Category: General News

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.

Disability Snooker Champions Crowned in Gloucester

The Parris Cues Champion of Champions returned to Gloucester’s South West Snooker Academy last weekend as six titles were contested between the strongest players on the 360Fizz World Disability Billiards and Snooker (WDBS) circuit over the past two seasons.

Following last season’s spectacular event at the same venue, the 2019 competition once again brought together up to four players each from six regular disability classification groups, including physical, sensory and learning disabilities.

Once again players fought to secure the spectacular Nick Oliver Trophy (learn more about Nick and his story here), with five of this year’s six tournaments won by new players compared to 2018.

Physical disabilities

India’s Aslam Abubaker claimed victory in the Groups 1-2 wheelchair competition for the first time at the Champion of Champions with a 9-4 victory against Shahab Siddiqui.

Following the late withdrawals of defending champion Daniel Lee and Daniel Luton, the remaining twosome were able to play a three-session final across the weekend to determine this year’s winner.

The pair could not be separated after their first session as they finished locked at 2-2, before Abubaker edged the second to secure an overnight 5-3 advantage. Although Siddiqui fought hard to the end, it was Abubaker who was able to add the four frames that he needed on day two to secure his second WDBS title of the season and third in total.

In the Group 4-5 competition for players with ambulant disabilities there was also a new champion crowned as Preston’s Mickey Chambers defeated William Thomson 4-1 to secure his first title of the season.

The pair came through a fiercely contested group which saw 10-time WDBS champion Daniel Blunn and defending champion David Church both fail to progress to the final, before Chambers added a second victory of the weekend against Scotland’s Thomson to seal glory.

Learning disabilities

For the first time at the Champion of Champions Group 6 was split into separate competitions for players with learning disabilities (6A) and autism (6B), in keeping with other events on the WDBS calendar.

In Group 6A it was Mike Busst who emerged victorious following a 4-2 victory against Mohammed Faisal Butt to win his first WDBS title since last year’s Hull Open.

The pair, who have dominated their group having between them claimed each of the last six 6A titles, once again progressed to the title match having eliminated Michael Farrell and Warren Ealy at the round robin stages.

Their final was close throughout as the first four frames were shared, but it was Busst who crucially claimed the last two to secure the biggest title of his WDBS career to date.

Meanwhile in Group 6B there was a fifth success for Leroy Williams who maintained his strong form on the circuit with an 8-4 success against Peter Geronimo.

Both players came through a three-player group with wins against Christopher Goldsworthy to set up an extended best of 15 frame final to be played during the final day of the tournament.

After Williams secured an early 4-1 advantage, former Humber Classic champion Geronimo claimed back-to-back frames to reduce his arrears and keep in the match.

From there however it was Williams who would dominate, taking the final four frames to secure his third title of the season and reinforce his status as the player to beat in his group.

Sensory disabilities

Coventry’s Nick Neale became the only player to successfully defend his Champion of Champions title following a comprehensive 5-0 whitewash of Ronnie Allen in the Group 7 final.

Having come through the group stages against Mike Gillespie and event debutant Gary Gallacher, the pair met in a repeat of several recent finals including the UK Disability Championship and Welsh Open tournaments held during the past two months.

Ultimately it would be Neale who would prevail once again to secure his ninth WDBS title, moving him to within one of all-time record holder Daniel Blunn. Neale also secured the week-high break with a run of 61 during the group stages, also against Allen.

Finally, the Group 8 competition for deaf players was won by Shabir Ahmed, who avenged his defeat last season to Lewis Knowles with a hard-fought 8-5 success in this year’s final.

Having defeated Derby Open winner Nick Cash and former Hull Open champion Blake Munton to progress, the most successful two Group 8 players in the four-year history of the WDBS would contest an entertaining final which swung one way and then the other.

Ahmed, who came into the final as an eight-time champion, raced into leads of 5-1 and 6-2 before his opponent hit back with three in a row to close the gap to just one frame. It was Blackburn’s Ahmed however who would hold his nerve, claiming the final two frames to win the title for the first time.

As in 2018, this year’s event was generously sponsored Parris Cues and each player received their own keepsake trophy in recognition of their achievement, as well as being presented with the perpetual Nick Oliver Trophy, which will have the names of each of this year’s winners engraved on its base following this event.

