Posts by: Matt Huart

Manchester Hosts Snooker Classic

World Disability Billiards and Snooker held its first event of 2016 at Q’s Sports and Entertainment Bar in Manchester last weekend.

Following the first event held at the South West Snooker Academy in Gloucester last November, the tournament was the first to be staged in the north of England by the WDBS. The field included players who had competed in the previous event and newcomers who had learned of the success enjoyed in Gloucester.

Three main competitions were held across the weekend, incorporating five different disability classification groups. There was also a plate event held during the final day for players who had not qualified for the final stages.

Group 3 finalists William Thomson (left) and Daniel Blunn (right)

Group 3 finalists William Thomson (left) and Daniel Blunn (right)

The Group 3 event was won by 30-year-old William Thomson, who overcame Gloucester champion Daniel Blunn 3-1 in the group final to claim the title. From Scotland, Thomson has HMSN type 2 and was participating in a WDBS event for the first time.

“I am absolutely delighted,” said Thomson. “I decided to enter the event to try it, to make new friends and to see what the standard was like. I was very impressed with the tables and can’t thank the WDBS and the club enough.

“I came down from Scotland to try and prove a point to my little boy who is nearly three years old. I wanted to make him proud and see that no matter what is in front of you, you can still do things. It is inspirational to see the other players here and I have such admiration for them.”

Coached by 2006 world champion Graeme Dott, the event was a double success for Thomson as he took the overall high break prize with a run of 35 made during one of his group matches.

Newport’s Craig Welsh claimed victory in the Group 1/2 event. Welsh, who has paraplegia, defeated Glyn Lloyd, Albert Henshaw and Gavin Gormley during the course of the weekend to top a four player group stage ahead of Liverpool-born Henshaw.


Group 1/2 winner Craig Welsh (left) is presented with his medal by WDBS Chairman Nigel Mawer (right)

In the Group 4/5 event it was Andy Johnson from Lostock who took the honours, seeing off Steve Packer 3-0 in the overall final.

Packer had made it through to the final in dramatic circumstances on Saturday evening, defeating Zena Latcham in the last match of the day following a deciding frame to qualify.

In the final however it was Johnson, who had won both of his pool matches without the loss of a frame, who recorded his third whitewash of the weekend to take the title.

The plate event was won by Morecambe’s John Teasdale, who lost both his right leg and right arm following a road traffic accident in 1981. He defeated Ricky Chilton from St Ives in a closely contested one-frame final.

WDBS Chairman Nigel Mawer said: “This is the second event that we have held and the support that we have had from the players and the people who come to support the players has been absolutely fantastic.

“We have completed an event now in Gloucester, we have done an event now in Manchester and our next event is in Woking, which will cater for people with different categories of disability to our first two events.

“We are now building this sport so that people with all types of disabilities are engaged, become involved and play.”


WPBSA World Snooker coaches will be available again in Woking

On the opening day of the event players were able to enjoy extensive free practice at the venue, including the use of several recently refurbished match tables that were subsequently used during the tournament itself. Free coaching was also provided throughout the opening day by WPBSA World Snooker coaches Reg Davies and Rick Williams.

The next WDBS event will be the WDBS Woking Open, to be held from 20-22 May 2016 at the Woking Snooker Centre. This will be the first WDBS event open to players categorised under groups 6-8, which includes those who are partially sighted, have a hearing impairment or an intellectual impairment, although players with any disability are welcome to attend the open day prior to the main competition. Full entry details for this event will be announced shortly.

The next event open to players from groups 1-5 will be the 2016 Open Disability Snooker Championship, scheduled to be held at the South West Snooker Academy from 14-16 October 2016.

Prior to both events, this year’s World Professional Snooker Championship will incorporate a Disability day in Sheffield on 21st April 2016 with activities in progress throughout the day in the Cue Zone.

Further photographs from Manchester can be viewed at our official Facebook page and video footage of the medals presentation can be watched at the WPBSA YouTube channel.


