Posts by: Matt Huart

The Break Makers

Today we take a look back at the ‘break makers’ using statistics gathered from all of the World Disability Billiards and Snooker (WDBS) tournaments held to date.

The article is the first of a series of features looking back on the history of WDBS so far as we prepare to celebrate the fifth anniversary of our formation this summer.

Big Break

Since Raja Subramanian lit up the South West Snooker Academy with three breaks over 30, including runs of 57 and 53 during the same frame at our maiden event back in November 2015, there have now been over 400 ‘breaks over 30’ recorded across all eight classification groups by 73 individual players at WDBS tournaments.

The top ten breaks compiled to date are:

  1. Nick Neale – 92
  2. Dylan Rees – 87
  3. Nick Neale – 82
  4. Nick Neale – 82
  5. Shabir Ahmed – 81
  6. Nick Neale – 80
  7. Nick Neale – 80
  8. Dan Harwood – 77
  9. Nick Neale – 76
  10. Nick Neale – 75

It is Group 7 star and recently crowned WDBS Player of the Season 2019/20 Nick Neale who leads the way with seven of the ten highest WDBS breaks to his name, highlighted by a run of 92 crafted back at the 2018 Paul Hunter Disability Classic.

Hot on his heels is newcomer Dylan Rees, whose 87 came at our most recent event in Belgium back in March, while Shabir Ahmed (Group 8) and Dan Harwood (Group 6B) are also in the top ten.

By Player

With Neale dominating the list however, it is also interesting to look at the top 10 players as sorted by their best break to date to show a few of the other players to have established themselves as regular scorers in our competitions:

  1. Nick Neale – 92 (64 breaks)
  2. Dylan Rees – 87 (6 breaks
  3. Shabir Ahmed – 81 (30 breaks)
  4. Dan Harwood – 77 (14 breaks)
  5. Mike Gillespie – 72 (22 breaks)
  6. Paul Smith – 68 (18 breaks)
  7. William Thomson – 66 (28 breaks)
  8. Lewis Knowles – 61 (17 breaks)
  9. Andrew Galley – 60 (4 breaks)
  10. Mickey Chambers – 58 (15 breaks)

This list brings in a further two players from Group 7 with both Mike Gillespie and Paul Smith consistent scorers within the visually impaired category, while William Thomson and Mickey Chambers are the leading ambulant players, ahead of record champion Daniel Blunn, who is just outside of the top ten with 29 breaks (55 the highest) to his name.

By Group

  • Groups 1/2: Craig Welsh (47)
  • Group 3: Hannes Hermsdorf (53)
  • Group 4: William Thomson (66)
  • Group 5: Mickey Chambers (58)
  • Group 6A: Mohamed Faisal Butt (32)
  • Group 6B: Dan Harwood (77)
  • Group 7A: Gary Gallacher (43)
  • Group 7B: Nick Neale (92)
  • Group 8: Shabir Ahmed (81)

Of course, it is impossible to directly compare disabilities, hence the reason that players are split into their respective classification groups. What we can see however is the level of talent across all groups, with consistent scorers demonstrating how anyone can succeed at snooker, irrespective of their disability.

The wait goes on for the first WDBS century but with the many incredible players who compete on our circuit we look forward to celebrating our first centurion soon!

Please like and follow WDBS on Twitter and Facebook for the latest news and features about disability snooker.

Joe Hardstaff plays snooker shot

Joe Hardstaff Q&A

Boston’s Joe Hardstaff has been a mainstay on the 360Fizz WDBS Tour since his debut in 2016, reaching the final of the 2019 Northern Classic and previously winning the Challenge Cup tournament at the 2017 Manchester Classic.

We recently caught up with the Group 3 player to talk about the development of the WDBS circuit since his debut, his own snooker journey and how he is currently coping during the ongoing coronavirus outbreak…

Hi Joe, first of all how are you managing during these most unusual times with the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic?

It is very strange. Like anything in life it’s about adapting and making the most of the opportunity this provides. I am the assistant head teacher of a special school that teaches pupils with social, emotional and mental health issues (SEMH) so we have been very busy providing support to the families and pupils. We have a few pupils that need to attend and we have a rota system for staff that means I am on campus one week out of three. The rest of the time I am working from home providing and supporting online video lessons for staff and pupils that can access it.

