Advani: I am trying to play a beautiful, quality game

Pankaj Advani, brushed off the challenge from Rupesh Shah to win the billiards title of the Manisha National Billiards and Snooker Championship at the PYC Gymkhana.

Pankaj Advani receives the trophy from Rajan Khinvasara, vice-president, Billiards and Snooker Federation of India and president, BSAM.

India’s most prolific cue-sport tournament winner, Pankaj Advani, brushed off the challenge from Rupesh Shah to win the billiards title of the Manisha National Billiards and Snooker Championship at the PYC Gymkhana here on Tuesday.

It was the 31-year-old champion’s eighth national billiards title. He had won the seventh in the Kolkata nationals, an event that was not updated in the personal portal. Advani won the final, set to nine games, 5-1 in a little under three and half hours.

"If Rupesh had won the first game, the outcome would have been probably closer. He also had a chance to make it 4-2. He has been the best and consistent player in the nationals, but that’s the way it goes,’’ said a gracious Advani after receiving the winner’s cup and a cheque of Rs.30,000 from the BSFI Vice-President, Billiards and Snooker Association of Maharashtra (BSAM) President and the sponsor, Rajan Khinvasara.

Advani also complimented Brijesh Damani for reaching the semifinals of the billiards nationals for the first time. Last year’s winner Sourav Kothari finished third defeating Damani 3-0 in the play off for the third and fourth positions.

The face of Indian cue sport for a long time now, Advani, was delighted with his performance. "It’s obviously a great feeling. In India we have a rich cue sport legacy. We have a galaxy of billiards stars, champions who have won multiple national and world titles, starting with Wilson Jones, Michael Ferreira and then Geet Sethi. Rupesh himself has won three world titles in billiards. We had some really top-class players here and to come on top in such a field is definitely a special feeling," said Advani after posing for pictures with many billiards and snooker players.

Advani further said: "I wanted to name Vishal Madan also. It’s great that these guys have got into the top eight. We have the floaters like Shankar Rao... B. Bhaskar did not make it to... so that shows the depth of the competition. I think there are 20 to 25 players in India, if they strike in this format, who can do well at the nationals. Shankar Rao made a century break. People did not expect him to make it. So he has got the calibre. It’s very competitive when you are playing the point format. Rupesh has achieved a lot in the shorter format. So it’s always a challenge."

Finally Advani said that he’s happy with the way he played the billiards event here. "Actually, starting with the point-format in the world billiards in Bengaluru, I have been on a solid winning streak. I have probably won 30-plus matches. For me, that’s a great number, although I am not a person to believe in statistics. I don’t think I could be in a better place now. I am enjoying my game; there are times you are going to miss, you are human. In the last two games, I had a couple of easy misses. On the whole, I am enjoying the entire process. It’s amazing to win, obviously because at the end of the day it’s the performance and the title that really counts. I think I am trying to produce a beautiful and quality game, play positive and entertain the crowd who come and watch the matches."

The results:

Final: Pankaj Advani (PSPB) bt Rupesh Shah (PSPB) 5-1 (150 (83) -135, 150 (150) -54 (54), 151 (109) -122 (113), 104 -151 (144), 151 (74, 67) -112).

For third place: Sourav Kothari (PSPB) bt Brijesh Damani (PSPB) 3-0 (150 (103) -116, 150 (134) -32,150 (140) -9).