Jersey’s Gary Britton won his fourth Channel Islands Amateur Snooker Championship last week – an annual spectacle that is a unique one-off match contested between the recent winners of the individual Guernsey and Jersey Amateur Snooker Championships that were decided only a few weeks before.
First to book his berth there was Adam Shorto, who claimed the Guernsey title for a sixth time when he dethroned defending champion and longtime rival Martyn Desperques in the final.
After coming through the earlier rounds that were played throughout the season, Shorto was looking to regain the trophy for the first time since 2015 and avenge defeats to Desperques in each of the previous two years’ finals. The pair are no strangers to each other having challenged numerous title matches across the last two decades.
Shorto started the best-of-nine encounter well as he opened a 2-0 lead with breaks of 35, 52 and 45, but Desperques – the 2018 Channel Islands Champion – kicked in to level proceedings with efforts of 116 and 54.
However, after the mid-session interval, the pendulum swung back in Shorto’s favour as he re-established a two-frame cushion to go on the brink, and despite watching his opponent cut the deficit in half, he constructed a 69 break in frame eight to emerge as a 5-3 victor.
The following week Britton produced a stunning comeback against familiar foe and reigning World Seniors champion Aaron Canavan to retain the Jersey Championship.
Held at the First Tower Billiards and Snooker Club, this too was the culmination of a tournament that had been played across the season. Canavan appeared on course for success when runs of 73 and 52 put him 3-0 up and just one frame away from the trophy, but as is so often the case, an interval proved to be a game-changer.
A re-invigorated Britton returned for the second half; he got a foothold in the tie by chalking up the fourth frame before contributions of 62 and 55 drew him level at 3-3.
Canavan acted first during the decider with a break of 41, but a subsequent 40 and 28 from Britton completed the dramatic turnaround. A competition he first won in 1997, it was his sixth time to receive the accolade.
Each year the islands take it in turns to host the showpiece match; the 2019 edition was held at the Gremlin Club in Guernsey.
A keenly contested final that went the distance, there was never more than a frame between the duo. Home player Shorto nabbed the opening frame on the black, but a 41 break in the next helped Britton level. Shorto then produced a 60 to take the lead again although Britton bettered it with a 61 to square up at the interval.
The sequence continued following the break as Shorto moved in front two further times, yet on each occasion Britton clawed it back after crafting runs of 63 and 70.
Shorto had led the match four times and despite getting in first during the decider, it was Britton who ousted him on the colours to take the title back home with him across the water.
Having had spells away from the sport in the past, this was Britton’s fourth Channel Islands success in the snooker discipline – his last came in 2001.
“I’m pleased to the win the title once more after a while, particularly after losing my last two Channel Islands final and twenty-two years after my first one. It was also good to beat the World Seniors champion (Aaron Canavan) to win the Jersey title.” said Britton.
Both the Guernsey Billiards and Snooker Association (GB&SA) and the Jersey Billiards and Snooker Association (JBSA) are members of the World Snooker Federation (WSF).