The inaugural World Disability Billiards and Snooker (WDBS) British Open was successfully held last weekend at the Woking Snooker Centre, England.
The first WDBS tournament staged at the venue since 2016, the event saw nine tournaments contested in total, including a wide range of different disability classification groups. There was also a Challenge Cup tournament for players who did not qualify for the final day, as well as an Open Day ahead of the competitive snooker for all people with disabilities to come and try the sport under the guidance of qualified WPBSA Snooker Coaches.
England’s Tony Southern claimed his fifth WDBS title and first since the 2021 Stockport Open following 4-1 victory against Shahab Siddiqui in the Group final on Sunday.
The pair were joined by Chris Brown during an initial round-robin group stage which was topped by Siddiqui on Saturday afternoon, but it was Southern who ran out a comfortable winner in the title match following an impressive performance.
A new winner was crowned in Group 3 as Clive Brunton edged out Kit Kennedy 4-3 following a closely contested final.
Brunton was competing in only his third WDBS competition and first since his final run at the 2017 Open Disability Snooker Championship in Wolverhampton, while Kennedy progressed to his second consecutive final, having also done so in Stockport last October.
The final proved to be a tight affair, with the pair never separated by more than one frame and it was Kennedy who potted an impressive pink at the climax of frame six to force a decider. But Brunton was not to be denied his maiden gold medal and claimed the last to add his name to the WDBS Roll of Honour.
Scotland’s William Thomson defeated David Church 3-1 to claim a sixth career WDBS crown at the British Open.
A repeat of the Hull Open final last May, the match represented the culmination of a high-standard competition, which saw Church score an impressive break of 77 during the final frame of a 3-1 victory against Carl Gibson in the semi-finals. The break is the highest break compiled by a player with an ambulant disability on the WDBS Tour to date, surpassing runs of 75 and 74 by Gibson and Thomson respectively earlier in the tournament.
It was Thomson, however, who would prevail in the final, adding the scalp of Church to those of record 14-time champion Daniel Blunn and Andy Johnson, who he had previously defeated earlier in the day.
It was eleventh heaven for England’s Mickey Chambers in Group 5 he defeated David Moore 3-1 to extend his winning run.
Having previously not dropped a frame at the Stockport Open last October, however, Chambers was not to have it all his own way in Woking as he dropped three frames during Saturday’s group stage against Moore, Robert Marriott and Wayne Howell.
But he was not to be stopped on Sunday, a group high break of 31 in his semi-final helping him to victory over Dean Simmons, before he ousted former Hull Open champion Moore to move to within three of Daniel Blunn on the all-time records list.
Mohammed Faisal Butt defeated Alan Reynolds 3-1 in the Group 6A final to win his first WDBS title in almost a year at the Woking Snooker Centre.
It was a strong performance from Faisal Butt, who remained undefeated across the event to end the two-tournament winning streak of Reynolds and secure his seventh WDBS crown since his debut in 2018.
In Group 6B, there was a maiden success for 18-year-old Matthew Haslam, who underlined his recent improvement with an impressive 3-0 victory against James Hart in the final.
Having joined the circuit in 2019, Haslam won six matches from six across the weekend, notably coming back from 2-1 down against Peter Geronimo in the semi-finals to progress to his second career final.
Up against Hart, he opened in style with a group-high break of 57 in the opening frame that would ultimately pave the way for him to run out a dominant winner and the youngest player to claim a main event WDBS title so far.
Dylan Rees made a winning start to 2023 following a 3-0 defeat of Paul Smith to claim his fourth WDBS title at the British Open.
The 50-year-old was in devastating form throughout the weekend with eight breaks over 30 ensuring that he would drop just one frame on his way to glory in Woking.
His run of 90 during victory against Phillip Jones on Saturday was not only the highest contribution of the weekend, but the second-highest break ever at a WDBS tournament, eclipsed only by the run of 92 by Nick Neale at the 2018 Paul Hunter Disability Classic.
Lewis Knowles defeated old foe and Group 8 number one Shabir Ahmed 3-1 to claim his third career WDBS title in Woking.
The Englishman qualified for the knockout rounds without the loss of a frame, before seeing off Richard Gott and Kristof De Bruyn to set up an incredible ninth final meeting with Ahmed since their first in 2017.
Ahmed had won six of their previous eight title deciders, but this time it was to be Knowles who would prevail to improve his record to 3-6.
The high-break was shared by Daniel Booth and Shabir Ahmed, who both top scored with runs of 56 during the weekend.
In the Challenge Cup event for players who did not qualify for the knockout rounds, there was a maiden victory for Welsh youngster Dainton Barrass, who defeated Robert Lowe, Daniel Johnson, Kieran Golding, Maureen Rowland and Steve Cartwright to claim the title.
The WDBS Tour will return with the Belgian Open from 17-19 March 2023. Enter online by 24 February – while you can also read more about the WDBS Minibus Service to Bruges HERE.