Tag: Mickey Chambers

Winners Crowned at Belgian Open

World Disability Billiards and Snooker (WDBS) crowned its latest champions last weekend at the Belgian Open in Bruges, Belgium.

Hosted by the Trickshot Snooker Club for the third successive year, the event welcomed its biggest ever field to date including entries from over 40 players representing six different countries.

For the first time the event ran tournaments for players from all eight main disability classification groups, including cueists with physical, intellectual and sensory disabilities, making it the most significant event staged in mainland Europe so far on the 360Fizz WDBS Tour.

Groups 1-3

England’s Tony Southern completed the successful defence of the title that he first won 12 months ago at the Trickshot following a 3-0 victory against compatriot Shahab Siddiqui in the Groups 1-3 event final.

The competition, which saw wheelchairs Groups 1-2 combined with the ambulant Group 3 classification for players with upper body disabilities for the first time, saw six entrants contest an initial round-robin phase before the knockout rounds.

Just as at last September’s UK Disability Snooker Championship it was in fact Siddiqui who in fact topped his group ahead of Southern, before the pair came through semi-finals against 2018 champion Kurt Deklerck of Belgium and Germany’s Hannes Hermsdorf – the 26-year-old having impressed on his WDBS debut this weekend with a high break of 53.

The final however was to go the way of Southern, who having taken the opening frame on the black then added the following two to seal his third-career WDBS crown.

Group 4

The biggest tournament of the weekend was to be the Group 4 competition which saw Daniel Blunn defeat Andy Johnson 3-0 to a record 11th WDBS title.

Previously a winner at the Trickshot during each of the past two seasons, Blunn was once again in imperious form in Belgium as he captured his first title of the decade without the loss of a frame from his five matches played on his way to glory in 2020.

Having come through a group including Gary Sanderson, Peter Hull and Gunter D’Hondt, the 28-year-old then saw off Church and finally Johnson – the latter in a deceptively close final – to add yet another honour to his illustrious CV.

The high break of the group was a run of 44 made during the round-robin stages.

Group 5

England’s Mickey Chambers was to maintain his 100% record on the WDBS circuit having claimed his sixth Group 5 crown with a 3-0 success against David Moore.

Like Blunn, the Preston Potter underlined his status as the leading Group 5 player on the circuit by claiming his latest title with a flawless record, winning all four group matches before seeing off Humber Classic winner Moore for a second time in the showpiece final. He also made the four highest breaks in the group, including a run of 35 during the round-robin stage.

For Moore to reach the final was nevertheless an impressive feat as he recovered from the loss of his opening two matches to progress ahead of David Langridge, Dean Simmons and Phil Woodwiss.

Group 6

There was a return to form for Peter Geronimo in the Group 6 competition for players with intellectual disabilities after the 30-year-old defeated Leroy Williams 3-2 in a closely contested final.

Both players progressed from a four-player group stage which saw Faisal Butt and Christopher Goldsworthy eliminated to set up a fifth meeting in a title decider at a WDBS event.

Having defeated Williams earlier in the day during the round-robin phase, it was Geronimo who was never headed in the final as he led 1-0 and 2-1, before Williams hit back impressively to force a deciding frame with a match high break of 39 in frame four.

Inevitably the final frame was to be decided on the colours, with Geronimo potting pink and black to triumph and claim only his second victory over Williams and his first title since his maiden win at the 2018 Humber Classic.

Group 7

Another two-time winner was to be crowned in the Group 7 tournament for players with visual disabilities after Ireland’s Dylan Rees added the Belgian Open title to his victory at the Hull Open last November with a 3-0 success against Mike Gillespie.

The pair progressed to the final following a dramatic group stage which saw a play-off required to separate the top three players including Welshman Ronnie Allen, who each had finished with an identical record.

The final however would prove to be more one-sided as Rees, who had impressed during the group stage with an impressive break of 87 – the second-highest ever to have been recorded during a WDBS match – ran out a 3-0 winner to maintain his 100% record on the circuit so far.

Group 8

A new winner was crowned in Group 8 as Belgian debutant Kristof De Bruyn defeated 10-time champion Shabir Ahmed to win the first WDBS competition for deaf players held in mainland Europe.

Paired in the same round-robin group, De Bruyn and Ahmed contested a hard-fought group match won by Ahmed to progress to the knockout rounds, where they saw off Nick Cash and Lewis Knowles respectively to set up the title decider.

It was 10-time WDBS champion Ahmed who took the opener before 44-year-old De Bruyn claimed two tight frames on the colours to take the lead, before sealing his maiden title in the fourth frame with a break of 32.

