Those who love sport love the competition and the uncertainty. Who will win? Who will come out on top? There was a great, even a historic, match recently in the sport of snooker. Those who don’t like sport or don’t like snooker really missed something. The tournament was the Northern Ireland Open Snooker championship in Belfast. As usual 32 players were in the first round and they were gradually whittled down in competition. Note that some of the greatest players in the world were there and were beaten. In the end two known but not leading players came out on top, Mark King and Barry Hawkins. Both have been professional players for 25 years, King has never won a tournament, although he was in 3 finals, while Hawkins has won three tournaments, all quite recently. The odds against both of them winning were enormous, but they both played brilliantly and ended up in the final facing each other.
But, it wasn’t just that they were old players and unexpected finalists, the match itself was unique. The final was the best of 17 games. It went like this, Hawkins went ahead 5-1, then King won 6 in a row and made it 5-7, then Hawkins caught up to 7-8. But, the 16th game was amazing. Usually each game takes 15-20 mins, but this game took over an hour (not a record), and it was very unusual, I have never seen anything like it before. Hawkins went ahead 65 – 0 points, which generally is a winning score. But, King would not give up, when Hawkins missed a ball instead of conceding he kept playing, when there were only 58 points left on the table. The only way King could win was to get at least a 7 point foul from his opponent, which is an unheard of amount, since one foul (such as a miss) usually gets only 4 points and two fouls are very unlikely.
When it was down to 3 balls left (the white cue ball, the pink and the black), King, after trying for 15 mins, managed to get both the black and the pink balls close together in one corner and Hawkins made a mistake, he missed the pink and hit the black instead -precisely a 7 point foul. Then King downed the last two color balls and tied 65 – 65. In case of a tie, which is rare, the two players each play for a single black ball, and King missed his chance to down the black, which Hawkins then did , and so then they were tied exactly 8 games each, with one more game to go. At this point they had been playing for nearly 6 hours altogether.
In the 17th game they both made mistakes, but Hawkins failed to make enough points and King won. What an upset, his first win in 25 years. In his statement after the win he admitted that he had had a gambling problem, but his wife had stuck by him and his old father had kept faith with him and he had stopped 4 years before and now goes to GA (Gamblers Anonymous) meetings and was now over it. At the age of 43 he won $100,000, more than he has won in his whole career, and he is suddenly a celebrity.