Multani and Kothari give Cue Slam a big thumbs-up

Veteran champions of the game are impressed with the format of Cue Slam and the response it has garnered.

Manoj Kothari, coach of Hyderabad Hustlers, believes that Cue Slam is going to be a game-changer.    -  Special Arrangement

Sonic Multani’s playing career lasted just seven years. A brilliant cue sport talent to emerge from these parts in the 1990s, he nearly shocked the legendary Stephen Hendry in 1992, losing 4-5 in a non-ranking tournament. After he won the National billiards title in 1995 and 1996 and the snooker crown in 1997, he played professional snooker for three years. The cue world was surprised when he decided to bid adieu.

Delighted at the advent of Cue Slam, Multani, a regular at the Rajpath Club here, said: “Cue Slam is very good for viewership and for the public to watch. In a short format (shot to be taken in 20 seconds and a frame and rack set a time limit of 10 minutes) players may not be able to display their skills to a level they are capable of," while adding that, "The ups and downs of each game, the doubles combination, the rush to play a shot and beat the clock...the whole thing gives a lovely interesting feature to the game and glamour in a sort of high-paced matches.”

Reacting to the frame Pankaj Advani lost to Darren Morgan on Monday, Multani said: “That was a fantastic effort by Pankaj (from 0-29 to 23-29 before missing the black). But he had to rush through with it and his calculation was right; he went through with the last shot on black, there were only three or four seconds left. His effort on the yellow and green were fantastic. He could have closed the match.”

Multani is also impressed with alternate shots played in the doubles. “That’s the fun of it. But four teams out of five qualifying for the semifinals, that’s the tragic part of this format. 

“The technical people are still trying to find out how the public is reacting and how it can be improved. The semifinals and final will be much more streamlined way of play. Even the players are adjusting.”

Manoj Kothari, who won the IBSF World billiards title in 1990 and is the current coach of Hyderabad Hustlers, believes that Cue Slam is going to be a game-changer.

“It’s a great opportunity for snooker players in India. This is going to be a big game-changer, with more teams and players coming in and getting the television exposure.The format is fantastic. We are all waiting for the feedback in order to find out how this format can be bettered."

"From the spectator point of view, this format has taken the monotony out of the game. The player’s agility on the table, sense of timing, and the professional attitude of the playing the game...has made it all very exciting. With every game, the players are improving."

Taking the ‘game-changer’ aspect forward, Kothari explained: “This is a new kind of a thing; we used to take our own sweet time. When I won the World Championship in 1990, people asked me “what do I do”? It was not socially accepted that you can only play billiards and make a living. Social acceptance is slowly coming in; we were dying for it. Now 15 Indian players have got a chance and we are looking for 30 Indians to get in. It will take time to get ten good lady players. Now there are two."

“This format will bring out the overall craft of a player. The alternate shots makes it a level-playing field. It’s nice to see the foreign players bond with the Indians. Some of the finest players like Darren Morgan, Andrew Pagett, Kelly Fisher, Pankaj Advani and the cream of Indian players, are here. The organisers are hopeful of adding more teams. It was good to see the home crowd cheering Gujarat Kings.”