I do have two of my own children at home too, so it is nice to be able to spend time with them whilst they do their work from home. I am certainly not bored!

Do you currently have access to a snooker table? If not, how much do you miss playing our sport?

Unfortunately I do not have access to a snooker table. I keep trying to talk my wife into letting me build a big shed in the back garden but it’s not going to happen!

I am missing playing terribly. When the lockdown was only a few days in, I would often get the urge to play but then realise I can’t which is difficult. I have been watching old videos of professional matches which does help in one way with the snooker ‘fix’ but it also makes me want to play even more.

I am a competitive person, so to feed my competitiveness I have been playing online video games, which has helped.

You have been a part of WDBS almost since the beginning, having played since our second ever event in Manchester over four years ago. What have the events meant to you over that time?

I remember meeting you (Matt Huart) in the first event I went to, the welcome I received was almost overwhelming from all of the staff involved. Since then it has grown, developments have been made for the better and it feels like it has real status now in the game. For me personally, one of the most important developments was the classification changes. It has made our group (G3) very competitive and closely contested at every tournament. We all enter believing we can win it.

I really liked the change to formal attire. This just raises the image and brings it in-line with the professional men’s and women’s game.

The most recent addition of ranking points has added even more status to the competition. This will increase the participation and the want to win, again a huge development and a very welcome one from my perspective.

I like going away for the weekend to just focus on snooker. Being with like minded people, having a good catch up and playing some extremely competitive matches. My only disappointment is that I have not been to as many events as I’d like. My position at work makes it more difficult but I am hoping to go to more in the coming seasons.

What first attracted you to snooker and how did you get involved with the sport?

Seeing snooker on the TV when I was a young boy got me interested. I went to the local snooker club and had a go. I instantly fell in love with cue sports. It’s something that I can compete in against anyone.

Tell us about your disability and the impact that this has on your game…

I have a condition called Phocomelia and the deformation of my upper limbs is severe so most people look at me and think ‘really, this guy can play?’ then when I start to play they have utter respect as a player.  The mechanics of how I play are quite different in terms of arm movement and this is something that I work on a lot. As we all know, your cue action is the most important thing, and to get that as consistent as possible is a key part of playing well. I find shots difficult that require cueing over balls with a high bridge. I often use a shot in these situations that I call a ‘floater’. This is where I hold the cue in the air and play the shot without a bridge as such. Very difficult and quite inaccurate at times but it’s the best I can do. This is when I feel most at a disadvantage but fortunately these shots don’t need to be used too often.

I have started to use a ‘sock’ on my bridge arm. I have found that this gives me a consistent stroke especially in warmer conditions. I used to find it hard in the heat as my arm would sweat and become sticky. The sock has resolved this.

I don’t have a long reach either, so I have to use the rest quite a lot. This has its own difficulties as like most players I prefer to have my hand on the table to play shots.

I have had a little coaching but find that they can work on the usual things such as shot approach, aiming etc but when it comes down to it, I have to figure out a lot myself as most coaches have never come across a player like me. I understand the ‘key ingredients’ so try and apply them to how I play. I am a tweaker, and like to find ways of getting better.

As a Group 3 player you are part of a relatively small but competitive group with the likes of John Teasdale, Nigel Coton and Kal Mattu. How do you find the challenge of competing against these players?

As I mentioned earlier I think our group is hugely competitive. They play with one arm, I play with two half length arms but the difficulties we all have, I think, balance out. For example, they all use some sort of rest device as a bridge, I use my upper arm. My grip isn’t great as I don’t have a hand, they can all grip with a full hand. There cue action mechanics are quite conventional, mine isn’t.

I am really happy with the group as I think we all are. Yes it is quite small, usually four in the group but we all get along really well, they are a really nice group of people and like I said we could all win any one of the tournaments.

We see many players in the group using various implements to enable them to play. How inclusive is a sport like snooker for people with severe upper limb disabilities?

I think snooker is very inclusive as a sport for everyone. For those of us that have severe upper limb disabilities it is about how well you can adapt to using a cue. There are some implements that could make it easier but it’s about finding the right one to suit your needs. There are not a lot on the market to choose from.

I have considered going to my limb specialists and enquiring about an arm adaptation that may help but I like the feel of the cue on my arm, and I think an implement similar to a rest will take away that feel.

