Posts by: Matt Huart

Phil Woodwiss Q&A

Among the players who will be competing at this weekend’s Belgian Open will be Skipton’s Phil Woodwiss, who first joined the WDBS circuit approximately 18 months ago and has become a regular on tour.

We recently caught up with the former Open Disability Championship semi-finalist ahead of his return to Bruges to discuss the upcoming tournament, the benefits of playing snooker to him and how important the social aspects of WDBS events are…

Hi Phil, this week we are preparing to return to Bruges for the third staging of the WDBS Belgian Open. How much are you looking forward to returning to the event, having made the trip previously in 2019?

I am very excited to be going back to Bruges. It’s a beautiful place to visit and hopefully I’ll get to see a bit more of it this time.

The Trickshot club we play at is a fantastic venue and we are certainly well looked after all the time while we are there by Olivier [Vandenbohede] and his staff.

Last year you reached the final of the Challenge Cup in Belgium, how happy are you with your game 12 months on?

It’s been a frustrating time; my form has been shocking, hardly winning any matches in the local league or at any WDBS events. However, I seemed to have turned a corner being able to practice more with top quality conditions and players at my friend John’s pub The Crossroads Inn in Keighley, West Yorkshire. So, I am aiming to do well in the event in Bruges.

It has been approximately 18 months since you joined us at the 2018 Welsh Open for your first WDBS event. How much have you enjoyed competing on the circuit to date?

It’s just like being a professional; I love it, each event is different wearing a smart suit, with referees, meetings with the Tournament Director each day before the start of play and even signing the report sheet after each match. Although my request for extra ‘pockets’ on the table in the comments section has yet to be answered!

What have been your highlights on tour during your time with us so far?

I would say the highlight so far was playing in Belgium last year for the first time. I had always in the past wanted to play in a snooker tournament abroad, so doing it together with my fellow WDBS players was great and hopefully we will play in other countries around the world in the future.

How did you first get into snooker?

One of my friends gave me a 3ft snooker table that he was going to throw away. I began to play on that, not really knowing what I was doing but just learning to pot the balls until I got the chance to play on a proper full size snooker table at a local snooker centre in my home town of Keighley when I was 15 years old.

How does your disability affect your snooker and how challenging has it been returning to the baize? Was there a time you thought that you might not play again?

I no longer move around as quickly as I once did, which can be frustrating at times, as I was a quick player and I have lost the flexibility when positioning myself for certain shots. I now use a small extension which screws into the butt of my cue which many players use, which means I don’t have to position myself across the table awkwardly like I used to do before my disability.

Yes, it was quite scary to think I would not play again. As it wasn’t known until after surgery, how I would walk or if at all. To be able to play again after becoming disabled was a great relief and surprise.

How do you feel that playing snooker as an activity can be of benefit to people with a disability?

Snooker is a game everyone can play at all levels of disability. Whatever disability you have you can find a way of adapting yourself with the use of aids to be able to play. It’s great fun as well with learning new skills on a snooker table. You get a great sense of achievement when you see improvements in your game over time. It also helps to take your mind off other things like the many doctors and hospital appointments and gives you something to look forward to.

As well as playing snooker, how important is the social side of these events to you?

To me it’s a very important part of any event. You don’t always have much time during a match or tournament to chat with many people, so when you go out for a meal with several other players and partners, carers or friends you get chance to get to know people.

You have made a number of friends on the circuit including the likes of Nigel Brasier and Dean Simmons, how much would you encourage other players to get together like this?

I would say at each event, go out at least one night with other players for a meal. It helps develop social skills like chatting to people, making new friends and also builds confidence, which all helps to develop trust in others, so that in the future we feel comfortable travelling in groups to WDBS events, especially as we look to play more events abroad.

It also helps to build self-belief and confidence to deal with our daily lives away from snooker events.

What advice would you have for people with disabilities who might be considering entering a WDBS event?

Don’t be afraid – come and have a go! We have all started where we couldn’t pot a ball. Everyone is so friendly and welcoming, just like one big family is how I would describe the WDBS tour. You will make friendships that will last a lifetime.