Group 1/2

Glyn Lloyd 2-1 Gavin Gormley

Craig Welsh 2-1 Albert Henshaw

Craig Welsh 3-0 Glyn Lloyd

Albert Henshaw 2-1 Gavin Gormley

Gavin Gormley 1-2 Craig Welsh

Glyn Lloyd 0-3 Albert Henshaw

Craig Welsh wins the group

Group 3 Final

William Thomson 3-1 Daniel Blunn

Group 4/5 Final

Andy Johnson 3-0 Steve Packer

Plate Final

John Teasdale 58-56 Ricky Chilton (single frame)

WDBS Heads North

This weekend will see the WDBS stage its second event, the 2016 Manchester Classic at Q`s Sports and Entertainment bar.

Following on from the inaugural Open Disability Snooker Championship held in Gloucester last November, the Manchester tournament marks the first event to be hosted in the north of England by the WDBS, but it is far from the first time that disability snooker has been played in the area.

The venue last hosted disability snooker in 2011 (Photo by Clive Brown)

The venue last hosted disability snooker in 2011 (Photo by Clive Brown)

In fact the same venue, in its old guise as the Belle Vue Rileys, previously hosted the DSE National Snooker Championships for the Disabled as recently as 2011 and so quickly presented itself as the ideal location for the second WDBS event.

“As a region of the UK where disability cue sports have been so well-established, we felt that this was the perfect location to launch our 2016 season,” said WDBS director and British Paralympian Jonathan Adams.

“We have seen how snooker is opening new possibilities and following our first event in Gloucester and the work by our partners we have seen a significant rise in interest for disability specific events going forwards,” continued Adams.

The three-day event begins with a free open day of coaching and practice, before the tournament itself gets underway on Saturday with play to start at 10:30am.

Spectators are welcome to come and watch, but for those unable to attend there will be updates throughout the day at our Twitter and Facebook pages.

Entries for the event are still being accepted, click here for more information.

Still time to enter Manchester Classic

With the start of the 2016 Manchester Classic just days away, it is still not too late to take part in the event for those who have not yet entered.

Although the official entry deadline for the entry fell last Friday, in order to maximise the field and encourage as much participation at the event as possible, the WDBS will accept any subsequent entries received.

The Manchester Classic 2016 will be the second event staged by the WDBS, following the inaugural Open Disability Snooker Championship held in Gloucester last November, at which Tony Pockett (pictured), made it through to the final despite having himself entered late having heard about the tournament just days before on the local radio.

The tournament in Manchester will run from 19-20 March 2016, with an open day for people of all disabilities to be held on 18 March.

Please click here to download the entry pack.

WDBS Announces 2016 Calendar

The WDBS has today announced its 2016 calendar with new events to be held in Manchester, Woking and Gloucester this year.

The announcement follows the successful staging of the 2015 Open Disability Snooker Championship at the South West Snooker Academy last November, which was open to five of the eight different WDBS classification groups.

The new calendar ensures that players from all eight different disability groups will have the opportunity to participate during 2016.

The first tournament will take place on the weekend of 19 and 20 March at Q’s Sports and Entertainment Bar, Manchester. The event will be open to groups 1-5, with full details and the entry pack to be released shortly.

On Friday 18 March there will also be a free open day at which people with any disability are encouraged to attend.

The second event will be held at the Woking Snooker Centre between 20 and 22 May. It is proposed that for the first time this will include tournaments for group 6-8 players, subject to receiving sufficient entries.

There will again be a free open day on 20 May, open to people with any disabilities.

The WDBS will also return to the South West Snooker Academy in Gloucester from 15-16 October. A two-day tournament will be open to groups 1-5, with an open day for people with all disabilities to be held on 14 October.

Further information and entry details for the events in Woking and Gloucester will be released in due course.

