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IPA Championships Come To A Dramatic Conclusion

A trio of titles were decided on the sixth and final day of the 2017 IPA World Championships.


The night after Craig Marsh and Collette Henrikson's victories in the Individual and Ladies Championships respectively, there was still plenty of nerve jangling pool to be played at the Bradford Hotel arena.

As it turned out, all the winners of the events on Sunday had already claimed prizes of a similar nature before in their careers.
Gareth Hibbott bounced back from the disappointment of losing his World Individual and Doubles crowns earlier in the week by ousting Mark White 7-6 to become the IPA's Senior Champion for the first time.
In both the main Singles and Doubles, Hibbott had failed to get past the Last 16 in either defence. However, he still made sure of silverware with impressive wins over Andy Lucas, Steve Wall, Darren McVicar and Geoff Allen on route to the final.
White had played extremely well himself throughout the competition claiming highlight victories over Andy Blurton and Paul Harkness along the way.
Unfazed by the cameras in the main arena, White led 6-4 but was left helpless as his opponent cleared from his dry break, and then broke and dished from his own to force a decider.
White did make balls off a crunching split in Frame 13, but whilst on a clearance for the title, adrenaline perhaps caused him to over hit a positional shot when just three more pots away.
Although nearly ruining it himself, Hibbott coolly cleared up to bag yet another major honour.
The Doubles Championship continues to give us value for money and entertainment. Played in a 'Scotch' format with a 'BlackBall ShootOut' should the scores be tied at 6-6, there have been plenty of stories this week.
Plymouth pairing of Jez Graham and Darren McVicar had certainly been in the thick of it. In their Last 16, Quarter-Final and Semi-Final fixtures they found themselves 6-5 down and staring elimination. 
Yet each time they managed to muster the twelve frame, and then hold their nerves in the Pool equivalent of a 'Penalty ShootOut'.
However, despite taking an early 3-0 advantage in the Final, it was long time friends Clint I'Anson and Jordan Church who blistered back with seven straight frames for the victory, and a £2,500 payday.
Church, who has made the switch to the IPA circuit this year, is a former two time WEPF World Junior Champion.
For I'Anson, it was the second time in three years he had tasted success in this tournament; back in 2015 he partnered Jack Whelan at the Magna Centre in Sheffield. 
But that wasn't Clint's last participation. He instantly returned to the arena for the inaugural Mixed Doubles final with Deb Burchell. Burchell was looking to end her week on a high after being dethroned as the two time Ladies Champion in the Last 16, and become the first winner again of another IPA World Title.
In a gripping final, Burchell and I'Anson recovered from 3-1 down against Welsh team of Jonathan Busnell and Kirsty Davies to go 4-3 up, but eventually winning 5-4. 
So much drama and entertainment the week has conjured, it seemed a fitting and deserving climax to have it go all the way.

2017 IPA World Championship – The Field Is Halved On Day One

Photo courtesy of IPA

It was a very busy opening day to the 4th annual IPA World Professional Blackball Championships with over 100 hopefuls having their dreams of the ultimate prize on the circuit already dashed.
Tuesday was dedicated to the preliminary and early rounds of the Individual Championship. In a new format for this year, matches were the best of 5 sets, with each set being the best of 7 frames. 
There were some real stand out ties for such a young stage of the event. Current IPA English Amateur Champion Greg Batten was ousted 3 sets to 2 by Max Nosko (who was eliminated later), whilst last season's Number 1 ranked amateur player Michael Oliver also went down by the same scoreline to Toby 'Lightning' Bolt. Arfan Dad beat Darren McVicar 3-0 on the live stream table too.
Reigning BI World Under 23's Champion Ben Rowland came through after going the distance with one half of the IPA World Doubles Champions, Dean Shields – however Rowland would lose his second match of the day later on. 2016 World Seniors Runner-Up Jeremy Hooper beat France's Ivan Crenn 3-0.
Other potential tournament dark horses and well known names who advanced included Craig Lakin, Scott Ross, Andy Lucas, Geoff Allen, John Chambers, Jez Graham, Gary Clarke, Scott Gillespie, Jordan Church, Ian Ali, Cory Rees and Yannick Beaufils; just to name a few.
Tomorrow will see the last amateur qualifying round. Those 32 remaining players will join the IPA's top 32 seeded professionals in the Last 64 stage of the competition. 
Wednesday is also the starting point for the Doubles and Seniors tournaments.

