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Thursday, Oct 17, 2019

Pankaj Advani retains world billiards title, takes win count to 22

In a repeat of last year’s final at the IBSF World Billiards Championship, Pankaj re-enacted the one-sided match with the same eventual outcome as well as identical scorelines of 6-2

other-sports Updated: Sep 15, 2019 23:49 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
New Delhi
India Cueist Pankaj Advani
India Cueist Pankaj Advani (PTI)

India’s Pankaj Advani underlined his mastery in billiards again on Sunday as he swept to his fourth world title in successive years in the short, 150-up format. The Bengaluru-based cueist captured his seventh title overall in the format, defeating home favourite Nay Thway Oo in the final of the IBSF World Billiards Championships being held at Mandalay, Myanmar. It was world title No 22 for the prolific winner, who has won at least one global event every year since 2014. “It’s such a touch-and-go format and so unpredictable that winning this four years on the trot and five out of the last six is extremely special,” Advani said after the win.

In a repeat of last year’s final, Advani defeated Nay Thway Oo of Myanmar 6-2 in the best-of-11-frame title clash. The scoreline was identical to the 2018 final, reflecting Advani’s continued dominance.

Advani said the good start was key to hitting the cruise mode in the final. “In a world championship, it is very competitive. And to go the full distance you have to put yourself ahead, start very strongly. That was the important thing. I was 4-1 up at the interval and it was pretty much over at that point. In the shorter format, you always have to be on your toes,” he said over phone from Mandalay.

Familiarity with the finalist, having beaten Nay Thway Oo for the title last year, too helped. “If you have beaten the same opponent, it is an advantage. Psychologically, it makes you free. If you know my sport, your hands can get tight (under pressure). So, knowing you have beaten him before means you can open up your arms. It was especially useful as the semi-final against Mike Russell (England stalwart) was hard fought.”

Advani enjoys playing the shorter format as much as he does the time format, which is the purist’s delight. “Unlike the time format, the points format is more unpredictable. It’s like Tests and T20. In Tests, you know who the players are and how they will perform. In T20, often you don’t know what can happen,” he said.

Billiards is a game of aesthetics as much as skill, though the shorter format is a lot about efficiency.

“I have done the billiards grand double,” Advani pointed out, when asked about how he strikes the balance in the 150-up format. “The shorter format is definitely more exciting. In the time format sometimes players produce a 500-600 point break, and you are waiting. In 150-up, you have to reset after every frame. It’s therefore more of hit-and-run.”

The eight-time world billiards (time format) winner also has a world snooker title, which he won last year. His billiards world titles in the points format, ahead of Sunday’s latest, came in 2005, 2008, 2014, 2016, 2017 and 2018.

In the final, Pankaj Advani eased into a 3-0 lead with breaks of 145, 89 and 127, leaving his opponent searching for his first frame. Oo won the fourth frame with breaks of 63 and 62, but was again forced to wait as Advani captured the next two frames, which included an unfinished break of 150 points.

The Myanmar player’s best was in the seventh frame when he had a century break. However, Advani responded with a 74 to seal the match.

Advani, 34, has dominated the sport since he won his first world title in 2003. He is the only player to have won world titles in billiards and snooker as well as the world professional billiards championships.

Advani will have just 24 hours to switch codes as he next competes in the IBSF World Six-Red Snooker—the shorter format—followed by the World Team Snooker Championships—the full 15-red format.

Result (final):

Pankaj Advani beat Nay Thway Oo (Myanmar) 6-2 (breaks in bracket)

150 (145)-4, 151 (89)-66, 150 (127)-50 (50), 7-150 (63,62), 151 (50)-69 (50), 150 (150)-0, 133 (64)-150 (105), 150 (74)-75 (63).

First Published: Sep 15, 2019 19:23 IST

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