There was also a maiden win in the Challenge Cup event for Christopher Goldsworthy after the Group 6 player defeated Kal Mattu 2-0 to claim gold in the tournament for players who had not made it to the knockout rounds of the main tournaments.

The WDBS team would like to thank Olivier Vandenbohede of the Trickshot and his team for supporting the event once again and already we look forward to returning in 2021.

The final event of the 2019/20 360Fizz WDBS Tour season will be the Derby Open, to be held at the Cueball Derby from 15-17 May 2020.

 

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

Stockport Open 2020 | Tournament Preview

World Disability Billiards and Snooker will return to the Hazel Grove Snooker Club this weekend for its opening events of the new calendar year. The Stockport Open 2020 will feature a plethora of current and former champions mixing it with contenders and debut cueists from across several disability classification groups. 

Open Day 

Traditional with most WDBS events, the curtain is raised with our ‘Friday Open Day’ where we welcome individuals and groups to the venue, providing them with a relaxed atmosphere where they can learn about the organisation and receive tips from our dedicated coaches. Competitors for the weekend’s tournaments will also arrive and settle in, taking the opportunity to practise on the tables. 

Wheelchair and Ambulant Events (Groups 2-5) 

Several big-name players will contest the modified Group 2+4 event which features 19 entries. 

Multiple-time WDBS main event winner and Scottish international William Thomson is one of the fancied cueists to take the title, as too is wheelchair player Tony Southern, the reigning Belgian Open and UK Disability champion. 

Other contenders include former Manchester Classic winner Andy Johnson, last year’s runner-up Peter Yelland, two-time professional major ranking event finalist Dean Reynolds and youngster Ben Rawson. 

Twelve months ago, in the keenly contested Group 3 event, John Teasdale claimed his maiden WDBS main event title after a memorable comeback against Joe Hardstaff in the final. Both Teasdale and Hardstaff will be back, as too will former Open Disability champion Nigel Coton and tour regular Kal Mattu. 

Defending Group 5 champion Mickey Chambers will be seeking career title number five in Stockport but will face stiff opposition in rivals such as Humber Classic champion David Moore and recent main event finalists Dean Simmons and Ivor Halnosky. 2019 Challenge Cup winner Phil Woodwiss and three-time event semi-finalist Gareth Ward are also set to be present. 

Intellectual Disabilities (Groups 6A and 6B) 

In Group 6A, Faisal Butt will be looking to retain the title and pocket an incredible fifth victory inside a year. Butt has built up a rivalry with the also successful Michael Busst, who managed to overcome him in the Champion of Champions final in Gloucester last autumn. Warren Ealy and Michael Farrell – the other two qualifiers for that Champion of Champions – will be looking to secure their first gold medals. 

Leroy Williams is aiming to continue his recent dominance of Group 6B; the Liverpool based potter currently holds four main event accolades. Amongst the contenders to his title includes Christopher Goldsworthy, runner-up at the 2019 Southern Classic. 

You can keep up-to-date with all the action from Stockport throughout the weekend by visiting our social media channels on Facebook and Twitter, and all the latest draws and results via snookerscores.net here.

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.

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.

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.

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.

2018/19 World Disability Billiards and Snooker Season Review

Last month’s Derby Open at the Cueball Derby signalled the end of the 2018/19 World Disability Billiards and Snooker season; the biggest and busiest campaign yet.

Starting back in July, the circuit visited several venues in the UK and beyond with a record number of tournaments hosted and entries taking part. Here we look back on how the season unfolded and what the main talking points were…

Groups 1 & 2

New and familiar faces triumphed in the competitive wheelchair section, but the star performer throughout the year was Daniel Lee, who added a trio of titles to his portfolio.

Londoner Lee started off by claiming the curtain-raising 6-Red Welsh Open in Cwmbran; an event open to WDBS competitors from all classifications. At the time, by his own admission Lee’s best tournament victory in snooker, he ousted Aslam Abubaker in a thrilling all-wheelchair final that was a fine showcase for the group.

Further honours came at the inaugural staging of the Champion of Champions and when he defended the Northern Classic in the new year. Collectively, these efforts saw him named as the first WDBS Vic Hartley Player of the Year at the Winter Garden in Sheffield during this spring’s World Professional Snooker Championship.

Elsewhere in the division, Abubaker and Tony Southern both claimed maiden main event gold after being pipped in the past. Abubaker won the Open Disability Championship when he defeated Shahab Siddiqui in the final, while Southern reversed last year’s outcome after getting the better of host nation native Kurt Deklerck at the Belgian Open in Bruges.

