Majid Reaffirms Position Atop British Ranking
Champions, challengers, and fans all enjoyed another fantastic GB 9 Ball Tour of non-stop Action the weekend of March 28-30. This time it was the Southern Masters at the fabulous Rileys American Pool and Snooker Club in Croydon, near London, and it was a weekend full of shock exits for the 128-player field as the pool stars fell to the diamonds in the rough.
Reigning EuroTour number one Mark Gray exited the Pro Cup event in the first round after a 9-6 loss to relative newcomer Alan Millership from Reading, and reigning world champion Daryl Peach also fell at the first hurdle with a 9-6 victory for rising star Neil Raybone. Events worsened in the main event as tears were shed when three players were actually disqualified after two days of grueling qualification when they arrived more than 20 minutes late for their matches after the clocks were advanced by one hour because of the official start of British Summer Time.
Number-one-ranked GB9 player Imran Majid had a close shave and had to give his opponent a three-rack start when he arrived 19 minutes late for his match in the Pro Cup. Majid found this penalty too much to overcome as he added his name to the growing list of top players exiting the first round of this alternate-break format tournament after his opponent, Adam Clarke, broke and dished the first rack to take what proved to be an insurmountable 4-0 lead in the race-to-9 match.
However, all was not lost, as the Maharajah once again won the all-important 128-player main event, beating close friend and fellow Londoner Raj Hundal 11-9 in the final. Having also won the first tour stop in Solihull, Majid’s position in the number-one spot of the main British rankings is already looking unassailable with four events to go. He won the event in some style, too, breaking and running out an astonishing 59% of his 40+ breaks.
The Tornado Thrills the Spectators to Seal the GB9 Croydon Pro Cup
The Pro Cup event, exclusively for the 32 elite players on the tour, was won by Tony The Tornado Drago after a thrilling quick-fire run through the field of superstars, culminating in an 11-8 win over Kevin Uzzell. Watching Drago run balls and racks at breakneck speed is exciting stuff, and it was a real treat for the spectators at this event. Playing against Drago can be a very daunting affair, but Uzzell did well, especially when he had to dry the soaked tips of his cues under the washroom hand-dryer immediately before the tournament started, after accidentally dropping his cue case in a puddle.
Seventeen-year-old Phil Burford had another impressive run in the Pro Cup, reaching the semifinals after a nail-biting 9-8 win over Darren Appleton, a victory that has earned the youngster the number-one ranking in the 32-player pro event.
Ainsworth-Smith Makes It Two From Two in the GB9 Challenge Cup
The 96-player Challenge Cup, which excludes the 32 elite players, was once again won by youngster Thomas Ainsworth-Smith. “The Tommy Gun,” as he’s affectionately known, won a tense final match against established senior player Neil Jenkins. At 9-9, had Jenkins converted a tricky 7 ball to lead 10-9, he would have had the all-important break should the match have gone all the way, but it wasn’t to be, and from 10-9 Ainsworth-Smith produced a brilliant clearance to seal his second successive GB9 Challenge Cup victory.