What do you like to get up to when not at the baize?

I am a family man first and foremost, so spending time with my two boys (11 and 16)  and my wife takes most of my time up. We like going for walks, days out to the national trust places, woodland areas and family attractions, things like that.

We also like spending time in the back garden in the evening with our fire pit, marshmallows, some music and a glass of wine.

My youngest has just set up a YouTube channel – Happy Cactus, whilst in quarantine and because I have the skillset I have been roped in to editing the videos. I have appeared in some too!

It is great fun actually and a good skill to teach him.

We have seen your sons at a number of tournaments, do they play the sport?

Yes they both do now. The oldest one wants to join a local team and get playing in the league, so that will be nice, but he plays football at a good level and has aspirations to play professionally in America over the next couple of years, so most of his time revolves around training. The youngest is still getting to grips with the basics but really enjoys it, which is nice.

Photo of Joe Hardstaff and his son with medal

What message would you have for other people out there with disabilities who might be considering getting involved with WDBS?

Go on the website, read about it all. Sign up to the facebook page and keep in touch with what is going on. Then if you want to get involved in a tournament but are not sure what it will be like in reality, reach out to people on social media and ask to talk to someone. I’m sure they will be happy to give you a good idea of what it is like from entering the tournament, getting a hotel, the venues, food and drink, the evenings, costs, all the things you may have questions about. I’d be very happy to answer any questions about a tournament weekend from a players perspective.

You may be worried about the standard and ask yourself what if I’m not good enough?

Well there are some very good players, and my advice is you won’t know until you try. Even if you turn up and get a good lesson in how to play and you lose all your games, at least you know what you will need to do to compete. You may turn up and win, who knows until you have a go. But let’s not forget that for most the taking part is important and you want to win, but the social aspect is equally as important. I guarantee you will meet people that inspire you, you will get to know them and become friends.

Image of snooker balls

New Ranking System Launched for Disability Snooker

World Disability Billiards and Snooker (WDBS) has today announced the introduction of a new world ranking system for players competing on the 360Fizz WDBS Tour from the start of the 2020/21 season.

To include individual ranking lists for each of the main WDBS Classification Groups, the system will see players earn ranking points based upon their finishing position at designated ranking tournaments.

For the first time all players with disabilities will have the opportunity to gain a world ranking, adding an intriguing extra element to tournaments where players will battle not only to become champion at that event, but also to progress up their ranking list.

As well as the honour of achieving a high ranking within their respective classification group, there will also be a practical benefit for players to being highly ranked. The system will make it possible for WDBS to seed players at events, helping to lessen the chances of there being a “top-heavy” group under the previous random draw policy.

It is also intended that the ranking list will be used as a future basis for event qualification, such as for the WDBS Champion of Champions.

WDBS Rankings – Key Facts

  • Separate ranking lists will operate for the following Classification Groups:
    • G1/2, G3, G4, G5, G6A, G6B, G7 and G8
  • Rankings will operate on a two-year rolling system, with points dropping off and being replaced by points earned at new events. View the cut-off schedule.
  • Ranking points will be awarded in line with the WDBS Ranking Points Schedule.
  • The Welsh Open, Champion of Champions and Disability Tour Championship have been designated as non-ranking events.
  • Players must complete at least one match during a tournament that they have entered to be eligible to receive ranking points.
  • Players who have not competed in an event during the previous two years will be removed from the ranking list.

The inaugural world ranking lists which we have published today are made up of points retrospectively added to tournaments held during the past two seasons.

A total of 166 players are included across all of the ranking lists, with Group 8 most strongly represented by its 36 players who have competed during the past two seasons.

View the new ranking lists via the WPBSA Tournament Manager HERE.

Neale Honoured as 2019/20 WDBS Player of the Season

World Disability Billiards and Snooker (WDBS) is today delighted to announce that Nick Neale has been selected as this year’s winner of the Vic Hartley WDBS Player of the Season award.

First introduced in 2019, the award recognises the outstanding contribution of one of our players each season, taking into account a wide-range of factors including on-table results, general conduct and contribution to WDBS outside of our tournaments.

Following a highly competitive season which has seen the selected players win no fewer than 24 titles between them over the past 12 months, the WDBS team had an extremely difficult decision to make in respect of this year’s winner – with Neale ultimately emerging victorious.

