Category: General News

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.

Ahmed Storms to Crucible Glory

Shabir Ahmed won the inaugural Disability Tour Championship at the Crucible Theatre following victories against Nick Neale and Daniel Blunn on Sunday afternoon.

The all-new event saw four of the most successful players on the World Disability Billiards and Snooker (WDBS) circuit since its inception in 2015 invited to compete in a special showcase of disability snooker at the spiritual home of the sport.

The first semi-final of the day saw record nine-time WDBS champion Daniel Blunn take on Preston’s Mickey Chambers, who came into the event undefeated having won each of his previous competitions.

It was Blunn who edged a tense opening frame, before Chambers dominated the second to force a black ball re-spot. Both having had chances to come out victorious, it was Blunn who sunk the black with an impressive long pot to book his place in the final.

There he would face Blackburn’s Shabir Ahmed, who also came through a black ball respot against fellow sensory champion Nick Neale to progress to the title match.

As with the Women’s Tour Championship staged a day previously, the final was contested as a one-frame shoot out and it was Ahmed who quickly took control and ran out as champion.

The tournament was held as part of this year’s ROKiT World Seniors Snooker Championship, which has seen 20 of the world’s best over-40 players compete in Sheffield this week with live coverage in the UK and Ireland broadcast by Freesports TV.

The 360Fizz WDBS Tour returns next month with the 360Fizz UK Disability Snooker Championship to be held at Barratts Snooker Club in Northampton. Enter online HERE.

Disability Snooker Open Day Held in Beijing

People with disabilities were given the opportunity to try snooker at a special open day staged at the Beijing Disability Sports Centre earlier today.

The event was organised by the China Administration of Sport for Persons with Disabilities (CASPD), the Chinese Billiards and Snooker Association (CBSA) and the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association and its subsidiary company World Disability Billiards and Snooker, which donated the tables used.

Participants were encouraged to pick up a cue and try snooker under the guidance of qualified CBSA coaches, as well as being given the opportunity to watch the ongoing International Championship event online through partner companies of World Snooker, Youki, Zhibo.tv and Rigour Media.

The activity follows an initial open day held last year at the WPBSA-CBSA World Snooker Academy also in Beijing, which was attended by WDBS Chairman Nigel Mawer and WPBSA Sport Development Manager Chris Hornby.

The WPBSA is currently working to finalise an agreement with both the CASPD and CBSA to promote disability snooker permanently in China, with tables being installed in training centres in Beijing and Shanghai.

360Fizz UK Disability Snooker Championship: Enter Now

Entries are now being accepted for this season’s 360Fizz UK Disability Snooker Championship, the latest event to be staged by World Disability Billiards and Snooker (WDBS), which will take place from 20-22 September 2019.

Previously staged as the Open Disability Snooker Championship for the past four years, the event has been newly rebranded to become the 360Fizz UK Disability Snooker Championship and will return to Barratts Snooker Club in Northampton next month.

As in 2018, the event will be open to players from all eight disability classification groups, however unlike the recent Welsh Open, players will compete within their own disability classification groups with matches to be played under the full 15-Red format of the game.

Following last year’s action-packed event which received a record 79 entries, the main competition will for the first time now be staged across three days, with the first competitive matches to break-off at 2:00pm on the Friday. We anticipate that the vast majority of players will be required to play at least one match on the Friday.

With high-demand expected for the tournament and additional time required to schedule all matches, we have set an earlier entry deadline for this event than normal – Friday 6th September 2019.

The event will once again by title sponsored by 360Fizz, the successful promotion, marketing and management agency which is the overall tour sponsor of the 360Fizz WDBS Tour.

Open Day in Association with the Motor Neurone Disease Association

Prior to the start of the main tournament on Friday afternoon will be our regular Friday Open Day, with people with all disabilities encouraged to come and try snooker, whether for the first time or with previous experience. WPBSA World Snooker coach Steve Rutter and his team will be on hand to provide advice and guidance, as well as run fun games and activities.

For the first time the day will be supported by the Motor Neurone Disease Association (MNDA) following an introduction made by regular player Nigel Brasier, who made his debut at this event in 2018. Members of staff from the MNDA will be on site to raise awareness of the condition and the organisation itself.

