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.
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.
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.”
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.
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
John Teasdale 58-56 Ricky Chilton (single frame)