By Frank B. Halfar
While snooker action abounds with the UK Championship and the IBSF World Championship under way, here’s a sign of life from the German amateur snooker scene, which recently held its National Championships.
Simon Lichtenberg from Berlin became the surprise champion when he defeated 2014 winner Roman Dietzel from Essen in the final, 4-2. Roman in turn had ended the hopes of the tournament’s likely favourite, former pro Patrick Einsle, in the semi-finals.
Notable absences were Lukas Kleckers, Germany’s foremost player, who had been so busy pursuing his main tour aspirations that he had no chance to qualify for the amateur championship, and last year’s winner Sascha Lippe, who decided to retire and not to defend his title.
Sascha still plays for his club, the 1. SC Mayen-Koblenz, in the German first league. Incidentally that’s the club Lukas Kleckers transferred to as well, much to the chagrin of the SC 147 Essen, last season’s league champion, where Roman and his mates will sorely miss him for sure.
While achieving a surprise coup in becoming Germany’s national champion, Simon has been a well-known entity for some years in the close-knit snooker family of this country that is rich in fans, a growing supplier of referees, but still very much a diaspora in terms of players. Ever since Patrick Einsle gave up his main tour career in 2014 after three attempts, there is no one flying the German flag on the circuit. Lukas Kleckers has come close to a tour card more than once, but keeps missing the proverbial boat.
Simon had a fantastic tournament at Bad Wildungen, the quaint spa resort town in Hesse that has become the habitual site for national billiards competitions in our country. He went through five deciders in seven matches, and won them all. Reaching the quarter-finals at this competition had been his previous best achievement so far. Competing at the Under-21 Championship here in the spring, he had made it to the semis. Among the grown ups now, he comfortably outperformed the U-21 champion, who did not survive to reach the knock-out stage.
Simon is a mere 19 years-old, son of British-German parents, and known for his impeccable manners. Very much a young gentleman. He captains the league team of the Snookerfabrik (snooker factory) Berlin, which made it to a commendable third place in its very first season in the nation’s top league. His national title should earn him exposure and opportunities for further reaching experiences. Expect to hear more from this guy in the future!