Judd Trump surfing to victory on his pool debut

Judd Trump made the best possible start in Antlantic City (report WST)

Trump Scores Whitewash Victory

Snooker’s world number two Judd Trump stormed to an impressive 9-0 defeat of the USA’s Joe Magee in his 9-ball pool debut at the US Open in Atlantic City.

The Ace in the Pack is following in the footsteps of fellow snooker legends Ronnie O’Sullivan, Steve Davis, Jimmy White and Alex Higgins in switching cue sport codes and trying their hand at 9-ball pool.

Trump came into the match concerned that the break could be a problem area of his game. However, after winning the lag, he potted from his first break off and impressed in that department throughout.

Magee offered little resistance and failed to capitalise on any errors made by Trump, who eased to victory. Next up he’ll face Dhruvalkumar Patel in round two tomorrow.

“I was quite nervous in the first couple of racks, but as soon as I knew he wasn’t a top player it helped me get my confidence,” said 2019 World Snooker Champion Trump. “My break off was pretty good as well, I was potting a lot of balls and getting chances, which I was worried about before it started.

“I’ll go away and have a quick chat with Karl Boyes, my newfound pool coach, to try to get some feedback. I’ve got no idea where I went wrong and if I was too attacking or anything like that.

“It is good because it gets me out of my comfort zone. It is a different type of pressure when I get here, because I am so confident of myself in snooker. I get to the pool world and everyone is expecting me to clear up every time. I hope I can take the experience back to snooker and learn from it.”

Joe Magee isn’t a top player indeed, he’s a local guy. If I understood correctly, this event is really an “open” as anyone wanting to pay the entry fees can actually enter. Judd Trump will certainly face much stronger opposition in the coming rounds.

That said, he was impressive. Being a top snooker player, he was expected to dominate his opponent in the potting department, and he certainly did. The table is much smaller and the pockets are big. That said, the balls are heavier, the cloth, and cushions are quite different anf the cut of the pockets is different as well; a snooker player may still need a bit of time to fully adapt to the competitive pool conditions. Judd worked with a coach ahead of the event and he certainly proved to be a quick learner.

The real “test” comes when the snooker player is faced with a type of shot that is not played in snooker. The very first “challenge” is the break. Ronnie played in the Mosconi Cup in the 90th, and he tried himself a bit at pool in the US in 2006; the break is a shot he struggled with a bit: “You break like a girl” was the verdict of one of his pool friends 😉. Judd didn’t struggle: he only came “dry” once. Maybe we should have expected that though as Judd has tremendous cue power, and I would class him as a “power player”, whilst Ronnie or Ding, for instance, are typically “touch players”.

Judd didn’t really need to play any other “typically pool” type of shot: Basically once he was in, he cleared. Joe couldn’t take any of the rare opportunities he had, and that in turn removed any kind of pressure Judd might have felt.

Here are the match and post-match interview:

I don’t watch a lot of pool: a bit of the mosconi cup is my usual annual pool regime. I did however enjoy what I saw yesterday. The dress code is casual but none of the  players I watched looked shabby. The setup is interesting although I can’t really see that beeing used in snooker. There were other familiar faces and voices around as well: Marcel Eckardt was the referee in Judd’s match and Phil Yates was in commentary.

I think that it would be interesting to have a competition mixing different cuesports. Maybe a team event, with “three players” teams, a snooker player, a 9-balls pool player and a 3-cushions player, with all players competing in all three disciplines. Such event would probably broaden the horizon of most fans. It might also encourage the various federations to collaborate, which in turn might help the cuesports “bid” for the Olympics. I’m not entirely convinced that cue sports are well suited for the Olympics, but IF they became Olympics sports, it would definitely help their exponents to be recognised as “true” sportspersons in the various countries and that in turn will help with funding, broadcasting and exposure.