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Tournament Description
We are now in the run up to the 2005 Interleague Championship event and all the teams are getting ready to do battle once more, as always, the cream of England’s pool players will be in attendance at Vauxhall Holiday Park, the theatre of dreams, for just about every pool player who wants to play at the highest level.

This weekend is not just about the Interleague though; there are two other major events that are played out over the Interleague weekend to make the weekend a bumper event for a number of players for a number of reasons .

To get the weekend’s events get underway, and ironically enough it starts on the Thursday afternoon owing to the number of entrants, with the English Qualifiers for the World Eight ball Pool Federation World Championship. This is the event where all the countries cue men can fight it out for the four available spots for non England Squad members in the singles event at the World Championships in Blackpool during May.

The success of the event has been phenomenal in terms of the numbers wishing to enter the event and in the quality of the players competing in it. For the lucky four it’s the chance to play in the World Championships. But in order to do that the four who do make it through will leave trail of devastation in their wake. For the 400 or so disappointed players there will be in their ranks some top notch professionals, a number of Ex Internationals countless County players as well as Interleague players and a sprinkling of league players who think they have what it takes.

Whilst it’s good that everyone has a chance to qualify history proves that only the very best actually make it. It’s hard to explain it but its similar to a giant version of the Champions league where the standard of play is so high in the first place that 60-70 per cent could qualify but as the rounds go on the “weaker” ones get weeded out until eventually you are left with the cream of the crop from that years entrants. The skill level needed to progress just gets higher and higher as the rounds progress by the time you get to the last few players trying to qualify the slightest touch of luck can catapult you into the World Eight ball Pool Federation World Championships. And quite often does but all the work to get that rub of the green was done in the previous rounds. Another thing to remember is that for that bit of luck one player gets there is another player who will forever more cite that bit of luck as the reason they did not make it. Such is the overall standard of pool these days that if you miss just one opportunity to qualify you could well end up waiting a long time for another one to come your way.

You always here players moaning about how unlucky they were in going out of an event, as far as the World Eight ball Pool Federation World Qualifiers is concerned you can say that if a players gets to the latter stages then in nine cases out of ten players are usually telling the truth when it comes to being on the wrong end of lady luck’s mood swings. It’s the little bit of fortune that one top class player gets that usually makes the difference.

What tends to get overlooked by the players is that they too, during any match, had similar bits of luck, but for whatever reason failed to make their opponent pay. It’s the accumulation of these missed chances that kill the player not the one bit of luck the winning player gets in the final frame of a match. That explanation however, will not hold much sway with most pool players who will only focus in on that one bit of luck that sent them crashing out of the event.

Luck of course will never help an average player to beat a top player no Matter how much of it they get, baring of course, enough “in off the blacks” to lose every match of a set. To date I have not seen any player being blessed with this much luck in one match. When all is said and done only four players will go on to compete in the World Eight ball Pool Federation World Championships after some 400 players will have tried and failed. For them there is another chance next year for the lucky four it will be a dream come true

The dream came true for last years qualifiers Darren Hope (Peterborough), Phil Milam (Crewe), Matt Goodale (Spalding) and Rob Chilton (Dudley) and this year there will be another four players getting the opportunity to play for real in the World Eight Ball Pool Federation World Championships.

After the action of the World Championships which continue to run during the day on Friday right up till around 7:00pm, it’s time for the Men’s England trials qualifiers to do battle in the England internal team trials to see who will be part of the England World Championship squad and thereby iliminate the need to qualify through the above mentioned Qualifiers. This event is for the players who have qualified via the England team trials in March to be part of the 15 man England squad for 2005/06 this includes some players who are members of the current England squad but who have been sent for re-trial because they had not been retained in England’s squad. Pool is one of the few sports that continue with the belief that it’s every player’s right to represent their country if they are good enough to be able to beat those that are already there.

There are also the players who are new to the England Squad this year having just qualified via the trials in March it’s the chance to claim a spot in the world championship team and join the 5 retained players. Due to the numbers allowed in each national team by the World Eight ball Pool Federation There are only three spots available but eight England team members after one of those spots. Clearly, three into eight does not go so the non-retained and New England players have what we call an “internal team trial” to see which three get the spots up for grabs. For the other five it’s one of the biggest disappoints in Pool not to be able to play for your country in the World Championships

The way it’s whittled down to the three is about as fair as it can be given the spaces available. All eight players have to play each other and at the end of that there will be three players who have won most matches and will go to the World Championships as a member of the England Squad. Whilst this may sound easy, just beat enough of the other players and you are there. True, but when you see who the players involved are you should be able to see how hard the task of qualifying will be, players like Keith Brewer (Dorset), Bayden Jackson (Notts), Dean Wisher (London), Neil Davey (Notts), Steve Mullan (Warks), Jez Graham (Cornwall), Neil Toms (Herts) & Darren Suchley (London)
All the players will be in action from 7pm on the Friday where they hope to get through four matches and then play the final three on Saturday after the Interleague finishes for the day.

You can see that winning one match will be hard enough with the calibre of player involved. As a guide the qualifying players have had to come up with around 5-6 from their seven matches to get in. Each match is played over the best of nine frames per match. Think about that, you are playing the best of the best and you still probably have to win 5/6 of your 7 matches or you are more than likely on your way home. I doubt that any player involved in the internal trials would be confident enough to say they will get through. Obviously the likes of Keith Brewer and Bayden Jackson will stand out as likely qualifiers but even they know it’s far from easy to beat 5 or 6 other England players back to back. However three players will do that and go on to represent their country in the World Eight Ball Pool Federation World Championships in May.

On Saturday morning at 9am prompt sees the start of the main event of the weekend the National Interleague Championships. For the vast majority of the assembled players this is the reason they are here. There isn’t much you can write about this event it has grown over the years from an event where it easy to get in, even at the last minute, even Interleague? Teams from other nations have been invited to bolster the teams involved.

That now is a thing of the past and the event can command a full to capacity turn out each year. When the invites go out to the county secretaries in early January for them to request how many spaces their county would like there are usually 150-160 teams prepared to go if they are invited. That means there are not enough spaces to go round. The way the spots are distributed is that each EPA County registered with the national secretary as playing Interleague within their county are allocated two spots. In reality though each county typically, will get three places if they asked for them and what ever is left after that is allocated randomly amongst The Counties that asked for more than three spaces.

Some of the bigger Interleague playing counties such as Kent asks for a whopping 12-13 places. Their argument is that because they have put the effort in and got so many Interleague teams playing within the county that they should get more spaces, I think that they have some justification when you consider that some counties only have six teams playing Interleague getting the same allocation as Kent. That said if, for example Kent get 12 spots then four counties loose their automatic spots. So when push comes to shove it’s probably better that we do it they way we do for the greater good of pool. I know some people will think the opposite argument is better for the greater good of pool. If that is the case then your county can always put a motion forward at the next EPA AGM and see what the majority think.

The net effect of all this is that there are 96 happy teams from all over the country and 60 odd disappointed ones hoping that they might get a spot as a reserve team but that doesn’t happen too often these days. Teams that get a spot understand that if they do not adhere to the ongoing qualification deadlines the chances are that they will be replaced swiftly.

Tom Fahy
Tournament Director

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