See the New World Ten Ball Champion
Huidji See began our first semi-final match with a 4-2 lead over Yukio Akakariyama in the race to 9 games. A behind-the-back shot on the 9 ball left him a bit rough on the 10 in the next rack but he was able to put it away in the corner pocket to go 5-2. See missed a cut on the 1 ball in the next rack but Akakariyama could not capitalize on the opportunity as he missed the shot he had to bring See back into play. But See also missed the 1 and Akakariyama played a safe that left only a bank into the corner. See jawed it and Akakariyama had the chance he needed to get going and gain some confidence and poise. But he fell out of line on the 2 ball and again a safety was in order. He failed to snooker See but left only a bank or a safety opportunity. See chose the safety and Akakariyama missed his jump shot. See looked to clean up but scratched on the 6 ball and left Akakariyama a road map out. He would not falter from here and brought the score closer at 5-3 as the nerves began to show in the arena.
Akakariyama broke and ran the next rack and our margin was down to a single game. He played a great safe on the 1 ball in the next rack that gained him ball-in-hand and, with that, he sailed through the rack that tied us at 5 games apiece. Now it was a short race to four games to determine who would gain entry to the finals. Akakariyama made his first shot in the next rack but was snookered from the 2 ball by the 3. He made a good hit but See was able to put an in-jail safety on him. Akakariyama fouled his shot with no hit and See had the opportunity he needed. He went through the rack easily to lead 6-5. See them made three balls on the next snap and faced an open table that he managed cleanly to lead 7-5. See again made three balls on the break and things began to look impossible for Akakariyama as he was just not getting to the table at all. In moments the score was 8-5. He did get to the table n the next rack but not with any golden opportunities. He played a safe on the 2 ball trying to create one but See jumped, made the hit, and left him tough. Akakariyama made a very thin cut on the 2 ball to get going and knew that to win from here he would have to keep See in his chair. But he had no decent chance at the 3 ball and had to play safe. See returned the favor and Akakariyama pocketed the 3 in the wrong pocket to give See the option of shooting or returning him to the table. See gave the table back. A brief exchange of safeties ensued that left Akakariyama with the first opportunity to find a pocket. But the 8 ball was snuggled up next to the 9 and could not be massaged away. Akakariyama had no choice but to play safe with only three balls left on the table. See missed the shot on the 8 with which he was left but left only a bank into the side that Akakariyama could not convert. See should have been out from there but missed an elementary shot on the 10 ball for the win. Akakariyama made it and had new life at 8-6 and owning the break in the next rack.
See was distraught in his chair. He could not believe that he had blown that shot. But at this stage the pockets become thimbles. He had to recompose himself if he was to win. Things began to deteriorate even more when he missed the 8 ball. But Akakariyama, who should have been out easily, scratched on the 9 ball and conceded the victory to Huidji See.
The second semi-final match found Jianbo Fu facing Carlo Biado. Biado seemed to be off to a fine start when he ran down to the 10 ball but he hung it in the corner to gift Fu with the first bead. Fu also took the next rack but then missed a 2 ball into the side in the third rack to bring Biado up to shoot. Biado made two tough bank shots to complete the rack and get on the board at 2-1. Neither player appeared comfortable at the table. They were missing shots that earlier in the week had been automatic for them. Their arms were clumsy from the tension. Both of them knew that the first one to get in stroke would take the win and so they concentrated on not giving up opportunities instead of on destroying racks. Fu capitalized on a missed 6 ball by Biado to claim his third rack and lead 3-1. It got uglier as both players became plagued with doubt and the balls refused to fall for either of them. The next rack was a miss-fest claimed by Fu to lead 4-1. Another missed shot on the 8 ball by Biado gave the next rack to Fu as well. Neither player was actually winning racks. They were losing them to one another.
When Fu took the next rack the world became a very dark place for Carlo Biado. He needed to win eight racks while holding Fu to only two. And Fu was beginning to get comfortable at the table. The lead he enjoyed was oiling his arm. Fu took the next rack to lead 7-1 and Biado looked as if he knew his run was done. Fu got to the hill very shortly afterward. Biado got to the table early in the next rack and took it. The Filipino crowd got new life and tried to inspire their last great hope. Trailing 8-2 a victory would require a lot more than hope.
Fu fouled on the two ball in the next rack and gave ball-in-hand to Biado. Everything on the table was open and with a pocket available. With nothing to lose Biado free-stroked through the balls to take another rack. And then another. Now Biado was really beginning to loosen up and Fu twitched in his chair. At 8-4 the mountain was not near so tall as it had been only 20 minutes earlier. Biado made a ball on the next break and the table looked beatable. His normal pace had returned now and he moved confidently around the table. Fu never got out of his chair as the score line moved to 8-5. But the wheels fell off on the five ball in the next rack as Biado snookered himself and his kick left an open shot and table. Fu’s arm, however, had grown cold in that chair and he missed a straight 6 ball to turn the table back over to Biado. Biado could not see all of the ball and called a bank that was a two-way shot. When he missed the bank the only option to Fu was a safe which he played well, leaving distance and a half-ball blocker for Biado to overcome. Biado kicked into the ball but scratched and Fu had a very easy layout to complete for his seat in the finals. When the 10 ball fell the crowd applauded politely but their hearts were sinking from the disappointment.
The finals was a race to 11 games between See and Fu. Fu had the advantage of the warmer arm having just completed his win over Biado. But See took the first rack and looked at ease. His demeanor stayed on an even keel as he moved out to a 3-1 lead and made no mistakes. Soon See had moved out to a 4-1 lead. But in the next rack Fu played a safe that had See kicking at the 5 ball. He made the hit but left a shot and Fu got out form there to narrow the gap a bit to 4-2. Fu missed his shot on the 2 ball in the next rack and See easily claimed it to lead 5-2. Every thing was working now for See. Every break found one of the two balls in the second row falling into a side pocket. He made a nifty combo on the 2 ball to get the next rack going and continued until he played what appeared to be a very effective safety. But Fu jumped two balls and made the 5 in the side. He could not convert the 6 ball though and See came back to the table to finish off that rack and lead 6-2. The door was beginning to close on Fu.
In rack eight Fu played a great safety that left See unable to contact the 1 ball. Fu got ball-in-hand and took the rack to bring our score to 6-3. He got down to the 7 ball in the next rack and looked good to run out but missed the 7 in the corner and See took it out instead to increase his lead to 7-3. Fu got to the table early in the next rack and stayed there. He had no intention of giving up on this championship. At 7-4 and breaking it was not at all a tall order to get back into the match. Fu broke and ran the next rack. When he repeated that performance in the next rack he drew within one game and the light returned to his eyes. But See would not shake and took the next game to bring us to 8-6. Fu took the next rack and now we had a real fight going as both players seemed at ease at the table. Fu left a shot on the 2 ball in the next rack and See moved into position to take the game as everything had a pocket. See did his work and led 9-7.
The next rack got off to a bit of a slow start as the table demanded an exchange of safeties. First opportunity went to Fu and he made the most of it with a tough cut down the rail on the 4 ball that enabled him to claim the rack. A maximum of four games was now left to determine our champion. Fu attempted a safety on the 2 ball in the next game but failed to drive anything to a rail and gave up ball-in-hand to See. See took it all the way home to land on the hill at 10-8. For once See came up dry on the break. But Fu missed a bank on the 3 ball and left an open spread for See to grab. He swept the rack easily and sank to his knees with joy to accept his first World Title.