Further information

If you are a new player considering entering the event and are unsure of anything, please do not hesitate to contact us via our website or social media.

Champion of Champions to Return to Gloucester

World Disability Billiards and Snooker (WDBS) is today pleased to confirm that this season’s Parris Cues Champion of Champions event will return to the South West Snooker Academy in Gloucester following its successful first staging last year.

In a change to the previously announced dates – the prestigious event will run from 12-13 October 2019, a week earlier than originally advertised.

This year’s competition will see the most decorated players on the WDBS circuit from the past two seasons invited to compete across six individual competitions, with the winners set to see their names inscribed on the stunning Nick Oliver Trophy.

The players who will be invited to compete in this year’s event are:

Groups 1-2

Daniel Lee, Aslam Abubaker, Kurt Deklerck, Shahab Siddiqui*

*Tony Southern has already indicated that he will not be available to compete

Groups 4-5

Daniel Blunn, Mickey Chambers, William Thomson, David Church.

Group 6A

Faisal Butt, Mike Busst, David Mac, Michael Farrell.

Group 6B

Daniel Harwood, Leroy Williams, Peter Geronimo, Andrew Galley.

Group 7

Nick Neale, Paul Smith, Ronnie Allen, Mike Gillespie.

Group 8

Shabir Ahmed, Blake Munton, Nicholas Cash, Lewis Knowles.

WDBS can confirm that 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.

Each of the players listed above will be contacted to confirm their entry to the event in due course. Should any player not be available their place will be taken by the next player on the qualification list from that group.

Read our report of last season’s Champion of Champions HERE.

Seventh Wonder for Neale in Cwmbran

Nick Neale was in seventh heaven as he defeated Ronnie Allen 3-0 to claim the prestigious Welsh Open 2019 title at Redz Snooker Club in Cwmbran last weekend; the second stop on the 2019/20 360Fizz World Disability Billiards and Snooker (WDBS) circuit.

Over 50 players representing several different disability groups and profiles featured in the third edition of this annual 6-Red extravaganza. Due to the unique and unpredictable nature of the competition, several intriguing stories developed throughout the weekend in South Wales.

There was no such drama for Birmingham cueist Neale early on, though, as he qualified top of his five-player group despite losing his final fixture to Tony Davies. Seeded through to the last 16 of the knockout phase, he ended the hopes of host nation debutant Nicholas Sutton, 3-0.

Relentless Neale continued his quest for title number seven by defeating David Weller and Lee Finbow, both 3-0, in the quarter and semi-finals respectively. Finbow had enjoyed a particularly impressive weekend after eliminating the all-time WDBS title record holder and 2017 Welsh Open champion Daniel Blunn in the last eight, resulting in him being the best performing deaf competitor.

Home Hero Allen

A familiar face awaited Neale in the final as he crossed cues with fellow Group 7B (visually impaired) cueist Ronnie Allen, who was proudly flying the flag in his home event.

Allen, the chairman of Welsh Snooker, overcame the odds on more than one occasion with a terrific run of results. After not dropping a single frame in his group, he upstaged Shabir Ahmed, Lewis Knowles and David Church – all former WDBS main event winners – consecutively in the knockouts.

Reaching his third career main event final on the circuit, the Welshman was poised to upset the applecart and take the opening frame as he led by 15 points with no reds left. However, Neale subsequently cleared the colours for a cool 27 clearance to snatch the frame on the black.

Again, Allen was keen in frame two, leading with just five colours remaining before Neale overtook him once more and doubled his lead on the pink. Perhaps buoyed by these close finishes, Neale sealed the third frame far more comfortably to confirm a 3-0 success.

This latest triumph, arguably one of his most significant on the WDBS scene given that the event is open to all groups, further extends Neale’s already staggering sequence of results over the past 12 months. The 46-year-old has now won the last five tournaments he has played in, and all seven of his career wins have come within the last two years. In fact, the only occasions that he didn’t take home the gold medal during that period came in the previous two stagings here where he lost in the quarter-finals both times.

With that record now set straight, Neale appears to be in fine form as he heads to the Crucible Theatre later this month as part of the special WDBS session to be held during the ROKiT World Seniors Championship on 18 August.

