Welsh Amateur Championship Result

Following the completion of the Welsh Amateur Championship for this year, we were fortunate enough to have Marcus Stead from Snooker Scene in attendance for the whole of the weekend and he has provided this detailed report: -

SEMI-FINALS

Darren Morgan reached the final for the sixth time with a 6-3 victory over North Walian semi-finalist Richard King.

The encounter got off to a slow start as both players struggled to adapt to the playing conditions on the almost Star-like table, which had been re-clothed days earlier and was sliding, but Morgan’s break of 38 helped him take the opening frame 66-0.

King, who made the long journey from Llandudno earlier the same day, made a run of 28 early in the second, and the frame went down to the colours, where Morgan missed a straightforward blue, only for king to fluke the pink into the right hand middle pocket to level at 1-1.

Morgan took the following two scrappy frames to go 3-1 ahead, but King showed signs of settling into the match in the fifth, only to suffer a huge kick early on in a promising break, but he returned to make a 31 to reduce his deficit to 3-2.

The sixth frame saw Morgan require nine attempts to escape from a snooker which saw him trail 67-0, but he made a break of 67 to tie the frame with one red left.

A lengthy battle on the lower value colours followed, and King’s break of 20 saw him lead 87-71 with only pink and black left. Morgan failed to hit the pink from a non-snookered position and he conceded the frame, which saw parity restored at 3-3.

Morgan’s break of 51 in frame seven left his opponent needing four four-point snookers to tie, and he got one of them but went on to concede the frame after missing a red.

Former world number eight Morgan, who celebrated his 53rd birthday earlier in the month, showed glimpses of his best as a break of 55 took him to within a frame of victory.

The difficult playing conditions saw the average frame time edge close to half an hour, and the ninth frame followed that pattern, as Morgan made a break of 37 early on, only to miss a straightforward black to the corner pocket.

King, 40, who won deciding frames in his previous two matches, suffered another kick when on a break of 12, to leave him trailing 16-41.

Morgan made a break of 12, only to miss a red with the rest, but he returned to add another break of 12 to book his place in the final.

After the match, Morgan said: “The table was playing like absolute lightning and the cushions were pinging all over the shop. It was a real struggle for me and Richard to just slow the white ball down, especially in the first half of the match. Then you start quitting on your shots, you don’t go through, and you start missing balls. It makes you look terrible.

“But once I settled into it and got used to the table, I started to make a few decent breaks. I don’t play on Star tables anymore. I play almost entirely on club tables, because they’re the ones used in the ranking tournaments I play in. I was like a duck out of water on this table.”

A gracious King said: “It was really tough-going. Neither of us settled, we didn’t know the table and it was unpredictable.

“I wasn’t anywhere near my best but neither was Darren. I’m not using the long journey today as an excuse – I made the same journey for my quarter-final match and I won that. I tried my best on every shot, but Darren’s years of experience were a big factor and I wish him luck in the final.”

In the second semi-final, 2003 runner-up Gavin Lewis defeated Tyler Rees 6-4.

Rees, 20, took the opening frame with a break of 33, and he looked to be making good progress in the second, only for a red to roll into the pocket following a cannon after potting the black, and Lewis took his chance as he compiled a break of 45 to level at 1-1.

The third frame saw both players suffer the same difficulties with the table as those seen in the first semi-final, and it went down to the colours, where Lewis very nearly went in-off after potting the blue, but missed the cut on the frame ball pink, and soon afterwards he missed the pink to right middle.

Rees, from Llanelli, needed pink and black for the frame, and after potting the pink, his attempt at the black left the object ball over the pocket and he conceded the frame.

A break of 45 helped Lewis extend his lead to 3-1 going into the mid-session interval, and when play resumed a run of 47 helped him go 4-1 in front.

Rees, who won the EBSA European Under 18 title in 2016, made breaks of 41 and 49 to reduce his deficit to 4-2, and he looked set to win the next before breaking down on 54.

Lewis, winner of the Neath singles title six times, fought his way back into the frame and got the snooker he required, and the frame went down to a battle with only blue to black remaining.

Rees potted the blue to leave Lewis needing a snooker, but the youngster cut the pink into the green pocket to go within a frame of his opponent.

The eighth frame was particularly scrappy and Lewis failed to get the five point snooker he required when Rees escaped from behind the pink, and he went on to pot the blue and pink to restore parity at 4-4.

A series of small breaks helped Lewis go within one of victory, and a scrappy tenth frame went down to the colours, with Rees leading 46-31 with green to black remaining.

Rees escaped from a snooker on his second attempt, but Lewis cleared the table to wrap up victory.

Lewis, 46, treats snooker as a hobby when time allows between his work commitments as a timber frame manufacturer as well as being a father to five daughters, but he said his experience in match situations helped him to victory: “I made a few decent breaks to go 4-1, and I don’t know what it was, I took my foot off the gas a bit and he started coming back at me, but I managed to do well towards the end.

