Last weekend saw the staging of the record-breaking Fizz Open Disability Snooker Championship at Barratts Snooker Club in Northampton.
The third event of the 2018/19 season organised by World Disability Billiards and Snooker (WDBS) boasted an incredible field of 79 competitors across the weekend, smashing the previous record of 55 set at the Welsh Open earlier this year.
Players from all eight disability classification groups contested six individual titles, with a mix of new and former champions taking top honours.
In the Group 1-2 category for wheelchair players it was Aslam Abubaker who won his first WDBS title.
A former runner-up at this event last year in Wolverhampton and July’s Welsh Open, it was to be third time lucky as he defeated Shahab Siddiqui 2-0 to secure victory.
“I am delighted to win,” said Abubaker. “It has been a marvellous snooker tournament and I’m really pleased to get over the line and get a win on the board.”
The Group 3 ambulant competition saw Scotland’s William Thomson complete a hat-trick of WDBS victories with a resounding 4-0 success against defending champion Daniel Blunn.
Thomson, who has HMSN type 2, dropped just one frame throughout the event and also made a break of 66 – the highest break of the weekend across all classifications on his way to the title.
It was a similar story in Group 4-5 as Preston’s Mickey Chambers made it two titles from two with a 3-1 success against 2017 champion David Church.
Chambers, who is a lower leg amputee and also represents England’s amputee football team, progressed through to the final without the loss of a frame and was delighted to end the weekend on top again.
“I am very happy both to win and how I was playing all weekend,” said Chambers. “I’ve come up against some new players that I have never played before but I just tried to implement my game and scare my opponents really.”
“It has been a long weekend but a fantastic one. I met some really good people and really great players from all different groups.
“It has been an honour to be involved and I want to thank the sponsors and everyone who came – literally the last frame there you can hear a pin drop and everyone was watching, everyone was involved.”
The remaining three events for players with learning and sensory disabilities each saw repeat victories for the trio of players who came out on top at February’s UK Open tournament that was also staged in Northampton.
Daniel Harwood completed the successful defence of his Fizz Open title with a dominant 4-0 victory against fellow Liverpudlian Leroy Williams in the final.
With four breaks over 30 during the weekend, Harwood dropped just one frame on his way to a fourth WDBS title, the most for a Group 6 player so far.
It was a similar story for former professional Paul Smith who also claimed his fourth WDBS win with a 4-1 success against first-time finalist Ronnie Allen from Wales.
Having come through a tight five-player round robin group, Smith defeated Robert Craft in the semi-finals before seeing off Allen in the decisive match to secure yet another title.
“I am very happy with the win and have enjoyed every bit of it,” said Smith. “It is a long day, but most enjoyable and, as always, expertly run.”
“It is like one big family and a joy to be here. I really enjoyed meeting and playing with Ronnie in the final, he is a gracious and humble guy and a very good player too.”
Finally, there was also further glory for Shabir Ahmed who defeated Nikolas De Whytell 4-2 to secure victory.
Ahmed did not drop a frame on his way to the final, before seeing off another first-time finalist in De Whytell to win his fourth WDBS crown and confirm his status as the most successful deaf player so far.
“There have been so many players and I have had to be really focused and determined,” said Ahmed. “The final was really difficult, it was a battle, but in the end, I won and I am very happy and pleased with myself. I just want to carry on and keep winning.”
The mixed classification Challenge Cup for competitors who did not progress to the knockout rounds of the main tournament was won by Richard Gott and Richard Bradburn, who defeated David Grant and Danny Luton in the final.
It is a second doubles victory for Gott of 2018 after his previous triumph back in Cwmbran this summer.
There was also a win for John Fenwick in our first-ever WDBS billiards competition held on Friday after he defeated Daniel Blunn in a close final to secure victory.
Open day success
Once again, the weekend began with a successful Friday open day which saw visitors including international Paralympic broadcaster Rob Walker, professional stars Kyren Wilson, and Harvey Chandler, as well as local MP Michael Ellis and Mayor of Northampton Cllr Tony Ansell stop by to support the event.
The event was also generously supported by FizzThinks360, with company founder Jonny ‘Fizz’ Welch and his team in attendance during the weekend.
WDBS Vice-Chairman Simon Berrisford said: “It has been a fantastic weekend with so many entries. It has been extremely busy but everyone seems happy, we have seen some really high-quality snooker and some good finals on the way.”
“It has been great to see so many players travel from overseas and this is what we want to see moving forwards, more nationalities getting involved.
“The support from Belgium has been fantastic, we were there in March and now they are coming to our events. We’ve had Andy Lam from Hong Kong and the guys from Poland have really enjoyed their first event too.”
View full tournament results from the main competition via MySnookerStats here.
View the updated WDBS Roll of Honour here.