Following last year’s all-wheelchair final, players from seven groups made up the last 16 line-up in Cwmbran, this included Welsh newcomers Ashley Galliers and the aforementioned Sutton, who both finished top of their groups on Saturday.

Doubles Glory for Deaf Duo

As per tradition at this tournament, Sunday’s Challenge Cup – involving those who did not qualify for the knockout phase of the main – was a randomly drawn mixed classification doubles competition.

In an exciting climax, Group 8 pairing of Tony Davies and Gary Hunter ousted the team of Blake Munton and wheelchair player Chris Brown 2-1 in the final, on the last black.

Welsh Open 2019: Tournament Preview

The 2019/20 360Fizz World Disability Billiards and Snooker (WDBS) season continues this weekend with the all-groups Welsh Open event from Redz Snooker Club in Cwmbran.

Previously staged in 2017 and 2018, the Welsh Open adopts a different format to regular WDBS events with players from all eight disability classification groups drawn in a single mixed tournament. Add the fact that matches will be played under the 6-Red format of the game and impressive field of 54 players, we are set for an unpredictable weekend in Cwmbran

Despite that, the last two years have seen the tournament captured by regular winners on the WDBS circuit, firstly our now nine-time champion Daniel Blunn, before wheelchair king Daniel Lee picked up the baton last year in a remarkable tournament which saw seven of the eight classification groups represented at the quarter-final stage.

Open Day

Before the competitive action gets underway at the weekend, on Friday we host our latest Open Day where people with any disabilities are encouraged to come and try snooker. With a mixture of coaching drills and fun games on offer to suit individual needs at the WDBS Coaching Zone, we look forward to welcoming both individuals and groups to the day.

Main competition

The main tournament gets underway from 10:00am on Saturday morning with 54 players competing across 11 groups, the top two from each progressing to the knockout rounds.

As ever, it is a strong field with no fewer than 15 former main event champions set to battle it out to succeed Daniel Lee as champion. Among those who will be favoured to do so will of course include Daniel Blunn, winner of the event in 2017, as well as Group 7 king Nick Neale who has exited at the quarter-finals stage of this event during each of the past two years, but is otherwise undefeated on the Tour since May 2017.

Another serial winner looking to claim his first all-groups title will be Shabir Ahmed, who recently made a break of 114 during a practice match, while last year’s runner-up Aslam Abubaker will be looking to go one better, having already made a winning start to the season by claiming victory in Hull at last month’s Humber Classic.

As well as former champions the event will also welcome several other familiar faces, who will be joined by four players who will be competing at a WDBS event for the first time.

Throughout the three-day event you can view images and keep up-to-date with all the stories via our social media channels. For live scores, results, upcoming matches and latest standings please visit the World Disability Snooker and Billiards profile page on snookerscores.net.

Chambers to Complete Crucible Quartet

Preston’s Mickey Chambers will play at Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre for the first time next month during a special session to promote the 360Fizz World Disability Billiards and Snooker (WDBS) Tour.

A three-time event champion on the WDBS circuit, Chambers will take the place of Daniel Lee who unfortunately has had to withdraw from this year’s event due to personal reasons, and join Daniel Blunn, Nick Neale and Shabir Ahmed in lining up at the home of snooker from 10:00am on Sunday 18 August.

Chambers, who has also represented the England amputee football team with distinction, is currently undefeated at WDBS events and is set to make his debut at the WDBS Champion of Champions later this year.

Next month’s session in Sheffield will be held as part of the 2019 ROKiT World Seniors Snooker Championship, to be broadcast over four days, live on Freesports. Tickets are still available for just £1.47, when purchased with a full-price ticket for a session of the World Seniors Championship, which will feature all-time greats of the sport including Stephen Hendry and Jimmy White.

David Moore Q&A

Last month’s season opening Humber Classic competition saw six players walk away with main event honours across a range of physical and intellectual disability tournaments.

Perhaps the most remarkable success however was that enjoyed by Southampton’s David Moore, who claimed his maiden WDBS Group 5 victory, just months after a serious accident at work that left him with serious injuries including a fractured skull.

