Tag: Gary Gallacher

Disability Snooker Champions Decided in Derby

A trio of main event champions, each with their own intriguing stories, emerged from last weekend’s dramatic World Disability Billiards and Snooker (WDBS) Derby Open.

Supported by leading packaging company DS Smith, the event was held at the Cueball Derby, a regular tour stop featuring players with both visual (Group 7A/7B) and hearing impairments (Group 8). It was the final tournament of the 2018/19 WDBS campaign and the first to run a new system which saw Group 7 split into two competitions to reflect the classification structure run by British Blind Sport.

Group 7A – Glory for Gallacher

Gary Gallacher claimed his maiden WDBS main event title in the new Group 7A category.

Scotland’s Gallacher was already a two-time Challenge Cup winner in the past – his most recent being at the Southern Classic in Swindon during March – but this success represents his most significant accolade on the circuit so far.

The 57-year-old was supreme during the round robin phase, topping the group with a 100% record without dropping a frame. Qualifying for his first final at this level, Gallacher would face 2018 UK Open finalist Bob Craft, who finished second in the standings.

After the opening two frames of the final were shared, Gallacher fluked the final pink in frame three before sinking a terrific black to capitalise on his good fortune. He then added the fourth frame to seal his maiden crown.

During his earlier round robin win against Craft, Gallacher also made the highest break with an effort of 43.

Group 7B –  Neale defends

In the Group 7B classification, defending champion Nick Neale survived a comeback from Mike Gillespie in the final to retain the title.

Neale made light work of qualifying for the showpiece as he finished first in the round robin standings after winning all his fixtures 2-0. Following on from his heavy scoring at this same venue last year, the Birmingham cueist rattled in breaks of 82, 80, 80 and 75.

A repeat of the 2018 final in Derby materialised as 2017 champion Gillespie progressed in second; the deciding factor being a 2-0 group stage win over four-time WDBS victor Paul Smith, who missed out in third.

The final was looking like a stroll in the park for Neale as he fashioned a 2-0 advantage, but a resolute Gillespie responded by making a 72 break in frame three before forcing a decider. However, Neale was not to be denied his sixth WDBS title when he controlled and secured the fifth frame for a 3-2 victory. It meant that Neale’s imposing streak continues – this was his fourth successive WDBS competition win.

Group 8 – Nicholas cashes in

There was a major surprise in Group 8 as Nicholas Cash burst on to the WDBS scene during his first appearance to record one of the circuit’s most memorable successes.

Cash’s campaign nearly ended in the group stages, as he narrowly qualified in second place on frame difference after three players had all won two matches each. In the knockouts he defeated Daniel Booth (2-0), Champion of Champions winner Lewis Knowles (2-1) and then 2017 Hull Open champion Blake Munton (2-1). Against both Knowles and Munton, Cash recovered after losing the opening frame.

The biggest upset was still to come, though, when Cash overhauled six-time WDBS winner and defending champion Shabir Ahmed, who had imperiously reached yet another final without losing a single frame throughout.

In a see-saw encounter that went to a deciding frame, Ahmed, who trailed by 20 points, looked like repeating his heroics from this venue in last year’s final by snatching it on the colours when he deposited yellow to pink. However, after Ahmed had failed to attain ideal position on the black, Cash later seized an opportunity by impressively potting it for an emotional victory.

Challenge Cup champions

For those who did not qualify for the knockout stages, two separate Challenge Cup competitions were staged.

In the Group 7 event Ben Chappell defeated Ron Allen, 2-1, to take gold for the first time at a WDBS event following two previous silver-medal placings. Mark Forrest also claimed his first win in the Group 8 tournament following a 2-0 success over Daniel Harvest.

Simon Berrisford, WDBS Vice Chairman said: “The event has been a fantastic success – certainly one of the most remarkable and entertaining ones we’ve ever had. Splitting the Group 7 competition using British Blind Sport guidelines added a new, sharp dimension to proceedings, whilst the Group 8 division continues to thrive; testament to the record-breaking 27 players who took part.

“WDBS would like to thank Danny Cooper and all his team at Cueball for their brilliant facilities and, of course, Nigel Coton and Michael Buckley of DS Smith Featherstone who passionately supported the event.”

WDBS will return next month with the start of the new 2019/20 season.

Disability Champions Crowned in Swindon

World Disability Billiards and Snooker (WDBS) held its first event of the year for visually impaired and deaf players at Jesters Snooker Hall in Swindon last weekend.

The Southern Classic saw 49 players from four classification groups battle it out across two days, with a mix of new and returning faces in action.

The competitive play followed an initial open day which welcomed a variety of guests including students from Crowdys Hill School, representatives from Vision West of England and Robert Buckland QC MP (Swindon South).

Groups 6A / 6B

Group 6A saw Faisal Butt claim his second successive title following a 3-1 victory against David Mac.

Champion last month at the Northern Classic, Butt progressed through the round robin stage without the loss of a frame before the 39-year-old defeated Warren Ealy and Michael Busst to reach the final.

His opponent Mac meanwhile was competing in his first standalone Group 6A event and having achieved his best-ever match break of 29, booked his place in the final with a deciding-frame success against Michael Farrell.