On table, Neale has enjoyed another extremely successful season during which he remained unbeaten within his own classification group. He also claimed victory at the mixed classification Welsh Open competition in Cwmbran last August and with his consistently high scoring continued to set the highest standard at WDBS competitions.

In addition to his success at our events, Neale also represented WDBS with distinction at the World Snooker Federation Open in Malta this January, the world’s premier tournament for amateur players. Having won two of his three round-robin matches, he then took eventual runner-up and leading amateur star Iulian Boiko to a deciding frame, narrowly losing 3-2 in the knockout rounds. During the event he also provided support and guidance to the other WDBS players competing in the tournament.

The 47-year-old also reached the semi-finals of the World Seniors 6-Red World Championship qualifying event in Sheffield only last month, notably defeating former English Amateur Championship finalist Wayne Townsend in the quarter-finals.

As his prize Neale will be presented with a set of 1G Aramith snooker balls and a keepsake trophy in recognition of his achievement. He succeeds last year’s recipient of the award Daniel Lee as Player of the Season.

On receiving the award, Neale said: “I would like to thank the Board for voting for me for this award and also to congratulate all of the other nominated players, who I am sure all of them were more than capable of winning this award.

“I would like to thank all of the players across the eight categories on a great job. I would urge all other players out there with a disability who haven’t tried to play to check out the WDBS website to try and play in these great events.

“I would also like to thank my family and friends for standing by me and making me play this game again.”

WDBS would like to congratulate all of the players who made the shortlist on their achievements this season.

Nominations by group:

Group 1/2: Tony Southern

Group 3: Nigel Coton

Group 4: Daniel Blunn

Group 5: Mickey Chambers

Group 6A: Mohamed Faisal Butt

Group 6B: Leroy Williams

Group 7: Nick Neale

Group 8: Shabir Ahmed

Player of the Season 2020: The Shortlist

World Disability Billiards and Snooker (WDBS) has today published its shortlist for this year’s Vic Hartley Player of the Season 2019/20.

First introduced last year and won by Group 2 player Daniel Lee, the award is named in honour of long-standing referee Vic Hartley who sadly passed away in March 2019 and recognises the outstanding player of each season as voted for by WDBS.

It was announced yesterday that this year’s recipient of the award will be revealed next Wednesday during our Disability Snooker Day celebrations, which will take place online following the postponement of the professional World Championship.

As in 2019, the winner has been selected from a shortlist comprising one player from each main classification group as follows:

Group 1/2: Tony Southern

Group 3: Nigel Coton

Group 4: Daniel Blunn

Group 5: Mickey Chambers

Group 6A: Mohamed Faisal Butt

Group 6B: Leroy Williams

Group 7: Nick Neale

Group 8: Shabir Ahmed

Who would be your player of the season? Join the debate and let us know at our Twitter and Facebook pages before we announce this season’s winner on Wednesday.

Disability Snooker Day 2020

World Disability Billiards and Snooker (WDBS) has today announced that this year’s Disability Snooker Day will take place on Wednesday 22 April.

A cornerstone of WDBS activity in Sheffield during the professional World Snooker Championship in recent years, the day will be held online in 2020 following the postponement of this year’s tournament due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Aimed at raising awareness of disability snooker and encouraging people with disabilities to pick up a cue and get involved, the day will see activity throughout the day on the WDBS website and social media platforms.

As always, the event is jointly organised by World Snooker Tour and WDBS, an organising body of the 360Fizz WDBS Tour which comprises disability snooker events staged across the UK and mainland Europe since. The long-term goal for WDBS is to see snooker return to the Paralympics, at which snooker was one of its founding sports and was held most recently in 1988.

Planned Activities

Set to celebrate its fifth anniversary this summer WDBS will look back at a number of key landmarks so far including coverage from previous Disability Snooker Days and the best footage from key tournaments.

This will include a full re-run of last year’s inaugural Disability Tour Championship held at the Crucible Theatre which saw four players showcase disability snooker at the home of the sport.

The day will also several exciting announcements made including the announcement of this year’s winner of the WDBS Vic Hartley Player of the Season Award for 2019/20, succeeding previous recipient Daniel Lee.

Get Involved

WDBS is encouraging everyone who supports disability snooker to get involved on the day using social media.

