Thursday, 18 February 2016

European Snooker - Who are they?

Europe is one of the largest snooker playing regions in the world, with more than thirty active member countries in the EBSA and the numbers are growing all the time. 

The EBSA hosts three major tournaments annually, The European Championships with events for Men,Women and Seniors and the European Under 19 Championship, displaying the best up and coming talent from across the continent. 

In 2004 the EBSA launched a new event - The European Team Cup, featuring events for Men, Seniors and Ladies. The inaugural event, which incorporates the former Continental Team Cup, was held in Riga, Latvia in March 2004.

The EBSA also organise the WSA European Play Offs, with the winners gaining coveted professional places on the WSA Challenge Tour.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Miss the Miss Rule?

You can be sure that there is one rule in snooker that will divide opinion, and that is the miss-rule or the various interpretations of it. Sadly in my opinion this rule is ruining the game I love.

There was some healthy discussions on the rule when I took the opportunity to express my opinion on the current miss rule to the various referees of all nationalities at our European event this week.This is how I see it.

The Referees viewpoint

"We only enforce the rule, the player can choose to accept the miss or not" was one of the views expressed by a very senior tournament referee. All well and good, however I have witnessed players lay a good snooker, then sit back and wait for the points to role in, irrespective of (a) how close the opponent came to getting out of the snooker or (b) being left a simple pot but refusing to take the shot as he full well knows (c) the points will continue to accrue while the referee enforces the rule. Laughable.

The Players viewpoint (AKA my viewpoint, I can't speak for other players)

In the scenario above, following a foul stroke and the obligatory 'miss' call, I have witnessed players turn down laughably easy shots and with that frame winning opportunities, just to have the ball replaced so their opponent can 'gift' them another four easy points, one step closer to getting over the winning line.

Two points on this. Who decides whats an easy shot? In my opinion, the referee needs to make that call. We are all international players, with a better than average degree of skill around the green stuff, and I for one would appreciate some input from my match referee on this other than "it's up to the player", its up to the referee, take the decision making ability from the player by not calling a 'miss' in the first instance.

Lets give our hard working referees more authority other than..."I just enforce the rules" and allow them, no encourage them, to take a more proactive role in our game.

Think on this. I know for a fact if my opponent tried and failed to get out of one of my fiendishly difficult snookers, and left me an easy chance to mop up the frame, I wouldn't for one moment question the referees opinion that I've been left an easy chance....

"Sorry Ref, I'm only here as I'm the best my country has to offer, and that easy red hanging over the middle pocket I've been left? Don't think I can make it, replace the balls please, its a miss".

Second point, same scenario. I'm for one not traveling thousands of miles around Europe to deliberately try to deceive or con my opponent or the referee by playing a deliberate miss. I'm playing the game for the love of it, and unlike the professional game there is not thousands of pounds riding on the outcome of one frame of snooker.

It galls me that currently, in any frame I play, utilizing the skills (or not) developed and honed over years of practice, I can build and develop a healthy frame winning lead only to see this decimate 4 points at a time because (a) the referee is 'enforcing the rules' (b) my opponent just wants to use the opportunity he has been given to accrue as many easy points as possible or (c) its somehow implied that I am deliberately giving away my hard fought lead, I've just missed my last attempt and left a ball hanging over the middle bag for $%& sake.

Don't get me wrong folks. There is a need for the miss rule in our current game. However we need to differentiate between the pro and amateur games and the level we are currently playing at, and not loose sight of why the rule was called for in the first place.

I for one don't want this rule ruin the sport I love. What do you think?

PS...In my blog post yesterday I praised our Belarus referee Tatiana. And rightly so, here's why.

I did leave Frank (my opponent) one of my fiendishly difficult snookers, which he attempted once to get out of, and failed.
"No Miss..." well done Tatiana, again.
Another referee and it could have been a very very long night.

Tournament exit

My tournament ended on Tuesday afternoon after a tough match against fellow 'leftie' Frank Sarsfield from Ireland, the first time I have played him. The match, and my tournament ended with a 4-2 defeat in the last 16. Ces't la vie.

Another first for me was having this match refereed by Tatiana Kuziomkina, a very experienced and polished referee from Belarus. One of the special things about this tournament is knowing that whoever you play, the games will be played in a fair and friendly manner, and the officiating has been top notch. Well done Tatiana.

