Category: Events

Swail Supports WDBS

Two-time World Championship semi-finalist Joe Swail has offered his support to World Disability Billiards and Snooker and encouraged players to take part in upcoming events in Gloucester and Hull.

The Northern Irishman, who reached a career-high world ranking of number 10 during the 2001/02 season, was born partially deaf in both ears and says that his results are proof that a disability doesn’t have to hold people back.

“I would definitely encourage players to take part in WDBS events,” said Swail. “The most important thing for players is to enjoy it and if they have got a talent then they should have the chance to progress.

“I’m a firm believer that a disability shouldn’t hinder what you are going to achieve in life. I’ve been a professional for over 25 years now and my disability has never held me back.”

In fact, Swail is philosophical about the effects of his disability and the other related conditions that have developed in recent years, including tinnitus and vertigo.

“I have been partially deaf since birth and it is just one of those things that has deteriorated over the years. It has been a progression and there are connected conditions that have affected me in different ways, but I have learned to deal with it. It is a disability but it is the same as with a lot of other people who have other sensory impairments or physical impairments, you just learn to deal with what you have got, to reflect on the good days, appreciate it’s not the be all and end all, and move on with life which is what I’ve done.”

Photo of Joe Swail playing snooker

Rather than hinder his snooker career, for Swail his disability was one of the reason why he first took up the sport when he was approximately 12-years-old. His older brother Liam is fully deaf in both ears and himself was a talented snooker player, having hit 300 century breaks prior to his 16th birthday. Sadly he was not able to join Joe on the professional circuit following a serious road accident, but their shared passion for the sport was something that helped drive Joe to his achievements so far during his professional career.

“I got involved with snooker because I knew early on that I wouldn’t be able to do a ‘9 to 5’ job which would have required good hearing and patience. With snooker however the silent surroundings and requirement of concentration suited me. My mates were moving on with different things, moving to college and I knew I wouldn’t be capable or have the confidence to do that. But it was snooker that gave me a new lease of life.

“My brother was a fantastic snooker player and we competed against each other as kids. He would want to beat me and I would want to beat him. Unfortunately I lost a lot of games on the 6 foot table, but we spurred each other on and made sure that our disabilities weren’t going to stop us doing what we wanted to do.”

From both his own personal experience and that of his brother, the player nicknamed ‘the Outlaw’ believes that snooker is an ideal sport for people with hearing impairments:

“You are just playing a game that you both enjoy, you know how to play it, you know what you want to try and do and you don’t actually have to try and talk to people. It’s definitely a great hobby for deaf people to get involved with because they are playing the game that they love and they are having a bit of craic as well without having to engage in communication by speaking to one another because you are limited that way.”

The next WDBS event open to players with hearing impairments (group 8 players), will be the WDBS Hull Open from 11-13 November 2016. Read more and learn how you can enter now.

WDBS Partners With Special Olympics Network

World Disability Billiards and Snooker (WDBS) is today delighted to announce a new partnership with Special Olympics Gloucestershire.

Photograph of group 6 players at South West Snooker AcademySpecial Olympics is an international organisation providing year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. WDBS is a subsidiary body of the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA) and was created in July 2015 to provide opportunities for people with disabilities to play snooker.

The agreement will see the WDBS work closely with Special Olympics Gloucestershire on innovative new projects in the local area which will provide opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities to play snooker. This will also include the support of the upcoming Learning Disability Snooker Festival at the WDBS Open Disability Snooker Championship at the South West Snooker Academy on 14th October 2016.

The new partnership underlines the commitment of the WDBS to provide opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities to access high-quality sports coaching and competition programmes.

Chris Hornby, Sport Development Manager for the WPBSA said: “WDBS is committed to offering opportunities for all and as we started out in Gloucestershire at the South West Snooker Academy it is an ideal location for us to grow connections with other organisations.

Photo of the WDBS team“Active Gloucestershire has been very supportive of WDBS and especially looking at opportunities for us to offer snooker to people with learning disabilities. Hopefully this link with Special Olympics Gloucestershire can be the starting point for people with learning disabilities not only in Gloucestershire, but nationally to try, enjoy, compete and benefit from what the sport of snooker can offer.”

Jenny Rutter from Active Gloucestershire and regional Special Olympics Development Officer for Gloucestershire added: “We are delighted the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association is now part of the Special Olympics Gloucestershire network. Their ethos to provide inclusive activity and disability specific competition routes encompasses our aims.

