A change in outlook needed

A best-of-three-frame match in the league stage took so much more time than the BSFI would have liked to allot. The women kept attempting safe shots, lengthened the game and literally killed the interest.

KIRTI PATIL

THE Indian women were introduced to the 50-up format in billiards in the 2001 Chennai Nationals. They have still not come to appreciate the spirit of the change. Things have come to such a pass that the Billiards and Snooker Federation of India (BSFI) is now forced to re-think on the format. The very idea of the change was to make the game faster and enjoyable. But our cocooned women cueists couldn't cope with it.

Anuja Thakur, the billiards champion, with Vidya Pillai, who triumphed in snooker. — Pic. PARVEEN-

A best-of-three-frame match in the league stage took so much more time than the BSFI would have liked to allot. The women kept attempting safe shots, lengthened the game and literally killed the interest. To top it all, they put up a demand for having a best-of-five-frame match in the league itself.

Already the Nationals, which comprise six championships, run for a month. If the BSFI was to agree to such demands it might as well conduct these events separately. But to be rational, the idea should be to streamline the championship. A typical league match took more than an hour. In such a scenario, reverting to the time format seems a viable and sensible idea.

Though a majority of the women may be very slow, there is still a breath of fresh air. The need is to nurture that talent. And, to achieve it the BSFI should be serious about reintroducing the time format.

To that extent, Anuja Thakur of Maharashtra provides a welcome option. There are others too — Anuja's sister Meenal and Karnataka's M. Chitra. But after that, there is a yawning gap.

This assertion may not necessarily correspond in entirety with the results of the 11th Women's National billiards championship at the Hari Niwas Palace in Jammu.

But for Anuja, who played attractive billiards, and to some extent Meenal and Chitra, the others were monotonous.

Vidya Pillai in action. — Pic. PARVEEN-

Anuja returned to her designated position with a 4-0 swamping of the defending champion, R. Uma Devi of Karnataka. Meenal, who lost to her sister in the semis, had the consolation of finishing third with a 3-0 win against T. V. Sridevi of Karnataka.

Snooker: If billiards lacks fascination even otherwise, the Indian women proved that snooker too could be made boring and tedious.

The best-of-three frames format in the group stage was a saviour. Still, two hours were not enough to complete the fixtures, which had to be rescheduled often. With the quarterfinals, semis and final slated for the same day, it was a herculean task for the organisers to put everything together.

Uma Devi and Chitra were to contest the first semifinal, while the second pitted Tamil Nadu's Vidya Pillai against Maharashtra's Neeta Sanghvi. Vidya and Neeta started at 2 p.m. and it was 6.40 p.m. when Vidya made the winning shot. The final was to have started at 6 p.m.

Now the chief guest was there on time, but the final commenced only well past 7 p.m. Both Vidya and Uma were so slow that even the referee was cursing his luck in officiating that match. The chief guest was treated to dinner and was taken around, but the match was still on.

Vidya finally won the titles 20 minutes from midnight, on a chillingly cold and misty night.

The results: Billiards:

Final: Anuja Thakur (Mah) bt R. Uma Devi (Kar) 51-17, 50-2, 51-43, 51-4.

Play-off for third place: Meenal Thakur (Mah) bt T. V. Sridevi (Kar) 50-29, 51-4, 51-10.

Semifinals: Uma bt Sridevi 12-50, 53-16, 50-31, 52-22; Anuja bt Meenal 50-43, 50-8, 51-26.

Quarterfinals: Uma bt M. Chitra (Kar) 51-35, 52-48, 50-44; Anuja bt Kamala C. Babu (TN) 51-17, 53-42, 52-13; Meenal bt Neelam Mittal (MP) 50-16, 50-15, 51-38; Sridevi bt Soumini Srinivas (TN) 50-11, 53-48, 50-30.

Snooker:

Final: Vidya Pillai (TN) bt R. Uma Devi (Kar) 56-34, 64-53, 34-64, 41-50, 82-43.

Play-off for third place: M. Chitra (Kar) bt Neeta Sanghvi (Mah) 48-16, 29-55, 67-42.

Semifinals: Uma bt Chitra 36-62, 70-59, 61-36, 35-75, 77-48; Vidya bt Neeta 79-37, 40-69, 60-62, 59-53, 62-24.

Quarterfinals: Uma bt Soumini Srinivas (TN) 66-52, 72-18, 57-23; Chitra bt Anuja Thakur (Mah) 82-53, 57-33, 56-38; Vidya bt Meenal Thakur (Mah) 25-58, 61-48, 53-45, 64-35; Neeta bt Heena Khandelwal (Mah) 60-52, 69-27, 48-47.