WDBS Chairman Nigel Mawer said: “After the success of our inaugural event in Gloucester I am really pleased to announce our new WDBS events for 2016.

“We are still learning and through these events we want to understand how we can best meet the needs of our players. This is the start of a long road to create snooker events around the world for people with disabilities.”

WDBS director and ambassador Jonathan Adams added: “The announcement today shows the commitment of the WDBS to the future of disability cue sport in the UK and of fulfilling the goals that we set out to achieve last September.

“Following our inaugural event at the South West Snooker Academy we have received growing interest from the able bodied snooker tour and already we are starting to showcase how snooker is a sport for all and not just the privileged few.

“With help from our partners and new supporters we are excited to help the growth and development of snooker in 2016 and beyond.”

Pockett Hails New Opportunities

Last November saw the WDBS host the 2015 Open Disability Snooker Championship at the South West Snooker Academy in Gloucester.

Tony in action at the SWSA

Tony in action at the SWSA

Staged by the new governing body for World Disability Billiards and Snooker, the tournament marked the first step on the long road back to the Paralympics for cue sports and proved to be well-received by those who took part.

One of those players was Gloucester’s Tony Pockett, who finished as runner-up in the Group 4/5 event to India’s Raja Subramanian. Pockett, who suffers from chronic back pain, decided to end a 24-year absence from snooker when by chance he heard about the tournament on the local radio:

“I was driving in the car when I heard about the tournament and thought that it sounded interesting,” said Pockett. “To be honest, in my position you have got to be in a positive mood to even think about entering something like this. If the event had been somewhere else I might not have gone, but because it was on my doorstep I thought that I would make the effort and go.”

Tony and his wife Carol attended the Betway UK Championship in December

Tony and his wife Carol attended the Betway UK Championship in December

Tony first began to play snooker at the age of 14 and regularly played in local leagues in Gloucester, however was diagnosed with dropfoot in 1988 when a piece of disc in his spine crushed the nerve going to his foot. He underwent a spinal decompression operation three years later that unfortunately was unsuccessful and prior to this tournament had barely played snooker since.

Pockett said: “I had to give up work and snooker because of my spine and I haven’t played since then properly. I’ve played two games in Weston Super Mare with my son, other than that it’s the first time and my cue had been in the bedroom since 1991!

“I used to play seven days a week as my father was a groundsman at sports and social club. We could be there all through the holidays and that’s where it first started off. When I met my wife I said that I should always go and play snooker on a Sunday lunchtime whatever happens, but when I gave up work that was it.”

Pockett, whose wife Carol also suffers with a disability, explained that for him the event has opened doors and that he would now like to continue to play snooker on a more regular basis, having already arranged to meet with other players from the event.

“My wife said that it must be the first time she has been left on her own all day for 25 years,” added Pockett. “She is disabled as well, so we live a very limited life. The event has opened the doors for me in a way. It has given me the interest to have a go at it now, whereas before I would say ‘no ok mate’. It has been really good, so laid back and the organisation has been superb.

Tony and the other players meet David Grace in York

Tony and the other players meet David Grace in York

“I was watching the younger lads play and they thoroughly enjoyed themselves which is wonderful. What can you get better than this? Nobody felt outclassed.”

As one of the group finalists in Gloucester, Pockett was also invited to attend the final Saturday of the Betway UK Championship and was given a special backstage tour of the venue, including the television studios, main arena and practice tables.

He was particularly thrilled to meet the likes of Steve Davis, John Parrott, John Virgo and Dennis Taylor, as well as David Grace who took time out from his semi-final preparations to pose for photographs.

Check out our photo galleries on Facebook for more images from both the 2015 Open Disability Championship and of Tony’s visit to the Betway UK Championship.

The WDBS will be announcing details of its 2016 events during the coming weeks.

Bonnell Enjoys Masters Visit

The WDBS was pleased to welcome Graham Bonnell to the 2016 Dafabet Masters last week at the Alexandra Palace.

