Mears Marks Opening Gold Event Success

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. 

The Groups

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. 

The Knockouts

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.

2019/20 WEBSF Gold Series Event One | PREVIEW

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. 

Jesters Snooker Hall in Swindon hosts event one of the 2019/20 WEBSF Gold Series

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. 

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