Another tournament, another step up the ladder for the IPA Pool Tour with the huge Bamburgh Suite at St James Park, home of Newcastle United FC, providing just about perfect conditions for players and spectators alike. A full field went in to battle Friday morning at 10.00am using all 24 tables through to one in the morning and then on again on Saturday in the Open until we finally reached a semi final line up that saw local lad Michael Peel line up against Simon Ward, while Ben Davies and Clint I'Anson fought it out on the livestream table. Although both matches were good in their own right it was the Davies/I'Anson battle that will go down in pool legend as Clint went from 4-1 up to 6-4 down to win 7-6 with one frame perhaps changing the tide of the match. R=Thanks to some tactical genius Clint win a frame that we all thought was a lost cause and marched on to play Michael Peel in the final.
In front of a loud but fair crowd very much on the side of home favourite Michael "the real deal" Peel (their words not mine) , it wasn't to be for the local player who went down fighting 7-3 but he was anything but disgraced playing against a top professional and is one to look out for in future events if he can keep the form he has shown this weekend.
On to Sunday and as those with long journeys wandered home, and the long and laborious task of taking apart tables, lighting etc began, we still had two trophies left to play for with the professionals on first. Three of the four semi finalists were Welsh, with Jordan Shepherd beating World Champion Craig Marsh in the first all Wales match, and Ben Davies beating Jimmy Carney in the other for an all Welsh Final which I doubt us English will ever be allowed to forget! Both players are lightning fast with very little hesitation between shots and the crowd plus a World full of on line viewers witnessed a display of potting prowess that will live long in the memory. Of course it wasn’t perfect, that would be boring, and the odd bit of bad luck of unexpected miss is what can turn frames and matches around but it kept those of us there totally enthralled until the final ball was struck and Ben was crowned Professional Champion by a final score of eight frames to six (8-6)in a match well worthy of any final.
The last match to end the weekend was the Amateur Final, which is far more prestigious than it sounds with it own cash prize as well as the all-important ranking points that will decide come the end of the season who will or will not be invited to join the esteemed ranks of the IPA Professionals. Ian Ali has been a proven player for many years now and progressed to the final with a win over Kevin Rainbow, while Jake Newlove saw off Gary Clarke to see a new name as winner after the early season dominance of Mark Boyle. At the end of the day experience counted as Ian ran out a fairly comfortable 7-2 winner and surely he will be playing in the Professional events by this time next season.
And so, another event drew to a close and those behind the scenes got on with the real work of packing up and storing all the tables, lighting, computer screens and so on ahead of the next event in Coventry for the European Open – be there or miss out on all the fun and all that’s good about blackball pool – www.ipapool.com
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