Tag: Woking Open

World Sight Day 2016

The WDBS is today pleased to support World Sight Day 2016, a key date highlighting the impact of eye health in people’s lives.

Focusing on the theme of ‘Stronger Together’ the day is a reminder of the respective roles of different groups, from key decision makers and government officials, to patients and the wider health community, are all crucial and that the more groups that can be brought together, the stronger the eye health community can become.

Earlier this year the WDBS held its first competitive tournament open to group 7 players, ie those with visual disabilities, the Woking Open won by former professional Paul Smith.

In the final he edged out Blackburn’s David Baker, who is partially sighted following the loss of his right eye when he was 19. As he told us recently however, he has not let his disability get in the way of his long-held passion for snooker:

“I first began to play snooker when I was 16,” said Baker. “Not one to give up, following my accident I continued to learn and adjust myself to continue playing snooker. Looking back, I think it’s fair to say that my standard never dropped, it may well have improved due to the fact I now have a single tunnel vision.”wsd-logo-2016_blue_2

The challenge for Baker has not ended with the loss of his eye however as more recently he has been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, a medical condition characterised by chronic widespread pain and a heightened pain response to pressure.

“My fibromyalgia poses all sorts of problems and limits me considerably to how much I can play the game. In 2007 I was told that due to this I would never be able to play snooker again and I was totally devastated at the time as I could barely walk. But stubborn is my middle name and slowly I regained some of my strength back, as well as learning how best to cope with this challenge.”

Nearly ten years on from his diagnosis, Baker is back on the baize and considers snooker as something that is more than a hobby to him. As well as the physical benefits, he also considers the sport to have important mental and social benefits that anybody involved with the game can benefit from:

“I can honestly say that snooker has given me strength to cope in any situation, determination and taught me to never give up,” said the 50-year-old. “It helps with concentration, patience and to give you a form of exercise without really knowing it.

“Above all I have been able to meet some fantastic, like-minded people, so overall I can say that snooker has definitely helped me through life and given me some very close friends.”


Baker began his snooker journey playing for the Burnley Road Bowling Club in Accrington over 30 years ago and in 2014 was thrilled to be able to play at a Snooker Legends event alongside 1985 world champion Dennis Taylor and the ever-popular Jimmy White (watch here).

More recently, he heard of the WDBS prior to this year’s Manchester Classic and attended the open day at that event, prior to competing in Woking.

“Someone had mentioned the WDBS on one of the facebook snooker forums that I had joined that day and I got in touch with Chris Hornby (WPBSA Sport Development Manager), who invited me to the event at Manchester to see how it worked and to join in with some of the other disabled people from different categories on the Friday session.

“I enjoyed the experience and this subsequently led to me playing in Woking, which was a fantastic event and gave people the chance to get involved on more equal terms than playing able bodied players.

“It was great to be able to make new friends and to get the feeling that I was part of something special.”

David will be back in action at the WDBS Hull Open, which runs from 11-13 November 2016 at the Tradewell Snooker Centre, Hull. The event is supported by prize fund sponsors Hudgell Solicitors and Think Telecom and you can find out more information, including how to enter here.

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.


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!”


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.


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:

Woking Open 2016: Entry Pack Now Available

The entry pack for the WDBS Woking Open 2016 to be staged at the Woking Snooker Centre, Surrey is now available to download.

The event will take place between 20-22 May and will be the first event open to groups 6-8 in accordance with the WDBS classification system. This includes those who are partially sighted, have a hearing impairment or an intellectual impairment, although people with any disability are encouraged to attend the open day on Friday 20th May.

Click HERE to download the entry pack

Please email chris.hornby@wpbsa.com with all enquiries as to entry.

To read the full report from the recent Manchester Classic event please click here.