The 360Fizz WDBS circuit continues with the Hull Open which includes Group 7-8 tournaments from 15-17 November, the final event of the calendar year. Entries for the event are being accepted online HERE.

Field Set for Parris Cues Champion of Champions 2019

There is less than one week to go until the second staging of the Parris Cues Champion of Champions by World Disability Billiards and Snooker (WDBS) and we can today confirm the 23-player field who will compete at the event this year.

As in 2018, six tournaments will be held at the South West Snooker Academy in Gloucester from 12-13 October, with the most successful players from the previous two years invited to compete.

Each of the tournaments will begin with a round-robin group stage, with the top two players at the end of the group to contest a title match to decide the Champion of Champions for each classification.

The players who will be competing are:

Groups 1-2

Aslam Abubaker, Shahab Siddiqui, Danny Luton

Groups 4-5

Daniel Blunn, William Thomson, Mickey Chambers, David Church

Group 6A

Faisal Butt, Mike Busst, Michael Farrell, Warren Ealy

Group 6B

Leroy Williams, Peter Geronimo, Christopher Goldsworthy*

Group 7

Gary Gallacher, Nick Neale, Ronnie Allen, Mike Gillespie

Group 8

Shabir Ahmed, Lewis Knowles, Blake Munton, Nicholas Cash

*only three players will contest Group 6B due to the non-entry of the remaining eligible players

As previously stated, this year’s event will not include tournaments for Groups 3 and 7A due to only one counting event having been played for each category following the changes to the WDBS Classification system made this year. Results from tournaments already played will however be carried forward to next year’s Champion of Champions event.

In addition to becoming champion of their respective groups, this year’s winners will each be presented with the perpetual Nick Oliver Trophy and will receive a keepsake trophy to take home and keep.

Further tournament information, including the prize money schedule and match schedule will be published in due course.

Hull Open – Enter Now

Entries are now being accepted for the Hull Open which will return to the Tradewell Snooker Club for its fourth staging from 15-17 November 2019.

As in previous years, 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 weekend itself will then see competitive tournaments staged for deaf and visually impaired players (WDBS Classification Groups 7-8) from Saturday morning, with everyone guaranteed snooker across both days.

As in 2018, the event will be sponsored by Humber Fish Co. The popular local restaurant provides relaxed informal dining specialising in locally sourced seafood and crustacea, having gone from strength to strength since its opening in 2018.

WDBS to Partner Cerebral Palsy Sport

World Disability Billiards and Snooker (WDBS) is today delighted to announce a new partnership with Cerebral Palsy Sport which will see both organisations join forces and work together to raise the profile of snooker and billiards and the opportunities for people with cerebral palsy and associated physical impairments.

Cerebral Palsy Sport will support our upcoming Stockport Open event next January at Hazel Grove Snooker Club and we are pleased to announce that Cerebral Palsy Sport members will receive a discounted entry of just £5.00 to compete at the event.

Several players with cerebral palsy already compete on the 360Fizz WDBS circuit, including our record 10-time champion Daniel Blunn, who recently provided a blog which will be published at the Cerebral Palsy Sport website describing his journey with WDBS and why he would encourage others to take up the sport.

For more information about Cerebral Palsy Sport click HERE.

Success for UK Disability Snooker Championship

The latest World Disability Billiards and Snooker (WDBS) champions were crowned last weekend at the 360Fizz UK Disability Snooker Championship in Northampton.

Held at Barratts Snooker Club, the fifth staging of the event previously known as the Open Disability Snooker Championship received entries from almost 70 players as the competition was held over three days for the first time. Eight separate tournaments were held across a range of disability classification profiles, as well as a Challenge Cup for players who did not progress to the final day.

The weekend also featured a special open day which features support by the Motor Neurone Disease Association and sessions led by WPBSA World Snooker coach Steve Rutter to introduce newcomers with disabilities to the sport.

Wheelchair (Groups 1-2)

Tony Southern earned his second WDBS title this weekend in the Groups 1-2 wheelchair classification following a 3-0 victory against Shahab Siddiqui in the final.

It was Siddiqui who won the group stage clash with Southern as the pair both progressed to semi-finals against Danny Luton and Aslam Abubaker respectively.

Having come through a tight semi-final with Abubaker decided on the colours however, it was Liverpool’s Southern who turned the tables in the title match to claim his first silverware since the Belgian Open back in March.

