The Indian Billiards and Snooker Championships took place from
18th December to 15th January at the Hari Niwas Palace in the Northern
state of Jammu, nestled in the shadow of the Himalayas. The venue
had accommodation for 350 spectators and close-circuit TV with giant
LCD screens presented the action to those who could not gain access
to the hall.
Women’s Billiards Championship
The Women’s Billiards opened the Championship programme, being
contested over three days from 18th-20th December. Playing matches
comprising 50-up games, the honours went to Anuja Thakur who
defeated reigning champion Uma Devi 4-0 in the final. Thakur, who
had previously held the title in 2000, defeated her older sister in the
semi-finals, while Devi reached the final by overcoming Sridevi.
Semi-finals: Uma Devi bt Sridevi 3-1; Anuja Thakur bt Meenal Thakur 3-0.
Final: Anuja Thakur
bt R. Uma Devi 4-0.
Junior Billiards Championship
Seventeen year-old Pankaj Advani (Karnataka) retained his Junior
Billiards title producing a two-hour aggregate of 1088 in his third round
match against Vaibhav Punvatkar which included the highest break of
the tournament, a 165. Advani also produced an impressive total of
1568 in the three-hour final group against Brijesh Damani, winning all
three of his matches in this section.
The other players making it through to the final round-robin, which
was played over 28th-29th December, were Rishabh Thakkar
(Maharashtra) and Sourav Kothari (Bengal). However, it was Thakkar
who proved to be the biggest threat. Winning his other two games, the
deciding match against Advani was desperately close, Thakkar
eventually finishing the wrong side of a 836-804 scoreline. Sourav
Kothari, who finished third, made an impressive break of 160 in his
third round match, demonstrating the strength of the current junior
game in India. Brijesh Damani, who had been unseeded in the
competition, and is better known for his expertise at snooker, made an
excellent showing to reach the final round.
First round (2 hrs): Sunil Rastogi bt J. Varun Kumar 373-335; Ishan Sharma bt Gaurav Joshi
310-286; Brijesh Damani bt Lucky Vatnani 547-472; Sumit Talwar bt Farooq Ibrahim 447-426;
Ravi Kant bt Akhil Kumar 252-160; Wasim Ahmed bt Gagandeep Singh 460-396.
Second round (2 hrs): Nishant Azad bt Rohit Sharma 433-315; Dhruv Varma bt Kiran Chawla
529-429; Sagar Yadav bye; Vaibhav Punvatkar bt Ishan Sharma 327-75; Chiranjeev Singh bt
Ankit Soni 443-281; Pankaj Advani bt Sunil Rastogi 997-162; Ravinder Singh bt Nitin Mehra 543-
306; Sourav Kothari bt Subrat Das 725-149; Brijesh Damani bt Aditya Mehta 582-414; Rishabh
Thakkar bt Wasim Ahmed 603-139; Pamin Shah bt Ravi Kant 478-157; V. Katerla bt Sumit Talwar
618-264; Ankur Nanda w.o Kamaldeep Singh scr; Sunny Chaddha w.o Nitin Agarwal scr; Aparajit
Mittal bt Sandip Sharma 403-274; Deepak Bajaj bt K. Jhanjarya 326-319.
Second Round (2 hrs): Pankaj Advani bt Ravinder Singh 982-282; Vaibhav Punvatkar bt
Chiranjeev Singh 504-258; Sagar Yadav bt Aparajit Mittal 480-399; Brijesh Damani bt Sunny
Chaddha 673-293; Sourav Kothari w.o Ankur Nanda scr; V. Katrela bt Deepak Bajaj 505-222;
Pamin Shah bt Nishant Azad 522-391; Rishabh Thakkar bt Dhruv Varma 599-420.
Third Round (2 hrs): Pankaj Advani bt Vaibhav Punvatkar 1088-258; Brijesh Damani bt Sagar
Yadav 766-337; Sourav Kothari bt V. Katrela 762-322; Rishabh Thakkar bt Pamin Shah 675-362.
Final league (3 hrs): Sourav Kothari bt Brijesh Damani 1130-734; Pankaj Advani bt Rishabh
Thakkar 836-804; Pankaj Advani bt Brijesh Damani 1568-592; Rishabh Thakkar bt Sourav Kothari
852-619; Pankaj Advani bt Sourav Kothari 1292-667; Rishabh Thakkar bt Brijesh Damani 1055-
Senior Billiards Championship
The Senior Billiards Championship once again started without Geet
Sethi, who two months earlier had lost his IBSF title to Mike Russell in
Australia. However, most of the other top Indian players took part,
including reigning champion, Ashok Shandilya.
Billiards was the final event in the championship series and was played
between 9th-15th January. Pankaj Advani, who had already made
history by becoming not only the youngest winner of the Senior Snooker
Championship, but also collecting the Junior Billiards and Snooker
titles, now tried for what would have been an unprecedented fourth
title. Only Geet Sethi, had equalled the achievement of claiming a senior
title in addition to the two Junior crowns, although in his case he had
won the corresponding billiards event. Interestingly, Yasim Merchant
was involved in both of these record achievements twenty years apart,
having lost to Sethi in the Junior Snooker final in 1982, and also losing
to Advani in the final of the senior snooker event this year.
Advani certainly gave it a great try, making the highest break in the
tournament with 384 against Dhruv Sitwala in the semi-finals, but this
was not enough to win the match as Sitwala staged a great come-back
and ended the youngster’s challenge at this stage. Sitwala had also
beaten the reigning champion Ashok Shandilya in the previous round
and now moved into the final to meet Alok Kumar, who won this title
On the eve of his first appearance in the Championship final, Sitwala
was reported to have suffered a sleepless night, being awake until five
in the morning. This may well have been a deciding factor in a dour
performance, with Sitwala always struggling to keep in the game, and
with a top break of only 122, Kumar was sufficiently consistent to
record a 251 point victory. Pankaj Advani had the consolation of winning
the third-place play-off and also took the high break prize for the
second consecutive year. With these championships being played under
the professional “baulk-line” rule, his run of 384 was particularly
Last 16: Shandilya bt Rishabh Thakkar 763-294; Sitwala bt Jai Ganesh 611-418; Habib
bt Nitin Kohli 433-370; Pankaj Advani bt Dharminder Lilly 1065-397; Joshi bt Kamal Chawla 944-
378; Parikh bt Vishal Madan 474-409; Jagtiani bt A. Haque 698-376; Alok Kumar bt Jaswinder
Quarter-finals (3 hrs): Dhruv Sitwala bt Ashok Shandilya 833-669; Pankaj
Advani bt Rafath Habib 1189-720; Siddharth Parikh bt Devendra Joshi 936-871; Alok Kumar bt
Shyam Jagtiani 694-615.
Semi-finals (3 hrs): Dhruv Sitwala (70, 142, 109, 98, 70, 144, 98) 1075
bt Pankaj Advani (384, 117, 54, 56, 54) 996; Alok Kumar (66, 53, 180, 82, 96, 94, 92, 101, 63, 94,
58, 121, 220) 1810 bt Siddharth Parikh (71, 97, 87, 130, 85, 78) 996.
Final (4 hrs): Alok Kumar (99,
62, 122, 106, 98, 88, 54, 66) 1080 bt Dhruv Sitwala (108, 54, 56, 64, 87, 101) 829. Third place playoff:
Pankaj Advani (88, 87, 80, 89, 113, 72, 92, 58, 62, 59, 115, 85) 1330 bt Siddharth Parikh (108,
50, 133, 183, 70, 97) 871.