benzey. The break represents one of the highest ever made in the history of the competition. Symons, a two-time event winner last season too, also crafted a 115. Gold newcomer Alex Mucklow chalked up a trio of half-centuries as he qualified in second during a fine introductory showing.
There was a thrilling finish in Group D, with qualification going down to the final frame. Last month’s West of England Snooker Open finalist James Lee won the pool with five wins, whilst youngster Aidan Murphy’s 2-1 victory over Steven Hughes in the last remaining match of the groups saw him squeeze into second courtesy of head-to-head with Hughes. Like Murphy and Hughes, Peter Bicknell also registered four wins in a tight outcome.
All four group winners triumphed in the quarter-finals with Mears, Pinhey, Symons and Lee eliminating Mucklow, Murphy, Neck and Tunney respectively – Mears and Symons coming through in deciding frames.
Aldershot’s Mears was the first to book his berth in the final after a 2-0 semi-final success over Pinhey, whilst an exciting third and final frame was needed to separate Symons and Lee, with the former controlling the latter stages and ousting it.
In a breathtaking final, an inspired Mears quickly took a 1-0 lead and was heading towards the finish line when he was in the balls first during the next frame. Symons managed to counter, though, and looking flawless on a break of 63 it seemed as if a decider was on the way. However, an unexpected miss on what would have effectively been frame ball red allowed Mears a chance for glory. It was an opportunity he expertly and coolly seized in one visit, clearing up the last two reds and colours, including a tricky black to the left-middle after not getting perfect position on it from the pink. A great advert for the WEBSF circuit with a nice sized crowd watching on.
A double champion at last season’s West of England Snooker and Billiards Opens, this was multi-talented Mears’ maiden gold event title in his first final.
Event Two takes place at the Galaxy Centre, Torquay on the 23rd November. Entries into this event are now open via a link HERE, although spaces are limited.
Top amateur cueists from across the south-west region and beyond will line up for the start of the 16th West of England Billiards and Snooker Foundation Gold Series this Saturday.
The curtain-raiser to this prestigious five-event series will be hosted by Jesters Snooker Hall in Swindon, which had tables re-clothed earlier this week in preparation for the tournament.
Every year since 2004, the Gold Series – originally born as the Gold Waistcoat Series -has been the Foundation’s premier accolade. Only ten players have claimed the coveted title, including current main tour professional and two-time Crucible Theatre qualifier Sam Baird.
This season’s likely contenders
Alan Tunney is the reigning Gold Series champion after he finished top of the 2018/19 rankings; securing the title for the first time. Torquay based Tunney – winner of an event and a finalist in another during his successful campaign, will be present in Swindon, as he aims to become just the second person to defend the trophy.
That particular honour was achieved by Andy Neck, who also holds the record for the most overall titles following successes in 2012, 2013 and 2018. Haydon Pinhey – conqueror in 2016 and a two-time Gold Masters victor – and 2008 king Greg Batten – making his long-awaited return to the WEBSF scene – are the other former champions in the field this weekend.
Former English Amateur Championship finalist Andy Symons has enjoyed a superb spell over the past 12 months, collecting the end of season Gold Masters invitational and two Gold Series events. Symons, who was pipped to the overall number one spot by Tunney, will be hoping for a repeat of last term where he took away the spoils from the opening event.
Among the other likely contenders to feature in the latter stages of competitions in 2019/20 include promising teenagers Connor Benzey and Aidan Murphy. Benzey set the record for being the youngest ever Gold Series event finalist last season, only for that to be trumped by Murphy, a back-to-back runner-up in events four and five.
Having only just returned home from Melbourne, Australia earlier this week where they all qualified for the knockout stages of the 2019 World Billiards Championship, Chris Coumbe, Steve Brookshaw and Ryan Mears will switch back to the snooker discipline. Both the latter two each won a snooker and billiards title on the circuit last season – Brookshaw tasted glory at Gold Series Event Two and the Billiards Open, while Mears uniquely completed the West of England Open double. Runner-up at last month’s West of England Snooker Open, James Lee will be looking to go one better at the same Jesters venue.
