Anuja Thakur asserts supremacy

Anuja Thakur asserted her dominance over Vidya Pillai, winning by a huge 4-1 margin in the final of the 6th D-Link all-India women's snooker championship, co-sponsored by Om Kotak Mahendra Insurance and Fuch Lubricants. In a little clash, featuring the defending champion versus the national champion, the Mumbai cueist, a familiar figure at the Bombay Gymkhana, cashed in on the home advantage and a fatigued rival who had been through two consecutive marathon matches on the way to the final.

Anju Thakur, the winner, receives the trophy from Gavkar, Finance Director, D-Link.-

The top-seed from Chennai, feeling the hangover of the day before (a five-hour quarterfinal against Ashwini Puranik followed by a four-hour semifinal versus Chitra Magimairaj with just 15 minutes rest in between) sparkled to life only in the second frame of the seven-frame final. But the odds were against her and the balls rolled in favour of the confident defending champion Anuja who won 65-32, 34-43, 52-36, 67-31, 51-31.

Anuja, coached by Dronacharya Wilson Jones earlier in her career, went home Rs. 12,000 richer as against Vidya Pillai's purse of Rs. 8,000.

Anuja is clearly a champion in a hurry, uncomfortable when pitted against slower players, and also thirsting for an opportunity to compete internationally, the 2004 World snooker championship being her priority right now. She also wants Indian women cueists to make their presence felt in parts of the world where snooker has a following. Anuja has been playing serious snooker for six years now after bagging the runner-up spot in a 1997 national event at Indore. Fluency at the table and a quiet confidence off it make her stand apart from the pack.

Vidya too is an accomplished performer, with enough experience to fall back on in tough situations, as was evident in the run-up to the final where her physical and mental reserves were stretched to the limit. The national champion was at the table for nine hours on a single day, getting only a 15-minute break after defeating Ashwini (Mahdya Pradesh) 3-2 in a five-hour quarterfinal before taking on Chitra (Karnataka) in the semifinals, which stretched to five frames lasting four hours.

Ashwini had earlier sent out national number two R. Uma Devi (Karnataka) in a group league game, the biggest upset of the event. The Bombay Gymkhana event, featuring 28 women cueists from all over India, had four groups in a league-cum-knockout format. The organisers also honoured former world professional billiards champion Geet Sethi with an honorary membership of the Gymkhana in appreciation of his services to the sport.

The results

Final: Anuja Thakur (Maharashtra) bt Vidya Pillai (Tamil Nadu) 65-32, 34-43, 52-36, 67-31, 51-31.

Nandakumar Marar