Ambulant (Groups 3-5)

There was also a second WDBS title earned by Nigel Coton in Group 3 as he resisted a brave fightback by John Teasdale to win 4-3 on Sunday.

Coton, whose previous WDBS title came three years ago at this event, made the stronger start to the final as he took three of the first four frames to lead 3-1, before Teasdale responded by taking the match to a decider.

It would though be Coton who would prevail, to make it three different winners in the classification group since its restructure earlier this year.

In Group 4 there was a record tenth title for Daniel Blunn after the 28-year-old defeated Andy Johnson 3-0 to maintain his dominance in the category.

Having progressed from his group for the loss of just a single frame, Blunn then saw off Nigel Brasier and David Church to reach the final, while Johnson defeated Ben Rawson and former professional star Dean Reynolds to join him there.

Despite a close second frame, it would be Blunn who would run out a comfortable 3-0 winner in what was a repeat of the 2018 Welsh Open final to make it a perfect 10 on tour.

There was an all-new final in Group 5 as David Langridge defeated debutant Dean Simmons 3-1 to win his maiden WDBS title.

Langridge, who himself made his debut at this event 12 months ago, enjoyed a strong weekend overall as he progressed from the group stage without the loss of a frame, before again overcoming Simmons in the final to claim victory.

Learning disabilities (Groups 6A-6B)

Mohammed Faisal Butt made it four victories in a row in Group 6A after he defeated Mike Busst 3-1 in the final.

The pair, who have now met in four of the past five WDBS finals in this category, progressed to the semi-finals and defeated Warren Ealy and Liam Crook respectively to set up another title match.

The opening frame was won convincingly by Busst, before Butt rebounded by taking the next three to claim another title in the category.

There was also a fourth WDBS title in Group 6B for Leroy Williams after he defeated Peter Geronimo 4-1 in the final.

The pair saw off Kieran Richards-Witham and Matthew Haslam in the semi-finals, before Williams came out on top to secure his third title of the calendar year.

Sensory disabilities (Groups 7-8)

There were familiar winners in the two sensory competitions in Northampton after Nick Neale and Shabir Ahmed added further titles to their respective honours lists.

In Group 7 it was Neale who defeated Ronnie Allen 4-1 in a repeat of last month’s Welsh Open final to claim his eighth WDBS title for players with visual impairments.

Ahmed meanwhile saw off a familiar final opponent in the shape of Lewis Knowles with a 3-1 win to also claim his eighth Group 8 crown and second in the space of a month following his success at the Disability Tour Championship held at the Crucible Theatre in August.

In the Challenge Cup there was a maiden WDBS victory for Steve Cartwright, who edged out Blake Munton in a single-frame final.

The next event on the 360Fizz WDBS Tour will be the Parris Cues Champion of Champions, to be held at the South West Snooker Academy from 12-13 October 2019.

 

WDBS and Redz Agree Long-Term Partnership

World Disability Billiards and Snooker (WDBS) is today delighted to announce a new five-year agreement with Redz Snooker Club for the ongoing staging of the its popular Welsh Open event.

The tournament in Cwmbran was recently held for the third time as visually impaired champion Nick Neale emerged victorious from a field of 53 players. Open to players from all WDBS classification groups, the event has previously been won by ambulant player Daniel Blunn and wheelchair king Daniel Lee.

Since the first WDBS event at the venue in 2017, the club has been proactive in enhancing its facilities during that time, with the addition of modern lighting blocks on several tables and, more recently, an alteration to its toilet facilities to ensure these are accessible to wheelchair users.

The latter improvements commanded a significant investment from the club and in recognition of this and the new long-term partnership announced today, the WDBS board has agreed to make a contribution towards these costs.  These club facility upgrades significantly improve the tournament experience for players and also provide a long-term cost benefit due to no longer requiring the hire of accessible portaloos for the event.

Nigel Mawer, WDBS Chairman said: “The extension of one of our most long-standing and popular events is extremely positive news for WDBS and most importantly our players for whom this event has become a regular fixture on the calendar.

“As well as staging competitive tournaments for our players, equally our goal is to help to improve playing facilities for people with disabilities and this is a fantastic example of how we are able to achieve this.

“I would like to thank both Will, Jason and their team at Redz for their hospitality over the past three years and I look forward to many more successful WDBS events to come in Cwmbran.”

