Boyes, Majid and Shaw earn GB9-Ball Tour Wins

Imran Majid ended a two year wait for British silverware at the Barceló Daventry Hotel on Saturday 17th July by taking down man-of-the-moment Karl Boyes with a staggering 9 - 2 scoreline to win the GB9 Pro Cup. Looking like the calm and composed Maharaja of old, Majid's quest for glory was never really challenged as he dropped no more than five racks against any of his opposition on the day, with wins over Dominic Clemens 9 - 5; So Shaw 9 - 1; Paul Williams 9 - 3 and Jayson Shaw 9 - 5. Majid substituted the smooth cueing for some smooth talking after his final victory and said on the achievement, "Yeah it's a good feeling. Obviously I've gone through a little bit of a dry patch, taking six to seven weeks out to get married and stupidly changing my cue stick have been the major reasons. Admittedly, it has taken me a while to get back into the swing of things but I want to let everyone know that The Maharaja is back from his slump and ready to kick butt. My lions and elephants are roaring again! I have to say, hats off to my wife, Alia. She is a Clinical Physiologist and we've been working on meditation and breathing techniques so on top of the support she gives me, the bounce back is down to her too".  
An indicator of Majid's return to form might well have been his performance at this month's Austrian EPBF Eurotour event, where wins over the German stars of Thorsten Hohmann and Ralf Souquet took him to a 9th place finish. The winner of that event was of course Majid's opponent in the Pro Cup final, Karl Boyes. Of the current World 8 Ball Champion Boyes and the GB 9 Ball Tour, the toughest pool playground around, Majid commented, "Karl's had a fantastic year and is on fire currently so to win the final 9 - 2 is great. The standard is getting higher all the time and I've always said that sooner or later Britain will dominate. We just don't miss as many balls as everyone else. The GB 9 Ball Tour has had a huge part to play in that. Take today for example; this venue in Daventry is easily on a par with other world events such as the Eurotour. It's really great." 
The strength in depth of the tour is really to be found in the Challenge Cup. In a tense hill-hill decider, 23 year old self-employed Joiner, Adam Shaw, fended off Shane Appleton to win 9 - 8 and become the third different winner in three events. The final rack summed up the sport of 9 Ball Pool; tension, safety, cueing under pressure and inevitably, that little bit of luck. With two balls remaining, Appleton's one rail escape to hit the 8 Ball looked for all the world to be headed into the corner pocket until agonisingly pulling short and resting over the hole for Shaw to do what he does so well and with apparent ease; not miss. "I've played some good players along the way and every game seems to have been tight and almost a bit of a struggle, coming from behind a couple of times. I'm made up.", said Shaw immediately after the final. Like the previous Challenge Cup winner, Ben Finch, Shaw came through one of the pre-season qualifying events to gain his tour spot, proof again of the growing stature of the sport in Great Britain. "I played snooker a little bit when I was about 16 but it was the UPC University pool that really got me into 9 Ball. From there I obviously spotted the GB9 and thought, 'when I've got the money, I'm there'. I knew I was capable of taking a trophy home but did I honestly think I would? Probably not, as the standard of play is just so high, I just hoped I would I guess. The aim now is to finish in the top 8 of the Challenge and then give it a go against the big boys in the Pro." Shaw's path to victory saw him oust; Phil Hughes 9 - 4; Colin Rennison 9 - 3, Stephen Capaldi 9 - 8, Andy Worthington 9 - 7; Neil Cummins 9 - 7 and Andrew Morris 9 - 6. 
Shane Appleton's run to a second consecutive Challenge Cup final could be seen by some as being as noteworthy, if not more so, than actually taking home the trophy. There seems no creature more competitive than an 'Appleton' however, "It's hard to take the positives right now because nobody remembers the runners up", said Appleton, "I suppose when I look back I'll be chuffed to bits, especially considering I've only been playing American for 8 months. I enjoyed the final, last rack deciders are a bit of a lottery, especially when there's a few people watching and there's safety involved. I thought I'd fluked the 8 ball after he'd snookered me, to see it sit over the pocket is a bit sick. Fair play to Adam though." 
The Main Event 
Karl Boyes is currently enjoying one of the few sporting phenomena that every participant in any game dreams; a winning streak. The 27 year old from Blackpool, simply known as 'Guapo', took the spoils over 'Dynamite' Darren Appleton in the final of the GB9 British Grand Prix by eleven racks to seven at the Barceló Daventry Hotel on Sunday 18th July 2010. In a month that has already seen Boyes take his first coveted EPBF Eurotour title (in the process topping the European rankings) and a year so far yielding a pair of WPA World titles, Boyes' first ranking win on home soil this season completes a very neat National, Continental and World 'set'. 
Boyes' victory was housed in what many of the players called, 'the perfect venue', when performing their now ritual pre-tournament walk-around on the Friday evening. Spacious enough to easily allow the 16 SAM Magno Pro tables, as well as the growing mass of spectators now following the GB9 action, Daventry provided the most professional tournament ever held in Great Britain to date. Play commenced on Saturday 17th July, with the only brief for the competitors to qualify for a last 64 birth and the opportunity to cash in on the £6000 on offer the following day.  
Boyes first blasted through Stuart Daff 9 - 3 in the round of 64 before Ipswich's Phil Morgan 9 - 5. A sterner test followed in 2009 World Junior Runner Up, Phil Burford 9 - 6, a game which saw no less than eight break and runouts, six of which were from Boyes; a healthy figure indeed considering the momentum inhibiting alternating break format. A convincing 9 - 3 victory over another in-form Briton, Mansfield's Scott Higgins, in the quarter final set up a clash with Blackpool neighbour and rival for headlines, Daryl Peach. 'The Dazzler' and Boyes combined will have a nation's hopes on their shoulders in September when they will become 'Team England' in Manila for the World Cup of Pool. Peach will quite rightly be billed as the senior player of the scotch pairing but in Daventry at least, it was young master Boyes calling the shots, taking their semi final encounter by nine racks to four. 
Darren Appleton's charge to the final could be considered a 'B-game master class'. Appleton single-handedly created the atmosphere on the final day as he vocally battled against not only his inherent quest for perfection but also the increasingly hungry opposition in the next chair. Battling from behind to snatch victories against both James Welch 9 - 7 and Ben Moore 9 - 8, Appleton's pedigree went on to take him past Damian Massey 9 - 5, 2010 BCAPL double winner Chris Melling 9 - 5 and in the semi final, Tony Drago 9 - 6. 
Other stand-out performances on the day were provided by Challenge division players Dave Nelson, who took out GB9 Paul Medati Trophy runner up James Kay 9 - 6 to achieve a superb 5th place finish and Andrew Morris, a 9 - 5 victor over Mark Gray, a finalist at the previous four tour stops, at the last 32 stage. However it is still Gray who sits proudly at the top of the British tree with a 12 point lead over Darren Appleton. 
The next chapter in the GB9 story will be written over the three days of Friday 24th to Sunday 26th September 2010 at the GB9 Southern Masters. Coverage of the event will be provided, as always, by the team at Cuesport TV and Live Scoring is available from the GB 9 Ball Tour's home page. 

GB9 is proudly sponsored by Barceló  Hotels, SAM Leisure, Simonis Cloth, Aramith Billiard Balls and Mezz Cues making the perfect combination of the very best equipment in the most outstanding venues.