In spite of atrocious weather conditions, 40 players turned up in Lancaster to contest the northern section of this tournament.
The tie of the preliminary round saw James Silverwood beat Farakh Ajaib 3-2. James had an 89 clearance, 88, 48 and 45, and Farakh breaks of 42 and 34 in the frames he won.
Other impressive performances came from Ian Martin who made a 56 break in the first frame of his 3-1 victory over David Stephenson, and Danny McDonald who beat experienced Gary Knowles 3-0 aided by a 54 break.
The next round of matches again saw Silverwood rise to the challenge, defeating the holder Simon Blackwood 3-1, with breaks of 51, 48 and 46. Other notable performances were by Kevin Harris who beat Richard Alston 3-1 with 4 breaks over 40.
Other good breaks in the first two rounds were made by Jack Cullingan, 84 and 56, Steve Scott, an 80 clearance, a 69 from Michael Cousins and 50’s from Mike Nixon and Josh Mulholland.
The qualifying round saw young newcomer Anthony Wall narrowly defeating Tyler Whittaker on the final pink. Silverwood struggled against Alan Pearson who led 2-0 but hit back to take the next 3 with a top break of 53. Jack Culligan hit the highest break of the day, a 90, in the first frame of his match against Ian Martin, however Ian took the next 3 to qualify. Josh Corless was particularly impressive in beating Mike Nixon 3-0 with breaks of 67, 47 and 45.
The other qualifyers with consistent performances were Mark Ainscough, Dave Holcroft, Kevin Harris and Steve Scott. A special mention should be made. Josh Naylor, a local lad with cerebral palsy, playing in his first tournament outside league play acquitted himself very well in spite of losing his match 3-0.
On Sunday the 7 April 2019 the last 16 of the North West Open Amateur Snooker Championship was played at the George Scott Snooker Club in Liverpool
The first round began with Alex Taubman in fine form beating Tony Kinsella 3-1 with breaks of 52, 90 and 76.
Robert Marshall could not repeat his fine form from the Lancaster event losing easily 0-3 to Leo Fernandez. Leo made breaks of 39, 44 and 49.
Clayton Humphries had a comfortable 3-1 win over Jack Bradford, finishing off with a 73 break.
Junior player Paul Deaville continues to improve, winning the first frame against Mark Salmon on the black, then recording an 80 break in the next frame before wrapping up the match 3-0.
Andy Milliard had a titanic battle with David Holcroft. David made an 86 break to level the match at 2-2. However, Andy replied in the decider with 82.
In the remaining matches, Simon Blackwell beat Jamie Jones 3-0, Sean Maddocks beat Jason Tart 3-1 and Mike Nixon received a walk-over with the non-attendance of Danny Hicks.
The first quarter-final was a cat and mouse affair, with Alex Taubman taking the opening frame. Leo Fernandez levelled with 33 and 36. Alex again took the lead, aided by a 48 break. Leo dominated the fourth frame with a top break of 38. Alex at last produced his best form and took the decider with a 68 break.
Paul Deaville continued his fine form, defeating Clayton Humphries 3-1. Paul had a top break of 55, while in the only frame Clayton won, he made an 80 break.
Andy Milliard started off well against Simon Blackwell, winning the first frame with a 50. From then on, it was downhill as Simon won the next three.
Sean Maddocks played out a marathon match against Mike Nixon. Sean established a 2-1 lead before Mike hit back with a 56 break. The decider was a very tense affair with Sean trailing for most of the frame before snookering Mike on the blue and eventually potting the pink for the game.
The semi-final produced straight forward wins for Taubnan over Deaville, three nil and Blackwell over Maddocks, three one.
The final started with Taubman taking the first frame with the aid of a thirty nine break. There then followed an exhibition of consistent power potting by Blackwell who reeled off the next four frames in style to take the magnificent silver trophy, on loan from Thurston’s museum, a replica trophy and the five hundred pound winners cheque.
Alex received a cheque for two hundred and fifty pounds and a trophy.
Robert Marshall had the highest break of one hundred and nineteen, worth fifty pounds.
John Twist refereed the final stages and received a commemorative medal.
45 players entered from as far afield as Widnes, Carlisle, Blackpool and Burnley to play in the northern section of the competition in Lancaster.
The 8 qualifiers were –
Ex-pros Marshall, Nixon, Milliard and Fernandez all had fairly easy passages to the final stages. Fernandez was particularly impressive, with several breaks over 50.
The performance of the tournament was by Robert Marshall who made breaks of 100, 119 and 62 in a first-round win over Mike Cousins.
Among the other qualifiers, Jason Tart was impressive with two 3-0 wins. Junior player Paul Deaville qualified from the Lancaster event for the second year running. Mark Salmon, a newcomer, did well to qualify and keeping up local interest was Lancaster’s Danny Hicks.
Other centuries were made by two local players; former winner Trevor Lamb made a 102 clearance and James Silverwood had a run of 112.
The live results reporting by Michael Waring went down very well with the players and spectators.
Some of the regions finest cue-men descended on George Scott’s Snooker Club in Liverpool for the first of two qualifying events of the 2019 North West Open.
Fifty-two players had to be whittled down to eight to qualify for the Grand Finals, which will also be played in Liverpool on Sunday 7th April.
Alex Taubman and Jack Bradford will be looking forward to the Grand Finals after a successful day, as will Tony Kinsella, David Holcroft and Clayton Humphries. Sean Maddocks came from two frames down against John Welsh to win 3-2 before beating Roy Bennett 3-0 to qualify. Jamie Jones produced a very exciting moment as he was heading for a maximum before missing the 13th red, but his classy 96 break remained the highest of the day.
The final remaining player to qualify was Simon Blackwell who beat a resurgent Andy Molyneux in the final qualifying round.
A great day at George Scott’s…..now it’s over to Lancaster for the second qualifying event on Sat 16th Feb where another eight players from around the region will be looking to book their places at the Grand Finals in Liverpool on 7th April…
This tournament has been contested since 1964 when The Pontins Cup was presented to the Lancashire Billiards and Snooker Association by Frederick Pontin. The first winner was Jimmy Heaton of Westhoughton and the runner-up was George Scott of Liverpool.
This competition is one of the most, if not the most, prestigious competitions in the North West of England. To be crowned the North West Open Champion is certainly something to be proud of.
The names on the winners band of this magnificent trophy include John Spencer and John Virgo. The trophy itself is housed in the Heritage Museum at Thurstons in Liverpool.
Who will be next on the winners list?
In 2019 there will be two qualifying events – one in Lancaster and one in Liverpool. There will be 8 qualifiers from each event who will go through to the Grand Finals.