Groups 3, 4 and 5

Due to increased numbers and re-structuring, ambulant players contested in both individual and multi-group competitions throughout the year. Despite the changes, several of the circuit’s big names continued to collect top honours.

One of the most intriguing sagas has been the ongoing rivalry between Daniel Blunn and William Thomson. At the Open Disability Championship, Thomson made it three out of three final wins against his adversary, but at the Champion of Champions a few weeks later Blunn ended that hoodoo.

Blunn bolstered his CV yet again in the new year when eliminating the challenge of new finalist Peter Yelland to win the Northern Classic at the Hazel Grove in Stockport and then defending the Belgian Open at the Trickshot after a victory over another former champion in Raja Subramanian from India. These wins mean Blunn now has a record eight WDBS main event titles.

Mickey Chambers and David Church also increased their title tally; Chambers defeated Church in the Northampton final and David Weller to retain the Northern Classic, while Church became the Group 4/5 Champion of Champions victor when he quashed late replacement David Moore’s hopes in the climax.

There was, however, a new addition to the roll of honour when John Teasdale won the Group 3 title in Stockport after prevailing over fellow first-time main event finalist Joe Hardstaff. In a keenly contested encounter, Teasdale chalked up three consecutive frames from 2-0 down to emerge successful.

Group 6

Five different players won main event gold throughout the season in the learning disabilities category.

Peter Geronimo announced himself on the scene by claiming the first Group 6 exclusive event at the Humber Classic on debut in August. The focus, though, has been on serial winner Daniel Harwood who scooped a quartet of triumphs at the Open Disability Championship, Champion of Champions and Hull Open, before the Northern Classic in the new year became his seventh career WDBS title overall.

From November’s Hull Open onwards the Group 6 division was split into two sub-categories – 6A would represent players with learning disabilities whilst 6B for those with autism spectrum disorder. Mike Busst was the first player to take advantage of this new opportunity when he defeated Faisal Butt to taste glory in East Yorkshire. Butt recovered from that setback, though, to avenge his defeat to Buust at the Northern Classic and then by seeing off David Mac in the final of the Southern Classic too.

Also, in Swindon, Leroy Williams bettered the three previous final appearances he had made earlier in the season when eventually defeating debutant Christopher Goldsworthy in an engrossing 6B final at Jesters Snooker Centre. It was Williams’ second WDBS title.

Group 7

Nick Neale was undoubtedly the star performer in the visual impairments classification as he collected four main event titles.

The Group 7 season started at the Barratts Club in Northampton where Paul Smith earned his fourth career WDBS title after overcoming maiden finalist, Ron Allen, in the final of the Open Disability Championship. Later in the campaign, though, Neale would surpass Smith’s tally to become the most decorated player in the division.

Neale’s winning streak began in Gloucester when he got the better of rival Smith in the Champion of Champions final. He backed that up with triumphs at the Hull Open (defeating David Baker in the final) and then the Southern Classic (defeating Allen in the final) to make it a high five of titles at this level. He finished his campaign on a positive, too, by defending the Derby Open (7B) against former winner Mike Gillespie in an entertaining final that went to a deciding frame. Gillespie was Neale’s fourth different final opponent in as many competitions.

Group 7 competitors were divided into two separate categories for the first time in Derby, depending on the severity of their impairment. The format yielded a new champion as Gary Gallacher defeated Bob Craft to become the inaugural 7A winner.

Group 8

Two new champions were discovered in the hearing impairments category, but the season revolved around Shabir Ahmed who made all five Group 8 finals; winning three of them.

Starting in Northampton, Ahmed denied debut finalist Nikolas De Whytell to win the Open Disability Championship. His momentum, however, was halted by Lewis Knowles at the following month’s Champion of Champions. Having suffered a trio of final disappointments at the hands of Ahmed in the past, an epic 5-4 victory over his rival in Gloucester was certainly a sweet relief for Knowles.

Ahmed bounced back from this loss when overcoming debutant Mick Chew at the Hull Open and then resuming his rivalry – and success – with Knowles at the Southern Classic in Swindon. Looking like business as usual in Derby, though, Ahmed was stunned by newcomer Nicholas Cash, who produced an upset to overhaul him in the final. Earlier in the event Cash had also eliminated Knowles and a former WDBS main event winner in Blake Munton.

His achievements on the circuit gained Ahmed cross-sport recognition as he was nominated and came third at the 2018 Deaf Sports Personality of the Year Awards. Contesting alongside Lee, Blunn and Neale, Ahmed will appear at the Crucible Theatre during this August’s ROKiT World Seniors Snooker Championship for a dedicated session of play that will highlight and promote disability snooker.