Bonnell won his category in Gloucester last November

Bonnell won his category in Gloucester last November

Winner of the Group 1/2 event at the 2015 Open Disability Snooker Championship in Gloucester last November, Bonnell was invited to see the matches between John Higgins and Liang Wenbo, and Neil Robertson and Marco Fu on Wednesday.

Between sessions, he was also given a guided tour of the venue by Master of Ceremonies Rob Walker, with the chance to watch the likes of Jimmy White and Mark Allen in action on the practice tables, as well as see the main arena and media centre.

From Oxted, Surrey, Bonnell was rewarded for his performances at the inaugural WDBS event, which saw him drop just one frame on his way to victory in his category at the South West Snooker Academy.

Graham watches Jimmy White on one of the practice tables

Graham looks on as former Masters champion Jimmy White pots balls on one of the practice tables

A fan of snooker for over 30 years, Graham was involved in a motorcycle accident in 1983 when he was just 18, in which he suffered a broken neck. Some years later he was invited to play snooker at the local British Legion and has since gone on to captain a team in his local league.

Upon hearing about the formation of the WDBS and the Open Disability Snooker Championship online, Graham decided to enter the event and eventually triumphed with a 3-0 victory against Glyn Lloyd in the final.

To read more about the tournament, including full knock-out results, please click here.

Click here for more photos from Graham’s visit to the Dafabet Masters.

WDBS champ Raja enjoys york trip

WDBS Champ Raja Enjoys York Trip

India’s Raja Subramanian was in York on Friday, reflecting on his triumph at the World Disability Billiards and Snooker’s (WDBS) first ever event, the 2015 Open Disability Snooker Championship (Josh Robinson writes).

The WDBS body was established in September in order increase the provision of cue sports for disabled people, and the first tournament was regarded as a success.

Raja, who is visually impaired and has Polio, took the title in the Group 4 and 5 classification event at the South West Snooker Academy in Gloucester last weekend. Impressing throughout the tournament, he made several breaks of over 50 as well as winning ten frames on the spin.

“I’m very happy because I’ve put a lot of effort into this game. I’m glad that I’ve won it as it is very important,” said the 43-year-old.

Raja receives his medal from paralympian Jonathan Adams

Raja receives his medal from paralympian Jonathan Adams

Mumbai-based Raja came over to the UK to play in the Gloucester event and the LITEtask British Open billiards tournament in Bradford, which runs this weekend.

He was presented with his winner’s medal in front of a packed Barbican crowd in York on Friday, minutes before the Betway UK Championship quarter-finals got underway. He also managed to meet and take pictures with some of snooker’s all-time greats, including Stephen Hendry, Dennis Taylor and Willie Thorne.

“I was excited to meet these players because to me they are like Gods of snooker,” said Raja with noticeable glee. “I watched all of them when I was younger because I’ve been following snooker for a long time. One of my friends used to get video cassettes in the ‘80s and we used to sit and watch them. Now because of the internet we can watch every match. My favourite player was Alex Higgins, no doubt.”

Raja has been involved in sport since his teenage years. “I played table-tennis at state and national level when I was a junior,” he said. “I went on to play billiards after I watched a lot of good players at the club I went to. Wilson Jones was a world champion in billiards and he used to come to our club to do coaching.

“Somehow my parents and friends never made me feel different and I was playing with the best players at home so I never thought about disability. The main point is that when I started playing, even though I had a disability, I didn’t feel the difference. If some calamity happened after I started playing then maybe that would have been very difficult.”

On the state of the sport in his native country, he revealed: “In Mumbai there are a lot of snooker halls. There is billiards too and both are very popular there and are doing well. It was billiards that came first and then snooker. Now, billiards is slightly fading and snooker has become so popular.”

In 2014 he became world number 25 in billiards and he now managed to cross over onto the snooker table and excel. “It’s difficult to change between them because the cue grip has to be quite firm in snooker and much lighter in billiards,” he said.

