Tag: Nick Neale

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.

Success for UK Disability Snooker Championship

The latest World Disability Billiards and Snooker (WDBS) champions were crowned last weekend at the 360Fizz UK Disability Snooker Championship in Northampton.

Held at Barratts Snooker Club, the fifth staging of the event previously known as the Open Disability Snooker Championship received entries from almost 70 players as the competition was held over three days for the first time. Eight separate tournaments were held across a range of disability classification profiles, as well as a Challenge Cup for players who did not progress to the final day.

The weekend also featured a special open day which features support by the Motor Neurone Disease Association and sessions led by WPBSA World Snooker coach Steve Rutter to introduce newcomers with disabilities to the sport.

Wheelchair (Groups 1-2)

Tony Southern earned his second WDBS title this weekend in the Groups 1-2 wheelchair classification following a 3-0 victory against Shahab Siddiqui in the final.

It was Siddiqui who won the group stage clash with Southern as the pair both progressed to semi-finals against Danny Luton and Aslam Abubaker respectively.

Having come through a tight semi-final with Abubaker decided on the colours however, it was Liverpool’s Southern who turned the tables in the title match to claim his first silverware since the Belgian Open back in March.

Ambulant (Groups 3-5)

There was also a second WDBS title earned by Nigel Coton in Group 3 as he resisted a brave fightback by John Teasdale to win 4-3 on Sunday.

Coton, whose previous WDBS title came three years ago at this event, made the stronger start to the final as he took three of the first four frames to lead 3-1, before Teasdale responded by taking the match to a decider.

It would though be Coton who would prevail, to make it three different winners in the classification group since its restructure earlier this year.

In Group 4 there was a record tenth title for Daniel Blunn after the 28-year-old defeated Andy Johnson 3-0 to maintain his dominance in the category.

Having progressed from his group for the loss of just a single frame, Blunn then saw off Nigel Brasier and David Church to reach the final, while Johnson defeated Ben Rawson and former professional star Dean Reynolds to join him there.

Despite a close second frame, it would be Blunn who would run out a comfortable 3-0 winner in what was a repeat of the 2018 Welsh Open final to make it a perfect 10 on tour.

There was an all-new final in Group 5 as David Langridge defeated debutant Dean Simmons 3-1 to win his maiden WDBS title.

Langridge, who himself made his debut at this event 12 months ago, enjoyed a strong weekend overall as he progressed from the group stage without the loss of a frame, before again overcoming Simmons in the final to claim victory.

Learning disabilities (Groups 6A-6B)

Mohammed Faisal Butt made it four victories in a row in Group 6A after he defeated Mike Busst 3-1 in the final.

The pair, who have now met in four of the past five WDBS finals in this category, progressed to the semi-finals and defeated Warren Ealy and Liam Crook respectively to set up another title match.

The opening frame was won convincingly by Busst, before Butt rebounded by taking the next three to claim another title in the category.

There was also a fourth WDBS title in Group 6B for Leroy Williams after he defeated Peter Geronimo 4-1 in the final.

The pair saw off Kieran Richards-Witham and Matthew Haslam in the semi-finals, before Williams came out on top to secure his third title of the calendar year.

Sensory disabilities (Groups 7-8)

There were familiar winners in the two sensory competitions in Northampton after Nick Neale and Shabir Ahmed added further titles to their respective honours lists.

In Group 7 it was Neale who defeated Ronnie Allen 4-1 in a repeat of last month’s Welsh Open final to claim his eighth WDBS title for players with visual impairments.

Ahmed meanwhile saw off a familiar final opponent in the shape of Lewis Knowles with a 3-1 win to also claim his eighth Group 8 crown and second in the space of a month following his success at the Disability Tour Championship held at the Crucible Theatre in August.

In the Challenge Cup there was a maiden WDBS victory for Steve Cartwright, who edged out Blake Munton in a single-frame final.

The next event on the 360Fizz WDBS Tour will be the Parris Cues Champion of Champions, to be held at the South West Snooker Academy from 12-13 October 2019.

 

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.

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.

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).

Disability Snooker to be Showcased at Crucible Theatre

Four leading players from the 360Fizz World Disability Billiards and Snooker Tour have earned the opportunity to compete at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield this August for the first time.

To be staged as part of the 2019 ROKiT World Seniors Snooker Championship, the session will take place on the morning of 18 August from 10:00am and feature four highly decorated players who compete regularly on the WDBS circuit.

Among those in action will be Daniel Lee, who plays in the Group 2 wheelchair category and earlier this year was named as the Vic Hartley Player of the Season in recognition of his success during the 2018/19 campaign.

He will be joined by Daniel Blunn, who was born with cerebral palsy and competes as a Group 4 player. Blunn has been a part of the WDBS family since our first event in November 2015 and has to date claimed an incredible eight events, including three during the current campaign.

Representing sensory disabilities are Coventry’s Nick Neale, a six-time winner of competitions for players with visual impairments and deaf player Shabir Ahmed, who has established himself as the dominant player in his category with six titles and was last year recognised at the Deaf Sports Personality of the Year Awards by finishing in third place in the overall voting.

The event will be the first as part of a three-year agreement which will also see disability snooker return to Sheffield in 2020 and 2021.

Nigel Mawer, WDBS Chairman said: “This is a wonderful opportunity for our players to be able to play at the home of snooker and from speaking to them already I know just how excited they are to be able to live their dream and walk out on the same stage as their heroes.

“The event is going to be a real celebration of disability snooker and I would like to encourage all of our players to come along and support those competing and make it a day to remember!”

Tickets are already on sale at the price of just £1.47 when purchased with a full-price ticket to any other session at the ROKiT World Seniors Snooker Championship, so book now to avoid disappointment, by phone 0114 249 600 or online HERE.

The ROKiT World Seniors Snooker Championship will run across four days from 15-18 August 2019 and feature several all-time greats of the game including ‘King of the Crucible’ Stephen Hendry and 10-time ranking event winner Jimmy White.

There will also be a session on the morning of Saturday 17th August held to showcase the talent on the World Women’s Snooker Tour.

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.