Chennai: Country`s leading cueists will be
seen in action during the nearly month-long National billiards
and snooker championship which gets underway on Monday.
After a five-year gap, the championship has returned to
the city with the main rounds of billiards event taking place
from July 26 to 30, followed by snooker from August 4-9.
The 78th senior national billiards & snooker championship
has attracted top Indian players including seven-time world
title holder and reigning national snooker champion Pankaj
Advani, reigning national billiards champion Alok Kumar,
Aditya Mehta, Yasin Merchant, Ashok Shandliya along with
former world champion Geet Sethi
The Nationals, considered the qualifying event for Asian
and World championships, opens with the sub-junior, junior and
ladies competitions in both billiards and snooker.
The ladies events will have sisters Meenal Thakur and
Anuja Chandra, local challenger and 2010 Australian Open
champion Vidya Pillai, 2007 World billiards champion Chitra
Magimairaj and Uma Devi being dominant figures.
Eight-time world billiards champion Geet Sethi conceded
that advancing age has caught up with him and he was only
playing to about 70 per cent of his capacity.
"...but for me, national championship is a key event and
I don`t want to miss it. Chennai has a special place in my
career. It all began here but that was nearly 30 years ago.
"In 2006, I played probably my worst match, losing in the
pre-quarterfinals. But I hope to do well this time," said the
Asian Games billiards gold medallist Advani said he is
confident of defending his title in the snooker event and win
back his lost glory in the billiards in the Nationals.
"I am confident of retaining the National title in the
snooker event and also win back the billiards title from Alok
Mehta. Players like Alok, Geet Sethi, Dhruv Sitwala will
present a tough challenge in the championship but I am hopeful
of delivering the best," said Advani.