Snooker legend James Wattana claims SEA Games gold for Thailand
Thai snooker legend James Wattana claimed his first Southeast Asian Games gold medal on Sunday.
The 52-year-old Thai overcame stiff resistance from young Malaysian Lim Kok Leong in the men’s final at Ha Dong Gymnasium in Hanoi.
Kok Leong, 27, drew first blood in the best-of-seven-frames showdown, winning the opener 75-24.
Wattana won the next 88-34 to level the match but the hot-potting Malaysian edged ahead by clinching the third frame 70-25.
However, 2-1 was as good as it got for Kok Leong as the Thai cue-master found another gear and began schooling the young upstart.
Wattana took the next three frames 65-48, 83-33 and 67-42 to grab the gold medal.
The victory was also sweet revenge after Kok Leong crushed Thailand’s Passakorn Suwanawat 4-0 in the semi-final.
Meanwhile, the Thai Billiard Sports Association celebrated its first SEA Games gold, having won five bronze medals at previous editions.
At press time, Thailand was in second place with 293 medals – 77 gold, 91 silver, 125 bronze. Host Vietnam tops the table with 401 medals – 185 gold, 108 silver, 108 bronze. Indonesia is in third with 211 medals – 61 gold, 80 silver, 70 bronze.
Recently crowned World Seniors Champion Lee Walker will continue his bid to regain professional status at Q School tomorrow, but the Welshman admits that his place on the main circuit is no longer the be all and end all.
Walker secured a dream victory at the Crucible earlier this month, beating Jimmy White 5-4 in a thrilling final to win the seniors title. That came in the aftermath of a disappointing end to the regular season, which resulted in his relegation from the World Snooker Tour.
The 46-year-old faces Ashley Carty in the next round of Q School event one tomorrow, but he does so in the knowledge that he has held aloft silverware in snooker’s most prestigious venue. It was the first time he had performed in front of a Crucible crowd since 2004 and his first ever appearance in the single table setup with fans. Walker’s best World Championship performance dates back to 1997, when he made the quarter-finals.
He clinched his recent glory in style, firing home a nerveless break of 83 to capture the title. Reflecting on that winning moment, he admits he proved a lot to himself with regards to his ability to function under the most severe pressure.
Walker said: “I haven’t done as well as I thought I would do in my career and haven’t been on the verge of winning a tournament before. I’ve always wondered what I would do and whether I would be able to get myself over the line. To win it the way that I did, with one chance and an 83 break in the decider, was very pleasing to me and I showed myself that I could do it under the pressure. Although there was a lot of pressure out there, I felt pretty calm.
“I was determined to enjoy every moment. I played Ken Doherty in the UK Seniors and at 2-0 down, I was a bit of a spoiled brat and I couldn’t wait to get out of there. I asked myself what I was doing and decided I needed to enjoy it more. I played Stephen Hendry at the World Seniors and obviously Jimmy White in the final. If you can’t enjoy playing those guys at the Crucible, then you might as well put the cue away and not bother playing ever again. It was just a great experience.
“When I did win, my son Noah came down and it was fantastic to share it with him. I looked at him and thought to try and not get upset, Mark Williams would have taken the mick out of me for the next 30 years if I did! Rob Walker asked me about Noah being there and I thought he was about to set me off, but I held myself together. It was a bit of an emotional moment, but it is one that I will cherish forever now.”
Much of Walker’s focus has been away from his own game in recent times. He now works alongside best friend Williams as his coach and he has also been teaching 15-year-old prospect Liam Davies for the last nine years. That has made for an eventful few weeks for Walker.
Davies made history last month, when he became the youngest ever player to win a World Championship match. He defeated Aaron Hill in the first round of qualifying, before adding another win against Fergal O’Brien. The teenager was denied a Judgement Day place after a 6-5 loss against Jordan Brown. Williams, who is now 47 years old, followed up Davies’ exploits by going all the way to the semi-finals, where he was beaten 17-16 in an epic showdown with Judd Trump.
Considering he is now in the twilight period of his playing career, Walker now sees coaching at the core of his profession. He is relishing working with two players at very different stages in their own journeys.
“Mark has played so well this season. Himself, Higgins and O’Sullivan are amazing to still be playing at that level despite their age. He was so close to getting to the final of the Masters and he was so close to getting to the final at the Crucible. That is some achievement in the two biggest tournaments we have. I think those three could probably keep playing until the age of 75 the way they are going.