The title match in our tournament for people with learning disabilities saw the opening two frames shared, before Butt claimed the following two to secure victory.

In Group 6B there was a long-awaited second title triumph for Leroy Williams, who completed a comeback 6-4 victory against debutant Christopher Goldsworthy in the final.

Having both progressed from a five-player group, it was 26-year-old Goldsworthy who raced into a 3-0 lead, before Williams crucially grabbed the fourth on the final black ahead of the mid-session interval to get a frame on the board.

Although Goldsworthy would take the first on their resumption to restore his three-frame lead, from there it was all Williams as the former Northern Classic champion won five in a row to turn the tables and end a run of five final defeats stretching back over 13 months.

Group 7

In the Group 7 competition for people with visual impairments there was a third successive title win for Nick Neale who defeated Welshman Ronnie Allen 4-0 in the final.

Once again Neale dominated the breaks list with a top run of 76 during the weekend and having progressed through his five-player group with a 100% record, saw off four-time champion Paul Smith in the semi-finals to reach the title match.

Allen meanwhile came through the same group in second place, before defeating David Baker in the last four to set up a re-match with Neale.

Ultimately however it was to be Neale’s day as he needed just 63 minutes to complete a whitewash victory and secure his fifth-career WDBS title.

Group 8

Shabir Ahmed defeated long-term rival Lewis Knowles 3-1 in the final to capture a record sixth Group 8 title since he joined the WDBS Tour two years ago.

Having each topped their groups during the opening day of play, the pair progressed through the knockout rounds without dropping a frame to set up their fifth final meeting.

As is often the case it was a cagey affair between the two with every frame coming down to at least the final pink. It was multiple champion Ahmed who took the first two and looked to be set to complete a whitewash victory in the third, before Knowles cleared with 31 to steal the frame and keeps his hopes alive.

Ahmed was not to be denied however and subsequently clinched the fourth frame on the pink to get over the line and secure his first title of 2019.

Challenge Cup

The Challenge Cup competition for players not qualified for the knockout rounds was won by Gary Gallacher, who defeated Lee Finbow 2-0 to secure his second gold medal almost three years on from his first at the Woking Open in May 2016.

As always, the WDBS Team would like to extend its thanks to our hosts at Jesters Snooker Hall and to all of the players, supporters and officials to helped to make the event possible.

Our next event for players from Groups 7-8 will be the Disability Classic which is to run from 17-19 May at the Cueball Derby. Entry for the event will be available shortly.

View full tournament results from the Southern Classic via the WPBSA Tournament Manager here.

View event photos at our Facebook page here.

View the updated WDBS Roll of Honour here.

Gary Gallacher Q&A

This week World Disability Billiards and Snooker (WDBS) heads to Cwmbran for the first ever WDBS Welsh Open, featuring a record 45 players from all classification groups.

Among those in action will be Gary Gallacher, a player who has been with us since our first Group 7 event in Woking over a year ago and has been an ever-present since.

Like Phillip Murphy who we spoke to recently, Gary is from Wales and so we caught up with him to preview our latest event…

You have been with us since our first event for Group 7 players in Woking last year, can you tell us what snooker and these WDBS events in particular have done for you?

I watched snooker on TV as a child and started playing in my teens. Now in my mid fifties, I still love the game as much as I did all those years ago. Obviously my disability has held me back but the WDBS has now given me a chance to play competitively within a level playing field.

What have you been able to learn from the players that you have played against?

We all have the same passion about snooker and it goes to show that no matter what disability you have, anything is possible.

Photo of David Baker and Gary Gallacher

How have you found the camaraderie at these events, the social side and getting to know fellow regulars like Bob Craft and David Baker.

It has been absolutely fantastic. Coming in as a new player (Woking), I was made to feel welcome straight away and although we are all extremely competitive, we always find time for a chat and a few beers with each other, comparing cues, makes, woods, tips etc. The list is endless!

Tell us about your disability, how does this affect your snooker?

I have ‘Intolerable Diplopia’ (incurable constant double vision). I have had five operations during my lifetime on each eye along with botox injections and various other interventions to no avail. When I play snooker my vision alters with every angle due to also having a horizontal and vertical defect. I am unable to get down to a shot for too long as each eye picks up a different image (they don’t work together), hence I have to line the shot up before I get down to it and play it from memory rather than visually. If I take any longer than a few seconds I have to stand up and start again, this puts pressure on me to play quickly. The greater the distance the more difficult it gets, It’s really frustrating.

You recently joined us for Disability Day at the Crucible, at which your family came with you, how did you find that day?

It was a dream come true to be invited to represent the WDBS at World Disability Snooker Day and was one of my proudest moments. To play alongside such a prestigious event as the World Snooker Championships, tour the Crucible and meet past and present champions was an absolute pleasure. It was something I never thought I would achieve and it’s all down to being part of the WDBS.

Next up we have the first Welsh Open, which will be held in your home country, how much are you looking forward to that?

I can’t wait – counting down the minutes and looking forward to a shorter train journey!

What message would you have for anyone out there considering entering a WDBS event for the first time?

If you are passionate about snooker don’t let disability hold you back. The tournaments, the players, the support and the coaching are second to none. Just get in there and show what you can do.

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.

Danielle

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!”

Ingham

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.

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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: