The 2016 Billiards International Trophy Tournament took place at the Ivy Rooms Snooker Club, Carlow, on Saturday and Sunday, 19th and 20th November last. This year it was the turn of the Republic of Ireland to be the host nation and it was very rewarding to welcome the many players, officials and supporters who travelled to the event, generating a marvellous atmosphere throughout the weekend.
The well established format of the tournament was that each contesting nation, Austria, England, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland put forward a six-man team to contest against each other in two segments, a 90 minute timed game, which counted 2 points per game and two sets of 150 up, with 1 point awarded for each set. Using nine tables instead of the ideal twelve gave rise to a complication in the scheduling whereby matches had to be completed in two halves, each half taking place in separate sessions. This gave the intriguing effect that a true comparison of scores could only be made after completion of both sessions for any particular match.
Action got under way at 10.30 on Saturday morning in the 90 minute timed format. The England team made their usual strong start, taking 8 points out of a possible 12. Northern Ireland took 4 of a possible 6 while the Republic of Ireland team took a maximum 6 out of 6. Austria made a rather slow start, failing to take any points from the first session. The next session was the 150 up format where the Republic of Ireland came to the fore, scoring 8 points from a possible 12, Northern Ireland a disappointing 3 out of 12, England a balanced 3 out of 6 while Austria scored a commendable 4 out of 6. In the third session, also 150 up format, Northern Ireland surged forward, scoring 9 from a possible 12, England a creditable 4 out of 6, Republic of Ireland a rather disappointing 4 out of 12 while Austria increased their score by a single point. In the last session of the first day, which saw the completion of Saturday’s timed matches, Northern Ireland forged ahead to take an overnight lead, closely followed by the Republic of Ireland in second place, England third and Austria, although taking their highest sessional points to date, still in fourth place.
Action continued on Sunday with the first of two 150 up format matches where England regained the lead, scoring 9 points from a possible 12. The Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, both playing for 6 available points, scored 6 and 3 respectively while Austria failed to advance their score. Sunday’s second session, in 90 minute timed format, again saw a change in leadership when Northern Ireland scored a decisive 10 points from a possible 12, the Republic of Ireland taking a balanced 6 out of 12, England advancing their score by 2 from a possible 6 while Austria’s score remained unchanged. The penultimate session of the tournament saw the completion of the timed matches. In this session, all teams made a contribution to their scores leaving an intriguing scoreline of Northern Ireland 41, England and the Republic of Ireland tying at 36 each and Austria 13. In the final and deciding session of the tournament, being the completion of the 150 up matches, it was only at the tightly contested completion of the England v Northern Ireland match that the final outcome was known, Northern Ireland claiming their well deserved and historic first time victory of billiards prestigious Four Nations International event.
Results, of course, tell only half the story. What they cannot convey is the buzzing atmosphere of the occasion and the excellent standard of play. The tournament also produced its quota of high breaks, with more than sixty half centuries and 6 centuries, the century men being Rob Hall scoring three, the other three being scored by Northern Ireland players Kenny Campbell, Darren Dornan and Richie Comiskey. In the highest break of the day, a magnificent 333, Rob Hall almost equalled his own Four Nations all time high break of 341, set in Derby in 2014. Many congratulations to them and to all the participating players, many of whom produced personal-best performances in international play.
Our thanks are due to the referees for the outstanding contribution their efforts made throughout the weekend. A special word of thanks is also due to Clive Scott, whose skills in tournament direction ensured an efficient and smoothly run event.
The Ivy Rooms Snooker Club, Carlow are to be congratulated for their preparations for the event and for the excellent playing conditions they provided. We are also indebted to Senator Jennifer Murnane-O’Connor who opened proceedings on Saturday morning, wishing players, officials and supporters a successful and enjoyable tournament.
It was a great pleasure to see so many skilled exponents of the beautiful game of Billiards in simultaneous action and our congratulations must go to the Northern Ireland team on a wonderful and well deserved victory. The event was tinged with a note of sadness at the recent passing of the event’s founder, Derek Townend. A minute’s silence was observed in his memory. It was also very gratifying that all who participated in the event did so in the spirit of sportsmanship and friendship intended by Derek. No doubt that if he could have been there, it would have given him great cause for pride and satisfaction and a fitting reward for his endeavours all those years ago. The format of the event, including the Saturday night tournament dinner, always presents an excellent opportunity to renew friendships and enjoy the atmosphere of the occasion and this year’s event was no exception.