“At the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Los Angeles, California, 115 athletes represented Great Britain earning 179 medals. None of the athletes who competed were from Gloucestershire.

“Special Olympics Gloucestershire is working to change this by creating partnerships between national governing bodies of sports, local organisations, community groups and sports clubs. We are forming a countywide network bound by one common goal: to create more opportunities for individuals with a learning disability to be active within their local community and compete in sport to the level they desire.”

To learn more about the Special Olympics visit their official website:

Hull to Stage WDBS Event

World Disability Billiards and Snooker will stage an event in Kingston-upon-Hull for the first time this November.

Click HERE to download the entry pack for the WDBS Hull Open


The Tradewell Snooker Club

The WDBS Hull Open will be open to players of classification groups 7-8 and will be played at the Tradewell Snooker Club, located in the East Yorkshire city which has been named as the UK City of Culture for 2017.

The main two-day competition will be held on 12-13 November 2016 and will be the second WDBS event open to players with either visual or hearing impairments, following the Woking Open in May. At that event, Hull’s Lee Douglas finished as runner-up in the group eight tournament and was one of three players from the city to take part.

As at previous events, there will also be an open day held on Friday 11 November, at which people with any disability are encouraged to try snooker and receive free coaching from accredited WPBSA World Snooker coaches.

Entries for the event close on 4 November 2016.

Tradewell Snooker Centre features 14 full-size snooker tables (including one Star table), in addition to pool and darts facilities, with hot food served throughout the day.

Read about the WDBS Woking Open, our previous event held for groups 7-8 players.

WDBS Returns to Gloucester

The second WDBS Open Disability Snooker Championship will take place on 14-16 October 2016 at the South West Snooker Academy in Gloucester.

As in 2015, the main two-day weekend competition will be open to classification groups 1-5 as set out within the WDBS classification system. This includes those who have physical disabilities and are either ambulant or wheelchair players.

For the first time there will also be a Learning Disability Snooker Festival held from 10:00am on Friday 14 October. At this session people with learning disabilities (classification group six) will be able to get involved with fun games and competitions, receive coaching and also take part in a formal six reds competition.

As at previous WDBS competitions, there will also be an open day at which people with any disability are encouraged enjoy free practice and coaching from accredited WPBSA World Snooker coaches. This will start at 2:00pm, also on Friday 14 October.

Click HERE to download the entry pack for the groups 1-5 event

Click HERE to download the entry pack for the learning disabilities (group 6) event

One of the players looking forward to returning to Gloucester is Daniel Blunn, who won the Group 3 classification competition at the 2015 event.

“You could also see how well-run the event was and just what a great venue it was,” said Blunn “They have all been good but I remember that one in particular – and not just because I won! I could see that it was the start of something big.”

Players are to note that for a limited time only, a discounted room rate is available at the nearby Holiday Inn Express of £60.00 per night. To receive this rate, rooms must be booked no later than 30 days prior to the event.

The South West Snooker Academy provides world class practice and playing facilities, featuring Star tables fitted to World Snooker specifications. The venue is a WPBSA Accredited Centre of Excellence, the first of its kind in Europe.

For a re-cap of the 2015 tournament please click here.

Landmark WDBS Event Staged in Woking

World Disability Billiards and Snooker (WDBS) held its third event at the Woking Snooker Centre in Surrey last weekend.

The three-day competition was a landmark event for WDBS, as it was the first open to disability classification groups incorporating visual impairments, hearing impairments and learning disabilities.


Players received coaching throughout the weekend

Following an Open Day at which players with all disabilities were able to practice and receive free coaching from accredited coaches, the main competition then saw tournaments staged for each of the three disability groups over Saturday and Sunday. A separate Challenge Cup event was also contested by players who had not progressed to their respective finals.

The Group 7 competition for players with visual impairments was won by Paul Smith, who defeated David Baker 4-1. In the final frame of the match, Smith came from behind to force a re-spotted black, which he subsequently potted to secure victory.

Smith, who lost one eye in a shooting accident when he was 10, has previously competed on the main tour during the early 1990’s, when he played against the likes of current professionals Mike Dunn and four-time world champion John Higgins.

“It was a great event,” said Smith. “The people were lovely and it was a real eye-opener to see how players were able to cope and how well they can play.”

