Alok triumphs over Advani

Alok Kumar who won the S. Chand-NSCI All-India Invitational snooker tournament in New Delhi on Sunday.  

NEW DELHI AUG. 10. Former National champion Alok Kumar triumphed over the reigning master, Pankaj Advani, in a battle of nerves which stretched to 12 frames, and won the S. Chand-NSCI all-India invitational snooker tournament here on Sunday.

After trailing 1-2 in the first session, Alok authored a 63-57, 39-85, 3-95, 73-57, 49-27, 48-57, 64-56, 38-51, 71-70, 61-30, 27-83, 63-8, win and pocketed Rs. 1.25 lakh prize money.

Alok employed the tactics he is best known for — wear down the opponent with slow game. In-form Advani played unlike his character and often had to rally to stay in contention.

Big breaks were hard to come by for the 18-year-old Advani as Alok played more of a defensive game.

The 13-frame final looked headed for a one-sided finish but, but Advani and Alok kept the interest alive for over six hours.

The final was played in two sessions, first comprising six frames with an hour-long break but it was prolonged to about two hours to adjust the timing to the arrival of the chief guest.

The morning session provided as much drama as the epilogue, later in the day. Alok compiled a break of 45 in the opening frame which handed him a close 63-57 win.

Advani, the World No. 5 junior following his quarterfinal showing in the Under-21 World championship in Taupo, New Zealand, was hardly unsettled by such a scenario.

He capped a series of handy breaks to win the next two frame 85-39, 95-3.

Under pressure, Alok reverted to his famed slow game and levelled the scores with aplomb. He went up again and after a prolonged exchange of safety shots, Advani squared the scores by winning the sixth frame 57-48.

The last frame of the first session could have tilted on either side as Alok held a slight edge with colour series remaining on the table. Advani bided for his time, earned a few away points and edged ahead nicely.

An inordinate delay in the start of the second session surely affected Advani's chances. Since big breaks were a rarity in such a situation, both relied on either making mistakes.

Midway through all the frames, more safety shots were on the show as both avoided spreading the red balls to make the table open. Unlike an exciting finals otherwise seen in National and other rated championships, this one meandered close to be branded a dour encounter.

The turning point was the ninth frame which Alok won 71-70 on the black ball. Advani deserved that frame but it was not to be. Though the youngster managed to win the 11th, the writing was on the wall.

The result: Final: Alok Kumar bt Pankaj Advani 7-5 (63-57, 39-85, 3-95, 73-57, 49-27, 48-57, 64-56, 38-51, 71-70, 61-30, 27-83, 63-8.