2021 Q-School Event 2 – Day 1

The 2021 Q-School Event 2 got underway yesterday and here is the WST report about the day’s outcome:

Rebecca Kenna won a match at Q School for the first time, making a superb break of 92 in the deciding frame to beat John Pritchett 4-3.

All results

Women’s world number four Kenna is through to the second round of event two in Sheffield and will meet Phil O’Kane on Friday. She will need another five wins to earn a two-year tour card.

This is Kenna’s second visit to Q School as she first played in the event in 2019, and the 32-year-old from Yorkshire now has an impressive win under her belt.

From 2-1 down, Kenna won a scrappy fourth frame, then made runs of 26 and 38 to lead 3-2. Pritchett made it 3-3 but Kenna finished in style by taking the decider in one visit.

Former world number eight Dean Reynolds lost 4-0 to David Donovan.

David Lilley let slip a 3-0 lead against Callum Lloyd but eventually got the better of a scrappy decider to win 4-3.

Germany’s promising Umut Dikme scored a 4-2 win over James Silverwood, knocking in breaks of 62 and 77

Belgium’s 18-year-old Julien Leclerqc, who knocked Soheil Vahedi out of the Betfred World Championship qualifiers in April, scored a 4-0 win over Evan Munro.

Event two runs until Monday.

Rebecca Kenna actually made a 92 in that decider. It’s good to see WST reporting about the only female player in the draw.

That said, the reason(s) if any that guide WST when it comes to what they decide to report on totally elude me.

Why on earth report on Dean Reynolds? Dean suffered severe health issues in recent years, including a stroke, and he’s now a disability player. Yes, he does have a lot of merit to continue to play, but he stands no chance whatsoever in this competition, and putting a heavy 4-0 first round defeat into the spotlight does him no favour. This time there was no reporting on Tony Knowles who, unsurprisingly, lost to Kishan Hirani, who was a professsional for two seasons in 2018/19/20.

Julien Leclercq (Belgium) gets a mention as does Utmut Dikme (Germany), which pleases me, but why ignore Niel Vincent? The young Frenchman reached round 4 in Event 1. He’s been doing very well so far, he’s one to watch here for everyone interested in the development of the sport in mainland Europe.

The 14 years old Stan Moody also won his first match. He is the EPSB nominee and WST wrote a feature about him last month. Now that he’s got a win there isn’t a word about it?

The first round continues today and will be played to a finish. the second round will start this evening.

 

 

 

2021 Q-School Event 1 Outcome

The four players who earned a two years tour card through the 2021 Q-School Event 1 were all professionals over the 2019/20/21 seasons. They are: Yuan Sijun, Jackson Page, Fraser Patrick ans Peter Lines.

Here are the reports by WST about what happened yesterday.

The last eight

Q School Event One – The Final Eight

Seven of the eight players through to the quarter-finals of Q School event one are looking for an immediate return to the pro tour having been relegated at the end of last season.

Click here for live scores for the quarter-finals on Tuesday afternoon.

Michael Georgiou is the only exception – the former Shoot Out winner dropped off the tour in 2020 then took a year away from snooker to spend time in his native Cyprus, but is now just one win away from a fresh two-year tour card.

The four winners of the quarter-finals in Sheffield will each be handed a place on the circuit for the 2021/22 and 2022/23 seasons.

Georgiou beat Oliver Brown 4-1 in the last 16 with a top break of 104. He will now meet Welshman Jackson Page, who thrashed Sean Harvey 4-0 with a top run of 60.

China’s Yuan Sijun saw off Sydney Wilson 4-0, earning a match with Birmingham’s Mitchell Mann, who made a 93 in a 4-2 defeat of Duane Jones.

Peter Lines, the 51-year-old veteran from Leeds, eased into the last round with a 4-1 victory over Lee Shanker. He will now meet Preston’s Ian Burns, who won a 40-minute decider to edge out David Lilley 4-3.

A top run of 118 helped China’s Bai Langning beat James Cahill 4-1, setting up a tie with Fraser Patrick, who came from 2-1 down to beat Lei Peifan 4-3.

The outcome

Action Jackson Bounces Back

Talented teenager Jackson Page earned a new two-year tour card by beating Michael Georgiou 4-1 in the final round of Q School event one in Sheffield.

All results

Page has reached the last 16 of three ranking events

Welsh 19-year-old Page turned pro in 2019 then suffered relegation at the end of last season. The player from Ebbw Vale, who is mentored by three-time World Champion Mark Williams, now has another chance to prove his potential.

He is one of four winners from Q School event one who will receive a card for the 2021/22 and 2022/23 seasons to compete on snooker’s global circuit.

Page needed just 73 minutes to end the challenge of Cypriot Georgiou. A break of 89 gave him the opening frame, and he took the second by clearing from brown to black, before making an 81 in the third for 3-0. Georgiou pulled one back but Page made a 56 in frame five as he secured the result.

“I struggled through the early rounds but improved as the event went on and played well today,” said Page. “My game is improving all of the time. My safety still needs to get better and my break-building has always been my strength. Over the last two years I have learned what you need to do to get to the top. It’s all about consistency, I have to perform on a regular basis.”

All four players earning tour cards from event one were relegated at the end of last season and have earned an immediate return.

Yuan Sijun

China’s Yuan Sijun scored a 4-2 win over Mitchell Mann. Yuan went 3-0 up with a top break of 46, then Mann battled his way back to 3-2 and led 49-0 in frame six. But 21-year-old Yuan compiled runs of 42 and 23 to snatch the frame and clinch his card.

