Tuesday, 2 October 2012

The Hexagon Invitational

In an era when all the talk is about the growth of the game in Europe and China, talent coming through on home soil is a little overlooked.

But the quality of UK competitors in Q School and the massive success so far of The Snookerbacker Classic proves the amateur game is thriving here.

Kevin Starr at Saffron Walden snooker club
Watching a whole host of our amateurs dig out results at the PTC tournaments shows the quality of players coming through.

To take a closer look at the potential stars of tomorrow, I'll be attending The Hexagon Invitational, being hosted at Saffron Walden snooker club on 14 October where some of the finest amateurs in the south of England will be battling it out for a £640 top prize and a coveted piece of silverware.

OnCue met tournament creator and sponsor Kevin Starr to find out more about the event...

Tell me about the history of the tournament...

This is the fourth year the tournament has been running. There's never been any geographical boundaries. When we started the tournament we wanted it to be for the best amateur players in the area, and the standard of the players in this year's field shows we've achieved that.

As the tournament has grown it has gathered its own momentum and interest has multiplied.

I've always been a big fan of the game and wanted a tournament at my home club to the best standard it could be.

I never had an idea how this tournament would develop but it's only because of the great feedback from the players that it's still going today. 

How does this fit into the rest of the amateur game?

It's a stand alone tournament. When it came to attracting players to our tournament I didn't know what else there was out there and I was very surprised to find out there isn't a great deal of purely amateur tournaments for them play in and win money.

It's nice to think now that people might be looking at this tournament and really wanting to come to win it.   

Who won the tournaments in previous years?

Last year it was Martin O'Donnell and he's obviously gone on to turn professional. The quality was superb last year but I was over the moon for Martin. I keep in touch with him now and he's a really nice lad. I wouldn't say for one minute that winning The Hexagon played a big part in helping him to become professional but he told me himself that it was a factor because every win he had last season gave him the confidence and money to do well. His victory is a great guide to quality of the tournament winners.

In the two years before, it was won by Toby Pugh and Adam Ingram 

How does the field look this year?

I'm told by Adam Ingram - who rounded up the players - that the quality is going to be the best yet this year. Apparently in the past few years you could say the winner was going to come from one of eight players, but this time there's a much bigger list of contenders.

From a selfish point of view I like to sit back, watch the matches and see the game played that well.

Do you still get excited about the event?

I do and probably more so year on year because the quality improves each time. We used to have 48 entrants each year but this time's it's just 32 and we're starting off with a random draw to create a bit of drama. The final will played over best of seven frames and the rest of the matches are best of five frames. The club is ready to go. I can't wait.

Full line-up of 32:

Adam Ingram
Russell Huxter
Mike Spackman
Neil Waterman
Darren Edmonston
Mike Eaton
Shane Williams
Dan Bilson
Richard Twomey
Frank McGovern
Kristian Kelly
Dean Mulcahy
Ryan Causton
Toby Pugh
Ricky Norris
Hammad Miah
Thomas Goldstein
Brian Cox
Brian Salmon
Syd Wilson
Kristian Willetts
Nik Charalambous
Mickey Cushion
Steve Wright
Darren Rush
Phil O'Kane
Steve Martin
Allan Taylor
Barry Garwood
Liam Monk
Zachary Richardson

Breakdown of prize money:

Winner: £640
Runner-up: £320
Semi-finalists: £160
Quarter-finalists: £80
Highest break: £20

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