“I started working with Liam when he was six and he is like a son to me. I hope he feels the same, but I think we have a very special relationship. Watching him and watching Mark isn’t very nice. When you are out there playing you have control. When you are watching from the side and you are desperate for someone to win, it is very difficult. It is something I will have to get used to. Not only does Liam have a great future ahead of him, but he is a great lad as well. I am very proud of him. He lost his first match at Q School to Fergal, but whether he gets on now or in the future, it is just a matter of time.”
Walker hasn’t had long to prepare for Q School this year. In the immediate aftermath of the seniors, he went on a trip to Las Vegas with Williams, Mark Davis and all three of their wives. The former Gibraltar Open semi-finalist admits that he was seriously considering not entering Q School, but was persuaded to throw his hat in the ring and have another shot at the professional tour.
“It was a good trip. After winning the seniors, I didn’t get home until 5am. I picked Mark Williams up at 11am, so I barely got any sleep. Then we had the flight and arrived in Vegas at about 8pm. The full intention was to go out, have two drinks and then go to bed. We left the bar at 6:30am!
“It has been a mad month. I arrived with Mark in Sheffield on April 14th. We didn’t leave until he got knocked out in the semi-finals, I was then back up a couple of days later for the seniors. I then went to Vegas and here I am again competing in Q School. It has been crazy, but after this it will settle down and get back to normal.
“I really wasn’t sure whether or not I’d play in Q School. I am never going to give up playing completely, but the last couple of years as a professional haven’t been that profitable. I have other things I want to do in the coaching side of it. I take Mark’s advice on playing matters, both he and my dad said that if I play in it and don’t get through then my mind is made up for me. They thought it was worth giving it a go this year. Never say never, but if I don’t get through I’d be surprised if I was ever in Q School again. I obviously want to qualify and when I get on the table I will be giving it 100%, but if I don’t get through I wont be devastated. If that is the end of it, then I will be just as happy playing in amateur events and the seniors.”
Lee turned professional in 1994, aged 18. His best ever ranking was 41, his best result was a semi-final at the 2018 Gibraltar Open. Yet, Lee certainly can play to a very high standard. You don’t become the trusted coach of a multiple World Champion if you don’t know how to play the game inside-out. His achievements may look modest, but that’s because the standard at the top is incredibly high.
Lee truly loves his sport and will do anything to help aspiring players, no matter their level and abilities. When the first World Disability Snooker event was held in Wales, Lee and Michael White drove to the venue to support the event. It wasn’t close to their place – over 2 hours drive if my memory serves me well – but they came and spent several hours helping, chatting to the players, giving advice. They had a lot of time for everyone.
Winning the Seniors World Championship at the Crucible is, so far, the highlight of Lee’s career, a well deserved, unique moment that made years of hard graft worth it.
All the best in the future Lee
and enjoy your time as the Seniors World Champion!
Lee Walker came back from two down with three to play to oust Jimmy White 5-4 in the final at the Crucible Theatre and win the Ways Facilities Management World Seniors Snooker Championship for the first time.
The 46-year-old raised the tournament curtain on Wednesday night and he was the last player standing in Sheffield on Sunday evening, with the title representing the biggest accolade of his career so far.
Walker, who qualified for the main draw in February, began his campaign in the preliminary round with a 3-0 victory over Tony Knowles before an impressive elimination of Stephen Hendry by the same scoreline in the last 16, a result which included a break of 121.
However, the Welshman needed to show different qualities during the latter stages of the championship as he became a master of brinksmanship.
He came back from 0-2 down to deny Ken Doherty 4-2 in the quarter-finals and was even further adrift as he dethroned defending champion David Lilley in the semi-finals – stringing together four frames as he memorably turned a 0-3 deficit into a 4-3 success.
His opponent in the title match was three-time winner Jimmy White, who was appearing in his fourth consecutive world seniors championship final.
A vintage White had produced some of his best form in recent years to get there, dropping just one frame in three matches. During his 4-1 win over Rory McLeod in the last eight, The Whirlwind constructed a total clearance of 138, an effort which would stand as the event’s highest this year. He also compiled another total clearance – a 132 – as he saw off reigning UK seniors champion and former winner of this title, Peter Lines, 4-0 in the last four.
The ever-popular Londoner started the final well, registering a run of 64 in the opening frame and carving out a 3-1 lead going into the mid-session interval.
On resumption, Walker made a 72 break to take frame five and reduce his arrears, but White went on the brink of a fourth title as he claimed the sixth frame to move 4-2 up in the race to five.
However, Walker was to conjure up yet another recovery, finding his scoring groove when it mattered the most to become the 11th different winner of this prestigious title.
He chalked up frame seven and then forced a deciding frame with a clearance of 79 in the eighth. Walker would save his highest effort of the contest until last, though, grabbing his opportunity in the decider by crafting a classy break of 83 to lift the trophy.