Belgian Open 2020: Tournament Information

Tournament information for this weekend’s Belgian Open to be held at The Trickshot Snooker Club in Bruges is now available:

To be played in Belgium for a third successive year, for the first time the Belgian Open will see tournaments staged for players from all eight main classification groups, helping to attract a record field of 45 players representing seven different nationalities.

In a change to the original schedule, the tournament will now begin on Friday evening with an initial ten matches to be played, with the remaining group stage and knockout matches to be concluded over the course of the weekend.

If you have any questions please contact a member of the team via our website or social media.

New WDBS Dates Announced For 2020/21 Season

World Disability Billiards and Snooker (WDBS) is today pleased to announce four new event dates for the upcoming 360Fizz WDBS Tour 2020/21 season.

As we prepare to celebrate our fifth anniversary this summer, we have moved quickly to confirm a number of regular venues that have supported WDBS over a number of years.

In doing so, we have also taken the opportunity to carry out a full review of the previous calendar to provide a better spread of tournaments throughout the year for each classification group.

Confirmed dates

The new calendar will see players from each of the main eight classification groups guaranteed at least three UK tournaments.

The first confirmed event will be the Welsh Open, which is set to return to Redz Snooker Club in Cwmbran for a fourth staging, on the later date of 4-6 September 2020. Once again, the event will be open to players from all classification groups and be played under the 6-Red format of the game.

Also set to return for a fourth staging is the Derby Open, which will be held at the Cueball Derby in a new calendar slot of 23-25 October. Significantly, for the first time this event will be open to players from Groups 1-5 as a new venue for those with physical disabilities.

Please note that this does not affect the upcoming Groups 7-8 tournament in Derby which will be held from 15-17 May as the final event of the current season.

As has been the case since 2016, the final event of the calendar year will be the Hull Open, which will return to the Tradewell Snooker Club for a fifth time from 13-15 November and be open to players from Groups 6-8.

Finally, we can also confirm the return of the three-day UK Disability Snooker Championship, which will again be held at Barratts in Northampton and be open to players from all classification groups. However, to provide better balance to the calendar the event will move to a new slot from 26-28 March 2021.

Champion of Champions

In addition to the dates announced above, we can also confirm that the Parris Cues Champion of Champions will return next season at a new venue to be confirmed.

For the first-time, this will be staged as the season-finale in May 2021, with the best players on the tour during the previous two seasons qualifying for the prestigious event.

Overseas Events

As part of our wider ambitions to return snooker to the Paralympic Games for the first time since 1988 we are also committed to developing new opportunities for disability snooker outside of the UK.

In addition to the Belgian Open, which we also anticipate will return early in 2021, we are also currently looking at opportunities to stage further overseas events next season, with talks currently ongoing in respect of a planned event in Poland this summer.

Further information regarding additional tournaments will be released in due course.

2020/21 Provisional Dates So Far:

4-6 September 2020

Welsh Open (G1-8) – Redz Snooker Club, Cwmbran

23-25 October 2020

Derby Open (G1-5) – Cueball Derby, Derby

13-15 November 2020

Hull Open (G6-8) – Tradewell Snooker Club, Hull

26-28 March 2021

UK Disability Snooker Championship (G1-8) – Barratts, Northampton

All dates are provisional and subject to change.

Stockport Open 2020 – Tournament Review

Several champions were crowned during World Disability Snooker and Billiards’ (WDBS) opening event of the new calendar year at the popular Hazel Grove Snooker Club last weekend.

The Stockport Open 2020 featured competitors from six different disability classifications – involving those with physical and learning disabilities – and after a busy weekend of action where over 100 matches were played, the winners were confirmed.

Physical disabilities

In the bumper Group 2+4 competition which included cueists with ambulant impairments and wheelchair users, William Thomson returned to the winners’ podium to claim his fourth-career WDBS main event title.

The recent Scottish international began his campaign in ideal fashion, winning all four of his round robin matches 2-0 to finish top of Group A before notching up breaks of 30 and 53 to eliminate Kit Kennedy 2-0 in the knockout quarter-finals the following day.

Thomson dropped his first frame of the tournament during his last four encounter with two-time Open Disability finalist Andrew Harper on the black, but he recovered to take the next three and move into the final.

