The first open English-Billiards event to be held in Canada kicked off yesterday with the Vimy Ridge Classic, named after a world war 1 battle fought in France by Canadian troops; upon their return to Winnipeg they were instrumental in forming the Winnipeg Veterans English Billiards League.
The group matches kicked off at 10am with everyone trying to acclimatise to the new cloths on the tables at the fantastic Manitoba Club. First man in to his stride was ex-World Champion Mike Russell who made breaks of 108 & 145 in his 509-36 win over local player Alan Senkiw. Several fancied players were defeated in their first match: Chris Taylor, Phil Mumford & Billy Bousfield all went down to Devendra Joshi, Nalin Patel & Dhruv Sitwala respectively.
Win of the day was undoubtedly local champion Rick Kendall who beat former professional Nalin Patel, who was once as high as 5th in the World Rankings, by the score of 161-140.
In all, 7 Canadian players made it through the groups: Blair Lawson, Jon Miller, Rich Kendall, Guy Smith, Garry Marshall, Warren Dyer and Northern Ireland ex-pat Daniel Scullion who now lives in Calgary and is playing his first billiards for many years.
Despite missing a match after falling asleep, tournament favourite Mike Russell recovered (woke up) in time to make the highest break of the tournament so far with a 343 in his last match of the day against Dave Larson. Other centuries came from Russell (167, 145, 112, 108), Martin Goodwill (115), Phil Mumford (114, 110), and Rob Hall (108). Rob Hall also finished the group stages as the overall top performer, courtesy of consistent scoring in all his 4 group wins.
Special mention to local volunteer Don Senkiw who refereed 8 matches on his first day of officiating at an international event and who will be taking charge of the Plate final later today.
The last 16 is now underway; the draw is:
(1) Rob Hall v Jon Miller (16)
(9) Chris Taylor v Nalin Patel (8)
(5) Blair Lawson v Daniel Scullion (12)
(13) Rick Kendall v Dhruv Sitwala (4)
(3) Devendra Joshi v Guy Smith (14)
(11) Warren Dyer v Phil Mumford (6)
(7) Mike Russell v Guy Heys (10)
(15) Garry Marshall v Martin Goodwill (2)