Whether you are a player, official, coach or a fan of the sport, post your memories and what snooker means to you as a person with a disability, or your favourite WDBS memory.

Use the official hashtags #DisabilitySnooker and #Cue4All and help to spread the word!

Disability Snooker Day 2020 takes place on 22 April 2020 via WDBS social media platforms.

Image of snooker balls

Can Snooker Help Cope With Autism?

An autistic snooker fan has described how she uses snooker videos, particularly featuring Steve Davis, to cope with her autism and consequent mental health issues.

Ann (not her real name) and her autism job coach recently concluded a successful search to find a range of snooker matches from the 1980s which were not available on YouTube.

Her story provides a fascinating insight into the ways playing and watching snooker can benefit mental health, a concept previously explored in research by Rohit Sagoo, Senior Lecturer at Anglia Ruskin University.

Like many people who grew up in the 1980s, Ann developed an interest in snooker during that decade, when the leading players were ubiquitous figures on television screens. None more so than Steve Davis, who won six World Championship crowns between 1981 and 1989 – and the Nugget became Ann’s firm favourite.

“I can’t really remember why I got hooked on snooker but I expect it might have been something to do with it being a lot more sedate than a lot of other sports, with time to think and work out what is going on between shots,” explains Ann, who works for the NHS in a major hospital, maintaining vital clinical equipment for patients.

“I started supporting Steve because he didn’t smoke, and I preferred to watch his style of play. I probably hated him losing almost as much as he did. I prefer to watch players who are more steady and consistent, and not too fast, as that gives me more thinking time and makes it easier to follow what is going on. However, I also have a bit of a soft spot for Jimmy White and wish he’d managed to win the World Championship.

“It wasn’t long before I wanted to have a go myself and we got a toy table at home that was just the right size to put on our kitchen table. A few years later I got the chance to play on a bigger table with proper cues and balls. I soon discovered that it was nowhere near as easy as the professionals made it look.”

Once Davis was past his prime in the 1990s, Ann lost touch with snooker and stopped watching the sport.

It wasn’t until 2006 that she discovered the Autistic Spectrum and the following year she was diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome. She was introduced to Andrew Pounce, an Autism Employment Coach and Advocate from PATHability, who has helped her deal with challenges ever since.

In 2015 Ann was going through a bad patch. “I was struggling to find any interest in anything at all and was having a lot of time off work with mental health issues,” she recalls. “Then in early 2016 I heard about the BBC drama ‘The Rack Pack’ in a Radio 2 interview with some of the cast.

“I remembered that I used to like snooker back then and decided to watch The Rack Pack. Afterwards, something happened in my head that was a bit like the scene in a comedy when someone opens a door and a load of random stuff falls out and buries them up to the neck. It was as if someone had opened a door marked ‘the 80s’ and I’d been bombarded with a load of random memories from back then.

“I got no sleep at all that night as all this stuff kept going on in my head. This was actually a lot nicer than it probably sounds. I have had chronic depression for many years and at that time was struggling with motivation for anything. The effect of that experience was to reignite my love of 80s snooker. I wanted to catch up on as much as possible of what I missed out on at the time, as well as refreshing my memories of what I did see.

“I started to spend all of my spare time reading about snooker or watching YouTube videos. At first I only watched videos of Steve’s victories but after a while started to also watch other players with a similar style, including Terry Griffiths.”

However in 2019, the YouTube channel where Ann had found most of the content she enjoyed watching disappeared. Along with Andrew Pounce she contacted WST, who liaised with the BBC’s archive department, but it turned out that only a small percentage of content from that era was available. Her contact at WST then discovered that a snooker historian called Roger Lee had a huge collection of DVDs of matches from the 1980s. Ann was put in touch with Roger and she has since received a wealth of archive footage.

“For me, snooker is pure escapism,” she said. “It takes me out of my own situation and is a healthier alternative to drink or drugs. Sometimes I hear people saying it is relaxing, but I don’t really find that, especially in tense matches.

“I tend to prefer routines and consistency and dislike change. This is probably why I prefer players who have a more consistent and predictable playing style. Once I have made a decision or formed an opinion it tends to stay made unless something significant happens to change my mind. It is why after all these years I still consider Steve to be my favourite player.