Yuan first turned pro in 2017 and showed his talent with runs to the quarter-finals of the World Grand Prix and semi-finals of the Gibraltar Open in 2019. At the time he was described by Stephen Hendry as “one of the best youngsters I’ve seen since the likes of Ding Junhui, Ronnie O’Sullivan, Mark Williams or John Higgins turned pro.” A loss of form over the past two seasons saw Yuan drop down the rankings but he now has a fresh start.

Peter Lines, who first turned pro back in 1991, extended his career for two more years with a 4-2 win over Ian Burns, highlighted by a break of 55. At the age of 51, Yorkshireman Lines will be the oldest pro player other than Nigel Bond who does not have an invitational tour card.

“I came here with no expectations because my confidence was low, but I have got my act together here and I’m delighted to get through,” said Lines. “I just want to enjoy being on the circuit as much as I can, because I have loved snooker since I started at 14. It’s great to be with your friends on tour and do something that you love.

“I’d like to say thanks to all of my friends and family because it has been a tough time for me and (son) Oliver. A special thanks to a player called Patrick Whelan who I practise with. He gave me a ticking off about my attitude, I hadn’t realised until then how bad my attitude was. If he hadn’t pointed that out I wouldn’t have got through Q School, it really helped me.”

The draws at Q School were seeded for the first time this year, with players who had just been relegated seeded highest, followed by those who performed well in Q School last year. Lines believes that innovation was a success. “It has evened out the sections of the draw so the good players are spread out,” he said. “It made things fairer, rather having a lot of good players in one section, so it worked well.”

Glasgow’s Fraser Patrick took the fourth and last tour card with a 4-1 victory over China’s Bai Langning, closing out the result with a run of 95 in frame five. Patrick, age 35, first turned pro in 2007.

“When I looked at the names at the start, I felt this would be the hardest ever year at Q School,” said Patrick, who has come through the qualifying event three times. “There were so many good players. To get through at the first chance, I’m very relieved.

“I have hardly practised for the past 16 months because the snooker clubs have been shut. I have been turning up to tournaments and getting pumped. If I can start practising now and have more games with the likes of John Higgins, Stephen Maguire and Graeme Dott, that will help me.”

Event two gets underway on Wednesday – for the match schedule click here

I’m delighted for Yuan Sijun and Jackson Page, both young extremely talented players. Yuan in particular must have been low in confidence and a fresh start might help him to regain his mojo.

You can’t fault Peter Lines’ love for the game and, although I would love to see younger players to succeed, I’m happy for Peter as well.

As for Fraser Patrick, he’s a lovely man and I certainly won’t begrudge him his success here. However, there is something not quite right when a player struggles so much to stay on tour, losing his tour card three times, only to regain it each time. And even when he failed to regain it, he still played a lot on the tour as top-up. This illustrates that the gap between professional and amateur game has widened, and continues to widen. That’s a serious worry.

Fraser is not the only one who appears not to be quite good enough to stay in the top 64, but far too good for the amateur circuit. Of course, the covid crisis has made it even worse this year, with amateurs unable to practice or play for most of the season.

Still, I’m not sure what the answer should be. Maybe put “the bar” at 72 or 80 instead of 64? But also surely, reviving the pro-am circuit where so many of today’s established names learned their trade would help?  Basically that would mean revive the PTC tour, giving it decent money and exposure.  And at the same time, go back to a tiered system for at least half of the main tour events, with money, but no ranking points, for those who fail to win their first match and the whole tournament played in one go and in one location, with proper exposure, if not television, at least streaming for all rounds? That would create a better development path for young players, and would not offer “ranking” protection.

That’s of course IF the ranking system is to be kept. There are other options, used in other sports. Rating systems do exist, that make the distinction between amateurs and professionals largely irrelevant. Those systems also usually take the diffrence in rating into account when it comes to rewarding a win: a competitor will be “rewarded” more in terms of rating points for beating a higher rated opponent than for beating someone of similar or lower strength.

 

 

 

2021 Q-School Event-1 – Day 3

This is WST report on the third day at the Q-School Event 1:

Tony Knowles’ bid to earn a place on the pro tour for the first time since 2001 gathered pace as he scored a shock 4-0 win over Craig Steadman in round two of Q School event one.

All results

Knowles, age 65, followed up his 4-1 first round victory Bradley Cowdroy with an even more impressive win over Steadman, who was a semi-finalist at the Shoot Out last season.

Former world number two Knowles has a high break of just 38 in those two matches, but his tactical nous is winning him frames and he took three on the colours today as he set up a third-round meeting with Raymond Fry. Four more wins would earn him a two-year tour card.

World Seniors champion David Lilley made a top break of 89 as he beat Chris Totten 4-0. Ian Burns, the top seed in the event, also won 4-0 as he beat Anton Kazakov with a top run of 78.

James Cahill top scored with 86 in a 4-0 win over Julien LeClercq. Jackson Page saw off Daan Leyssen 4-2 while former Shoot Out champion Michael Georgiou beat Brian Cini 4-2 with breaks of 66, 64, 52 and 77.

Barry Pinches suffered a 4-3 defeat against Stuart Watson, while Austria’s Florian Nuessle came from 2-0 down to beat Dylan Mitchell 4-3.

Event one runs until Tuesday in Sheffield.

 

I have to say that Tony Knowles’ win over Craig Steadman came as a huge surprise to me.

Yesterday was the first day that saw a number of this season “relegated” professionals in action and all of  them except Barry Pinches won their match. I expect this trend to continue … unfortunately. I have absolutely nothing against the relegated pros, but, fact is, that the system as it is, isn’t particularly helpful to the young aspiring players and doesn’t help injection of “new blood” into our sport.

This time, more than ever, it will be difficult for amateurs to get on the tour, especially the younger ones who have no or very little experience of the main tour conditions. Due to the pandemic, they had very little opportunities to play over the last year whislt the Main Tour essentially carried on nearly as usual.

