Archive Page

Hardcore Harrison Secures Strachan Cup Success

Phil Harrison

Phil Harrison drew upon his extensive palette of experience to claim the 2018 Strachan Cup; event 2 of the newfangled Supreme Pool Series.
128 of English 8 Ball's top talents traveled to the Players Pool and Snooker Lounge in Stoke-On-Trent for this unique three-day tournament. A strong contingent from UK and Ireland was joined by entries from Europe, Africa and even Australia – another example of the significant progress this series has made in trying to unify and grow the profile of the sport for competitors and fans alike.
Harrison began his campaign with comfortable 11-2 wins over Matt Brierley and Richard King before dismantling global Cuesports star Chris Melling 11-4. The composure of Harrison's game was then shown as he ousted former IPA World Champion Gareth Hibbott 11-10 in the next round.
The 2009 WEPF World Champion's route to the title wasn't without troubles, though, as he was pushed to the Losers Section following an 11-9 defeat to Jordan Church. However, Harrison re-grouped by seeing off Lee Clough 8-6 to qualify for the single elimination Quarter-Finals, where the competition was effectively re-set.
There was a stellar line-up for the Last 8, but inevitably there were big names who still missed out.
Melling lost two games in a row and was eliminated by double World Champion Tom Cousins, who himself was denied in the subsequent round by Shaun Storry. IPA World Champion Ben Davies was also one of Storry's other victims.
US Open 9 Ball Champion Jayson Shaw won a trio of matches in total but his bid was eventually ended by IPA World Number 1 Marc Farnsworth via a deciding frame. Farnsworth would exit the event to Stephen Dempsey during his next outing.
Scott Gillespie, champion of the season-opening Jason Owen Open in May, suffered the earliest possible avenue of elimination when he lost to Melling and then Matthew Schofield straight off. 
BCA Hall of Fame member Darren Appleton navigated his first fixture but sadly had to withdraw from the tournament due to personal reasons.
The Quarter-Finals onwards
Harrison chalked up five consecutive frames to turn a 9-6 deficit into an 11-9 victory against Harjeet Singh. Singh, who represents India, had already won the best 'non-elite player prize' with an impressive run of results throughout the long weekend.
Recently crowned the WEPF World Champion for a record-extending fifth time, pre-tournament favourite Mick Hill was living up to expectations on debut having qualified undefeated, although he did have to survive final frame finishes against Craig Lakin and Yannick Beaufils. A more straight-forward 11-4 win over Church put him into the Last 4.
Joining Harrison and Hill in the Semi-Finals were Liam Dunster and Jon McAllister. Dunster stopped Karl O'Donoghue's tracks, 11-5, whilst McAllister came out on the right side of an absolute thriller with Northern Irish legend Ronan McCarthy, 11-10.
Both match-ups in the Semis were repeats of the latest WEPF and B.I. World Championship Finals.
Harrison was peerless and efficient as he crossed cues with long time adversary Hill, capitalising on his fellow Englishman's dry breaks to record a resounding 11-3 outcome in his favour. The result would go someway to serving revenge on an opponent who had denied him another world title in each of the past two years.
Reigning B.I. World Champion Liam Dunster was once again proving why he is one of the sport's hottest properties. The consistent Scottish youngster, who only a few weeks ago claimed the IPA Champions Cup title, sealed back-to-back final appearances on the Supreme Pool Series with a gut-wrenching 11-10 triumph against McAllister.
An intriguing final developed between two players with very similar styles – both on and off the table. However, possibly because of the occasion and the grueling nature of the event throughout, there were uncharacteristic early mistakes on both sides.
Harrison managed to open up a lead, though, an advantage that he always maintained. Well past the midnight hour he eventually confirmed an 11-8 victory to earn himself £5,000 and another highlight onto his illustrious CV within in the sport.
While Dunster will be disappointed to finish as runner-up on the series again, he will buoyed by the fact that both of these competitions were played to World Rules, which isn't his primary rule-set. He will be even more comfortable and dangerous for the next two stops on the series which are both played to Blackball Rules, his preferred discipline.
The stakes are raised for the Supreme Pool Masters which takes place 17th-19th August at the same venue, where the champion will walk away with £13,000 and one of the most prestigious titles in English 8 Ball Pool.
Following the Classic in late September, the series reaches boiling point in December with the Home Leisure Direct Grand Finals which boasts a record-breaking £51,000 first prize – the biggest in the sport's tournament history.

