The GB9 Paul Medati Trophy - Boyes, Folan and Peach Triumph
The GB9 Paul Medati Trophy

 

by Dave Knight

GB9 is Britain’s official professional 9-ball pool tour. The tour has quickly cemented itself as the toughest and most respected national pool tour in Europe with a line-up of players other nations can only envy, such as 2007 World Pool champion Daryl Peach; European number one Mark Gray; 2008 World 10-Ball champion Darren Appleton; London’s finest, Imran Majid and Raj Hundal; and snooker legend Tony Drago, to name but a few.

This was to be a very special GB9 event, renamed in commemoration of one of our own, Paul Medati, a well-known and much-liked face on the pro snooker circuit who was swiftly taken from us by cancer last year. During the weekend tour players raised £372 for MacMillan Cancer Support in recognition of the enormous difference they made to the quality of Paul’s life and the support to the family during his final days.

Appropriately this tournament was hosted in one of our favourite and best-equipped clubs. The third event of the season would also be crucial to players hoping to improve their ranking and possibly gain promotion to the elite player ranks for next season, as these GB9 Tournaments have a three-tiered offering: an elite 32-player Pro Cup, a 96-player Challenge Cup, and a main event, The Paul Medati Trophy, which pitted all 128 players against each other, with a total prize fund exceeding £11,000.

2009 GB9 Paul Medati Trophy Winner Karl Boyes receives the trophy from Rileys Barnsley General Manager, George Vetters.

2009 GB9 Paul Medati Trophy Winner Karl Boyes receives the trophy from Rileys Barnsley General Manager, George Vetters.

These auspicious aspirations appear well justified as two new champions were crowned and a new record was achieved, along with some great gestures of sportsmanship.

 

Imagine this … It’s the main event, where 128 players started and only 4 players remain, and you’re one of them. None of the semifinalists has won a main event before, so this is the biggest chance you’ll ever get, and you’re just one tense rack away from a spot in your first final.

This was the situation facing Kevin Uzzell and Adam Benn Smith in an absolutely nerve-wracking thriller as the score reached 8-8 in this all important race to 9 match.

Smith potted the long 1 ball, then shot the 2 and the 3, but everyone watching was well aware that the 4 ball wouldn’t be easy. Its route to the pocket was blocked, and everyone knew he had planned an attempt to pot the match winning 9 ball early by forcing the 4 ball to nudge the 9 into the corner pocket.

It wouldn’t be easy, though, as the two balls were lined up with the middle of the back rail, and the shot would have to be incredibly precise to achieve the difficult thin cut necessary.

Not a good time to be nervous, but the immense pressure is unavoidable. The money, the match, the berth in the final, a chance at the title, it all hung on this shot. This is exactly the sort of challenge that players love, why they practice such long hours—it’s all for moments like these.

No one can know for sure what a player’s inner voice says to help steel the nerves at times like these, but all players have their own personal techniques to help handle the pressure, and they have developed a mental toughness through hard experience too, but Smith’s body language said it all after he successfully sank that 9 ball into the corner bucket.

 

Stephen Folan - 2009 GB9 Barnsley Challenge Cup Winner

Stephen Folan - 2009 GB9 Barnsley Challenge Cup Winner

Ecstatic elation, joyous victory, and a whole host of other unnamed emotions raced through his body as he immediately started celebrating his win, slinging his cue on the table in sheer relief …

 

And the cue moved some balls …

And then an horrific realisation!

The balls had not stopped rolling from the winning shot when the cue splashed the remaining balls.

The referee had no choice in the matter.

“Foul.”

Unbelievable. A classic schoolboy error, the premature celebration—and it’s here that we saw the “great gesture of sportsmanship.”

Uzzell would be as keen as anyone to earn a chance at the title, but with an exemplary display of selflessness and sporting etiquette, he waived his right to pursue the matter any further and congratulated Smith on a well-played stroke, wishing him well in the finals.

In a game that appears to revel in a reputation gleaned from endless tales of skulduggery and hustling, a game that is apparently a “sign of a misspent youth,” it’s always heart-warming to share truths like this.

The GB9 Paul Medati Trophy
Karl Boyes earned his first GB9 title, but it was noted by a few “in the know” players that Boyes appeared to have brought his brilliant streak of good form back with him from his recent successful visit to Germany, where he was playing some of the best pool in his career, ultimately reaching the quarterfinal stage of the 240-player field of the best pool talent in Europe.

Like many of the best players in the world, Boyes’ results improved throughout the event, despite a “touch and go” result in the quarterfinals (9-8 versus Craig Osborne). Boyes then spread his wings and appeared to cruise through the two final stages with strong victories over his two final opponents.

The Challenge Cup
Steve Folan was another new name added to the exclusive list of players with a GB9 title to their name.

Daryl Peach - 2009 GB9 Barnsley Pro Cup Winner

Daryl Peach - 2009 GB9 Barnsley Pro Cup Winner

Folan had just returned from a visit to Las Vegas, where he had a couple of momentous victories in the Predator 10-Ball Open. After qualifying for the prestigious single-elimination rounds, he notched up a strong win over Raj Hundal, now playing for India, and then a notable victory over Shane Van Boening, arguably the hottest 10-ball player in the world at the moment.
The Pro Cup
Daryl Peach’s name appears to have tenancy rights on the GB9 Pro Cup trophy, as this was the third time he has won this title in the two short seasons that the GB9 tour has been running.

There were some notable absentees from the Pro Cup line-up, as Imran Majid, the hottest GB9 player of the 2008 season with a staggering set of results and trophies from the GB9 Tour, was committed to playing 10-ball in Sarajevo.

Maltese snooker legend and former Predator 10-ball champion Tony Drago was absent because of a previous snooker engagement, and World 10-Ball champion Darren Appleton was occupied in his “home from home” in Manila as he was invited to the Philippine 10-Ball Open.

With some of the top players absent because of these prior engagements, Peach, the reigning World 9-Ball champion from Blackpool, must have known he had a good chance of striking gold again, and sure enough, this was his second Pro Cup win on the spin.