It’s even harder for the “overseas” amateur players. Yesterday I spoke over the phone to the father of one of the young Europeans who had just lost his round two match. Amateur competitions were all canceled this season in their country. Practicing has been difficult as well. Father and son arrived in the UK ten days before the start of the Q-School. Despite being both fully vaccinated, they had to be tested, twice, and had to stay into quarantine, not leaving their hotel room for 8 days. The tests costed them about 600 Euros. Staying isolated in a room for eigth days isn’t easy at the best of times, and, needless to say, it didn’t help the young lad’s preparation. He had just two days of practice before his first match … which he managed to win. He was beaten yesterday by a relegated pro, one of the favourites to regain his tour card right away. The youngster will play in both remaining events. If he manages to go deep in the third, both father and son will have stayed in a hotel in Sheffield for nearly four weeks. That doesn’t come cheap and it adds to the travel costs, test costs and the £1,000 entry fees as well. Going home between comps isn’t an option because it would mean going through the tests and the quarantine again when coming back for the next event.

All this of course is neither WST nor WPBSA’s fault and they have made every effort this season to keep snooker going at professional level at least. They deserve every praise for this. However, even in a “normal” year, a great deal of the above remains true, and having the whole Q-School played in the UK does give UK players a non-negligible advantage. Hopefully the gouverning body comes good with their promise to have an European Q-School sooner than later.

The CBSA qualifying events run in China this year were effectively a China Q-School. However that’s not enough. For instance, there are no Thai players in the Q-School this year, despite the strength of the amateur game in the country. There is a need for an Asian Q-School, not just a China Q-School.

In the light of the above, Florian Nüßle’s (Austria) and Niel Vincent’s (France) wins yesterday deserve plaudits, Niel’s win in particular as he has never competed on the main tour before in any capacity. Niels’s is only 20.

I was also happy to see all the young “relegated” Chinese players win their first match. The last year has been extremely hard for them, living as expats away from their families.

 

2021 Q-School Event 1 – Day 2

This is WST report on what happened yesterday:

White Dazzles In Q School Opener

Michael White fired two centuries in a 4-1 win over Ronnie Blake as he got his 2021 Q School campaign off to an impressive start in Sheffield.

All results

Former Indian Open, Shoot Out and Paul Hunter Classic winner White was relegated from the pro tour in 2020 and narrowly missed on an immediate bounce back via Q School. The Welshman is among the favourites to win one of 14 tour cards available this time at Ponds Forge.

Breaks of 127, 81 and 103 helped him to a comfortable win over Blake as he set up a meeting with Ben Fortey. White will need four more wins to earn a tour card from event one.

Veteran Peter Lines also made two centuries – 119 and 102 – as he saw off Connor Benzey 4-1. Australia’s Ryan Thomerson beat Callum Beresford 4-3, taking the deciding frame on a respotted black.

Former world number eight Dean Reynolds suffered a 4-1 defeat against Russia’s Ivan Kakovskii. Rebecca Kenna, the only female player in the draw, lost 4-1 to Germany’s Umut Dikme, whose top break was 84.

Event one runs until Tuesday.

Ahead of the event, Michael White has spoken very honestly about his struggles and it’s nice to see him play well again. I was also please to see a win for Ross Muir who had his young career ruined by health issues.

Now I can’t understand why there is any focus on someome like Dean Reynolds, except for the ever-present nostalgia factor. Dean suffered a stroke some year ago and had to re-learn to play snooker, which is admirable, but at 58 he’s got no hope in this, nor as a pro in the future.

What I want to put forward is this: of the 31 matches played yesterday 14 were won by a non-British/Irish player, whilst 9 were lost by a non-British/Irish player. Amongst those “defeated” we have two Polish players who had to withdraw. So actually, 29 matches were played, 13 of them won by non-British/Irish players, only 7 were actually lost by non-British/Irish players.  And that is, despite the fact that there are very few Asian players in the draw this time. Many of the players from mainland Europe who won yesterday are young guys.

What does this show? First of all that there is strong interest in snooker, and quality, outside the UK, in mainland Europe in particular, which in turn vindicates my opinion that it’s high time to “break” the structural UK bias, compounded by having all qualifiers played in the UK and the Q-Schools in the UK.

One young European player who did not win is the much fancied Ben Mertens from Belgium. I have no doubts that Ben is a fatastic talent, but I’m not sure that all the hype around him is doing any good! Julien Leclercq, who won his first match at the World Qualifiers last month, is through to the second round.

 

 

 

2021 Q-School Event 1 – Day 1

The first 2021 Q-School event started yesterday in Ponds Forge.

Here is the report by WST:

Strong Start For Knowles At Q School

Tony Knowles eased to a 4-1 win over Bradley Cowdroy as his bid to regain a tour card at the age of 65 started well at Q School in Sheffield.

All results

Former world number two Knowles believes he has a realistic chance of earning one of the 14 cards which will be won at Ponds Forge over the next 18 days.

His top break against Cowdroy was just 38 but he won three frames on the colours as he progressed to a second round meeting with Craig Steadman on Saturday. Knowles will need to win five more matches to secure a tour card.

Former world number 24 Michael Judge scored a 4-1 victory over Fergal Quinn while highly-rated Englishman Connor Benzey top scored with 74 in a 4-0 defeat of Aidan Murphy. Harvey Chandler beat Chen Feilong 4-1 in a battle between two former pros.

Top break of the day was a 107 from Kishan Hirani, but he let slip a 3-1 lead and was edged out 4-3 by Joe Fenton.