His opponent was 2016 Manchester Classic champion Andy Johnson, who like Thomson headed his group and came through a last eight tie against Peter Hull without relinquishing a frame. However, he needed a decider to deny former world professional number eight Dean Reynolds a maiden WDBS final in the semi-finals, spinning a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 win.

Perhaps affected by his draining exploits against Reynolds, the last thing Johnson needed was Thomson starting strong, which he did, compiling a 62 break in chalking up frame one. Thomson never looked back as he registered a 3-0 triumph to collect his first title on the circuit in nearly 16 months.

Nigel Coton made it consecutive Group 3 titles after a flawless performance throughout the weekend.

A trio of 2-0 group wins on Saturday over Joe Hardstaff, John Teasdale and Kal Mattu rewarded him with top spot and a place in the final. The remaining spot went to maiden finalist and tour regular Mattu, who along with last year’s runner-up Hardstaff and winner Teasdale all finished on one victory each, however, Mattu progressed courtesy of a better frame difference.

Coton continued his relentless form, though, winning the competition without losing a single frame after a 3-0 final outcome to secure a hat-trick of career WDBS main event accolades and follow his glory at September’s UK Disability Championship.

Serial winner Mickey Chambers remains undefeated in club-based WDBS events after racking up a fifth title in the Group 5 category.

Preston’s Chambers – whose only loss on the circuit was during the Tour Championship at the Crucible Theatre last summer – won all three of his group games to top Group B. He did fall behind to 2019 Humber Classic finalist Ivor Halnosky in the semi-finals but turned it around to a emerge 3-1 winner.

Gareth Ward would meet Chambers for the gold medal; reaching his maiden tour final after capping Group A and then negotiating this season’s UK Disability Championship runner-up Dean Simmons. Ward was resilient in the final, mounting a comeback after losing the opening three frames, but 30-year-old Chambers held firm to get across the line 4-2.

Intellectual disabilities

Faisal Butt and Leroy Williams maintained their recent dominance of Groups 6A and 6B respectively.

Both Butt and Williams ended their round robin phases with 100% match records. Londoner Butt went one down to Warren Ealy in the semi-finals after losing on the black ball, although he swiftly re-established himself to advance into the final. There he would further his rivalry with Michael Busst, gaining some revenge for losing to Busst in the Champion of Champions final a few months previously by winning 3-0. The Stockport Open is Butt’s fifth WDBS title inside the past 12 months.

Williams has now won the last five Group 6B tournaments – a sequence stretching back to the Southern Classic last March. He needed to show battling qualities in the last four, though, as he twice trailed Matthew Haslam before sealing a 3-2 result. Christopher Goldsworthy, who has enjoyed a fine debut year on the WDBS scene, made his second final following his first at the aforementioned Southern Classic. Despite all four frames being relatively close, Williams ran out a 4-0 victor for his sixth overall title.

Challenge Cup

David Moore bounced back from his disappointment of not qualifying for Sunday’s knockout phase by clinching the Challenge Cup.

Reigning Humber Classic Group 5 champion Moore took the gold medal back to the south English coast after victories over Liam Crook, Phil Woodwiss, Nigel Brasier and then last year’s Group 3 winner at this venue, John Teasdale, 2-0 in the final.

The next stop on the WDBS circuit will be the Belgian Open from 7-8 March 2020. Enter online now: www.wdbs.info/tournament-entry/belgian-open-2020

DSActive Workshop – February 2020

Improve your skills working with players with Down’s syndrome and other learning disabilities

Snooker coaches and referees, volunteers, officials, board members and players are all invited to a free workshop to develop skills and knowledge to work with players with learning disabilities.

DSActive – a programme run by the Down’s Syndrome Association – will host the evening session on Thursday 20 February, 6pm – 8pm, at West Herts College in Watford. Full details are contained in the attached poster.

All confirmed attendees will also be offered a free ticket to that day’s afternoon session of the BetVictor Snooker Shoot Out at Watford Colosseum, just around the corner.

It will be the second workshop of its kind, following a very successful session in Stockport earlier this year.

The workshop is provided as part of a partnership between WPBSA and DSActive, which aims to develop pathways into our sport for people with Down’s syndrome to become players and coaches.

For more information or to book your place please email bob.hill@wpbsa.com or call the WPBSA on 0117 317 8203.

