Chennai: Defending champion Pankaj Advani crashed out of the 78th National Snooker Championship after losing to club-mate Alok Kumar in the quarterfinals on Monday. (Agencies)
Advani lost 59-27, 47-58, 63-31, 76-63, 44-73, 67-66, 66-58. Another PSPB cueist Aditya Mehta, with two century breaks, also progressed to the semifinals.
The day's proceedings featured two promising youngsters, Neeraj Kumar of Railways and IM Manudev of Karnataka, making their maiden entry into the last four stage.
Neeraj got the better of Rafath Habib (also of Railways) 43-82 59-29 66-58 68-58 40-65 41-50 55-47 14-76 45-29 while Manudev defeated Manan Chandra (PSPB) 15-79, 68-31, 59-12, 43-74, 66-25, 33-79, 85-0, 70-43.
In the semifinals on Tuesday, Neeraj will play Alok Kumar and Manudev will take on Aditya Mehta.
Advani, who has been in good nick throughout the championship in billiards and in the earlier two rounds in snooker, was off colour on Monday and played poorly.
On the other hand, Mehta, the lone Indian on the world professional circuit and finalists in Asian championship earlier this year, had breaks of 134 and 124 while clearing the table.
Kumar, who generally plays more of pool games, said that he was mediocre on Monday and could not concentrate.
"I was mediocre. I didn't play well nor did Pankaj. In fact, I am surprised that I have reached the semifinals. Just yesterday, Pankaj and I were discussing the art of winning today, I was struggling all the time, but just hung in there and took my chances."
The 26-year old Advani from Bangalore, who won the billiards crown earlier in the nationals, said: "I was just not in the match today and played poor snooker, maybe 30 per cent of what I could. It was one of those matches when nothing went right."
"I was not happy with the table too, especially the cushions which were rather uneven, but I guess that was because so many qualifying matches were played on these tables. However, it is the same for everyone and I just didn't play well. In the last nationals, I had four centuries and this time, not even one," he said.
He said he had his chances in the sixth frame which he could have won had he potted the pink before the last red and when leading by about 30 points. "I missed the sitter pink and Alok went 4-2 instead of 3-3. I guess, the match turned at that point."
The results: Quarter-finals: Aditya Mehta (PSPB) bt Kamal Chawla (Rlys) 60-32, 134(134)-0, 39-77, 138(124)-0, 15-63(53), 63-27, 72-09; IH.Manudev (Kar) bt Manan Chandra (PSPB) 15-79, 68-31, 59-12, 43-74, 66-25, 33-79, 85-0, 70-43; Alok Kumar (PSPB) bt Pankaj Advani (PSPB) 59-27, 47-58, 63-31, 76-63, 44-73, 67-66, 66-58; Neeraj Kumar (Rlys) bt Rafath Habib (Rlys) 43-82, 59-29, 66-58, 68-58, 40-65, 41-50, 55-47, 14-76, 45-29. Other placings: 5. Kamal Chawla 6. Pankaj Advani 7. Manan Chandra 8. Rafath Habib.
Chennai: Defending champion Pankaj Advani crashed out of the 78th National Snooker Championship after losing to club-mate Alok Kumar in the quarterfinals on Monday.