Among the players in action on Friday are former world number eight Dean Reynolds, two-time ranking event winner Michael White, Belgian whizz-kid Ben Mertens and women’s world number four Rebecca Kenna.

and here are the results:

9:00 AM Session
Peter Butler 0 – 4 Lee Stephens
Shafaqut Hussain 0 – 4  David Donovan
Jack Haley 0 – 4 Lee Shanker
Billy Ginn 1 – 4  Ronnie Blake
Connor Benzey 4 – 0 Aidan Murphy
Alex Taubman 4 – 1 Liam Graham
Ross Bulman 1 – 4 Gary Thomson
Sean McAllister 4 – 2 Neal Jones

11:30 AM Session
Martyn Taylor 1 – 4  Matthew Roberts
Chris Totten 4 – 0 Peter Geronimo
James Burrett 0 – 4 Luke Maddison
Brandon Sargeant 4 – 1 John Welsh
Jed Mann 4 – 3 Jenson Kendrick
Connor Benzey 4 – 0 Aidan Murphy
Danny Brindle 4 – 3  James Height
Fergal Quinn 1 – 4 Michael Judge

2:00 PM Session
Ross Vallance 4 – 1 James Silverwood
Raymond Fry 4 – 0 Aaron Graham
Roshan Birdi 0 – 4 Samuel Lee-Stevens
Gary Challis 4 – 1 Adam Brown
Labeeb Ahmed 1 – 4 Simon Bedford
Bradley Cowdroy 1 – 4 Tony Knowles
Manasawin Phetmalaikul 2 – 4 Niel Vincent
Jordan Rimmer 4 – 1 Conor Caniff

4:30 PM Session
Lewis Ullah 1 – 4 Jamie Jones II
Brandon Hall 4 – 3 Westley Cooper
Stuart Watson 4 – 3 Carl Mottershaw
Joe Fenton 4 – 3 Kishan Hirani
Mark Vincent 3 – 4 Lewis Gillen
Dylan Mitchell 4 – 2 Jamie Tudor
Harvey Chandler 4 – 1 Chen Feilong
Scott Bell 4 – 0 Thomas McSorley

7:00 PM Session
Luke Simmonds 4 – 1 Michael Tomlinson
Halim Hussain 3 – 4 Elliott Weston
Stan Moody 3 – 4 Callum Lloyd
Dylan Smith 0 – 4 Liam Pullen
Dave Finbow 0 – 4 Jack Bradford
Andy Milliard 4 – 3 Mark Ganderton
Imran Puri 2 – 4 Adam Goff
Alfie Lee 4 – 2  Joshua Cooper

So to summarise … a significant number of Seniors (WSS) players were in action yesterday and most of them won their match: Gary Thomson, Mick Judge, Gary Challis, Simon Bedford, Tony Knowles, Stuart Watson and Andrew Milliard.

The two Irish young prospects, Ros Bulman and Fergal Quinn, lost heavily to veterans. Given the circumstances, maybe they were unable to perpare as well as they would need to.

There are two young French lads involved in the comp. Niel Vincent won yesterday. Brian Ochoiski will be in action today.

Two 14 years old, both English, played yesterday, both lost but with honours, by 4-3. They are Wesley Cooper and Stan Moody. I remember Wesley playing Ronnie in an exhibition when he was about 6 …  he impressed.

As so often the WST report focus is on an older player. It would be extraordinary if Tony Knowles was able to regain his tour card, but IMO, it would also be worrying for the future of the game.

 

 

Stephane Ochoiski coach – l’interview

La Q-School est à nos portes. Parmi les aspirants professionnels se trouve un jeune Français, Brian Ochoiski, qui a impressionné plus d’un cette saison alors qu’il jouait comme “top-up”.

En ce momemt même Brian s’entraîne ferme, à la “Ding Academy”, et reçoit les conseils éclairés de Nigel Bond, un joueur expérimenté s’il en est!

Son papa, Stéphane, a représenté la France dans de nombreuses compétitions internationales au cours des 30 dernières années mais se concentre maintenant sur le coaching et le développement du sport qu’il aime avec passion dans son pays. Dans cette interview, nous parlons snooker, coaching et promotion/développement du sport en France et en Belgique Francophone.


The Q-School is upon us and, amongst the hopefull there is one young French lad, Brian Ochoiski, who has impressed playing as a top-up in various events this season.

At the time of writing, Brian is practicing had at Ding’s academy, and seeking advice from the vastly experienced Nigel Bond

His father Stéphane, represented France in various competitions over the last 30 years, but now mainly devotes himself to coaching and developping the sport he loves in his country. We have been talking about his hopes, his approach to coaching and how to promote snooker in France and in the French-speaking part of Belgium

StephaneOInterviewHeader

La version originale en francais …

Bonjour Stéphane et merci d’avoir bien voulu répondre à ces quelques questions. Avant d’entrer dans le vif du sujet, peux-tu te présenter brièvement ?

Bonjour Monique, je suis Stéphane Ochoiski. En octobre 2021 j’aurais 50 ans, je vis en couple avec Céline depuis 15 ans et j’ai deux fils : Brian 22 ans et Mateo 12 ans. Les deux jouent au snooker depuis leur plus jeune âge.
Ma mère tenait une affaire où il y avait un billard américain, au Nord-est de la France à Saint-Avold. C’est là que j’ai découvert le billard : le billard américain d’abord, d’autres disciplines ensuite. J’ai commencé le snooker en 1990 après l’avoir découvert à la télévision sur Canal+.
Je fus un joueur amateur de bon niveau ; j’ai remporté de nombreux titres en France – j’ai été champion de France à six reprises – et j’ai représenté mon pays 39 fois dans les compétitions internationales. Mon meilleur résultat est une 5ème place aux championnats d’Europe.
Je suis président bénévole d’un club associatif depuis 1990. J’ai occupé différentes fonctions de dirigeant aux niveaux régional et en national. Et en 1995, j’ai créé la première école de snooker en France. J’ai initié et entrainé de très nombreuses personnes au billard et au snooker : surement plus d’1 millier durant ces trente années. J’ai aussi été consultant/commentateur sur Eurosport.
Je suis avant tout ça un passionné de billard et en particulier de snooker. Depuis de nombreuses années je mets en place des actions de promotion pour mon sport.

