Yang Beats Chao, Wins Guinness 9-Ball Tour

Ching-Shun Yang

In a mighty clash between two of Taiwan's hometown favourites, a student prevailed over his long-time mentor as Ching-Shun Yang managed to set aside friendship for a moment to defeat sentimental favourite Fong-Pang Chao, 11 – 6, at the final of the second leg of the prestigious 2007 Guinness 9Ball Tour last Sunday at the jam-packed Kaohsiung Business Exhibition Center in Chinese-Taipei.

Knowing all too well the capabilities of his former pool teacher, Yang wasted no time in building an early 2 – 0 lead against the 39 year-old Chao by opening the match up with a runout and cleaning up after Chao came up dry in the second rack.

Mirroring his protégé, Chao capitalized on a yellow one ball miss by Yang in the third rack and came up with his own version of a run-out in the 4 th rack to knot the score at two a-piece.

But an uncharacteristic miss on the brown seven, a bungled safety attempt in the 8 th and an unlucky scratch in the 9th from the two time former world champion allowed Yang to build up his lead to a comfortable 7 – 3 as he continuously awed the crowd with his impeccable shot making skills.

Nonetheless, the old master, even after all those years, still had some tricks to impart as Kaohsiung's "Cold Face Killer", always cool and calculated, managed to frustrate Yang at the 11 th rack with two peculiar safety shots that left his younger rival no option but to settle for insanely impossible attempts at the pink four which resulted in an automatic point for Chao.

The unbelievable sequence of events began when Yang snookered himself after potting the red three. Left with no shot on the four ball, he deliberately committed a foul by hitting the green six to bring it closer to the four and in effect leaving Chao with no shot on the four as well even with ball in hand. But Chao, knowing all the tricks in the book, knew all too well how to get out of the sticky predicament. With pinpoint precision, Chao drove the cue back to where Yang originally committed the foul, on the way feathering the four ever so slightly to create a legal shot. With his plan completely back firing on him, Yang tried to kick the cue off the top rail in the hopes of hitting the four but missed it altogether notching him his second foul. With ball in hand once more, Chao repeated the same process with the same results as Yang tried the kick shot once more to commit his third consecutive foul which automatically forfeited the rack to Chao as tournament rules dictated that three fouls in a row would mean automatic points to the opponent.

The free point allowed Chao to get back in the game, 5 – 7.

In the end however, it was youth that conquered wisdom as Chao ran out of stamina at the final stretch, committing three crucial unforced errors in consecutive racks to give Taiwan's "Son of pool" Yang the well-deserved, 11 – 6, victory and the US$15,000 top purse together with 70 tour points to boost his chances of making it to the grand final in Bali where only the top ten finishers are invited.

"Of course I am very happy with the win. I really practiced hard for this event. And it is a good feeling knowing that all my sacrifices paid off because sometimes even practicing everyday does not necessarily guarantee a win. But even if I l had lost I'd still be alright with it since I never felt any pressure all throughout tournament. I was just playing the game for myself and enjoying the experience of playing alongside these world-class athletes. And since I was really playing well my confidence level was really high which I think gave me an advantage in my match with Chao." Remarked Yang.

Yang, who was actually the tour's 2005 overall winner, gained a finals berth by trumping three time junior world pool champion Wu Yu-Lun, 11 -8 in their semifinals contest. Chao on the other hand, eliminated reigning WPA World 8ball and 9Ball champion Ronato "The Volcano" Alcano, 11 – 6 on his way to the final.

The Tour now moves on to Malaysia's entertainment hub, Genting Highlands which will take place on June 15 – 17. After which there will be stops in Singapore on July 13 –15, and Shanghai on Aug 3 – 5 with the grand final happening in Bali on Aug 31 – Sep 2.