Success for first WDBS event

Success For First WDBS Event

The new World Disability Billiards and Snooker body staged its first event last weekend, attended by players from around the UK and beyond.

The landmark event, called the 2015 Open Disability Snooker Championship, took place at the South West Snooker Academy in Gloucester.

WDBS Medal Winners

Medal winners! Back row left to right: Raja Subramanian, Steve Packer, Andrew Harper, Daniel Blunn, Tony Pockett. Front row left to right: Mark Parsons, Glyn Lloyd.

The WDBS was launched in September with the intention to give more people with disabilities the opportunity to play cue sports.

There were three main events held at the tournament, incorporating five different disability classification groups.

Taking victory in the combined Group 4 and 5 event was India’s Raja Subramanian, who defeated Gloucester’s Tony Pockett 2-0 in the final.

His win completed a remarkable story for the 43-year-old from Mumbai, who came over to the UK especially for this event and next weekend’s LITEtask British Open billiards tournament in Bradford.

For the past seven years Raja has predominantly played billiards, rising to 25th in the world rankings in 2014. He impressed throughout the weekend in Gloucester, hitting several breaks over 50 and winning ten frames without reply on his way to a well-deserved medal.

The Group 3 event was won by Daniel Blunn of Sutton Coldfield, who defeated Andrew Harper from St Helens 2-0 in a tightly contested final.

Raja Subramanian

Raja Subramanian defeated Gloucester’s Tony Pockett 2-0 in the final

The combined Group 1 and 2 wheelchair category was won by Surrey’s Graham Bonnell. Having topped his round robin group, he defeated Glyn Lloyd 3-0 in Sunday’s final.

There was also a plate event held on the tournament’s final day for the remaining ten players who had not progressed to the knock-out stages. This was won by Mark Parsons, who defeated Steve Packer in their single frame final.

In addition to their medals and participation certificates, all main event finalists will be invited to watch the Betway UK Championship semi-finals at the York Barbican and be presented with their medals in the main arena.

WDBS Chairman Nigel Mawer said: “It has been a fantastic first event here at the South West Snooker Academy. I have been overwhelmed by the approach of the players to the tournament, how they have enjoyed it and the outcomes we have had. We have had some fascinating stories coming out of the event.

Graham Bonnell

Graham Bonnell defeated Glyn Lloyd 3-0 in Sunday’s final

“This is the start of a very long road to get us back to the Paralympics and to get more people involved at grassroots level playing this great sport.”

British Paralympian and WDBS board member Jonathan Adams added:

“It has been a brilliant event. To say that we would be staging an event of this magnitude four months after creating the WDBS is something that I didn’t think would be possible and it has just been tremendous.

“It’s amazing to see players from as far away as India coming here to compete. To see the way that people have been captured by other people’s stories and to see it come to reality, after the work we have done, is only going to be beneficial for the future.

“We are all aware of the difficulties and the challenges that come with dealing with disability sport and disabled individuals, but it has not been about the disabilities. It has been about the abilities on the table and we have seen how much the players have enjoyed the competition and the atmosphere.

Jonathon Adams

Jonathan Adams

“I believe that this has put us firmly back on the map. The future is only bright.”

Prior to the two-day tournament there was an open day for people with disabilities with coaching provided by Tim Squires of Snookerbility and Bob Hill, both WPBSA Coaches. Those in attendance also had the opportunity to have photographs taken with the World Championship trophy.

It is proposed to hold the next event in March 2016 for the categories not included in this event.

Results (knock-out stages)

Group 1/2 Final
Graham Bonnell 3-0 Glyn Lloyd
Group 3 Final
Daniel Blunn 2-0 Andrew Harper
Group 4/5 Semi-Finals
Raja Subramanian 2-0 Jayson Wholey
Tony Pockett 2-0 Brent Welland
Group 4/5 Final
Raja Subramanian 2-0 Tony Pockett
WDBS winners to receive medals in york

WDBS Winners To Receive Medals In York

Entries are still open for the first tournament staged by the new World Disability Billiards and Snooker body in Gloucester later this month, and the WDBS is delighted to announce that the winners will be invited to one of snooker’s biggest events to receive their medals.