Comment/pourquoi as-tu évolué de joueur à coach?

J’ai évolué très rapidement, car j’ai toujours aimé transmettre mes connaissances. J’étais tout d’abord un joueur qui donnait des conseils dans mon club, ensuite je me suis formé spécifiquement au coaching.
Je pense que le coaching a un peu ralenti ma carrière personnelle de joueur mais si je devais recommencer je ne changerais rien.
De plus, je n’ai commencé à jouer au snooker qu’à l’âge de 19 ans ce qui est très tard, mais j’ai quand même été à deux matches de passer pro dans un tournoi qualificatif en Europe. Je pense toutefois que je suis meilleur coach que je ne fus joueur.

As-tu suivi une formation de coach?

Oui, j’ai suivi plusieurs formations, tout d’abord pour perfectionner mon niveau de jeu, ensuite pour devenir coach.

J’ai 3 diplômes :

  • Le brevet d’état d’éducateur sportif (diplôme officiel en France remis par le ministère des sports)
  • Le diplôme de coach européen – EBSA coach – passé avec Wayne et Terry Griffith
  • Le diplôme de coach mondial WPBSA niveau 2 passé avec Chris Lovell, Andrew Highfield et Steve Davis

Quelle est ta méthode de travail? Comment approches-tu le coaching en fonction du profil du joueur ?

Je coaché à différents niveaux: amateur dilettante, joueur de ligue, jeune avec des ambitions professionnelles.
Avec les années j’ai beaucoup amélioré ma méthode de travail.
Tout d’abord, j’analyse complètement les besoins de mes élèves grâce à une interview orale, des test techniques et des documents d’analyses divers. C’est très important de bien connaitre ses élèves et leurs objectifs. L’aspect psychologique est essentiel dans le coaching.
En fonction de leur niveau et de leurs attentes j’ai différentes formules tarifaires. Je préfère les formules où je fais un suivi sur plusieurs mois, saisons… Il faut du temps pour améliorer son niveau de jeu, au snooker particulièrement. Après chaque séance mes élèves reçoivent un rapport écrit et/ou une vidéo, ainsi qu’un un programme d’entrainement suggérant des routines adaptées à leurs niveaux et objectifs.
Je m’occupe aussi de joueurs de pool anglais et de billard américain. J’ai de très vastes connaissance techniques et tactiques dans ces différentes disciplines de billard, mais je suis essentiellement un spécialiste de snooker.
Je me suis aussi beaucoup formé et spécialisé dans le domaine de la préparation mentale. J’ai des outils adaptés au billard que j’ai utilisé moi-même en compétition de haut niveau : la visualisation mentale (sophrologie) et la programmation neuro linguistique par exemple.
Pendant ces trente années, j’ai emmagasiné beaucoup d’expérience et j’ai suivi de nombreux joueurs en compétitions régionales, nationales et internationales. Aucune théorie ou vidéo YouTube ne peuvent remplacer l’expérience sur le terrain.

Comment évalues-tu les progrès, en collaboration avec l’élève?

Au début d’une nouvelle collaboration, on se fixe ensemble, de commun accord, des objectifs à atteindre à court, moyen et long terme. Ces objectifs sont consignés dans mon rapport initial.
Ensuite j’ai créé des documents de suivi et d’analyse tant pour les entrainements que pour les compétitions, mais, en fin de compte, les résultats de mes élèves sont le meilleur baromètre.

Penses-tu qu’une approche différente est nécessaire afin d’encourager plus de jeunes filles/femmes à jouer au snooker? Si oui laquelle ?

Non pas vraiment : j’évalue à 20 pourcents le nombre d’élèves féminines que j’ai formées en tout.
Evidemment, il faut parfois, utiliser d’autres techniques je m’adapte aux différentes morphologies. J’ai remarqué une chose importante par contre : souvent la lecture des trajectoires pose un réel problème au début de l’apprentissage chez les filles.
Travaillant beaucoup en milieu scolaire et avec des enfants je peux affirmer que les filles adorent le billard, mais l’histoire nous induit à penser que le billard est un jeu de café pratiqué essentiellement par les hommes. Il faut se débarrasser de ces préjugés.
Comme coach, Je suis vraiment pour l’augmentation du nombre de joueuses féminines au billard et au snooker. J’ai été ravi d’appendre que les deux meilleures joueuses du circuit féminin recevront désormais des cartes sur le « Main Tour ».

Collabores-tu avec d’autres coaches? Lesquels, comment, pourquoi?

Oui je collabore avec d’autres coaches.

