Oxford 43 - 47 Cambridge
Over the weekend of the 8th/9th March, Cambridge took on Oxford in the 2008 Varsity pool match at Colours Pool Club in Oxford. It was a tough contest, with Oxford taking a 31-23 overnight lead, but Cambridge showed their resolve and pulled it back to a nailbiting finish and took the title 47-43. This is the third consecutive victory for the light blues, although this year the two teams were very evenly matched and it leaves things open for next year when both teams are likely to have lost a lot of players. Hopefully momentum and the home advantage will mean we can make it four in a row.
Last year Cambridge utterly destroyed Oxford 52-38. While we were under the impression that this victory was down to the superior skill of the Cambridge players, according to Oxford’s match report the scoreline was nothing more than a consequence of Cambridge being more familiar with World Rules. This year we would have to play on their terms and by their rules, namely Blackball Rules. Two weeks’ practice began unimpressively as an entire trial session was played with people understanding “ball in hand” to mean “place the cueball anywhere on the table”. Despite the disappointment in discovering that this was spectacularly illegal, we rolled up our sleeves and arranged several marathon practice sessions over the following week. By the final Friday prior to Varsity, many of us were still less than confident with tactical strategies under these alien rules.
Saturday morning began ominously as Sam Gibbons had decided that sleep was more important than hitting a bunch of balls on a table which meant that four of the team didn’t arrive until just before the match started. This left minimal practice time on the wonky, beer-stained tables at Colours Snooker Club in Oxford. Nonetheless, we were confident and with Rob Cork, Matt Cullen and Rob Hogan starting things off, we were expecting to dominate the scoreline early on. How wrong we were.
Rob Cork 0 - 3 Adam Brown
This was to be the final pool event representing Cambridge for Rob Cork, our resident pool legend. His eyes had the look of Genghis Khan just before battle but his arms told a different story and two miscues in the first frame on an easy clearance meant he went down 1-0. In the second frame he had a dry break and Adam Brown used his magic emo glasses to clear in one visit. Rob was on a clearance in the final frame but a kick threw him out of position which necessitated him going to cover a pocket. Adam snookered him repeatedly until he fouled and then finished it off to win 3-0.
Rob Hogan 1 – 2 Rob Gaunt
Matt Cullen 0 – 3 Mark Harrison
Despite being new to the Oxford team, Mark was clearly one of their best players and Matt struggled in every frame.
Ryan Anderson 1 – 2 Chris Devine
Lee Mager 2 – 1 Steve Moody
Steve, a county-level player, was perhaps the favourite in this match. He was in control for most of the first and final frames but his clearance choking meant that Lee won both of those. Ironically the 2nd frame where Lee was fully in control throughout due to an importantly covered pocket was lost due to a poor disturbance on his final yellow, and despite a couple of brilliant snooker escapes, Steve was able to cover and clear.
Graham Sills 3 – 0 Lei Xiao
The Captain raised the team’s spirit with a convincing win against the Oxford veteran. The highlight of this match was Graham’s break and dish which didn’t actually materialise. He hit his final yellow ball with a force that would make Thor’s Hammer envious, which resulted in it bouncing straight out of the pocket. Luckily Lei was not on his best form and Graham was granted a return visit to the table where he finished off his interrupted clearance.
Doug Speed 1 – 2 Ben Holroyd
Josh Dalby 3 – 0 Maxwell Bruce
Guido Dacie-Lombardo 2 – 1 Chris Hook
Alex Pavlaki 2 – 1 Russel Gammon
Pete Atkinson 2 – 1 Mike Floyd
Sam Gibbons 1 – 2 Omeed Starmer
Sam was apparently still asleep as his first shot of the day for the lag resulted in his ball stopping in the bottom half of the table. Nonetheless he was able to clear convincingly to win the first frame. The second frame was dominated by Omeed who developed a lust for pocket-covering. Sam was faced with an impossible situation and Omeed won easily. The final frame was a similar affair but Sam managed to force a foul which resulted in him being able to clear a blocked pocket with his free shot. Unfortunately, he then underhit a delicate safety and cushion-fouled which allowed Omeed to win.
Score after the first singles round: Oxford 19 – 17 Cambridge.
Rob Cork & Ryan Anderson 1 – 2 Mark Harrison & Lei Xiao
Rob threw caution to the wind in the first frame and looked on for an easy clearance, but he overran the white for the final red leaving him cueing out of the jaws of the middle pocket and missed. Despite a great tricky black in the next frame the Oxford boys were in charge in the final frame.
