Pankaj Advani defends snooker title
Pankaj Advani fought off Yan Bingtao of China to hold on to his 6-red snooker World Championship title. This is Advani's 13th World Championship title. He held his own against Bingtao to come up with a 37-21,57(30)-0, 32-29, 0-66(66),6-38(37),48-0,75(71)-0,40(35)-28 win. Despite having gotten off to a good start, Advani had to fight for his title after Bingtao made a strong comeback.
Pankaj Advani was born in Kuwait in 1985, but had been living in Bangalore for most of his life. Having shown promise from a young age, he received training from former national Snooker champion Arvind Savur. In 2003, at the age of 18, he won the Men's World Snooker Championship in China. The same year, he also won the National title in Senior Snooker.
Advani's foray into the game was courtesy of his brother Shree, who took him along to a snooker parlour, where one day, he just pocketed the red ball on his first try. The following year, he won his first state title in 1997.
Advani is adept at both billiards and snooker. Billiards is played with three balls: red, white, yellow; the last two are the opponents' cue-balls respectively. The objective is to score the most points. Snooker is played with fifteen red, six coloured-balls and one cue-ball. The player has to pot a red, then a colour, a red, and so on; the winner has most points.
Advani held his own against defending champion and nine-times winner Mike Russell at the Northern Snooker Centre in Leeds and registered a win. With this win, Advani became only the second Indian to win the Professional title in its 139-year history. The only other India was Geet Sethi, who won in 1992. This was Advani's first Professional Billiards world title.
Advani is the youngest person to have won the IBSF titles in both billiards & snooker for a record six times, as well as the only one to have won all 5 billiards tournaments in a season.
Advani beat England's Robert Hall to bag the title in the timed format of the game at the final of the IBSF World Billiards championship. He had already won the title in the points format the week before, thus completing a grand double. This double win took his total a whopping 3 times, which made him the first player to do so.
The Indian team, comprising of Pankaj Advani and Aditya Mehta, settled for third spot at the World Snooker Championship that took place in Wuxi, in China's Jiangsu Province. In the semi-final match, India went up against the Scottish team, which comprised of four-time world champion John Higgins and top snooker player Stephen Maquire. They went down 3-4, winning bronze, which was India's best finish.
Advani was full of confidence before leaving for Karachi, where the 6-red snooker championship was due to start. He will be leading the Indian contingent at the tournament, which he had gained a direct entry into. The 6-red snooker format is different from the traditional 15- red snooker, but he was sure that he would ace this game.
Advani's fantastic performance in both the national and international arena, as professional billiards and a snooker player have not gone unnoticed by the government, which has awarded him the Padmashree Award (2009), the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award (2006) and the Arjuna Award (2004).