Tout d’abord avec la WPBSA : ils nous offrent un relai, et ils nous envoient régulièrement des informations. Avant la crise, on était tous conviés à venir dans les tournois pros et tenir le stand de coaching dans la « cue zone » .
Je viens de participer au premier séminaire à distance de la WPBSA, il y a quelques jours. L’objectif de cette réunion était une présentation de Wayne et Terry Griffiths concernant un nouveau site où un système sur handicap équivalent au golf a été étudié et mis en place. Je trouve que c’est un travail fabuleux et je vais surement m’affilier à ce dispositif. Je m’entends très bien avec Wayne et ce depuis que j’ai passé mon examen européen au Pays de Galle.
Durant ce meeting on a aussi eu droit de poser des questions à Chris Henry qui a placé deux de ces joueurs en finale des derniers championnats du monde.Je suis en relation très étroite avec Chris depuis plus de 20 ans, on s’appelle souvent et j’utilise certains de ses procédés dans mes cours comme l’outil d’entrainement révolutionnaire « the balls ».
J’observe et je collabore avec mes collègues tout simplement pour m’informer et m’améliorer, je ne veux copier personne, j’ai pris ce que j’estime bon chez certains et j’ai adapté et créé ma propre méthode en m’inspirant de tous les coachs que j’ai pu croiser au cours de ma carrière de joueur et de formateur.
J’ai aussi organisé des camps de préparation par équipe pour préparer les joueurs français aux compétitions internationales avec la Belgique et la Pologne.
Voici dans l’ordre les coachs avec qui j’ai collaboré et appris : Alan Stocker, Paul Coldric, Chris Henry, Pj Nolan, Garry Baldrey, Del Hill, Wayne et Terry Griffith, Nic Barrow, Alan Trigg, Barry Starck, Mukech Parmar, Dany Moermans, Bratislav Krasev (Brando), Villius Schulte et Tom Limor. J’espère que je n’ai oublié personne…. et je les remercie tous.

Quels sont tes espoirs ? Tes ambitions ?

Mon meilleur élève reste mon fils Brian. Ce n’est pas facile tous les jours de coacher ses propres enfants mais je pense avoir réussi à transmettre ma passion à mes deux fils. J’espère sincèrement voir Brian réussir dans ce sport, et voir son frère aussi plus tard, s’il le désire bien entendu.

Désormais je ne joue quasiment plus donc je suis vraiment concentré sur mon job de coach. Je suis très volontaire et toujours passionné ; je veux partager mes connaissances.
Un de mes grand projet est de mettre en place des outils écrits et/ou en vidéo, en langue française, afin d’ aider les gens intéressés à mieux comprendre le billard et le snooker. Tout ceci est en cours de réalisation, je vous réserve de belles surprises très bientôt
Ma grande ambition aussi serait de coacher des amateurs de haut niveau et des joueurs professionnels et de les aider à s’améliorer et remporter des titres. Je voudrais devenir un coach plus reconnu au niveau international et participer ainsi au développement de ma passion, le snooker.

As-tu souffert de la crise sanitaire « covid » ?

Avant la crise sanitaire, j’avais décidé de me consacrer à mon activité de coach à plein temps et ça commençait très bien pour moi. Mais la fermeture des clubs et l’arrêt des compétitions a mis un coup de frein à mes ambitions de vivre sereinement et pleinement de cette activité. Je travaille actuellement à l’usine pour gagner ma vie.

Quel avenir vois-tu pour le snooker en France et en Belgique francophone ? Actions concrètes à entreprendre, promotion ?

L’avenir pour le snooker en France s’annonce très compliqué selon moi tant qu’on sera sous la tutelle d’une fédération théoriquement multi-discipline mais décidément pro-carambole dans les faits et je pèse mes mots. Je connais bien le problème, je lutte depuis des années pour la promotion du snooker en France et je suis très déçu par cette situation.
Il faudrait aussi que les commentaires sur Eurosport France soient confiés à des spécialistes : c’est un peu ridicule de mettre des gens qui ne connaissent même pas les règles sur un sport aussi complexe et difficile à comprendre de prime abord.
Mais, surtout, il faudrait plus de tables, plus de licenciés, un centre de formation, des stages d’initiation (avec mini-snooker pour les plus jeunes) et du travail de détection de nouveaux talents en milieu scolaire, une meilleure communication, des tournois dignes de ce nom, des évènements internationaux et un tournoi ranking professionnel en France. Il faudrait aussi qu’en France le snooker soit reconnu comme sport de haut niveau comme le sont le trois-bandes et la carambole. Si un ou plusieurs joueurs français parvenaient à devenir professionnels et visibles, cela pourrait changer bien des choses.
Pour la Belgique je vois plus d’avenir qu’en France : le pays a plus la « culture snooker » et je pense sincèrement que Julien Leclerc va beaucoup apporter au snooker francophone en Belgique.

Un message pour conclure …

Je vais tout faire pour continuer à promouvoir mon sport et ma passion au travers de toutes mes actions comme je le fais depuis 30 ans. J’écris aussi des articles sur ma page Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/stephane.ochoiski
Dès que possible, je vais recommencer à me déplacer partout en France et dans le monde pour aider les joueurs passionnés à mieux comprendre le jeu.
Je te remercie beaucoup, Monique, pour tout ce que tu apportes au snooker aussi.

Mon site : https://stephaneochoiski.com/
Mon profil WPBSA: https://wpbsa.com/coaches/stephane-ochoiski/
Ma chaine YouTube : OCHOISKI COACHING BILLARD AND SNOOKER

… and a translation in English …

Hello Stéphane and thank you for answering these few questions. Before getting to the heart of the matter, can you briefly introduce yourself?

Hello Monique, I am Stéphane Ochoiski. In October 2021 I will turn 50, I have been living as a couple with Céline for 15 years and I have two sons: Brian 22 years old and Mateo 12 years old. Both have been playing snooker from a young age.
My mother ran a business where there was an American billiard table, in the North-East of France in Saint-Avold. It was there that I discovered billiards: American billiards first, then other disciplines. I became interested in snooker in 1990 after discovering it on the Canal + television channel.
I was a good amateur player; I have won many titles in France – I have been French National champion six times – and I have represented my country 39 times in international competitions. My best result is a 5th place at the European Championships.
I have been the benevolent president of an associative club since 1990. I have held various leadership positions at regional and national levels. Also, in 1995, I created the first snooker school in France. I have introduced and trained many people to billiards and snooker: probably more than a thousand during these thirty years. I was also a consultant / commentator on Eurosport.
Above all, I am passionate about billiards and snooker in particular. For many years I have been actively promoting my sport.