2017 IPA World Championship – Amateurs And Professionals Set To Collide

Just 64 entries, from the original starting field of over 200, remain in this year's IPA Individual World Championship after the second day's action in Bradford.
32 players have emerged from the Amateur Rounds and will now face the IPA's top 32 seeded players who were already fixed into the Last 64 of the draw.
One of the most well known names to advance was former multiple time World Champion Andy Lucas (England) who beat Welshman Jonathan Bushnell 3 sets to 1.
Former IPA professionals and talked about potential title contenders who also got through included Arfan Dad, Jez Graham, Brian Halcrow, John Chambers, Scott Gillespie, Gary Clarke, Simon Fitzsimmons and Andy Blurton.
In a real quality match-up, France's Yannick Beaufils – a previous runner up in the WEPF World Championship version, overcame Cory Rees (Wales) 3-1. Last year's IPA Seniors beaten finalist Jeremy Hooper dispatched youngster Shaun Stebbings 3-0.
Mark McGauley (who travels to IPA events from Norway) saw off Chris Patrick 3-1 on the live stream table, as did Ian Ali who ousted Jordan Church 3-2 in a thrilling encounter.
South African JJ Faul qualified, as too did another French cueist in Pierre-Damien Coz.
The draw for the Round of 64 was made later on and inevitably threw up some anticipated clashes.
Pre-tournament favourite and Number 1 ranked pro Marc Farnsworth will take on Toby 'Lightning' Bolt, 2014 finalist Clint I'Anson will face Ali and Simon Ward crosses cues with Beaufils.
Gareth Hibbott gets the defence of his title underway against Darren McCarthy, whilst reigning BI World Champion Liam Dunster plays McGauley. No one has yet to win both World Titles, yet alone hold both at the same time.
Wednesday also saw the start of the Pairs and Seniors (Over 40's) Championships.
Both matches selected for the live table in the Pairs went all the way to a 'BlackBall ShootOut' after the scores were tied at 6 frames each. The teams of Jordan Shepherd/Geoff Allen and Arfan Dad/Jason Twist were the ones to ultimately hold their nerve.
Defending champions Gareth Hibbott (yes, he done a double last year!) and Dean Shields are still on course to retain after winning their Preliminary and Round One games with the loss of just 4 frames in total.
There will however be a brand new name on the Seniors trophy after back to back champion Jason Twist went down 7-5 to fellow tour professional Jason Rimington. 

Guapo Sorts The Boyes From The Men

Karl Boyes

The Northern Masters final for 2013 was contested between two of the most seasoned players in the UK right now. Karl Boyes, finally hitting somewhat of a purple patch in the domestic season, and Mark Gray who was looking to cement his place at the top of the provisional British rankings in readiness for the end of season World Pool Masters qualifiers.

Boyes started his campaign started his campaign in the tournament with a comfortable 9 racks to 2 victory against Brett Armer, following this up with a 9-5 victory over Jez Graham to put him safely into the last 32 stage. An international flavour came up in the next match as Bruno Muratore tried to stop Boyes in his tracks. It was Boyes who made it though, however, as he overcame the efforts of the pony-tailed Italian in a tense 9-8 win. This saw him through to a match against Sunderland’s Adam Benn Smith in the last 16, a match which he came through 9 racks to 4 and safely putting him into the last 8. There he faced an almighty fright from Benji Buckley before again coming through another hill-hill encounter, eliminating the Sheffield shooter 9-8 and putting him into the final four. Waiting for him there was Chris Hall of Wakefield, and he made sure of back to back victories over Yorkshiremen with a gritty 9-5 win, seeing him into his first main event final since July 2010.
Mark Gray began his challenge for the title against Colin Connor, and a straightforward 9-3 victory meant he next faced Pablo Garcia Lagar for a place in the last 32. He managed to go one better in this match, disposing of the Spaniard 9-2 and paving the way for a clash with April’s Paul Medati Trophy runner-up Craig Osborne. The man from Ipswich wasn’t going to replicate April’s feats as Gray eliminated him from the tournament 9 racks to 4. Gray saw himself into the last 16 against Andy Worthington, but another 9-2 victory saw him ease through to a potentially mouth-watering clash against Chris Melling, hoping to take the title back to Keighley with him in what was practically a home tournament for the Mosconi Cup MVP. The match was anything but the classic people were expecting, however, with Gray easing through 9-1 and setting up a semi-final against Imran Majid, himself looking to keep the pressure on Gray at the top of the provisional rankings. Gray was once again on the right end of the scoreline, and another 9-4 victory meant he made his way into the final without dropping more than four racks in any of his matches. A staggering statistic and form that was sure to bring out a brutal final.
The match was as tense as people were expecting, with Gray taking a 10-8 lead before Boyes edged the match back to level pegging at 10-10 with one rack to play. Gray had already run four racks in the match and Boyes picked the perfect time to make his fourth and final dish, sealing the title with a superb run out and an 11-10 victory which saw him rise to 2nd place in the provisional rankings with only his beaten finalist Mark Gray now standing above him.