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Bircher Pips The Clock To Win Group Six

Sam Bircher

Sam Bircher became the latest player to qualify for the last 16 of the 2021 Apply Mortgages Ultimate Pool Masters after a dramatic night of action in Group Six.

Two of the three ties on offer at the Players Pool and Snooker Lounge provided maximum last-gasp entertainment as momentum shifted with only seconds left on the match-clock.

The opening match of the evening was a calmer affair, though, as Englishman Bircher put in an impressive first-half performance on his way to comfortably dispatching Morgan McInnes 7-3.

Former Golden Cue winner Bircher set his stall out early with a reverse dish in the first frame followed by a break dish in the second.

Promising youngster McInnes got table time in the following frames but he was unable to fully convert chances and was duly punished by his opponent who stretched his advantage to 5-0.

McInnes did open his account with frame six and managed to take a further two frames but the damage was already done and Bircher had plenty to spare when the 50 minutes were up.

In the second England v Scotland clash of the night, ‘Mad Mac’ Martin McIntosh caused arguably the biggest upset of the tournament so far as he ousted David McNamara in the first 6-Reds Shootout of the Ultimate Pool Masters.

The evening’s main talking points revolved around Scottish international McIntosh. He went 1-0 down before stringing together the next four frames in a row – including a break dish in frame four – to take control at 4-1 up.

A quarter-finalist at the recent Champions League Pool, McNamara responded to take three of the next four frames – despite struggling with an ongoing shoulder issue.

Time was against the former under-23 world champion, though, in his bid to salvage the match with only a couple of minutes remaining, and when his reverse dish attempt fell short in frame ten, it looked like his race was run.

However, in the most exciting finish so far, this was not the case. McIntosh went for the finish but with the shot-clock now at 15 seconds, he was unable to run it down enough as a safety net. When he unexpectedly jawed the black, McNamara had 10 seconds to pot two elementary balls and make it 5-5. He even had three seconds left after this to tease a golden break in frame 11 for an outright win, but he was unable to reproduce the scenes he memorably made at the aforementioned Champions League in a similar scenario.

Therefore, the match went to a 6-Reds Shootout. A likely stunned McIntosh won the lag and put his opponent in first. McNamara had a nightmare run, potting all six in 42.13 – this was bettered by McIntosh who cleared them in 34.11.


More fun and games came in the group’s final.

Bircher held the early upper hand, but McIntosh – helped by a break dish in the second frame – moved 3-1 ahead.

The pendulum swung again, as Bircher deposited frames five and six to level, and he looked set to go back in front before missing the black in frame seven for a break dish which McIntosh capitalised from. Back came Bircher, but when McIntosh secured frame nine, it appeared as if the 7/1 shot to qualify at the start of the night was going to spring another surprise.

However, 24-year-old Bircher had other ideas. He made the most of his opponent’s in-off to square it at 5-5 and force another frame with just over two-and-a-half minutes on the clock. Both made errors in the decisive frame 11, but it was Bircher who timed his clearance to perfection, amazingly sinking the black with only three seconds left.

There was still time for McIntosh to have his break shot in the next but no golden break was forthcoming and Bircher got through to set up a last 16 date with Karl Sutton in the summer.