How / why did you evolve from player to coach?

I evolved very quickly because I have always been keen to pass on my knowledge. At firts, I was a player giving advice in my club, then I trained specifically in coaching.
I think coaching came in the way of my personal playing career a bit, but if I had to start over again I wouldn’t change a thing.
Also, I only started snooker at the age of 19 which is very late, but I was still only  two games away from gaining pro status in a qualifying tournament in Europe. However, I think I am a better coach than I was a player.

Have you taken a coaching training?

Yes, I have taken several courses, first to improve my level of play, then to become a coach.

I have 3 certificates:

  • The sports educator’s state certificate (official diploma in France awarded by the Ministry of Sports)
  • The European coach certificate – EBSA coach – passed with Wayne and Terry Griffith
  • The WPBSA Level 2 World Coaching certificate passed with Chris Lovell, Andrew Highfield and Steve Davis

What is your working method? How do you approach coaching based on the player’s profile?

I coach at different levels: amateur, league player, young person with professional ambitions.
Over the years I have improved my working method a lot.
First, I fully analyze the needs of my students through an oral interview, technical tests and various analysis documents. It is very important to know your students and their goals. The psychological aspect is essential in coaching.
Depending on their level and their expectations, I have different pricing formulas. I prefer formulas where I follow the student’s progresses over several months, seasons … It takes time to improve your level of play, especially in snooker. After each session my students receive a written report and / or a video, as well as a training program suggesting routines adapted to their levels and goals.
I also deal with English pool players and American billiards. I have a very broad technical and tactical knowledge in these different billiards disciplines, but I am mainly a snooker specialist.
I also trained a lot and specialized in the field of mental preparation. I have tools adapted to billiards that I have used myself in high level competition: mental visualization (sophrology) and neuro linguistic programming for example.
During these thirty years, I have accumulated a lot of experience and I have followed many players in regional, national and international competitions. No theory or YouTube video can replace field experience.

How do you assess progress, in collaboration with the students?

At the start of a new collaboration, we jointly set goals to be achieved in the short, medium and long term. These objectives are documented in my initial report.
Then I create monitoring and analysis documents for both training and competition, but in the end my students’ results are the best barometer.

Do you think a different approach is needed in order to encourage more young girls / women to play snooker? If so which one ?

Not really: I estimate the number of female students I have trained at 20 percent of the overall total.

Obviously, sometimes you have to use different techniques, I adapt to different body types. I noticed one important thing, however: often reading trajectories is a real problem at the start of learning for girls.

Working a lot in schools and with children, I can say that girls love billiards, but history has led us to think that billiards is a pub game played mainly by men. We must get rid of these prejudices.

As a coach, I am very much in favor of increasing the number of female players in pool and snooker. I was delighted to hear that the top two  women’s tour players  will now receive “Main Tour” cards.

Do you collaborate with other coaches? Who, how, why?

Yes, I collaborate with other coaches.

First with the WPBSA: they keep us uo-to-date, and they regularly send us information. Before the crisis, we were all regularly invited to come to pro tournaments and to run the coaching in the “cue zone”.
I only recently attended the first WPBSA remote seminar a few days ago. The objective of this meeting was a presentation by Wayne and Terry Griffiths regarding a new site where a golf equivalent handicap system has been conceived and implemented. I think it’s a fabulous job and I will definitely join this scheme. I get along very well with Wayne since I took my European certificate in Wales.

During this meeting we also had the opportunity to ask questions to Chris Henry who h two of these players in the final of the last world championships. I have been in a very close relationship with Chris for more than 20 years, we often call each other and I use some of its methods in my lessons like the revolutionary training tool “the balls”.

I stay in touch and collaborate with my colleagues quite simply stay in the loop and improve myself, I do not want to copy anyone, I have taken what I think is good from some and I have adapted and created my own method  taking inspiration from all the coaches I have met during my career as a player and trainer.

I also organized team training camps to prepare French players for international competitions with Belgium and Poland.

Here are in order the coaches with whom I collaborated and learned: Alan Stocker, Paul Coldric, Chris Henry, Pj Nolan, Garry Baldrey, Del Hill, Wayne and Terry Griffith, Nic Barrow, Alan Trigg, Barry Starck, Mukech Parmar , Dany Moermans, Bratislav Krasev (Brando), Villius Schulte and Tom Limor. I hope I haven’t forgotten anyone…. and I thank them all.

What are your hopes? Your ambitions ?

My best student remains my son Brian. It’s not easy  to coach your own children but I think I managed to pass my passion on to my two sons. I sincerely hope to see Brian succeed in the sport, and to see his brother doing the same later too, if of course he wishes.

Now I hardly play anymore so I am really focused on my job as a coach. I am very strong-willed and always passionate; i want to share my knowledge.
One of my major projects is to put in place written and / or video tools, in French, to help people interested in better understanding billiards and snooker. All this is in progress, I have some nice surprises in store for you very soon

My main ambition would be to coach top amateurs and professional players and help them to improve and win titles. I would like to become a more internationally recognized coach and thus participate in the development of my passion, snooker.

Have you suffered from the “covid” health crisis?

Before the health crisis, I had decided to devote myself full-time to my  coaching activity and it was starting very well for me. But the closure of clubs and the end of competitions put the brakes on my ambitions to live serenely and fully from this activity. I currently work at the factory for a living.

What future do you see for snooker in France and in the French-speaking part of Belgium? Actions to be taken, promotion?