After his win, Lee declared that he will “cherish this forever”. Of course, he should!
He’s been a dedicated professional since 1994. He’s dropped off the tour a few times and came back. He had little success as a professional but still loves the game with a passion. He’s a well respected coach, he’s been helping Mark Williams for years. And now, he has finally won an event beating a legend of the game in the final, at the Crucible, no less. And he has done it the hard way.
He will be at the 2022 Champion of Champions.
In a few days he will head to the Q-school, where he will try to regain his tour card once more. Good luck Lee.
Jimmy took the high break prize for his marvellous 138
Jimmy played some marvellous snooker during the event. He was probably the best player out there but he couldn’t sustain his highest level in the latter stages of the final. Maybe, at 60, this is what happens. Consistency is hard to retain and tiredness may be a factor. But he delighted the crowd, and I hope he can take some satisfaction from that.
It was, once again, a great event. It was well supported by the fans.
Rob Walker, as usual, was a dynamic and enthusiast presence on the floor, be it to introduce the players or to interview them post-match.
The commentary team – John Virgo, Mike Dunn, Dennis Taylor, Stephen Hendry and Cliff Thorburn – did a sterling job.
The streaming on Matchroom.live was excellent too. The service had been terrible earlier in the season but it seems that the issues have now been adressed successfully.
The best of seven semi-finals will take place at the Crucible Theatre on Sunday afternoon from 1300GMT with the best of nine final scheduled to start in the evening at 1900GMT. The final four consists of the defending champion, two former champions and someone aiming to claim the title for the first time.
That person is qualifier Lee Walker who was the first player through to Finals Day after he defeated Ken Doherty, 4-2.
Walker – who won both his opening matches 3–0 – found himself 2-0 down to the 1997 world professional champion. However, with the help of two breaks of 56 and a 52, the Welshman turned things around to move in front before holding his nerve by sinking blue and pink in frame six to complete victory.
Defending champion David Lilley still has the opportunity to become the first maiden winner to successfully retain the title after he dispatched tournament favourite Michael Holt, 4-0.
Lilley took the first frame on the pink before restricting his opponent to just 13 further points as he registered top runs of 50 and 58.
The evening session got off to a flyer as three-time world seniors champion Jimmy White conjured up one of his best performances in recent times to eliminate Rory McLeod, 4-1.
The Whirlwind was in vintage scoring form as he racked up breaks of 53, 138, 71, 74 and 48 to reach the semi-finals of this event for the seventh time. The century in frame two was a total clearance and the new highest break for the tournament.
Since the championship moved here in 2019, White has lost just once in 14 matches.
Reigning UK Seniors Champion Peter Lines completed Sunday’s cast at the Crucible following a 4-1 success over fellow former winner of this title, Nigel Bond. The Leeds-based professional top scored with 93.
Lines lifted the world seniors trophy in Scunthorpe in 2017, and he is now two more wins away from raising it again on Sunday night. As yet, no player has held both the UK and World Seniors Championship titles at the same time.
Ken Doherty, who had his wife and son sat in the crowd, completely lost his ways after the first two frames. It was another case of a match turning on one shot. I’m not sure that having his family there helped him. He looked very nervous.
All four remaining players impressed in their quarter-finals match. It’s hard to predict a winner really. David Lilley looks absolutely determined to defend his title, both Lee Walker and Peter Lines played reliable, solid snooker and neither missed much once they got going. Jimmy was in scintillating form yesterday; he delighted the crowd.
Defending champion David Lilley and former champions Jimmy White and Nigel Bond were amongst those that advanced to the quarter-finals of the 2022 Ways Facilities Management World Seniors Snooker Championship during Friday’s play at the Crucible Theatre.
Lilley – aiming to become the first maiden winner to retain the title – survived a big scare, coming back from two down with three to play to oust Philip Williams.
Qualifier Williams opened up a 2-0 lead (56 break, frame one) before Lilley responded with frames three (60 break) and four to level up. However, in a nervy deciding frame, Williams had the opportunity to counter-attack but rattled the final red along the top cushion. The mistake was capitalised on by a very relieved Lilley.
Elsewhere in the morning session, Ken Doherty ended the challenge of Wayne Cooper, 3-1.
A quarter of a century on from his glory in the professional championship here, Doherty recorded breaks of 70 and 73 to dispatch his opponent and stay on course for a unique quadruple having also claimed the world junior and amateur accolades early in his prestigious career.
The afternoon began with Lee Walker producing arguably the performance of the event so far as he eliminated Stephen Hendry, 3-0.