Will Edwards, Owner of Redz Snooker Club said: “We were motivated to making the accessibility changes in part due to hosting WDBS events, but also to help regular club members such as Craig Welsh who is a wheelchair user.

“The tournaments have opened our eyes to the needs of wheelchairs users and other players with disabilities.  We have recognised that we need to offer spaces where these players feel comfortable, as opposed to having to leave the premises.”

Jason Coughlin, Manager at Redz Snooker Club said: “We have had a good response to the new accessibility.  Even before our recent WDBS event, we held a World Billiards tournament which was attended by wheelchair user supporting the competition.  He was very impressed with the accessibility.

“It has been an enjoyable experience for us to host WDBS events.  We see smiles on the faces of the players.  It’s a family and we’re pleased to be part of that.  In our third year, it’s nice to recognise returning players and supporters and we are pleased that this will continue over the next five years.”

Read more about this season’s Welsh Open staged last month HERE.

Nigel Brasier Q&A

Next month’s 360Fizz UK Disability Snooker Championship marks the first anniversary since Nigel Brasier joined the World Disability Billiards and Snooker (WDBS) circuit.

Having since established himself as a regular competitor on tour, this year’s event in Northampton will be extra special for the Spalding native as its Friday Open Day will be supported by a charity close to his heart, the Motor Neurone Disease Association (MNDA).

We recently caught up with Nigel to talk about his love for snooker and the importance of both the MNDA and WDBS to him.

Hi Nigel, how excited are you that the MNDA will be supporting us next month in Northampton?

I am very excited and extremely proud that MNDA is supporting the 360 Fizz UK Disability Snooker Championship in Northampton. I have put a lot of time and effort into raising awareness and much needed funds for MNDA and this competition is a fantastic opportunity to raise awareness of such a horrific disease.

The event marks the first anniversary of your WDBS debut – what has WDBS meant to you over the last 12 months?

Yes, Northampton 2018 is where it all began for me. A chance meeting with [Group 3 player] Joe Hardstaff in a club in Boston, Lincolnshire, is where the seed was sown. I got talking to Joe and he told me all about WDBS and here I am!

WDBS is just like one big family, I will never forget how welcome I was made to feel on my first day at Barratts Snooker Club. It was mind-blowing to see so many people with various disabilities enjoying each other’s company whilst playing the game they love. Snooker helps me focus and takes my mind off the illness I have and WDBS has given me even more opportunities to do this.

How long have you played snooker and what is it that you most enjoy about our sport?

I have been playing snooker since I first had a 6ft table in my bedroom when I was eight years old. My passion for the game started when I first saw my hero Alex Higgins play. I love the buzz of trying to pot as many balls as I can, although I do like a good safety battle too and really enjoyed my match against ex-professional Dean Reynolds in Hull.

What has been the impact of MND upon your snooker?

I have a slower version of Motor Neurone Disease called Primary Lateral Sclerosis (PLS). The nerves from the brain and spinal cord stop working properly, which causes muscle waste and eventually you become locked in your own body, it’s only the mind that will function normally. The impact this has on my snooker so far is that both my legs have become weak and I walk with metal splints to keep my feet up. I suffer from fatigue and also fasciculation (muscle twitching all over my body). This requires 110% concentration and is not visible when I play.

Of course, you are no stranger to snooker competitions and you have run events in the past to raise awareness of the MNDA…

The MNDA has supported me over the years with my quality of life because I do not work and has also provided me with huge support for my ever-growing fundraising activities.

Every October I organise a fundraising snooker competition in aid of the MNDA which will reach its fifth year on 12th October 2019. One night after a league match, I had a weird dream of holding a fundraising competition. The next morning, I put pen to paper and with support of friends and members of our Spalding & District Snooker League my fundraising was born.

So far I have raised approximately £12,000 in four years. Each year I have 42 entries and start play from 9.00am until the finish. It’s hard work but worth every effort to help others like myself and their families.

What are your future goals at WDBS events?

It would mean the world to me if I could win a competition or two. WDBS has become like a snooker family to me and from the first day I walked into Barratts last year the friendship has grown and grown.

I play to win but the social and friendship side are the real winners for me.

Nigel will be among those in action at the 360Fizz UK Disability Championship from 20-22 September 2019. Entry for the event is still open HERE.