Jim Watts Memorial Billiards Doubles Handicap Trophy semi-finalists, from left to right – Paul Lawrence and Paul Tavender (Park Gate RBL), Steve Allen and Mick Kunzi (Totton Rec), Tony Aldridge and Lee Fitzpatrick (Totton Rec) and Ian Finch and Chris Pullen (Park Gate RBL)
Totton's Aldridge and Fitzpatrick win their first billiards doubles trophy
The Southampton and District Billiards league’s Jim Watts Memorial Billiards Doubles Championship, played at Chandlers Ford Central, had some fine drama to even rival the Crucible’s World Snooker Championship!
The perfect draw for the neutral ensued as both Park Gate pairings, Chris Pullen and Ian Finch (receive +90) and Paul Lawrence and Paul Tavender (receive +20) were drawn against each other, and Totton’s Steve Allen and Mick Kunzi (receive -55) faced their compatriots Tony Aldridge and Lee Fitzpatrick (receive +65).
Lawrence and Tavender, The 2015 defending champions, were playing catch-up against their fellow teammates Pullen and Finch, after Finch had made a 19 break and numerous smaller efforts. Lawrence came back with some fine in-offs to make a 19 of his own, but neither players could find the fluency that has seen him and his partner move down to a commendable +20 in the handicap rankings. Finch then made a 15 break to help pull away and eventually win by 200-128.
In the other semi-final, Aldridge and Fitzpatrick consolidated their 120-point handicap advantage with numerous small breaks, but could not stamp their authority on the match in a way that they would have wanted to. Allen and Kunzi tried their hardest to claw back the gap, but they also struggled to find their fine league form. Kunzi found his range in the dying moments with a 20 break, made up of some fine long losers, but Aldridge and Fitzpatrick would not be denied as they ran out 200-101 victors.
The final had Pullen and Finch starting with a +25 point handicap advantage, and they started well, with Finch in particular showing why he is one of the most improved billiards players this season. With Pullen using all his experience in weighing up each shot carefully as they closed in on the 160 points mark, it looked as if the crown was theirs for the taking. But Totton’s Fitzpatrick showed his billiards promise by making breaks of 20 and 24, made up of some fine long in-offs, to pull the scores to near parity. And this was after Aldridge had gone 10 visits to the table without scoring, unheard of for the billiards aficionado!
With both pair’s scores hovering around the 185 mark, it was left to Aldridge to hold himself together to play a long in-off the red ball, then a middle pocket loser, followed by a drop cannon to push the red ball towards the right hand pocket. The spectators thought he would pot this with the rest. But no, he went for a thin in-off yellow into the left top pocket that sent the yellow up and down the table! This left him just to pot his opponents yellow for a fantastic first doubles trophy by 200-187. Well done Tony and Lee!
Derek Fry / Brian Bull 194 V 200 Paul Lawrence / Paul Tavender
Malcolm Willis / Mike Thatcher 137 V 200 Steve Allen / Mick Kunzi
Chris Pullen / Ian Finch 200 V 124 Paul Adams (33) / Dave Baker
Terry Azor (31) / Graham Hollick 120 V 200 Tony Aldridge / Lee Fitzpatrick
Chris Pullen / Ian Finch V BYE
Derek Fry / Brian Bull V BYE
Tony Aldridge / Lee Fitzpatrick V BYE
Steve Allen (63) / Mick Kunzi 200 V 167 Trevor Thorn / Dave White
Paul Adams / Dave Baker 200 V 141 Nick Alford / Rob Smith
Clive Gamblin / Gwen Gamblin 176 V 200 Terry Azor (31, 31, 31) / Graham Hollick
Brian Cannons / Dan Stone 193 V 200 Paul Lawrence / Paul Tavender
Steve Boterhoek / Chris Christodoulou 162 V 200 Malcolm Willis / Mike Thatcher