“A bit of experience came into it. I knew I couldn’t outplay him, because I don’t play enough. My touch wasn’t there consistently, but my tactical and safety game was better than his tonight.”

Looking ahead to the final with Morgan, Lewis said his experience in the 2003 final, where he lost 7-2 to Elfed Evans, would stand him in good stead: “I’ve been here before so I know what to expect. I was a bit of an all-round potter in those days but I’m a better match player now.”

QUARTER-FINALS: Tyler Rees beat Neal Jones 5-1; Gavin Lewis beat David Roberts 5-1; Darren Morgan w/o Jackson Page; Richard King beat David Donovan 5-4

SEMI-FINALS: Morgan beat King 6-3; Lewis beat Rees 6-4

FINAL

Darren Morgan took the title for the third time with an 8-2 victory over Gavin Lewis.

The opening frame got off to a slow start as both players struggled with the conditions, but a break of 38 helped Morgan take the lead, and when his opponent went in-off, two breaks of 20 saw him extend his advantage to 2-0.

The third frame was a story of both players repeatedly failing to punish one another’s mistakes, but Morgan’s break of 40 helped him establish a lead, but Lewis gradually eroded his opponent’s lead over several visits, only for Morgan to take the frame by potting a long pink followed by the black along the cushion using the rest.

Frame four was a similar story, and it again went down to the colours, where Morgan’s break of 20 saw him go 4-0 in front at the mid-session interval.

Both players struggled early in frame five, though Morgan was let off the hook after he missed the reds on his second attempt when he had clear sight of several, and referee Deryck Brown failed to warn him that he would forfeit the frame if he did so again. After Morgan’s third attempt, scorer Eugene O’Connor intervened and Morgan was warned, after which he hit the reds on the right of the table, which left the cue ball in prime position for his opponent.

Lewis only made a break of eight from this opportunity, but he returned soon afterwards with a run of 33 to reduce his deficit to 4-1.

Morgan, who had a highest world ranking of eight between 1994-96, showed glimpses of his very best form as a  14 red, 128 clearance saw him extend his lead to 5-1, and decades of experience in finals aided him as he dug deep to take the final frame of the afternoon on the black to go 6-1 in front at the end of the session.

When play resumed, Morgan made a break of 21 early on, but there was a short delay as referee Brown, 82, felt unwell, possibly due to the humidity in the room, and he was temporarily replaced by O’Connor.

Lewis made a break of 25 and the frame went down to the colours, where he had a piece of good fortune when he played a screw shot with the brown tight along the baulk cushion into its own pocket, but after rattling in the jaws, it travelled the full length of the table and back, before falling into the same pocket, and Lewis went on to clear the table to trail 6-2.

Lewis failed to capitalise on a fluked red early in the ninth, and Morgan made runs of 36 and 50 to go within one of the title.

Referee Brown felt well enough to resume duties at the start of frame 10, and Lewis made a break of 40 early on.

Morgan clawed his way back, but trailed with only the colours remaining. He released the green from the cushion, but then missed a tricky pot, only for the cue ball to go safe.

Morgan eventually potted a long green from baulk to left hand corner pocket and added the brown to tie 42-42, before some superb cue ball control helped him pot the blue and pink to take the title.

After lifting the trophy, Morgan said: “I feel relieved the ordeal is over. It’s always nice to win any tournament. I never thought I’d win the Welsh Amateur again. I finished runner-up in 2016 and 2017, and then young Jackson [Page] gave me a good tinkering in the semi-finals last year.”

Morgan, who is the reigning IBSF World Masters champion, also dropped a strong hint that his time in competitive snooker may be coming to an end: “I’ve said that this year would be my final year because of the qualifying. I hate the qualifying. You’ve got to play in all the Welsh events to qualify for the tournaments abroad, which I love, and I treat them as holidays and I play.

“I have other commitments and businesses to run. I’ve hinted that I’ll play in the World Amateur in Turkey this year and reassess and maybe that’ll be it.

“Can I walk away? That is the big question. But at 53, how long can you keep doing something for? I’ve got other priorities now, and my wife has had to put up with me being away from home a lot over the years. Since I retired from professional snooker, I’ve been away from home on snooker trips just as much as I was before.”

Following his defeat, Lewis said: “Last night’s late finish in the semi-finals may have taken it out of me. It took me until the early hours to get to sleep.

“The victory over Tyler Rees was a big win I’ll remember. But I let a few frames slip today, and you can’t do that against someone like Darren.

“With Jackson turning professional, I’m number one in Wales now. I’m looking forward to possibly going to World Amateur Championship later this year and I’ll definitely be in Leeds for the Home Internationals in the summer.

“I’ve exceeded my expectations this season. I didn’t believe I could get anywhere near this far in the Welsh Championship. I only played one or two frames per week, and practised just a little bit more as I got to the latter stages.”

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© Welsh Snooker (WBSA) 2019

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