Pradeep Vijayakar, vice-president of the Sports Journalists Federation of India writes about a new world event in their country the ISBF World Billiards Championship, formerly the World Amateur Billiards Championship, which commenced in Bangalore today
BANGALORE, September 1, 2008 - Yet another World Billiards Championship is upon us, it is the IBSF World Championship that commenced in Bangalore today. It is held in two formats: points format, snooker-like frames of 150 each. And time format with two-hour and four-four matches as in the Professional circuit.
India holds both the world crowns. The defending champion in the points is Rupesh Shah, from Gujarat the stable of legend Geet Sethi. The time champion is Pankaj Advani, the only Indian to win both world billiards and snooker titles.
The IBSF world event has been a preserve of UK and Australian greats from the time the Arthur Walker trophy was first held in 1926. It came to India for the first time in 1956. The first final was an `Ashes’ encounter between the winning Englishman Joe Ealam and Aussie George Shailer. Aussie Bob Marshall has won four times, Englishmen Leslie Driffield and Norman Dagley twice. Geet Sethi and Michael Ferreira have won thrice Wilson Jones and Pankaj Advani twice.
It is worthwhile recollecting that golden moment when the Arthur Walker trophy came to India for the first time in 1954.The winner was Wilson Jones, an Anglo-Indian. It was fourth-time lucky for Wilson Jones when he became the first World billiards champion from India. He had lost thrice. He was playing on home tables of Calcutta. He had practised hard and was in great form but after his previous efforts no-one was putting very much money on him. He won all his games, made a top break of 501 and thus achieved his dearest ambition. His toughest opposition came - of course - from Leslie Driffield. At the start of the fourth session of the Driffield match the Englishmaen led by nearly 800. Jones made 170 at his eighth visit and then followed this up with breaks of 232, 0, 5, 113, 117, 0, 5, 147 and 33.
With fifteen minutes to go the Indian took the lead and with nine minutes to go it was still anybody's game. Driffield broke down at 69 and Wilson held on the win the match by 123. It was a great personal triumph. Driffield said later:``No other player, professional or amateur, could have conceded such a big lead and still have beaten me. Against Chandra Hirjee - a brilliant player - Jones had consecutive visits of 126.96.36.199.188.8.131.52.70 and 211. He made his 501 against Cleary and beat the Australian by over a thousand. Tom Cleary commented: "Wilson played better than anybody else. He was much too good for us".