The future for snooker in France looks very complicated in my opinion as long as we are under the ruling of a theoretically multi-discipline federation but actually decidedly pro-carom and I am mean my words. I know the problem well, I have been fighting for years to promote snooker in France and I am very disappointed with the situation.

The commentary on Eurosport France should also be entrusted to specialists: it is a bit ridiculous to put people who do not even know the rules to commentate on a sport as complex and difficult to understand as snooker is for new viewers.

But, above all, we need more tables, more players, more training facilities, introductory courses (using mini-snooker for the younger children) and ways to identify new talents in schools, better communication, worthy tournaments, international events and a professional ranking tournament in France. Snooker should also be recognized as a top-level sport in France, like three-cushions and carom are. If one or more French players managed to become professional and gain visibility, it could/would change a lot of things.

For Belgium I’m more optimistic about the future than in France: the country has more of a “snooker culture” and I sincerely believe that Julien Leclerc will bring a lot to snooker in the French-speaking parts Belgium.

A message to conclude …

I will do everything in my powerto continue to promote my sport and my passion through all my actions as I have done for 30 years. I also write articles on my Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/stephane.ochoiski

As soon as possible, I will start traveling all over France and around the world again to help keen players to get a better understanding of the game.

Thank you very much, Monique, for everything you bring to snooker too.
My site: https://stephaneochoiski.com/
My profile at WPBSA: https://wpbsa.com/coaches/stephane-ochoiski/
My YouTube channel: OCHOISKI COACHING BILLIARDS AND SNOOKER

2021 Q-Schools – Draws and Formats

WST has yesterday published the draws and formats for the three 2021 Q-School events. They will be played in Ponds Forge, Sheffield, starting in just over a week.

Over 200 players will be battling for 14 places on the World Snooker Tour at 2021 Q School, which starts on May 27.

The event at Ponds Forge International Sports Centre in Sheffield will run until June 13, with each of the three events running for six days.

Event one draw

Event two draw

Event three draw

Click here for the format for all three events

Notable players in the field include:

Those who dropped off the pro tour at the end of last season such as Ian Burns, Jackson Page, Soheil Vahedi, James Cahill, Yuan Sijun, Duane Jones, Luo Honghao, Daniel Wells and new World Seniors champion David Lilley

Snooker legend Tony Knowles, the former world number two, who last played in Q School in 2017

Former Shoot Out champion Michael Georgiou

Two-time ranking event winner Michael White

Up-and-coming European cuemen Ben Mertens, Florian Nuessle, Brian Ochoiski, Julien LeClercq and Antoni Kowalski

Promising British talent such as Robbie McGuigan, Westley Cooper, Dylan Emery and Stan Moody

Women’s world number four Rebecca Kenna 

The four semi-finalists in each event will all earn a two-year tour card for the 2021/22 and 2022/23 seasons. Plus the next two highest players on the Order of Merit will also earn a card. All matches will be best of seven frames.

A separate ranking list will be compiled during Q School with players earning one point for every frame won. During the 2021/2022 season, should the number of entries in any WST event fall below the required number of entrants, subject to wildcards and commercial agreements, the highest ranked players from the Q School ranking list will be used to top up to the required number of entrants.

Further opportunities may become available for the top 32 players on the Order of Merit who do not qualify for the Tour, on the WPBSA Q Tour. This remains subject to the easing of travel and Covid restrictions.

According to the usually reliable Nikolay on twitter there are actually 196 players in these draws, including one, Vyas from India, who has already forfeited and, unless WST is redifining arithmetic I’d dare to say that 196(5) < 200 😉 … anyway …

Snooker.org on twitter have published two interesting lists:

This one shows the recently relegated players who have entered, with their age, and number of years on tour.

QSchool2021RecentlyRelegated

There are 21 of them, including 7 who are aged 21 or less, that’s one in three. I will support all of them, but even more so the young Chinese players who had it particularly hard during the pandemics. Four of those seven are still teenagers, and one, Lei Peifan, is only 17. That doesn’t feel right.

The other list shows the former players, trying to return after at least one year out of the game.

QSchool2021FormerPros

Only two of those players are 25 or less: Chris Totten and Ross Muir. The latter was forced out of the game by health issues. Hopefully those are behind him now.

This list also features Michael White who, at 29, is a double ranking event winner but dropped off the tour last season. He topped the Q-School “reserve” list and competed in most events this season but was largely unconvincing. What happened there? I can only guess that it comes to crushed confidence and mental health issues. I’m not sure what would be best for Michael though. Maybe take some time off and trying to address whatever issues are affecting him would be the best course of action?

There are also 12 players, out of 28, aged 40 or more in this list. The oldest one, and the WST “poster boy” is Tony Knowles, 65, who is famous for inflicting the Crucible Curse on Steve Davis, as well as for some more “frivole” exploits. Many of those guys have been playing on the WSS Tour and it’s a huge credit to Jason Francis that they have rediscovered their love for the game and their faith in their ability to the point that they want to return on the pro Tour. But is it really a good thing to get those guys back full time as pros? Or should more efforts be put on the WSS Tour to make it bigger, more lucrative and with better exposure?

The fact that they chose Tony as the “face” of their annoucement on twitter shows that WST still relies on glories from the past for their promotion of the game. Judd Trump is right when he says there is too much focus on the past still. WST choice is probably motivated by their confidence that Tony is a “recognisable” figure amongst the fans. Maybe, but I’m far from certain that he is a recognisable figure or an inspiration for the younger generation of fans and aspiring young players.

Finally, Rebecca Kenna is the only female player in this draw. She had to face a lot of prejudices when she was given a wildcard at the World qualifiers. Yet, she has shown that she can play and gave a good account of herself. She has my supports as well.

Anyway… Good luck to all involved!