“Everyone is different so snooker may not help everyone to manage autism and mental health. It is more likely to be suitable for people on the autistic spectrum to get involved with than a lot of other sports because it’s less likely to cause sensory overload issues. It gives you a bit of thinking time in order to keep up. Personally I have found that snooker has really helped me and I’d suggest to anyone to give it a try.”

Explaining Ann’s condition, Andrew Pounce added: “The snooker videos remind Ann of a happier time in her life and bring those memories into the present. When she was not able to watch them, it created anxiety which affected her in the workplace. That leads to fatigue and then if the body can’t cope that leads to depression. It has been a great relief to her to discover a source of snooker content.

“Autistic people are often very sensitive to sensory overload such as flashing lights or sudden noises. Snooker tends to be a quiet sport to watch, with consistent lighting. When you remove the visual and audial distractions, the autistic brain can cope more easily, and then it can engage with the content, concentrate and enjoy it. That’s seems to be the case with snooker.

“To be autistic can feel like being in a different country where life is unpredictable and you don’t understand that country’s culture. You have to learn to live in that world, which can be challenging and stressful. It is a hidden condition so all people see is the behaviour which can lead them to unfairly judge the person.”

Davis, who is still closely connected with snooker as a commentator and analyst for BBC Sport, believes there could be lessons to be learned from Ann’s story.

“As a player I’ve always wondered exactly what the crowd or television audience gets out of the viewing experience,” said Davis. “I don’t suppose it really matters as long as they enjoy it. The ‘slow burn’ of a snooker match as opposed to a faster moving sport has always offered an alternative type of entertainment, as long as you could invest the time to watch it unfold.

“A few years ago the BBC asked fans what type of frame they most enjoy, and surprisingly the majority answered that they prefer tactical battles to frames where players are making one century after another. Most importantly, the results from that BBC question and this woman’s experience of helping her cope with anxiety and depression indicate that snooker should never succumb to a shot clock. Maybe snooker’s strength is that it’s not a fast sport!”

World Autism Awareness Week finishes today – for more information click here

Article written by and supplied courtesy of WST.

Image of snooker balls

Derby Open 2020 – Cancellation Notice

World Disability Billiards and Snooker (WDBS) has today announced that the upcoming Derby Open scheduled to run from 15-17 May 2020 will not take place due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In view of the current position, taking into account UK government advice and further anticipated restrictions, the WDBS board has taken the unanimous decision not to proceed with this event.

The health and well-being of our players (some of whom have ongoing health issues linked to their disability) and officials is of the utmost importance to us and therefore we consider this to be the correct course of action at this time.

All players who have currently entered the event will receive a full refund of their entry fees shortly.

Further information as to future events will be released in due course and we would like to thank the team at the Cueball Derby for their support. We look forward to returning to the venue later in the year for our planned Groups 1-5 event.

Winners Crowned at Belgian Open

World Disability Billiards and Snooker (WDBS) crowned its latest champions last weekend at the Belgian Open in Bruges, Belgium.

Hosted by the Trickshot Snooker Club for the third successive year, the event welcomed its biggest ever field to date including entries from over 40 players representing six different countries.

For the first time the event ran tournaments for players from all eight main disability classification groups, including cueists with physical, intellectual and sensory disabilities, making it the most significant event staged in mainland Europe so far on the 360Fizz WDBS Tour.

Groups 1-3

England’s Tony Southern completed the successful defence of the title that he first won 12 months ago at the Trickshot following a 3-0 victory against compatriot Shahab Siddiqui in the Groups 1-3 event final.

The competition, which saw wheelchairs Groups 1-2 combined with the ambulant Group 3 classification for players with upper body disabilities for the first time, saw six entrants contest an initial round-robin phase before the knockout rounds.

Just as at last September’s UK Disability Snooker Championship it was in fact Siddiqui who in fact topped his group ahead of Southern, before the pair came through semi-finals against 2018 champion Kurt Deklerck of Belgium and Germany’s Hannes Hermsdorf – the 26-year-old having impressed on his WDBS debut this weekend with a high break of 53.

The final however was to go the way of Southern, who having taken the opening frame on the black then added the following two to seal his third-career WDBS crown.

Group 4

The biggest tournament of the weekend was to be the Group 4 competition which saw Daniel Blunn defeat Andy Johnson 3-0 to a record 11th WDBS title.