Belgian Open 2020 – Enter Now!

We are now accepting entries for the WDBS Belgian Open which is set to return to the calendar from 7-8 March 2020.

As in previous years, the event will be held at The Trickshot Club owned by Olivier Vandenbohede in the historic city of Bruges. The venue is fully accessible and has hosted the tournament successfully during each of the last two years.

For the first time the event will include competitive tournaments for players from all eight disability classification groups, with players with intellectual and sensory disabilities joining those with physical disabilities.

There will be no formal Open Day held on the Friday, but there will be practice opportunities for players arriving on the day and a barbecue meal organised at the club in the evening.

Tournament Format

As is the case at all WDBS events, individual tournaments will only run if at least four entries are received. We reserve the right to combine groups where at all possible, for example Group 3 with Groups 4-5, Groups 7A and 7B.

We therefore advise that players do not make non-refundable travel arrangements until enough entries have been received in their group.

Velotel Hotel exterior

Hotel Velotel

For this year’s tournament the Hotel Velotel Bruges is offering a 15% discount on bookings made directly through their website.

To access the discount please use the code WDBSSNOOKER when booking and the discount will be applied at checkout.

Please be aware that accessible rooms are limited so we advise booking as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.

Travel Options

Bruges is easily accessible from the UK via car, rail or air. Further travel advice will be published shortly.

We are aware that several groups of players have already made plans to travel together (including from Hull, the north of England and the midlands) and we strongly encourage everyone to join our WDBS Facebook group and discuss travel options together.

We are continuing to explore options to run a service from London similar to in 2019 and will provide further information as soon as possible if this is to go ahead.

If you are considering entering the event and are not sure, or have any further questions, please contact us.

Stockport Open 2020 – Enter Now

Entries are now being accepted for the Stockport Open which will return to the Hazel Grove Snooker Club for a second year from 10-12 January 2020.

Open Day / Billiards

Previously held as the Northern Classic, the event will 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.

The Friday will also include a session of English Billiards coaching, which may include a competitive tournament subject to interest on the day.

Competition

The weekend itself will then include competitive tournaments for players with physical and intellectual disabilities (WDBS Classification Groups 1-6) from Saturday morning, with every player guaranteed snooker across both days with a Challenge Cup competition to be staged on Sunday for players already knocked out of the main tournament.

The deadline for entry is 4:30pm on Friday 3 January 2020.

Champions Crowned at Hull Open

This year’s final World Disability Billiards and Snooker (WDBS) event was completed last weekend as our latest champions were celebrated at the Hull Open, sponsored by the Humber Fish Co.

Returning to the popular Tradewell Snooker Club for its fourth staging, the event saw competitions held for deaf and partially sighted players across the weekend, with 26 players taking part.

The event also featured a busy Friday Open Day, which welcomed approximately 40 people attending from local disability groups who came to try snooker in a fun and friendly environment under the guidance of WPBSA World Snooker coaches.

Rees Reigns

There was a debut win for Ireland’s Dylan Rees in the Group 7 competition for people with visual disabilities as he defeated former champion Paul Smith 4-0 to make it a weekend to remember in East Yorkshire.

Competing in his first WDBS event, Rees emerged from his round robin group with a perfect record following victories against Ben Chappell, Gary Gallacher and David Baker, before edging 2017 runner-up Mike Gillespie 3-2 to progress to the title match.

There he would face four-time WDBS winner and 2016 Hull champion Paul Smith, who had himself topped his group with three wins against Gillespie, Ronnie Allen and Bob Craft, before ending the hopes of local player Ben Chappell, who was competing in the knockout rounds for the first time, with a 3-1 success.

The final would prove to be one-way traffic however as Rees, who also made the weekend-high break of 64, raced to a 4-0 victory to secure his first gold medal.

Shabir Equals Blunn Record

In Group 8 there was a landmark victory for Blackburn’s Shabir Ahmed, who edged out first-time finalist Gary Taylor 4-3 to claim a record-equalling tenth WDBS victory on Sunday.

In the latest tournament held for deaf players, regular winner Ahmed came through a four-player group with victories against Daniel Booth, Richard Gott and Mark Johnson, joining a strong field including former WDBS champions Lewis Knowles and Nicholas Cash in the last eight.