Left Hand XRay
Following the game with Frank I decided to seek some advice from tournament organizer Sergey about my left hand, which hasn't been right all week following an incident in my hotel room. He kindly arranged for Helen from the Olympic Sport Centre (our venue) to take me to the hospital in Daugavpils where an x-ray confirmed a fracture and a dislocation to some fingers. Nice.

The strange thing is there has been very little pain all week, and apart from some swelling, and I was able to continue my tournament. So it was a shock when Helen interpreted the doctors advice that I need an operation straight away and then would be in a plaster cast for 5 weeks. The hospital also provided me with the x-ray as a souvenir.

Yvan Van Velthoven - Belgium
Back to the tournament and the Masters division threw up a few surprises last night. First was the elimination of Enland's Phil Mumford, who lost to talented Belgian Yvan Van Velthoven 4-3 who then proceeded to knock out 2008 winner Alan Trigg by 5 frames to 3.

Very well done Yvan, it demonstrates that European Snooker is in good hands.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Into the last 16

Today all of the masters players took to the tables for the start of the knockouts, with a place in the last 16 at stake.

My opponent Kevin McMahon from Ireland is a quality player and was making his debut at the event this year. Despite losing the first frame, I slogged out a 3-1 victory, and really enjoyed the match. Although I have an injured left hand, for the first time today I began to see the angles better and was happy with my long game. It's now into the last 16 tomorrow, where I play another Irish Player, Frank Sarsfield over the best of 7 frames.
Verses Kevin McMahon (Ireland) at European Snooker Championships 2012
As with all of the Irish players, Kevin has a very sound game overall and doesn't look out of place playing in a major European event, I am positive it won't be his last.

In the hotel lobby last night I had the pleasure to discuss some of the finer points of our game with top referee Dmitry Savenkov from Ukraine, who refereed my final group game. Dmitry has a clear love of snooker, and has a very commanding presence at the table, which all referees need.

Amongst other topics, we discussed the miss-rule or the interpretation of the rule deployed by some (not all) referees. Such was the debate I have decided to create a new blog post on the miss-rule, outlining my own personal thoughts. Watch this space.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Final Group Standings

Sunday 10th June, early start for the final group matches in the Masters section. A really tough match against the unforgiving Israeli player Yakov Shaashua who beat me comfortably 3-1 to take second spot in the round robin stage. 

I finished in 3rd place which gives me a tough the draw in the last 32 being played tomorrow. Unfortunately only four players went through to to group, and it was Marc Choullier from France and local player Vilnus Mainulis from Latvia who failed to make the knockouts.

Daugavpils really came alive last night, with the festivities getting into full swing. Having had a quick walk around on my way back from the venue, it appears tonight is gearing up for something similar, even though the Irish boys and I are on the lookout for a suitable venue to cheer on the boys in green in 'the other' European Championships...

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Festivities begin in Daugavpils

Match 4 in the group stage of the Masters event provided the second win of the championship, and boy did I need it. It now sets up an intriguing final group match Sunday 10th June, which is a very special day on its own...Happy Birthday Honey :)

On my return from the Olympic Sports Centre I was pleased to find the promised festivities in fully swing. Almost every corner of the city has some form of stall, stage or attraction with thousands of local people all making the most of the opportunity and good weather.

Another Beautiful Day

The sun is really shining today as I prepare for my fourth group game of the tournament. Although I have had no snooker for the last two days, I am really kicking myself for not taking the opportunity to further explore this great city. 

 Much of Wednesday evening was spent in the company of fellow snooker players  Darrren Paris (Switzerland), Frank Sarsfield and Kevin McMahon (Ireland) and Darren Morgan (Wales) as we dissected our game and the week in general, good craic. I also had a brief chat with 'Team Holland' at the hotel patio, great bunch of people.

Enjoying refreshments at Hotel Latgola
I was feeling particular tired after having to play two matches on Wednesday, first against Latvia's best mens player Vilnis Laiilus and then Phil Mumford from England, two very tough matches and I was disappointed to loose both by the narrowest of margins, both 3-2 defeats. It now means I really need to win my remaining two matches.

Back to Daugavpils and from my bedroom window you can see in the distance our venue, The Olympic Sport Centre to the left in the distance, while St Peters Church faces the back of the hotel. Over the the far right from that, in the distance again you can just make out another Church of sorts, with the gold shimmering in the morning sun. My next excursion, get the snooker finished first though.