The World Billiards circuit headed across the Atlantic Ocean and into Canada for the recent biannual Vimy Ridge Classic and Pan Am Cup world ranking double header.
Held at the Anavets 283 Army, Navy and Air Force Veterans Unit in Winnipeg, this week long showcase of the three-ball sport was sanctioned by the Pan American Billiards and Snooker Association; a continental member of the World Snooker Federation. Players representing England, India, Singapore, New Zealand and the United States joined an enthusiastic host nation contingent to compete for a share of the £12,000 prize money on offer.
Returning Russell Retains
In the two-day Vimy Ridge Classic multiple time world champion Mike Russell defended the title after overcoming India’s Dhvaj Haria in the final.
Russell, who was making his return to the World Billiards scene, had little problem qualifying for the knockouts as he finished top of his group undefeated.
Seeded into the last 16 the Englishman eliminated Jules Mortinson (Canada) 407-50 and then compiled a brace of double centuries in denying Ryan Mears (England) 585-285 during the quarter-finals. In his semi-final meeting with world number one Peter Gilchrist (Singapore), Russell crafted a run of 405 but later advanced by just a single point when the time expired.
Haria had been in fine form en route, putting together the tournament’s highest break of 527 in the last eight before seeing off fellow countryman Dhruv Sitwala in the semis to set up a repeat of the 2017 title decider. However, Haria was unable to navigate the last hurdle again as he watched Russell chalk up efforts 223 and 156 in an overall 477-405 triumph.
In an all-Canadian Challenge Cup, Ed Buchan ousted Dan Lougheed 152-145 in the final to take the title.
Pan Am Glory for Gilchrist
Gilchrist put his earlier disappointment behind him to secure the main event of the week, the level five ranked Pan Am Cup.
The Singaporean citizen entered his bid by notching up a quartet of century breaks in winning all four of his round robin fixtures. In the subsequent last 16 and quarter-finals Gilchrist comfortably dispatched local opposition in the form of Grant Theissen (500-83) and Rick Kendall (800-186) respectively, adding another five tons to his stats including a 213 against Kendall.
Three-time world champion Gilchrist had far less change to spare, however, during a difficult encounter with Haria in the semi-finals. Having been behind in the match, he was aided by a break of 487 – the highest of the event – in eventually reaching the allotted target by a 1200-1024 outcome.
A fourth different main event finalist of the week was realised when Sitwala dethroned defending champion Russell in the other dramatic semi-final. Trailing by at least 500 points on more than one occasion, Russell got himself back in the picture with late charges and was even poised to complete an astonishing recovery before he lost position at the top of the table when within fifty points of the winning line.
Gilchrist stated his intentions and set the tone of the final, though, with an opening scoring visit of 366. Further contributions of 116, 107, 131, 101, 208 and an unfinished run of 237 sealed a 1500-507 victory. It was his third accolade of the season following successes at the Club Marconi Sydney Open and White Roofing English Open in March.
For further information and the full list of results, please visit the World Billiards website.