The IBSF World snooker championship is all set to begin at the KSBA here from Monday. Malta, like Qatar, ran into visa problems and had to pull out on the eve of the event which enabled India's Neeraj Kumar get a look in to fill the fifth slot in group R.
“It shows the capability and commitment of India in general and KSBA in particular to set the stage for a major world event like this at a short notice like this,” said Barrie Jones, the Tournament Director, on the eve of the championship.
16 tables — all new for the matches — and four tables for practice are in place and the players had their first feel of the same and appreciated the conditions here.
Pankaj Advani, India's best bet and a former champion in 2003, and with India's Om Agarwal, the only other champion from this country in 1984, sounded confident but without being committal. “It's a tough group (group D)...but then it depends on the day's play. It's a very open field and anyone can win the title here,” said the Indian cueist. Eleven Indians in the fray should go through to the next stage. Top three from the 16 groups will advance with the toppers getting a direct seeding to the round of 32 while the other 32 will play to get a knock-out berth.
For the bespectacled Yasin Merchant, a former Asian champion, this will be a swansong championship, having decided to retire after the worlds and would like to go out on a high.
“Having decided to quit the sport I would like to make it a sensational one…hope it works out that way,” said Merchant.
“The championship has been condensed into six days, the dates allotted for the 6 Red Snooker and it's amazing the way things have panned out while making the draw...hoping for a good contest now over the next six days,” said the Tournament Director.
“With some good performances, we can convince the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA) to give more berths for the IBSF,” added Jones. Now it's only the champions from here who get a pro circuit entry.
Keywords: IBSF World snooker championship