We caught up with David recently to look back on his success and his love of snooker…

David, you have made the perfect start to the new 360Fizz WDBS Tour season with your victory in Hull. How satisfying was it to finally break your duck on the circuit and claim your first title, particularly having missed out in two previous finals?

It was an extremely satisfying weekend for me to get the win, particularly after a long journey up to Hull from Southampton via train, underground and taxi. I felt very relaxed the whole weekend, the club [Tradewell Snooker Club] and its staff were very nice and welcoming.

It didn’t cross my mind as I got the final that it would be my third chance to try and finally win a tournament. But hopefully now I will kick on and win a few more!

Your success was of course all the more remarkable as it came off the back of a difficult few months for you after the accident that you suffered at work shortly after competing in Bruges. Tell us about the accident and the impact that had upon you.

The accident was an extremely difficult time, more so for my family as I don’t remember much of it at all. I had two ambulances, a fire engine and a helicopter out to me.

The first few days I had no idea who my own family were. I fractured my skull and broke my collarbone and shoulder. I am a lucky man and if I am honest the thing that is now affecting me the most is not being able to drive for six months.

At least when I got home from the hospital, I had a lot of snooker on the TV [during the Betfred World Championship] to keep me sane!

Was there a time that you thought you might not be able to play snooker again?

There was a lot of talk at hospital about whether I would be able to ever play again. My wife Lisa and my mum we’re very concerned because they know how much snooker means to me.

I never worried that I would try to play no matter what. When I got out of hospital I tried to play with my arm in extreme pain and hardly able to move. I didn’t pot anything, but I knew I’d get back to it.

How did you first become interested in snooker and why you still enjoy it today?

 I’ve loved snooker from as long as I can remember. My dad was a massive fan and a good player. He had so many trophies and whenever it was on TV, he would have it on, so I quickly caught the bug from him.

He taught me how the play snooker on a pool table at first. He always beat me and said it was the best way to learn. I still have a lot of his ways even now, not only the good habits as he hit the cue ball hard and played a lot side which is something that I do!

Unfortunately, he died when he was 41 and that’s why I still play, I think. He played for the team that I now captain, I think he’d be proud, our team has gone all the way to the top league in Southampton and won many cups.

How did you come across WDBS and how does your disability affect your snooker?

I first saw WDBS on TV at the World Championship in Sheffield. I was rained off at work as a window cleaner and I thought that it was something I would like to try. Seeing how players play the game with their disabilities was inspiring.

I have a disability called Poland syndrome which means from birth I have one hand a lot smaller than the other. This affects grip and carrying things. I also have no pectoral muscle in the same side of the body and that stops me from doing a lot of things. For example, I struggle with strength so sometimes I under hit shots and sometimes over hit which can be annoying!

Due to bullying when I was eight, I also lost the vision in my right eye so could probably play in another group but to me the Poland syndrome affects my snooker more.

It has been nearly three years since you made your debut at the 2016 Open Disability Snooker Championship in Gloucester. What have been the biggest changes that you have seen to tour since?

WDBS is getting bigger and bigger. The tour is now going to other countries and there are more and more opportunities to play.

It feels so professionally run. There are very good referees on the tour, a tournament director and the online coverage it gets is so good now. But most of all the players are getting better and more and more people coming to the events.

What is your favourite part of playing in WDBS events?

I love the fact that me and my wife have made new friends from this. I love playing snooker but the whole weekend is amazing.

In the morning I am having battles with people on the table and in the evening with the same people we’re out enjoying different restaurants and having a laugh.

Do you have any particular targets for the rest of the season?

I just want to improve. I’m a lucky man to still be able to play after the accident so I won’t beat myself up if this is my only win, but I will try my very best to win again.

After getting to the final of the Champion of Champions last year that’s definitely going to be a aim for me every season.

What would you say to people with disabilities who might be considering entering a WDBS event?

I would urge anyone considering it to just do it. The events are so much more than snooker, providing an opportunity to meet an amazing bunch of people.

The organisers are so friendly and will help in every way they can. Don’t get me wrong it’s competitive but winning isn’t everything and it is suitable for people of any ability.

The next WDBS event will be next month’s Welsh Open which is open to players from all WDBS classification groups. Enter now online: www.wdbs.info/tournament-entry/welsh-open-2019