The first weekend of February saw the first snooker tournament of the year; the Midlands Universities Snooker Championship. The two ICU Snooker teams met a little after 7 am for the train to the gloriously dull town of Coventry. Saturday offered a mixed bag of results: In the Individual Championship, Imperial’s number one and first team captain, Sam Dennis, found himself in a London derby against LSE’s top player, Aqeel Qadri. After losing the first frame convincingly, Sam, with the help of a 44 break, was able to come back and win 2-1 with a round of applause from the spectators.
Moving through to the next round, he faced York 1’s Matt Robson, whom he beat two years ago en route to the final. This year, however, saw the luck of the balls running completely in favour of his opponent; this, teamed with a poor miss on a vital pink in the deciding frame, saw Sam prematurely crashing out of the event.
Imperial’s Hari Arora also made it through his first match, beating Manchester 1’s Nick Clayton 2–0 before losing to Mike Walsh of York 1, runner-up in last year’s BUCS Snooker Championships, by the same score. The other members of our first team, Kwan Ng, Duc Tien and Lawrence Wild, failed to progress beyond their first matches, choosing instead to “focus their attention on the team event”.
Our second team had more success in the Individual Trophy with three of the five players making it through to the quarter-finals. These were newbies to the team, Amish Patel and Nigel Rozario, along with club veteran Lewis Guan. Grace Yip, renowned for her incredibly long matches, became the first ever female to win a match at the Midlands Cup, beating Cardiff 2’s Noah Reynolds 2–1 before a 2–1 loss to York 3’s John Fox. Second team captain Will Duncan, renowned for dressing as a pirate, lost in straight frames to Keiran Baxter of Cardiff 2.
Putting their disappointment in the individual tournaments aside, the team events kicked off with the second team playing a 15-frame match against York 2 in the Team Trophy. Will opted to play last in the running order in the hope that the match would be won by the time he had to play, or as he stated, “to win the deciding frames if needed”. Unfortunately, the team found themselves 8–4 down—all losing tight matches two frames to one—by the time Will got a game, so even with his 2–1 victory against George Hogg, the team lost 9–6.
In the Team Championship, our first team seemed to catch the unluckiness that Sam experienced in the individual event, and with two draws and three losses, we lost 8–2 in our opening ten-frame match against Cardiff 1. Slightly deflated, we moved to our second group match against Oxford 1. Once again, Lady Luck was unkind to us and despite a 2–0 victory against Joe Sturge for Sam, in which he achieved the second-highest break of the tournament with 45, the team lost 6–4.
Saturday night, we felt we needed a little pick-me-up after our poor performances, so we waded into an all-you-can-eat Indian/Chinese/Thai buffet where we polished off a few jugs of Kingfisher and had a little too much fun with the ice cream factory and chocolate fountain. Morale restored!
Sunday began at breakfast with our slightly eccentric bed and breakfast owner. Hearing stories of our misfortune, he disappeared through to the kitchen to see if he could “find us some luck”! A few confused looks later, he reappeared holding a four-leaf clover.
In order to progress to the semi-finals, our first team had to win 7–3 against number two seeds York 1 and our second team just had to beat Warwick 2. Now armed with the clover, there was no way we could lose. It seemed to be working, with Nigel and Lewis winning their first frames. Amish was having less success, however with the rest of the team vigorously rubbing the clover, Amish’s opponent then potted the cue ball on the final pink before hitting his head on the table light, both actions met with cheers of ‘Clover Power!’
Although Will whitewashed former Imperial team player Joao Bento 3–0, unfortunately the second team went on to lose their match 9–6, and with the first team outplayed and losing 8–2 to York, both teams headed to the pub to drown their sorrows of their early exit from the competition. Now, all sights are set to next month when our two teams will head to Leeds hoping for better results and luck at the BUCS Snooker Championships.