There Ahmed would face Nicholas Wiltshire, before victory saw him through to a semi-final clash with Nicholas Cash, a repeat of their dramatic final in Derby won by Cash on the final black. This time however it would be Ahmed who would progress to yet another title match as he potted the final four colours to win a deciding-frame.

Awaiting him would be Gary Taylor, a man competing in only his second event having lost out to Ahmed in the last four at this year’s UK Disability Championship in Northampton. Having progressed from his round robin group, Taylor defeated Nikolas de Whytell and Lewis Knowles – the latter in a dramatic match which saw all three frames decided on the black – to reach his first final.

The decisive battle looked like going according to the script as Ahmed raced into a 2-0 lead, but Taylor responded in fine style by taking the following three to turn the match on its head and stand just one frame from taking his first title.

Ahmed however has not enjoyed the success he has on the WDBS circuit without being able to respond to a challenge and he recovered to take the final two frames and with it a tenth WDBS title, equalling the record set by Group 4 player Daniel Blunn at September’s UK Championship in Northampton.

The Challenge Cup tournament for players who did not qualify for the knockout rounds was won by David Baker, who repeated his 2016 success at the same venue with a 2-1 victory against Ronnie Allen in the final.

The next WDBS event will be the Stockport Open which will run from 10-12 January 2020 at the Hazel Grove Snooker Club.

View full tournament results and information here.

View the updated WDBS Roll of Honour here.

Belgian Open 2020 – Expressions of Interest

We are looking forward to returning to Bruges, Belgium from 6-8 March 2020 for what is set to be the biggest edition of the WDBS Belgian Open to date.
Previously the event has been held as a Groups 1-5 competition, however next year our intention is to include players from all eight classification groups as we look to grow the tournament further.

Entry numbers

Our WDBS policy is that each tournament must receive at least four entries to be able to run as a standalone tournament. If a lower number of entries is received, the tournament for that group will either be cancelled, or where possible merged with another group.
We do appreciate that this means it is difficult for players and their supporters to make firm travel and hotel arrangements at an early stage, particularly in groups that have not been included in this event before or have previously received a low number of entries.
To encourage early commitment, there will be an earlier entry deadline for this competition than normal. We will keep you posted on the progress of entries.

UK Bus Service

In order to help UK-based players travel to the event, last season we successfully ran a coach service from London to Bruges, returning to the UK on the Monday following the event.
This service however did incur significant cost to WDBS, particularly as a number of players who had initially expressed an interest in using the coach did not end up using the service.
As a result, before we commit to running a similar service in 2020 and to know the size of a bus we would potentially require, we are asking for a firm commitment from players who would intend to use this service should it run again. At the point of entry for the event, we will be requiring a non-refundable deposit from players who wish to use it.

Expressions of interest

Please therefore respond below as soon as possible to the following two questions:
1) Do you intend to compete in this season’s WDBS Belgian Open?
2) Do you plan to use our coach service, as detailed above?
Many thanks
WDBS Team

Northampton 2020 – Format Consultation

Dear players,

As you are aware this year’s UK Disability Snooker Championship in Northampton was held over three days for the first time in order to address the scheduling issues that we experienced in 2018.

This proved to be successful as Friday’s additional session allowed us to conclude at a sensible time early in the evening on each day, in contrast to the previous year which saw play continue past midnight and players faced with long periods of waiting.

We also understand however that playing matches on Friday does cause additional expense for players and may be difficult for those who do not wish to take time off work, which ultimately led to a lower amount of entries for this year’s event.

In the circumstances we are interested to hear from players which of the following you would prefer for next season’s event.

  1. Three-day event, with a high limit on entry numbers (80+)

A similar format to this year with at least two sessions to be completed on Friday. This would allow us to accept a very high number of entries and finish each day at a reasonable time.

  1. Two-day event, with a lower limit on entry numbers (approx. 60)

To return to a two-day event, but with a significantly lower amount of players allowed to enter and a strict limit imposed on a first-come, first-served basis. Reduced numbers compared to 2018 and 2019 would allow us to maintain a reasonable schedule.

We look forward to receiving your feedback.

WDBS Team.