THE PRODIGY VS. THE UPSTART

IT’S CHEN SIMING VS. BI ZHU-QING IN THE FINALS OF THE 2011 WOMEN’S WORLD 9-BALL CHAMPIONSHIP

Chen Siming and Bi Zhu-Qing

BY TED LERNER

Photo courtesy of MY147.com

Shenyang, China – Bi Zhu-Qing, a 23 year old relative unknown from Beijing, spoiled what was supposed to be a showdown between the two best players in the world, when she upset defending world champion and world number one Fu Xiao-fang 9-6, and moved into the finals of the 2011 Women’s World 9-ball Championship at the Liaoning Hunnan Sports Training Arena, in the northeastern city of Shenyang.

Bi’s gutsy and inspired performance in the first semi-final on Sunday means she will now face 17 year old world number two Chen Siming in the finals Sunday evening. Chen, whose prodigious talent has been turning heads since early last year, overcame some late match nerves and defeated fellow Chinese Han Yu in a test of wills in the second semi-final, 9-7.

The all-China finals will be a race to 9, alternate break, and will begin at 7:30PM local time(GMT +8). The winner will receive $30,000.

Bi came into the match against Fu a serious underdog as she was ranked 7thin China and 81st in the world. She had also never before played in a World 9-ball Championship. Bi brought with her some solid credentials, though. She’s been playing cue sports for six years, the first three of which were spent solely on the snooker table. She has playing experience too, some of it overseas as she has traveled extensively around Asia competing in snooker tournaments in India, Australia, Hong Kong, Macau and Vietnam.

As the defending champion and world number one, Fu certainly came in as the heavy favorite. As the match wore on, however, the storyline took a classic twist. The favorite with the high expectations and all the media surrounding her started feeling the pressure, while the upstart with nothing to lose was calm and relaxed.

The pair split the first four games as both had the measure of the table with three break and runs. Fu looked like she was about to take a firm grip on the proceedings when she made the 9-ball on the break in rack 5, then ran out from a Bi foul in the next rack to go up 4-2.

Chen vs. Bi   Copy Womens World 9 Ball Finals Matchup Set

Bi Zhu-Qing, a 23 year old relative unknown from Beijing, spoiled what was supposed to be a showdown between the two best players in the world, when she upset defending world champion and world number one Fu Xiao-fang 9-6, and moved into the finals of the 2011 Women’s World 9-ball Championship at the Liaoning Hunnan Sports Training Arena, in the northeastern city of Shenyang.

Bi never flinched, though, and got one back in the next frame, then broke and ran to tie it at 4. Fu countered with another break and run in rack 9 to move up by one. Once again, though, Bi had an answer, as she forced Fu into making a poor shot on the two, then nailed a 3-9 combo to tie the match at 5-5.

The fast moving contest took a pivotal turn in rack 11. Fu was running out the table with several clutch pots when she missed a short cut shot on the 8-ball. Bi stepped up and made a difficult shot on the 8 but then had to play safe on the 9-ball. Fu’s tepid response left the 9 on, and Bi converted to take the lead for the first time in the match at 6-5.

Bi, clearly gaining confidence and riding a wave of momentum, stepped her game up another notch in rack 12 with a break-and-run to go up 7-5.

Fu fought back with a solid safety in the next rack but on the way to a clear, the normally rock solid champion committed another colossal blunder when she missed a makeable 6 ball. Bi left herself poor position on the 9-ball but never flinched as she stepped up and nailed a cross table bank on the 9 to move to the hill.

Breaking for the win, Bi played a marvelous lockdown safety on the one ball. On the verge of being on the short end of a massive upset, Fu threw a Hail Mary, potting a near impossible full table, blind shot on the 1-ball complete with position for a 2-9 combo, which she potted in the side.

Fu, however, scratched on the subsequent break. Bi took the ball in hand and with quality shot making, confidently ran the table for the biggest win of her career.

Afterwards, the 23 year old said she brought the classic underdog’s mentality into the match.

“No I didn’t think I could win this tournament,” Bi said. “Nobody thinks I can win. So I guess that’s why I’m relaxed. I’m just having fu Read more ...