Alex Pavlaki & Lee Mager 1 – 2 Rob Gaunt & Adam Brown
Facing arguably the two best players on the Oxford Team, the match started out well with an awesome split from Alex’s break with a yellow down. Alex got to work on the dish but missed the penultimate yellow. Fortunately the Oxford boys also missed a clearance attempt leaving a straightforward 2 yellows and black for Lee to finish. The 2nd frame looked like a break and dish until Adam ran out of position. Lee went for a delicate snooker but it overran by an inch leaving an easy clearance. The final frame Lee broke and the balls split very nicely. It was just a shame that nothing went down. Adam dutifully dished.
Matt Cullen & Doug Speed 1 – 2 Omeed Starmer & Maxwell Bruce
There was officially “nothing especially interesting” about this match according to Matt.
Graham Sills & Josh Dalby 0 – 3 Russell Gammon & Steve Moody
Apart from a good first frame in which Josh missed a very tough black, the Oxford boys were solid in this match, which included a dish off Graham’s dry break in the second frame.
Rob Hogan & Sam Gibbons 1 – 2 Chris Hook & Ben Holroyd
The first frame was a tactical one with clusters of balls on the side cushion and both sides did their best to avoid touching them until it was absolutely necessary. Hogan decided “sod that” and cannoned into the cluster off a pot, opening up all his balls but leaving theirs firmly on the cushion. He then went on to clear. The second frame was more open and Sam looked on for a clearance but jawed his final yellow. As luck would have it, that yellow blocked their ball and things looked promising for about 15 seconds. At that point Oxford rolled up to their ball leaving Rob snookered and he fouled resulting in Oxford finishing off. In the final frame Chris attempted a clearance off Sam’s dry break but failed. Hogan played a great snooker but not only did Ben escape it, the white ball also left Sam snookered in an exemplary display of skill and/or luck. The resulting foul allowed Chris to finish off.
Guido Dacie-Lombardo & Pete Atkinson 2 – 1 Mike Floyd & Chris Devine
Score after the doubles round: Oxford 31 – 23 Cambridge
Cambridge left Colours on Saturday somewhat demoralised. An eight-frame deficit looked impossible with just one singles round to go on Sunday. Impossible for mere mortals perhaps. What follows is an account of the greatest comeback victory since the fall of Stalingrad.
Pete Atkinson 2 – 1 Lei Xiao
This was a fascinating match which seems to have been decided on which player could kick and punch the table the hardest. Pete looked all set to clear in the 2nd frame but went in-off on his final yellow, giving Lei a free shot. Pete kicked and punched the table with all his might in the hope that the table would still be vibrating as Lei got down to move the black to a favourable position. It must have worked, because Lei went in-off immediately and kicked the table before conceding the frame. However this time the attack-the-table strategy didn’t work as there was enough time for the table to stop vibrating once the balls were set up on the final frame. It appeared not to be Lei’s day as he managed to go in-off into the centre pocket all the way down the cushion which puzzled even the physics geeks. Pete took advantage and won.
Rob Hogan 1 – 2 Adam Brown
Alex Pavlaki 2 – 1 Mark Harrison
Matt Cullen 2 – 1 Chris Devine
Despite snookering himself on the black TWICE in this match, Matt somehow managed to win.
Josh Dalby 2 – 1 Steve Moody
Doug Speed 2 – 1 Rob Gaunt
Graham Sills 1 – 2 Maxwell Bruce
The wonkiness of the table cheated Graham out of a simple clearance in the first frame as his ball rolled way off course. Maxwell played well in the 2nd frame and deserved to win it. In the final frame he left Graham with a tricky final long yellow down the cushion which he potted and left an easy black to get a frame on the board. This was to be the first of eight frames in a row for Cambridge to win.
Sam Gibbons 2 – 1 Omeed Starmer
In the first frame Sam was a bag of nerves and played atrociously, continuously missing pots and leaving Omeed to set the balls up in his favour. Having seen Pete’s earlier strategy, Sam decided violence was the answer and kicked a chair while screaming on obscenity. It turned out that this was the right way to go about things, as the furious break in the 2nd frame dented the table in several places which helpfully pushed balls in his favour. Omeed missed a couple of balls and Sam dominated. His fury got the better of him slightly as he smashed in his final yellow to leave the white in the corner of the table with the black in the middle. As we have seen in practice however, if there’s one thing that Sam can do, it’s pot extreme cut blacks. This time was no exception and a spectacular pot won him the frame. Just to prove it wasn’t a fluke, Sam deliberately positioned himself with an extremely thin cut final black in the last frame and potted it with ease.
