Senior nationals: Time for zonal qualifiers

While the qualifying draw for the senior national billiards competition had 63 players, the qualifying draw for the senior national snooker competition has received a record entry of 521 players.

Clearly there is a case for the Billiards and Snooker Federation of India (BSFI) to consult India’s leading cue sport players and examine the scope to change the format of the nationals; especially the senior nationals.

While the qualifying draw for the senior national billiards competition had 63 players, the qualifying draw for the senior national snooker competition has received a record entry of 521 players, each paying Rs. 1000 as entry fee, although it’s not known if all of them or the States they represent remit the money in advance and before the draw is made.

Only 10 qualifiers from the snooker will be added to 86 players who have been given a direct entry into the main draw. The qualifiers has already begun and the Billiards and Snooker Association of Maharashtra (BSAM) which has taken the responsibility of hosting the 84th senior nationals, is using in all 16 tables — 13 at the PYC Gymkhana and three at the nearby Deccan Gymkhana.

Snooker is more popular than billiards and players from the traditional cue sports centres like Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and West Bengal have a big presence here, but the organisers have also received substantial entries from Gujarat and a few other North India States. There have been a few no shows; even then the numbers are unwieldy for any host to run the nationals without a glitch.

Perhaps the time has arrived for the BSFI to work out a compact national championship; the ongoing nationals started on January 12 and it will end on February 2; in all 22 days. Two sub-junior events, two junior events, two senior events and as many for women make the nationals a tough grind.