BPPPA Bristol Open – The Osborne Supremacy

Craig Osborne

The gifted Craig Osborne tore apart the field at Riley's Bristol to take his first BPPPA title?in his very first BPPPA Tour Stop! He played some inspired pool this weekend (Saturday 23rd & Sunday 24th July 2005) concluding with a win of 11 racks to 8 in the final against Raj Hundal. With 'The Shotgun' Osborne and 'The Hitman' Hundal fighting for the title it always promised to be a close shootout; it didn't disappoint. Breaking the better and positioning the cue ball on a dime, Osborne stormed into a 10 - 4 lead. Hundal is not the sort to shy away from a challenge though and took the next four racks to start the rumours of a come-back, only for Osborne to quash them with a faultless clearance and a shout of, "it's in the hole!", as the match and tournament winning 9ball dropped.

The final was the second time the pair met each other over the two days. Hundal got the better over Osborne when they played in Saturday's double elimination stage, winning 9 -7. Osborne fought through the one-loss side of the draw to make sure his name was in the hat for the next day's knockout with victories over Ben Winter 9 - 4 and Russell March 7 - 4. Osborne's match in the last 32 was, on paper at least, his toughest on route to the final. He faced the ranking list leap-frogger Mark Gray, up to number 30 within just eight Tour Stops. As it turned out, Osborne put the squeeze on Gray with some superb shooting and ran out a 9 - 2 winner. With Gray out of the way, Osborne was a firm favourite from his half of the draw to get to the final, but there was a lot of pool to be played yet and he took nothing for granted. Basildon youngster and BPPPA British Junior Championship runner-up Tony Burton fell next to Osborne 9 - 0, then the expertise of Jon Davies gave Osborne his sternest test of the day in the quarter finals, 'The Shotgun' prevailing in the end 9 - 7. Paul Williams, making his first semi final appearance this season, managed a rack less than his predecessor Davies. Osborne took the last three racks to win 9 - 6 in a to-and-fro match and booked his seat in the final. Put money on seeing Paul Williams' face in a few more latter stage matches though, his quality warrants a trophy or two.

Hundal's achievements over the past year are well documented and his performance at the World Championships earlier this month underlined what we all knew - he's the hottest property on our shores at the moment. It comes as a surprise to learn then that his last BPPPA Title was won in Croydon?November last year. He set out to change that 'stat' with victories against Mike Minchion 9 - 4 and Osborne to qualify for Sunday's knockout phase. 'The Hitman' usually wastes little time disposing of his targets on a Sunday, in Bristol it was the same. Hundal's name was the first into the semis, seeing off Caroline Walch 9 - 4, Rob Wickendon 9 - 3 and Mike Rogers 9 - 6. Imran Majid came into the semis having won the last two BPPPA events he had played in, Stirling and Middlesbrough. He was sitting pretty at 3 - 0 up but with the table playing slow, both players agreed on upping sticks and changing tables. After the change Majid won one rack from the next ten played, Hundal making the final, courtesy of a 9 - 4 score and a 'how-to' break and run show.

Seldom do Tour Stops fail to produce upsets, surprises and entertainment in many guises. Bristol was jam-packed with them. Winner of last week's BPPPA Nottingham Open David Walsh losing his first two matches on the Saturday, leaving him to go home and buff up his trophy; Mark Stephenson not qualifying for the knockout stage for the first time this season, shattering his break cue in the process; Steve Brown not being content to win his last 16 match against Steve Higton on a golden break, offered to re-rack the balls only to go on to lose the match (good sportsman or impractical politeness- the debate continues and will do for quite a while); Martinjo Correia and Imran Majid's last 32 match gave spectators an inspiring lesson in safety and kicked escaping; the quarter final match between Majid and Daryl Peach was admittedly sore on the behind as it took over two hours to result in a 9 - 8 Majid win, but tactics both at the table and away from it showed why they are each true masters of their craft; and both Rob Jude and Kevin Brown qualifying yet again for the last 32. Jude, from Nottingham, has qualified for the last five events now and is fast becoming a name to avoid in pool circles. Brown is in much the same boat, he has made the last 32 in all but one of his six events to date, making the quarter finals twice within that period - not bad for someone who had to have his arm twisted by his family to even pick up a cue again when the BPPPA stopped off in Basildon in March this year. These are just a few examples so all in all, for both the players and the buffet-munching fans, Bristol was memorable. Last 32 and above finishers (and not mentioned already) were; Allen Lowe, Damian Massey, Abhay Rao, Mike Minchion, Gary Stewart, Geoff Edge, Ian West, Bradley Parker, Nigel Francis, Paul Kellett, Martin Chapman, Dean Mazirel, Joe Sims, Ben Moore, Stewart Colclough and Adam Clarke.

Craig Osborne will not forget the weekend in a hurry, a shining piece of silver with BPPPA Bristol Open Champion engraved and a great big bundle of cash will see to that. On the evidence of this weekend Osborne will be making many more journeys to the World Championships and will win far more matches than the two he managed in Kaohsiung earlier this month. That's a long way off for now though and you're only as good as your last tournament so 'they' say. So if what 'they' say is true, Craig Osborne is very, very good.