The medals will be presented at the York Barbican on Saturday December 5th during the final weekend of the Betway UK Championship. Each winner will also receive two tickets for the afternoon and evening sessions and a hotel room.

The WDBS event will run on the weekend of November 28-29 at the South West Snooker Academy

The profiles below show who can play in this event. WDBS is looking to run tournaments for Groups 6 (learning disabilities), 7 (visual impairment) and 8 (deaf/hearing impairment) in the future and we would be interested in contact from any groups or leagues which already provide provision for these groups.

Wheelchair profiles

  • Profile 01c: Almost no use in four limbs. Need to use a power wheelchair, or a manual wheelchair.
  • Profile 01p: Almost no use in four limbs. Need to use a power wheelchair, or a manual wheelchair.
  • Profile 02: Almost no use in four limbs, but can bend elbows, and just about push a manual wheelchair. May need to use a power wheelchair.
  • Profile 03: Wheelchair user with very poor balance and inability to grip and release objects.
  • Profile 04: A person with almost no use in any limb, but with good trunk control. Usually able to push a wheelchair in some way.
  • Profile 05: A wheelchair user who has difficulty controlling their limbs when trying to perform any activity.
  • Profile 06: A wheelchair user with poor trunk control and slightly weak hands, or slight lack of control in arms.
  • Profile 07: A wheelchair user with good use in only one arm, they may need to use a power wheelchair if unable to push manual wheelchair.
  • Profile 08: A wheelchair user with good control of trunk and slightly weak hands.
  • Profile 09: A wheelchair user with good use in arms, but with poor trunk control.
  • Profile 10: A wheelchair user with good use of trunk and arms but unable to use the hips to assist trunk movement.
  • Profile 11: A wheelchair user with good control of trunk and hips.

Ambulant Profiles

  • Profile 12: Able to walk, but has severe difficulty controlling all four limbs when performing an activity. May need to use a support to walk, or may have severe deformity of four limbs.
  • Profile 13: Able to walk, but has poor use of three limbs, usually uses a stick in good hand.
  • Profile 14: Able to walk, but one side of the body is of little use; usually can only balance unaided on the good leg.
  • Profile 15: Able to walk, but only one side of body works correctly.
  • Profile 16: One upper limb has little or no use.
  • Profile 17: Able to walk, but both legs are severely impaired, acting more like props. May need support to walk.
  • Profile 18: Able to walk, but one leg severely impaired, like a prop; other leg normal.
  • Profile 19: Able to walk, one leg severely impaired, used like a prop; other leg less impaired.
  • Profile 20: Able to walk and run but both legs impaired slightly – e.g. a moderate to slight diplegic.
  • Profile 21: Both arms are severely impaired or may be absent.
  • Profile 22: Both arms slightly impaired or absent below the elbow.
  • Profile 23: One leg has slight impairment, and they can usually run if fit enough.
  • Profile 24: One arm demonstrates difficulty with activities or below elbow amputee.
  • Profile 25: Very short stature (at least 12 inches (30.5cm) shorter than average, in particular extreme shortness of limbs.
  • Profile 26: Impairment of all four limbs, but not as severe as profile 12.
  • Profile 27: Opposite arm and leg severely impaired.
  • Profile 28: Both hips impaired causing walking difficulty, usually waddling gait.
  • Profile 29: Both shoulders causing problems with movement.
  • Profile 30: Deformity or weakness of the trunk.
  • Profile 31: Both legs severely impaired, both arms moderately impaired.
  • Profile 32: Both arms severely impaired, both legs moderately impaired.