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