The Welshman hit the ground running, crafting a magnificent 121 clearance in the opening frame – the first century of this year’s championship. Further breaks of 63 and 49 helped Walker stifle Hendry and move into the last eight for the first time.
Michael Holt will also feature in the quarter-finals but the tournament favourite didn’t have it all his own way as he defeated 2011 winner Darren Morgan.
Holt comfortably won the first frame with an effort of 63, but the experienced former world number eight struck back with a 51 to level up before appearing to look good for a lead in frame three.
However, whilst on a break of 63, Morgan missed a pot down a side cushion and Holt punished, pinching the frame on the final black with a clearance of 34. With momentum now on his side, former Shoot Out winner Holt – competing in his first world seniors event – wrapped the match up without reply in the fourth. He will face Lilley next in a tasty clash.
Crowd favourite and three-time champion White got his campaign off to a pleasing start as he eliminated African seniors champion Wael Talaat from Egypt, 3-0.
White, who recently celebrated his 60th birthday, made a clutch break of 38 to secure the opener before finding his scoring groove with contributions of 67 and 79. Since the championship moved here in 2019, the Londoner has lost just once in 13 matches – last year’s final to Lilley.
The day was rounded off with a routine 3-0 success for 2012 winner Bond over John Parrott. Bond top scored with 57 in the second frame.
Following his appearance, 1991 World Professional Champion Parrott announced his competitive retirement from the seniors circuit.
Parrott was given a standing ovation by the crowd in the Crucible Theatre as he paraded the world trophy he first lifted there over three decades ago.
First of all, best wishes of happy retirement to John Parrot!
All three, Philip Williams, Wayne Cooper and Wael Talaat gave a really good account of themselves in this competition. We have to remember that, unlike their opponents, they have very little or no experience of this venue and are not used to the professional conditions. They should be proud of themselves. I hope that they fully enjoyed the occasion.
Stephen Hendry, on the other hand, was poor. Ok, Lee Walker was playing really well but still … That said, Stephen worked for the BBC during the whole 17 days of the 2022 World championship, so, maybe he couldn’t prepare as well as he would have wanted to.
Nigel Bond had far too much for John Parrott who has struggled with eyes issues over the last years. John had surely informed Jason Francis about his retirement plans because Jason had made sure that the World Trophy would be available at the premises for that little parade… John deserved a great farewell and he got it!
This is the official report on what happened during the opening session of the 2022 Ways Seniors Snooker World Championship:
Welsh Winners on Opening Night of World Seniors Championship
Lee Walker and Philip Williams flew the flag for Wales as they both advanced to the last 16 of the 2022 Ways Management World Seniors Snooker Championship during the event’s opening session at the Crucible Theatre on Wednesday night.
After the previous two editions of the championship were held behind closed doors, fans were welcomed back for the most prestigious outing on the World Seniors Snooker Tour.
Former world professional championship quarter-finalist Walker defeated two-time ranking event winner Tony Knowles 3-0 in the first match of the evening.
Walker claimed the opening frame on the pink, before runs of 66 in both frames two and three saw him set up a date with Stephen Hendry on Friday afternoon.
Williams also recorded his first victory at the venue stages of this championship as he eliminated Canada’s Bob Chaperon, 3-1.
The Welshman established a 2-0 lead, although the 1990 British Open champion kept his hopes alive when taking the third frame on the final black.
However, Williams – aided by an effort of 40 – eventually got across the line to book a meeting with defending champion David Lilley, the man who knocked him out of last year’s edition and at the UK Seniors Championship in January.
The match between Lee Walker and Tony Knowles was a very one-sided affair, as I expected. Lee is playing at a very high level, as you would expect from someone who only just dropped off the main tour and coaches one of the legends of the sport in Mark Williams. Tony has been out of the game for quite a while and is significantly older too. There was no real contest.
Bob Chaperon, on the other hand, did actually give a good account of himself. The match was closer than the score suggests. Bob’s problem was that he didn’t score well enough. He did compete in the tactical department, but couldn’t make the most of the opportunities he had earned. I can only guess that the conditions were quite alien to him. Philip Williams was his good solid self.
Ronnie O’Sullivan’s cousin Maria Catalano to make history at World Seniors Snooker Championship
A late call-up for the World Seniors Snooker Championship was just the break history-maker Maria Catalano needed.
The 11-time ranking event winner and former world number one jumped at the chance to become the first woman to take part in the most prestigious event on World Seniors Snooker (WSS) tour, which gets under way at The Crucible today.
Life has been tough for Maria since her dad Antonio’s death in 2018 – and her form on the table suffered as a result.