2018 Jason Owen Open – A Look At The Draw

There will be several high profile First Round clashes at the greatly anticipated Jason Owen Open, the opening event of the ground-breaking Supreme Pool Series.
Conducted live on Facebook and YouTube, the 128 player random draw predictably threw up some mouth-watering ties given the strength and depth of the series. As with all this year's tournaments, the format is initially Double Elimination qualifying, with the final 8 competing a straight Knock-Out. The Jason Owen Open, which runs between the 4th-6th May, boasts a total prize purse of over £18,000 with £5,000 going to the champion. 
Amongst the picks of the round is Shane Thompson v Jayson Shaw. Thompson is an ever-improving, hardened and successful player on both the tournament and money match scenes, whilst global cuesports superstar Shaw – World Blackball Champion in 2010, will be returning to his small table roots. 
Another superstar making a return to English Pool after a sustained absence is Darren Appleton, he has also been handed a very tough assignment with professional Clint I'Anson; one of the most consistent performers on the IPA circuit this decade. 
Shaw and Appleton's fellow Mosconi Cup winners and World Champions too, Chris Melling and Karl Boyes are back on the smaller table, they will face Scott Ross and Stefan Risidi respectively. 
Undoubtedly one of the pre-tournament favourites will be two-time WEPF World Champion Tom Cousins, who meets the experienced Paul Riley first up, whilst another ex-World Champion Phil Harrison drew one of the eight 'To Be Confirmed' names in the last section.
The Supreme Pool Series exhibits past and present World Champions from both sides of the rules divide – Current IPA World Champion Ben Davies is paired with Rich Wharton in Round One.  
Jack Whelan, who won the IPA World Title in 2015, pits his wits against newly crowned Scottish Professional Champion Mark Boyle in yet another mouth-watering fixture. Reigning BI World Champion Liam Dunster tackles Andrew McKie. 
Other very notable match-ups include Yannick Beaufils v Adam Davis,Karl O'Donoghue v Shaun Chipperfield, Neil Raybone v Craig Waddingham, Jordan Church v Lee Clough and Arfan Dad v Dan Davy. 
The Jason Owen Open is the first of five events throughout the year at the Players Pool and Snooker Lounge in Stoke-on-Trent. The season ending Home Leisure Direct Grand Final will see the winner bank £40,000. 
To see the draw in full, please visit the Players Pool Events group or the Beard Productions page on Facebook. 

IPA World Final – Magic Marsh Makes It Right

Craig Marsh banished thoughts of his heartbreaking defeat in last year's final by making amends and going all the way to become the 2017 IPA World Champion. 


12 months earlier, in exactly the same arena, the Welsh cueist suffered in his chair as he watched opponent Gareth Hibbott coolly clear the balls in a last set, deciding frame thriller. Fast forward a year later and it was himself who felt the elation and joy of being the last player standing in the biggest event on the IPA circuit. 