For up-to-date coverage of all the action from Gold Series Event One this Saturday, please visit our Facebook and Twitter social media pages.
On September 25th 2004, the West of England Billiards and Snooker Foundation was born. An official launch day was held at the Victoria Snooker Centre in Plymouth, hosted by WEBSF Patron and six-time world professional snooker champion Ray ReardonMBE.
A not-for-profit community group run by a small band of passionate and dedicated volunteers, the Foundation had a vision to encourage participation in grassroots billiards and snooker, providing opportunities into these wonderful sports for all, regardless of age, ability or location within the West of England.
Despite difficult economic times and trying logistical issues, these goals throughout the past 15 years have been achieved. Maintaining a sustainable model, the organisation is stronger today than it has ever been, as it continues to help those who may otherwise have been unable to realise and develop their potential within the sports.
Coaching, competitions, community. Let’s look back at some of the images from the last 15 years…..
The West of England Billiards and Snooker Foundation – Billiards and Snooker for all. Here’s to the next 15 years and beyond!
Teenager Mark Lloyd added his name alongside the established list of former champions after claiming the 2019 edition of the West of England Snooker Open.
Soon to be celebrating their 15th year anniversary, the West of England Billiards and Snooker Foundation (WEBSF) cut the ribbon for the new 2019/20 tournament season at familiar tour venue Jesters Snooker Hall. A total of 32 players from across the south-west of England and beyond made the trip to Swindon, all vying for the prestigious title and a slice of an £800 prize fund that consisted of 100% of entry fees.
Lloyd, from Gosport, qualified top of Group D with six wins from seven, constructing breaks of 71, 58, 63, 60 and 98 in the process. Joining him in the knockout rounds from the same group was second-placed Martin Pitcher who ousted last year’s runner-up James Height into third courtesy of a better frame difference by just one.
Since the tournament’s rebirth in 2013 under the WEBSF banner, no player has won the title twice, yet alone defend it. 2018 champion Ryan Mears put up a spirited performance attempting to alter both those facts throughout the day. The Aldershot cueist finished first in a tight Group B with James Lee acquiring the other qualifying place, both just one win ahead of hot-prospect Liam Davies from Wales and Andy Symons.
Ben Hancorn made no mistake in Group A as he progressed with a 100% record – registering an effort of 105 along the way – whilst Lee McArthur advanced in second with just one loss to his name. Cornwall’s Darran Lock was the table-topper in Group C, and after Steve Brookshaw lost his final fixture 2-0, youngster Connor Benzey was elevated into the second qualifying position courtesy of frame difference.
The Knockout Rounds
With the grueling group stage action over, the main event had been whittled down to just eight remaining hopefuls.
Undefeated Hancorn recovered from losing the opening frame to overcome Pitcher 2-1, and after setting what would be the highest break of the competition with a 118 in the first frame, Lee also needed a deciding frame to eliminate Lock. There was no such requirement for all three frames in the bottom half of the draw, though, as defending champion Mears (49 break) saw off Benzey 2-0 and Lloyd (54 break) ended the hopes of McArthur. The fast route to victory was also taken in the semi-finals as Lee and Lloyd denied both Hancorn and Mears, respectively, 2-0.
In a predictably close final affair, current English Under-21 champion Lloyd secured the opener before Lee forced a decider. The 19-year-old responded by starting the third frame positively with a break of 52, and although Lee created himself a counter-attacking opportunity, a subsequent miss was the beginning of the end as Lloyd completed his triumph, some 14 hours after the first cue ball was struck.
In the West of England Snooker Open Plate event for those who finished third or fourth in their groups, Anthony Rice collected the prize money when he denied the talented Davies in the final on the colours.
WEBSF Tournament Director Steve Canniford said “It has been a long day but worth the effort to facilitate a tournament where amateur snooker players from around the region compete in a competitive but friendly atmosphere. A great way to start the season and celebrate 15 years of volunteering with the WEBSF”
For an overview of the tournament’s results, please visit our page on cuescore.com here.