Pankaj Advani quelled fellow Bangalorean and sparring partner Balachandra Bhaskar in under two hours and won his sixth national billiards title at the PYC Hindu Gymkhana here on Friday. A good number of green baize buffs – majority of them taking a break from the qualifying rounds of the snooker event – saw the champion cueist in sizzling form and decimate his opponent in the Manisha National Billiards and Snooker Championship.
Advani made half of his dozen visits to the table count with big breaks and virtually sealed the final before the 25 minute break allowance after the fourth game. “I could not have asked for more; getting three 150 breaks in the final. It was by far the best match of the nationals for me. It will be right up there and rank along side many of my international wins. I was cautious and alert at the start because Bhaskar is such a good pure billiards player and the way he came back strongly to win the semi-final against Alok Kumar. I have great respect for Bhaskar. He plays billiards really well. Not only is he my sparring partner, but he has great knowledge of the game. So I had to raise my level of the game. One has to be focused and precise,” said a cheerful Advani.
The defending champion and the top seed began with a break of 151 and latched to a chance in the second to take a 2-0 lead and soon he gave an exhibition of skills in the three-ball game taking the third and fourth with breaks of 151 and 150. “Well, Bhaskar did not get a chance in these two games. It has been a sea-saw-like tournament for me. I could not do much wrong in the group matches, but the quarter-final and semi-final were scrappy. I missed shots and had to come back against Rupesh Shah and Sourav Kothari. Numbers do not matter to me, but it (the sixth title) stayed in my mind. It’s not possible to delete these things from the mind. I am happy that I have been able to win six of the eight finals I have played from 2005.”
“My first big win was in snooker and thereafter I won the billiards title. I enjoy playing billiards and with a natural flow and rhythm. One has to know to play billiards. I want to shine as an artist while playing billiards. I am not a text-book player, I like to be creative that helps to take the pressure off. At the same time one cannot play without the fear factor. I expected a lot from Bhaskar, but as I said before, today was the best.”
Bhaskar has lost to Geet Sethi, Alok Kumar and Advani in four finals. He lost to Sethi in the 1998 final at Calcutta, to Alok in the 2003 final at Gwalior and to Advani in the 2011 final at Chennai and here on Friday. “I have to improve in a few aspects of the game and that includes the ways and means to tackle Pankaj. I have beaten him in practice games. The cloth was ironed today and I could not adjust to that. Also the balls drifted when hit on the sides,” said Bhaskar.
Results: Men (Billiards-Final) Pankaj Advani (PSPB) bt B.Bhaskar (Knt) 5-0: 151 (151)-31, 152 (59)-26, 153 (151)-0, 150 (150)-0, 150 (62)-36, 3 & 4 position: Sourav Kothari (PSPB) bt Alok Kumar (PSPB) 2-1 :150 (59*)-107, 62-150 (115), 150 (70*)-45; 5to 8: Rupesh Shah (PSPB) bt V. Subramanian (Mah) 2-1: 101 (92)-14, 83-101, 101-77, bt Siddharth Parikh (PSPB) 2-1: 60-100, 104-88,100-0, Parikh bt Arun Agrawal (Mah) 2-0: 100 (58)-35, 101 (90)-14, Agrawal bt Subramanian 2-0:101-34,105-7.
Final positions: 1. P.Advani 2. B. Bhaskar. 3. Sourav Kothari 4. Alok Kumar 5. Rupesh Shah 6. Siddharth Parikh 7. Arun Agrawal 8. V. Subramanian
Results: Women’s snooker pre-quarter-finals: Arantxa Sanchiz (Mah) bt Jagruti Patel (Mah) 52-51, 44-31, Varsha Sanjeev (Knt) bt Judy Walia (Knt) 49-36, 67-31, Uma Devi (Knt) bt I. Lahari (AP) 70-9, 65-9, M. Chitra (Knt) bt Renu Bharkatiya (MP) 78-19, 55-15, Heena Khandelwal (Mah) bt Suniti Damani (WB) 60-1, 66-39, Keerath Bhandaal (Del) bt Amee Kamani (MP) 54-50, 47-36, Meenal Thakur (Mah) bt Arya Pimpale (Mah) 57-13, 86-20, Neena Pravin (TN) bt Indira Gowda (Knt) 41-50, 58-7, 62-39.