Lee Mager 2 – 1 Chris Hook
Lee had spent the night in London on the Saturday for his friend’s 30th birthday party. He continued partying until 9am in the morning and despite being barely able to walk or talk, he got on the train to Oxford and arrived at Colours yawning his face off and dreading the prospect of having to concentrate on anything. He was mortified to discover that he was drawn against Chris Hook, the Oxford Captain who had reached the quarter finals of the BUSA national championships just a couple of weeks before. A prior practice frame proved that his potting ability was pathetic and so he decided to play tactically. He can’t remember much about the match except a lot of pocket covering and de-covering and the occasional snooker. At 1-1 Lee recalls somehow being in a position with 2 open reds and a black in the centre of the table and despite overrunning position on the final black, managed to fine-cut it to pull of a frankly absurd victory.
Guido Dacie-Lombardo 2 – 1 Ben Holroyd
Ryan Anderson 3 – 0 Russell Gammon
Rob Cork 3 – 0 Mike Floyd
Rob dominated the first frame by forcefully tying up Mike’s balls (oo-er) giving him no chance to clear. Eventually Mike fouled and left Rob to clear. The 2nd frame was a pocket-covering fest but Rob gradually exposed his balls (oh my) while simultaneously pushing Mike’s balls together (matron!) and managed to finish. The homoeroticism of the first two frames subsided and Mike decided that he couldn’t win against Rob by playing tactically so he went to clear. It turned out he also couldn’t win against Rob playing aggressively and having lost position he left Rob with an easy clearance to win.
Final Score: Oxford 43 – 47 Cambridge
|3||Adam Brown||3||v||0||Rob Cork||0|
|5||Rob Gaunt||2||v||1||Rob Hogan||1|
|8||Mark Harrison||3||v||0||Matt Cullen||1|
|10||Chris Devine||2||v||1||Ryan Anderson||2|
|11||Steve Moody||1||v||2||Lee Mager||4|
|11||Lei Xiao||0||v||3||Graham Sills||7|
|13||Ben Holroyd||2||v||1||Doug Speed||8|
|13||Maxwell Bruce||0||v||3||Josh Dalby||11|
|14||Chris Hook||1||v||2||Guido Dacie-Lombardo||13|
|16||Russell Gammon||2||v||1||Alex Pavlaki||14|
|17||Mike Floyd||1||v||2||Pete Atkinson||16|
|19||Omeed Starmer||2||v||1||Sam Gibbons||17|
|21||Mark and Lei||2||v||1||Rob C and Ryan||18|
|23||Rob and Adam||2||v||1||Alex and Lee||19|
|25||Omeed and Maxwell||2||v||1||Matt and Doug||20|
|28||Russell and Steve||3||v||0||Graham and Josh||20|
|30||Chris H and Ben||2||v||1||Rob H and Sam||21|
|31||Mike and Chris D||1||v||2||Guido and Pete||23|
|32||Lei Xiao||1||v||2||Pete Atkinson||25|
|34||Adam Brown||2||v||1||Rob Hogan||26|
|35||Mark Harrison||1||v||2||Alex Pavlaki||28|
|36||Chris Devine||1||v||2||Matt Cullen||30|
|37||Steve Moody||1||v||2||Josh Dalby||32|
|38||Rob Gaunt||1||v||2||Doug Speed||34|
|40||Maxwell Bruce||2||v||1||Graham Sills||35|
|41||Omeed Starmer||1||v||2||Sam Gibbons||37|
|42||Chris Hook||1||v||2||Lee Mager||39|
|43||Ben Holroyd||1||v||2||Guido Dacie-Lombardo||41|
|43||Russell Gammon||0||v||3||Ryan Anderson||44|
|43||Mike Floyd||0||v||3||Rob Cork||47|
|Name||Singles (out of 6)||Doubles (out of 3)||Overall (out of 9)||Doubles Adjusted (out of 7.5)|
|Won||% won||Won||% won||Won||% won||Won||% won|
|Graham Sills (c)||4||67||0||0||4||44||4||53|
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