World’s top billiards players right on cue in Leeds

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Players from across the globe converged on Leeds for the World Billiards Championships.

Fifty-five competitors from countries including India, Australia and Canada dusted off their cues for the challenge which has seen almost 300 matches take place over the past two weeks.

Pictured Pankaj Advani, from India, at action during the tournament.

Pictured Pankaj Advani, from India, at action during the tournament.

The contest, run by World Billiards Ltd (WBL) and held at the Northern Snooker Centre on Kirkstall Road, saw talented participants ranging from around 17 to 70 go into battle on the baize.

Tournament director Eugene O’Connor said: “It has been a huge success and attracted the cream of billiards players from all over the world. We’ve seen some fantastic billiards.”

While most armchair sports fans are familiar with the rules of snooker, billiards is “more for enthusiasts” according to WBL director Steve Lock. Explaining that the contest didn’t attract many spectators, he said: “It’s an incredibly technical game.

“So if you watched it, unless you play, you wouldn’t really understand it – unfortunately.”

He said: “Snooker is more accessible.

“There’s a saying that billiards is to snooker what chess is to draughts – there’s much more to be mindful of in billiards.”

Snooker, one of the world’s most popular games, uses 22 balls, while billiards only uses three – the object ball and two cue balls.

This year’s world snooker champion is set to receive £300,000, whereas the prize money pot at the World Billiard Championships was just £18,000.

Mr Lock, a former snooker player turned billiards aficionado, added: “When you’re into it, you’re really into it.”

But, in comparison to snooker, “it’s kind of down on its luck.”

Pankaj Advani took a record 11th world title in the final of the 150up format World Championship – in which opponents race to reach 150 points.

A second format challenges players to achieve the highest score within a set time frame, which ranges from two hours in the first round to five hours in yesterday’s final.

Jim Williamson, who opened the snooker centre, died in 2009 aged 80. It is now run by his son Chris, while his other son Ian – a former UK Billiards Champion – competed in this month’s event.

Graham Pearce of KPMG

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