Maria Catalono will be the first woman to compete in the World Seniors Snooker Championship at The Crucible.
“It’s been a constant struggle since then,” she told The Star ahead of her first-round match against Egypt’s Wael Talaat on Thursday.
Dudley-based Maria, now 40, was close to giving up snooker.
But an invite from WSS chairman Jason Francis three weeks ago changed her mind.
She added: “I was finding it difficult to practice, just feeling I was getting nothing out of it. I didn’t practice a lot and my last season’s results speak for themselves.
“I feel this opportunity has turned my life a little bit.”
Inspiration to perform at the home of snooker will not be in short supply for Maria, who watched her cousin Ronnie O’Sullivan claim his seventh World Championship title on Monday as he became the oldest world champion in Crucible history.
“We all watched it as a family, there wasn’t one dry eye in our house,” she said.
“We broke down with him. He’s the spitting image of my dad, I see my dad in him a little bit. It was very emotional.”
Maria is named after Ronnie’s mum and Ronnie’s middle name, Antonio, comes from Maria’s dad.
“I always knew Ronnie was the greatest,” she added.
“I can’t believe he’s my cousin sometimes. We used to spend a lot of time together when I was younger. He helped me out a lot.”
The prospect of a second-round tie against the legendary Jimmy White also awaits, if Maria can get the better of Talaat over five frames.
“To be in the same competition as Jimmy is a dream for me, let alone having the chance to play him,” she said.
But some things are more important than competing.
“If this can encourage any lady or girl to play, that’s my aim, to try and promote women in snooker,” Maria said.
Peter Lines, the 2017 Seniors World Champion, added a second Seniors title to his record by winning the 2022 Seniors UK Championship in Hull. He came from behind to beat David Lilley by 4-2 in the final.
Congratulations Peter Lines!
Leo, Peter’s six years old son, was in the audience, watching his dad “live” for the first time. This surelely made the occasion even more special for the Lines family.
A winner of the World Seniors Snooker Championship in 2017, 52-year-old Lines defeated reigning world seniors champion David Lilley 4-1 in the final at the Bonus Arena. Still a main tour exponent, Lines continues his good form having reached the last 16 of the UK Professional Championship in York six weeks ago.
Lines’ journey to glory began last summer when he emerged from a tough qualifying event at the Crucible Sports Club in Reading. By the Humber this week, the experienced Yorkshireman dethroned defending champion Michael Judge 3-1 in the opening round before a 4-1 success against close friend and fellow qualifier Kuldesh Johal in the last eight.
On finals day he defeated 2018 winner Ken Doherty 4-2 to set up a title showdown with Lilley, who was aiming to be the first player to hold both the world and UK seniors trophies at the same time. Having not dropped a frame in his first two matches, Lilley came back from 3-1 down to deny Jimmy White in the other last four tie during the afternoon session.
Lilley had been impressive during the tournament and he began the final well by claiming the opening frame before a break of 60 looked to have secured him a 2-0 lead. However, in what would prove to be a massive turning point, a determined Lines clawed his way back in the frame, eventually completing a gutsy 27 clearance to pinch it on the final black.
This was a catalyst for the current world number 82 as he chalked up frames either side of the mid-session interval and then crafted a decisive counter-attacking break of 47 to win frame five on the final pink.
Lines now follows in the footsteps of White in claiming both the world and UK seniors titles.
It was a great tournament, with an excellent coverage, supported by the ever vibrant enthusiasm of Rob Walker.
Peter Lines won the WAYS Facilities Management UK Seniors Snooker Championship for the first time, beating David Lilley 4-1 in the final in Hull.
Back in 2017, Lines won the World Seniors title, and the 52-year-old from Leeds can now add the UK title to his list of honours.
Lilley took the opening frame of the final and made a break of 60 in the second, but his opponent crucially clawed his way back and eventually snatched the frame 67-66 by clearing the colours.
Lines dominated the third and fourth frames to take a 3-1 advantage. In the fifth, current World Seniors champion Lilley led 56-21 when he missed a red, and Lines made an excellent 47 clearance to clinch the title.
“I’m over the moon to have won,” said world number 82 Lines. “I am just trying to enjoy myself out there. I want to play for as long as I possibly can because I just love playing snooker. When you get to my age and you haven’t won a ranking event, you accept that fact that you are probably not going to win one. So to win two prestigious events on the World Seniors tour, I’m really proud of myself. I am really honoured that I’ve done it.”
Earlier in the semi-finals, Lines saw off Ken Doherty 4-2, while Lilley came from 3-1 down to beat Jimmy White 4-3.
Here is the post-match interview by Rob Walker:
Here are some more images, shared during the event on social media …