Marsh had it tough throughout in Bradford. In his First Round, Second Round and Quarter- Final matches he trailed 2-1 before having to win the last two sets in each for victory. That Last 8 success being against the pre-tournament favourite and current Professional Number 1 Marc Farnsworth. 
Going into Finals Day Saturday he was the only remaining professional of the quartet and an even money shot to lift the trophy and pocket the £10,000 winners cheque; he lived up to the pressure. 
His Semi-Final opponent Ian Ali in many ways had been the player of the tournament up until that point. Having won seven consecutive matches to reach the Last 4, he had dropped just 5 sets in total and took out Jordan Church, Clint I'Anson, Brian Halcrow, Jimmy Croxton and Ben Davies on route.
Ali started well by going 3-1 up in the first set, but it quickly turned around as Craig won three on the spin to take it 4-3. Incredibly, the exact same sequence was reserved in Set 2 as Ian levelled at 1-1. 
But a combination of factors from there on in saw Craig become stronger as he claimed Sets 3 and 4 for an overall 3-1 victory. 
His final opponent would be amateur Simon Fitzsimmons, a 33/1 shot at the start of the week.
Fitzsimmons came into the championship in great form having claimed a number of independent tournaments on the English Pool scene. During this event he eliminated seeds Josh Durant and Ronan McCarthy, as well as recovering from 2-0 down to Jeremy Hooper in the Quarters – keeping his nerve during a deciding frame finish.
Today he faced the classy, methodical Frenchman Yannick Beaufils who was aiming to reach his second career world individual final having been runner-up in the WEPF's version in 2002. He was also trying to become the first overseas player to reach the final of this competition.
However, Fitzsimmons made sure of an all British final when advancing as a 3-1 victor.
Later that evening, the stage would be set for the best of 7 sets title decider. Just like last year, you could have forgiven Marsh for having a sinking feeling as he watched Fitzsimmons blister his way to a 4-1 opening set win.
Yet one of Craig's primary qualities this week has been his temperament and refusing to panic when going behind.​ He got on the board with the second set and then went in front 2-1 at the mid-session interval.
On the resumption, Craig's strength continued to grow. He chalked up the fourth set 4-1 and then moved 3-0 up in the fifth – one more frame away from the title.
Looking as if that would be the end, he failed to get position on the black. In an attempt to pot the black when playing off the baulk cushion first, the cue ball went in off. Simon duly cleared to stay in it.
Not dwelling on that opportunity, Marsh returned to break in the next. Another feature of his game here has been his awesome break shot. He again got a very good split, found a ball into a pocket, and like he has done so many times this week, he cleared the table for an overall 4-1 win to become the new IPA World Champion.
After previous champions Gareth Potts (2014), Jack Whelan (2015) and Gareth Hibbott (2016), Marsh is the first non-Englishman to lift the trophy. 


New IPA World Champions Will Be Crowned On Saturday

From the original starting field of over 200 entries, just 4 remain, as we prepare for Finals Day Saturday in the 2017 IPA Individual World Championship.


Such was the strength, depth and quality of this year's line-up, just one solitary professional is in the final quartet; 2016 Runner-Up Craig Marsh, who clearly has unfinished business in Bradford.

Wales' Marsh has certainly had it tough over the last couple of days. Coming back from 2-1 down in both his Last 64 and Last 32 ties to win in a decider on Thursday, he repeated the feat against pre-tournament favourite and Number 1 pro Marc Farnsworth in Friday night's Quarter-Final.
Ian Ali (England) has been in superb form throughout. Having already won seven straight matches to get here, he has dropped just a total of 5 sets and beaten Jordan Church, Clint I'Anson, Brian Halcrow, Jimmy Croxton and Ben Davies on route.
In the bottom half of the draw Englishman Simon Fitzsimmons (pictured above, right) was the 'Comeback King' as he recovered from losing 9 of the first 10 frames to succeed in a final frame, deciding set thriller against fellow amateur Jeremy Hooper.
Hooper, last year's IPA World Seniors Finalist, raced to a 2 sets to 0 lead with 4-0 and 4-1 results. However, the match turned around dramatically as Fitzsimmons repaid the compliment (4-1, 4-0) to force a fifth set.
On the live stream table and in front of a gripped audience, the clash deservedly went to the wire as the score stood at 3-3. Hooper broke well in the last – but came up dry. Fitzsimmons held his nerve to clear the balls and book a Semi-Final berth.
​The last player to make it through was Frenchman Yannick Beaufils who emerged at 1am on the right side of a 3-2 scoreline against pro Dan Davy.
Unlike Ali and Fitzsimmons, Beaufils has beaten a seeded opponent in every round since the Last 64. Back in 2002 he reached the final of the WEPF World Championship.
The Ladies Championship is also down to the Semi-Finals. Just like Jason Twist's demise in the Seniors, there will be a new name on the trophy this year after two time back to back champion Debbie Burchell was eliminated by Michelle Roonay in the Last 16.
​Shona Lucas – Runner-Up to Burchell in 2015 & 2016, also lost at the same stage to Kerry-Ann Hunt. 
​Collette Henriksen will play Rachel Tucker, whilst Leanne Evans faces Lisa Reynolds in the Last 4.