Previously a winner at the Trickshot during each of the past two seasons, Blunn was once again in imperious form in Belgium as he captured his first title of the decade without the loss of a frame from his five matches played on his way to glory in 2020.

Having come through a group including Gary Sanderson, Peter Hull and Gunter D’Hondt, the 28-year-old then saw off Church and finally Johnson – the latter in a deceptively close final – to add yet another honour to his illustrious CV.

The high break of the group was a run of 44 made during the round-robin stages.

Group 5

England’s Mickey Chambers was to maintain his 100% record on the WDBS circuit having claimed his sixth Group 5 crown with a 3-0 success against David Moore.

Like Blunn, the Preston Potter underlined his status as the leading Group 5 player on the circuit by claiming his latest title with a flawless record, winning all four group matches before seeing off Humber Classic winner Moore for a second time in the showpiece final. He also made the four highest breaks in the group, including a run of 35 during the round-robin stage.

For Moore to reach the final was nevertheless an impressive feat as he recovered from the loss of his opening two matches to progress ahead of David Langridge, Dean Simmons and Phil Woodwiss.

Group 6

There was a return to form for Peter Geronimo in the Group 6 competition for players with intellectual disabilities after the 30-year-old defeated Leroy Williams 3-2 in a closely contested final.

Both players progressed from a four-player group stage which saw Faisal Butt and Christopher Goldsworthy eliminated to set up a fifth meeting in a title decider at a WDBS event.

Having defeated Williams earlier in the day during the round-robin phase, it was Geronimo who was never headed in the final as he led 1-0 and 2-1, before Williams hit back impressively to force a deciding frame with a match high break of 39 in frame four.

Inevitably the final frame was to be decided on the colours, with Geronimo potting pink and black to triumph and claim only his second victory over Williams and his first title since his maiden win at the 2018 Humber Classic.

Group 7

Another two-time winner was to be crowned in the Group 7 tournament for players with visual disabilities after Ireland’s Dylan Rees added the Belgian Open title to his victory at the Hull Open last November with a 3-0 success against Mike Gillespie.

The pair progressed to the final following a dramatic group stage which saw a play-off required to separate the top three players including Welshman Ronnie Allen, who each had finished with an identical record.

The final however would prove to be more one-sided as Rees, who had impressed during the group stage with an impressive break of 87 – the second-highest ever to have been recorded during a WDBS match – ran out a 3-0 winner to maintain his 100% record on the circuit so far.

Group 8

A new winner was crowned in Group 8 as Belgian debutant Kristof De Bruyn defeated 10-time champion Shabir Ahmed to win the first WDBS competition for deaf players held in mainland Europe.

Paired in the same round-robin group, De Bruyn and Ahmed contested a hard-fought group match won by Ahmed to progress to the knockout rounds, where they saw off Nick Cash and Lewis Knowles respectively to set up the title decider.

It was 10-time WDBS champion Ahmed who took the opener before 44-year-old De Bruyn claimed two tight frames on the colours to take the lead, before sealing his maiden title in the fourth frame with a break of 32.

There was also a maiden win in the Challenge Cup event for Christopher Goldsworthy after the Group 6 player defeated Kal Mattu 2-0 to claim gold in the tournament for players who had not made it to the knockout rounds of the main tournaments.

The WDBS team would like to thank Olivier Vandenbohede of the Trickshot and his team for supporting the event once again and already we look forward to returning in 2021.

The final event of the 2019/20 360Fizz WDBS Tour season will be the Derby Open, to be held at the Cueball Derby from 15-17 May 2020.

 

Derby Open 2020 – Entry Open

Entries are now being accepted for the Derby Open which will return to the Cueball Derby for a fourth time from 15-17 May 2020.

One of our most long-standing events, the Derby Open will once begin with a Friday Open Day for people with all disabilities to come and try snooker under the guidance of WPBSA World Snooker coaches including lead coach Steve Rutter. There will also be a buffet provided early in the afternoon and opportunities to meet the WDBS team and ask any questions about the competition.

The weekend itself will then see competitive tournaments staged for deaf and visually impaired players (WDBS Classification Groups 7-8) from Saturday morning, with a Challenge Cup to be staged on Sunday for players who do not qualify for the knockout rounds.

In 2019 the event witnessed our biggest ever deaf entry with 27 Group 8 players taking part, joined also by a bumper 14 entries to the Group 7 competition.