Doing it for daddy

Sourav Kothari in action against Alok Kumar in the final.-ARUNANGSU ROY CHOWDHURY

The tournament served as the qualifying event for the upcoming Asian Championship to be held in Chandigarh in April. By Y. B. Sarangi.

It was an emotional moment for Sourav Kothari, 29, after he won the battle of generations against veteran cueist and defending champion Alok Kumar to bag his maiden National billiards title in Lucknow.

Kothari, a former IBSF World billiards semifinalist, has been around on the domestic scene for more than a decade. A runner-up finish in the 2009 National snooker championship was his best result at the elite level in the country.

Kothari, who remained unbeaten to qualify for the knockout stage, overcame Siddharth Parikh in the pre-quarterfinals and Brijesh Damani in the quarterfinals. In the semifinals, he played with determination to edge past the seasoned Dhruv Sitwala and bested Alok in a classic duel lasting almost five hours to claim the title.

“This is for my father (Manoj Kothari). He won the world title, but never a National crown,” said Kothari.

“Even if it was my first final, I never felt the pressure. Even after missing some crucial pots, I kept my cool. I knew that I have to be on my toes against someone like Alok, who is a multiple National champion. You give him one chance and he finishes you,” he said.

The National championship served as the qualifying event for the upcoming Asian Championship to be held in Chandigarh in April.

In a way, Alok, 45, an office-bearer with the Punjab association, crumbled under pressure as he had his focus divided between his game and the organisational aspects of the Continental event.

Champion stuff... Pankaj Advani and Vidya Pillai won the snooker titles.-ARUNANGSU ROY CHOWDHURY

Among others, qualifier Malkeet Singh received some attention after giving a good performance and achieving a quarterfinal finish.

In snooker, the biggest draw was former IBSF world champion and professional player Pankaj Advani, who cruised to victory against Kamal Chawla in the final to win his sixth National crown.

For Advani, who is weighing his options and may make a comeback to amateur snooker, it was an occasion to reaffirm his class. He started the event with a career-best break of 145, bettering his previous score of 139, and sailed smoothly in every match before being tested by pool expert Dharminder Lilly in the semifinals.

Rallying from two frames down, Advani underlined the competitive edge he always possessed and won in style. In the final, he excelled to tame Chawla, who was at his best displaying fabulous skills and fighting spirit in his second summit clash.

“I was always inspired by Ronnie O’Sullivan. I always asked myself, ‘When will I play like him!’ It came today and I am happy that I could thrill the crowd with whatever talent I have,” said Advani.

“A National championship is not just any win. It is always competitive and all credit to Chawla who gave his best,” Advani added.

Young cueists like Shivam Arora (who showed defending champion Manan Chandra the exit door) and Laxman Rawat, held a lot of promise for the future, while master schemer Brijesh Damani exhibited his cool and extraordinary safety game to win admiration.

The oldest competitor in the field, Shyam Jagtiani, 62, hogged the limelight by upsetting Alok Kumar in the round of 32.

In the women’s section, R. Umadevi defeated Chitra Magimairaj to emerge the National billiards champion. Chitra again fell short as she frittered away a two-frame advantage to lose to Vidya Pillai in the snooker final.

It was a memorable outing for Odisha youngster Ashutosh Padhy, who bagged three titles in junior snooker and sub-junior billiards and snooker categories.

Meanwhile, all the events in the sub-junior and junior girls sections were scrapped due to no participation.


BILLIARDS: Men: Final: Sourav Kothari bt Alok Kumar 17-152, 150-71, 104-151 (112), 151 (83)-56, 150 (110)-58, 147 (136)-151 (128), 151(125)-81. Third place: B. Bhaskar bt Dhruv Sitwala 100 (56)-23, 100 (100)-0, 81-100 (62), 0-101 (68), 100 (100)-0.

Women: Final: R. Umadevi bt Chitra Magimairaj 75-35, 59-76, 75-44, 76-54. Third place: Arantxa Sanchis bt Varsha Sanjeev 51-11, 33-51, 51-18.

SNOOKER: Men: Final: Pankaj Advani bt Kamal Chawla 85 (84)-0, 38-88, 70-15, 90 (69)-3, 36-64, 100 (61)-5, 23-85 (85), 86 (64)-0, 139 (139)-0. Third place: Brijesh Damani bt Dharminder Lilly 60-32, 58-73, 71-4, 73 (52)-11, 86-25.


Final: Vidya Pillai bt Chitra Magimairaj 38-67, 16-55, 63-29, 96 (76)-8, 36-70, 56-42, 56-47.

Third place: Amee Kamani bt Neeta Sanghvi 69-48, 64-25.