“I had a lovely weekend there with my fiancée Melanie who always brings me luck and it was nice to win with the support of people like former world number three Neal Foulds, who was keeping an eye on my results and giving me some friendly banter!”


David Ingham won Group 8

Group 8, for players with hearing impairments was won 3-2 by David Ingham against Hull’s Lee Douglas in the competition final.

Ingham trailed 2-1 in their best of five frames final, but responded to force a deciding frame, which he would eventually win by potting the final black up into the green pocket to end a dramatic match.

A day earlier, Group 6 concluded with a 2-0 victory for David Barrett against Richard Yendle. The match was deceptively close with both frames coming down to the colours, but it was Barrett who would win both to claim victory.

Originally from Dublin, Ireland, Barrett is now based in Sussex and practises with the likes of Jimmy Robertson and Mark Davis at O’Sullivans Snooker & Pool Club in Bexhill.

Finally, the Challenge Cup was won by Gary Gallacher, who defeated Kal Mattu in a one-frame final. Gallacher had competed in the group 7 competition earlier in the weekend, in which he had taken eventual champion Paul Smith to a deciding frame in their round robin match, before ultimately just missing on a place in the final.

The weekend was supported by WPBSA World Snooker coaches Tim Squires, Bob Hill and Danielle Findlay, who provided free coaching to all players. Further assistance was welcomed by several players from classification groups 1-5 who were not eligible to compete in the main competition, but were keen to support the event as coaches and officials.


Mayor of Woking Anne Murray with WDBS Chairman Nigel Mawer

The event was also visited by Jonathan Lord MP for Woking and the 43rd Mayor of Woking Anne Murray, who were both given a tour of the venue and introduced to players and officials.

WDBS director Bob Hill said: “This tournament further strengthened the ambition of the WDBS to develop new opportunities for people with disabilities to play snooker and highlighted the inclusive nature of the sport.

“The event demonstrated the wide range of benefits for those taking part, including developing new skills, passion for a sport, the chance to integrate and socialise with others and the opportunity to be understood and celebrated for one’s abilities.

Hill, who provides coaching in Bristol, Bath and North Somerset, was accompanied by players from one of his snooker groups who participated in the Group 6 event and he was delighted with the experience that they had.

Bob Hill and the Group 6 players

Bob Hill and the Group 6 players

“Everyone in the group thoroughly enjoyed competing in the first WDBS tournament of this kind,” added Hill. “It was a really well organised event and a great atmosphere to play in. The sporting spirit shown by all the players was incredible and the excellent support from the volunteers and referees gave everyone an equal chance to compete.”

The next WDBS event will be the second Open Disability Snooker Championship, which will be held at the South West Snooker Academy on 14-16 October 2016. The event is set to be open to group 1-5 players, however as in Woking players of other categories are encouraged to attend to provide support and play throughout the open day.

To view images from each of the three days in Woking at our facebook page please visit the following links:

Woking Hosts WDBS Open Day

The 2016 Woking Open began yesterday with the latest WDBS Open Day for people with all disabilities to try snooker.

Held at the Woking Snooker Centre ahead of a two-day tournament this weekend, the event saw a mix of players across different age groups, with experienced players and students from local snooker taking to the baize.


Woking MP Jonathan Lord meets members of the Hull Deaf Centre taking part in the Open Day

The day was supported by WPBSA World Snooker coaches Tim Squires, Bob Hill and Dannie Findlay, who were available to provide free coaching throughout the day. Also in attendance was MP for Woking Jonathan Lord, who met with staff and officials during the afternoon.

The Woking Open is the first WDBS tournament open to players falling under classification groups 6-8, i.e. visual impairments (Group 7), hearing impairments (Group 8) and people with learning disabilities (Group 6).

To view a full album of photographs from the Open Day please visit our Facebook page, which together with our official Twitter feed will provide updated news and results from the main competition throughout the weekend.


Woking Open 2016: Entry Pack Now Available

The entry pack for the WDBS Woking Open 2016 to be staged at the Woking Snooker Centre, Surrey is now available to download.

The event will take place between 20-22 May and will be the first event open to groups 6-8 in accordance with the WDBS classification system. This includes those who are partially sighted, have a hearing impairment or an intellectual impairment, although people with any disability are encouraged to attend the open day on Friday 20th May.

Click HERE to download the entry pack

Please email with all enquiries as to entry.

To read the full report from the recent Manchester Classic event please click here.

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.