2017 IPA World Championship: Day 3 Review – Super Sixteen Remain

Defending champion Gareth Hibbott was eliminated during Thursday's action in Bradford as the top 32 seeded professionals joined 32 amateurs in the Last 64 of the 2017 IPA Individual World Championship. 
Hibbott's title defence started well with a comfortable 3-0 victory over amateur Darren McCarthy, but his hopes of back to back titles were dashed by fellow pro Ben Davies (a former World Champion himself) who progressed 3 sets to 1 later on in the day. 
Such is the quality of the amateur qualifiers who emerged from the earlier rounds across Tuesday and Wednesday, this wasn't the only 'upset'. 
Top 5 players Clint I'Anson, Simon Ward and Jordan Shepherd all fell at the first hurdle, as did 11 other seeds, meaning nearly half of the top tier contingent failed to make the Last 32. 
However, the professional ranked number 1 and pre-tournament favourite Marc Farnsworth managed to avoid the same fate as he saw off Toby Bolt 3-1 and then 2015 champion Jack Whelan by the same scoreline on the live stream table. 
2016 runner-up Craig Marsh had to dig deep and hold his nerve in deciding sets against both Jake Newlove and former multiple World Champion Andy Lucas – on both occasions he was 2-1 down.
Current BI World Champion Liam Dunster is still on course for a very unique double after also coming through a fifth set with Alex O'Donoghue in his second fixture. 
Jon McAllister, Jimmy Croxton, Jimmy Carney, Neil Raybone, Dan Davy and Ronan McCarthy are the other professionals to advance to the Last 16.
​That means 6 amateurs remain – Yas Hussain, Ian Ali, Yannick Beaufils, Jeremy Hooper, Arfan Dad and Simon Fitzsimmons. 

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. 

Potts Wins IPA Blackball Championship

Gareth Potts with trophy and runner up Clint I’Anson

When the International Professional Pool Players Association rolled in to town last Tuesday it would be fair to say they weren’t exactly sure what to expect or what reaction they would face having never even attempted a pool tournament at Lakeside before – let alone a World Championship.
Luckily for them, the local players and pool fans took the tournament to heart and not only turned up to support, but entered those tournaments they were eligible for, and in their droves!  Tuesday was unofficial opening day and the place was heaving with flyers and various fun competitions organised that went on in to the small hours of Wednesday morning including a “Last Man Standing” contest that saw almost £1000 paid out to the winner!
As for the World Championships themselves (including the Seniors), Surrey players tried their best, but it wasn’t to be in 2014, though most I spoke to suggested they would be back next year and arrive a bit better prepared, though fair play to them all – they stayed around for the rest of the week watching and supporting and for that, we will always be grateful.
Moving on to the tournaments later stages and the International aspect came out big time with English born Paul Coldrick representing France and running away with both the doubles AND the Seniors titles! After beating Andy Lucas in the over 40’s category Saturday night, he teamed up with Yannick Beaufils to take the doubles from Chris Patrick and Lloyd Freeman in a great final that really set the scene for the singles later in the day. Four semi finalists were left in with any one of them a potential winner, but it was Clint I’Anson who fought past Craig Marsh and Gareth Potts who saw off close friend Ronan McCarthy to form a final that lived up to expectation as the next generation took on the golden boy of 8 ball pool.  After sharing the first tow set 5-2 apiece, it all came down to a best of nine decider that Gareth took 5-3 at the death, but pure statistics tell less than half the story as the expectant crowd were treated to some amazing pool despite the amazing pressure both players were under.
In conclusion, the IPA and Lakeside put on a tournament to remember for both players and spectators alike, once again proving that the best pool payers on the planet can be found on the IPA Tour and nowhere else – so dust off your cue and we hope to see you all next year – who knows, maybe we could even end up with a local winner, the enthusiasm is certainly there?