A New Campaign Awaits…

We don’t have to wait much longer until the new 2019/20 360Fizz World Disability Billiards and Snooker season gets underway with the Humber Classic taking place at the Tradewell Snooker Club in Hull from 28-30 June. For the first time, the popular venue will host a WDBS event that is open to players with physical disabilities (Groups 1-5), as well as welcoming back entrants with learning disabilities (Group 6).

Northern Classic 2019: Tournament Preview

The opening World Disability Billiards and Snooker (WDBS) event of the new year takes place this weekend at the renowned Hazel Grove Snooker Club in Stockport, which will be hosting WDBS competition for the first time.

Consisting of five separate tournaments, the 2019 Northern Classic features players with a range of physical and learning disabilities who will contest their respective classification groups and will be sponsored by BB Scaffolding.

DSActive Day

Ahead of the competitive action the weekend will begin with a special open day which will be supported by the Down syndrome initiative DSActive.

People with all disabilities, including Down syndrome are welcomed to the club to try snooker regardless of experience and receive coaching from our team of WPBSA World Snooker coaches at the Go Green Energy Coaching Zone.

Groups 1-2

The wheelchair category continues to be one of the most exciting and competitive sections on the WDBS scene, although Daniel Lee is currently the player to beat.

Lee enjoyed a terrific 2018 campaign that saw him secure a trio of titles; the multi-classification Welsh Open, the Champion of Champions and he heads to Stockport as the defending Northern Classic champion.

He faces a difficult task holding onto his crown, though. Reigning Open Disability champion Aslam Abubaker broke his WDBS duck in Northampton last September and now he has a taste for more success.

There will also be no lack of motivation for fellow entrants Tony Southern, Glyn Lloyd and Shahab Siddiqui – all previous finalists on the circuit who are hoping to go all the way this time around.

Group 3

Following feedback received from players Group 3 will consist solely of ambulant players with one or more upper limbs either absent or severely impaired.

This means that a number of previous Group 3 winners with either full use, or moderately impaired upper limbs will be re-classified either as Group 4 or Group 5 players.

Of those who are set to contest the Group 3 tournament however is Nigel Coton, a former winner back in 2016 at the Open Disability Snooker Championship.

He will be joined by the likes of John Teasdale, Joe Hardstaff and Kal Mattu, all experienced competitors on the WDBS circuit.

Groups 4-5*

Several familiar names appear in the line-up for the Group 4/5 tournament that boasts a healthy number of entries, boosted further by those previously classified as Group 3 competitors.

Headline players include reigning champion Mickey Chambers and recent Champion of Champions winner David Church, who will resume their ongoing struggle for supremacy in the division – they have shared the last four titles between themselves.

Within the field of cueists who are seeking to break up this recent dominance are former Manchester Classic champions Andy Johnson and David Weller. They will also be joined by multiple WDBS champions Daniel Blunn and William Thomson, who met in the Group 3 final of this event a year ago.

In form David Moore will also be another player to watch. Moore benefited from being a late replacement for Gloucester a few months ago where he topped the round robin before losing to Church in the final.

A quarter-finalist on debut at Barratts in the Autumn, Marcin Kubalski will once again make the trip across from Poland to pit his wits on the WDBS tour.

Female players Danielle Findlay and Maureen Rowland also form part of a diverse jigsaw.

*Note that subject to entries, there may be individual competitions for Groups 4 and 5.

Groups 6A / 6B

For only the second time players with intellectual disabilities will have the opportunity to compete in Group 6 events across the full weekend.

Twelve months ago, in Preston, it was third time lucky for Leroy Williams in a WDBS final as he recorded his first triumph on the circuit. The defending champion is back aiming to retain his title in the 6B autistic section but faces stiff opposition from several quarters.

This includes fellow Liverpool based star Daniel Harwood, who is looking to continue his impressive streak on tour. Already a record equaling six-time WDBS winner, Harwood claimed the prestigious Champion of Champions and Hull Open titles towards the back end of 2018.

Reigning Humber Classic champion Peter Geronimo will also be making the trip up from London.

In the Group 6A learning disabilities discipline, Mike Busst will try to build on his maiden victory in Hull last November.  Among others, he will be joined by Hull finalist Faisal Butt and Alexandra Mendham, who was a semi-finalist in this event last year.

The Northern Classic runs from 8-10 February 2019 at the Hazel Grove Snooker Centre in Stockport and you can follow updates online here and at our social media pages.

Preview by Matt Huart and Michael Day.