Tuesday, 31 May 2011

The Draw - Group C

We received the tournament draw today, courtesy of email sent by Maxime Cassis, EBSA General Secretary. The Masters category looks as competitive as ever with a eclectic mix of talent and nationalities. I have been drawn in Group C (right).

I haven't had the pleasure of playing any of these players before, but I am particularly looking forward to my match with the 2006 European Masters champion, the classy Jyri Virtanen from Finland. Having been in the same group as Doron Lavi from Israel last year, I am expecting a similar tough challenge from his compatriot Yakov Shaashoa.

The other groups in the Masters section look very competitive as well. Steve Judd (Former English Champion) and PTC qualifier is in Group E along with the experienced Paul Jamieson from Scotland who is coming here having just won his local scratch championship. Throw in Allan Norvak from Denmark and you have a very exciting group and one I will be keeping an eye on. Click here to follow all groups.

Having said that, all of the matches will be a challenge and with 7 players in each group we get one more match than last year, I am looking forward to every one. Can't wait.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Tournament Players - Who to watch?

Had a quick check at my friend Dariusz Goral's website and it looks like he is again ahead of the game, full list of players, mens, ladies, and masters together with tables and match times. It will probably be tweaked a little before the tournament but he has nailed it again. Visit the site here.

From the list of players named, there are a few that jump out in the Masters category, the one I am competing in. Darren Morgan from Wales has to be the pre-tournament favourite, he's the current holder of the title. The 2008 Winner Alan Trigg is again competing and will provide stiff opposition for all.

Another quality player who is making a reapearance on the International scene, again from 2008 is Stephen Merrigan from Ireland. Stephen reached the Semi Final them, losing to Trigg and it will be good to see how he fairs this time around. One step further wouldn't be beyond the realms of posibility.

Finally, It's good to see Costas Konnaris from Cyprus back after he had to withdraw from the tournament suddenly last year due to a family bereavement, a class player.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Late Challenger?

While the event draws ever nearer, received a surprise call last night from John McIntyre, legend of the green baize and true gent. John asked a few questions about the event, when it starts, what the hotel is like, flights etc...so I ask him "Are you thinking of going"...he replies "well I was thinking about it" in his Belfast drawl, never mind the fact the closing date was over 3 weeks ago!

Although John has missed the deadline he is keen to take part and I hope he can get a cancellation or something. I don't think the draw has taken place so you never know. Personally I hope he can make the trip, he is a real character and makes any event he enters a much more enjoyable one.

Unfortunately due to work commitments I didn't get to play in our National championships at the weekend,  so I will be going into this tournament with absolutely no idea of what shape my  game is in, which is never a good thing, but then again you never know.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Tourist in town....what to do?

Sent off for some brochures from Bulgaria Tourist Information during a quiet night in the election campaign, and today I received a town map, places to visit and some vouchers...feeling at home already. Got to give it to the Bulgarian Tourist Board for their efficiency. Having said that still trying to locate the Snooker clubs in town, which will obviously have to take a priority, given that there is a major snooker tournament on.

Given my past experience in EBSA International competition, it is fair to say that after the round robin matches there is a fair bit of 'leisure' time between matches. Have decided that my snooker cue can take the place of my 3 wood in this instance and I may take in the odd 9 holes. It's either that or spend my free time at the casino or in the bar (where is my 'brother' Brendan Thomas when you need him?).

On the Move - A good day at the office

Finally got approval from work today to take part in the event this year. BT are one great company to work for. Because the event is a major International event and I am representing Northern Ireland, it made the decision that much easier. Given I have already had some time off recently to stand for election, I am very thankful for the support (Thank you Heather, Rita, Cecilia and Robert) what a great team.

Northern Ireland Snooker Championships
Eventually tracked down my missing snooker cue (behind the fridge) and now looking forward to the Northern Ireland Championship, this year sponsored by Danny Boy Whiskey. This will be the last competitive snooker I will get before the EBSA European Championship starts so will be a good indicator of how I should do...that's the theory anyway.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Sofia - whats going on?

I finally received notification from NIBSA Secretary yesterday that my nomination has been sent through to EBSA ahead of this years European Championships in June. Thanks Brian. Once confirmed, I quickly had a peek at www.skyscanner.net to check out flights and prices. Once completed, it was down to a bit of 'research' on Sofia, and Bulgaria ahead of the trip.
Church of St Nedelya & Goddess Protector
This gets quite a mention in most of the sites I have looked at, Sveta Nedelya (not pictured) is apparently a typical example of neo-Byzantine architecture. There has been a church on site since medieval times, although the present building dates from the mid-19th century. In 1925, the church was largely destroyed when Communist rebels exploded a bomb during a funeral service, attended by Tsar Boris III and his cabinet ministers, killing 123 people. Nice.

The square, Ploshtad Sveta Nedelya, used to be named after Lenin and a statue of the Communist leader once stood here. It has since been replaced by a 24m (79ft) bronze statue of the goddess protector of the city, Sofia (above), holding the symbols of wisdom and fame, a much better view than Lenin I think.

First impressions of Sofia are very good. Will have to get my Daughter Joanne and her friend Morgan to do a little bit more research for me, its going to be an awesome trip, so long as I remember to bring my Snooker Cue, it is a tournament after all!