In a meeting of maiden finalists, qualifier Konrad Juszczyszyn defeated Grzegorz Biernadski to win the 2021 Polish National Snooker Championship last weekend.
The final stages of this year’s championship held at the Masters Club in Lublin featured 32 players split across eight groups of four with the top two from each progressing to the knockout stage. However, a qualifying competition was held in Lwowek a few days before to determine the final four spaces available in the draw, and this is where the unseeded Juszczyszyn began his campaign, winning three matches to make it through to the four-day main event.
There, Bieruń cueist Juszczyszyn finished top of his group with three wins from three matches, manufacturing a break of 105 in the process. He then made two half-centuries as he eliminated Bartosz Utkowski 4-2 in the last 16 and chalked up a 66 on his way to denying 2019 runner-up Paweł Rogoza 4-1 in the quarter-finals.
That meant he had reached Finals Day where – along with the other three remaining contestants – he played in a specially erected arena at the TVP Sport television studios in Lublin. Throughout the day, action was shown live on their network.
In the semi-finals he faced defending champion Antoni Kowalski. The teenager compiled breaks of 78 and 66 to lead twice early on, but Juszczysnyn strung together three consecutive frames to dethrone him 4-2 in an upset result.
Juszczysnyn’s opponent in the final was fellow 27-year-old Biernadski who had also produced some eye-catching results on route.
The Warsaw based Eurosport snooker commentator scored a win over Kowalski as he topped Group E before knockout victories over Felix Vidler 4-1 and former two-time champion Jarosław Kowalski 4-2.
Under the television lights he met another back-to-back winner in the form of Mateusz Baranowski who had been in punishing form having not dropped a single frame up to that point. Looking to make his fifth final appearance in only seven years, Baranowski ominously crafted breaks of 76 and 134 – which would stand as the tournament’s highest break – to go 2-0 up. However, Biernadski halted his opponent’s streak and conjured up an impressive turnaround, registering efforts of 82, 43 and 49 to advance 4-2.
In the final itself, Juszczyszyn took the opening frame before Biernadski levelled via a black ball finish in frame two and then constructed a break of 58 to help move 2-1 in front. However, Juszczyszyn went on a four-frame winning burst – aided by runs of 61 and 49 – to go 5-2 up and one away from glory.
Biernadski did threaten a comeback; an effort of 66 allowed him to reduce his deficit by one, and he was poised to add another before missing frame ball pink in the ninth frame. Juszczyszyn capitalised, sinking the final two colours to complete a 6-3 triumph.
Multi-talented Juszczyszyn is perhaps better known for his achievements on other baize surfaces having won the 2018 European 9-Ball Pool Championship and national titles in various cue disciplines – he used his pool cue throughout this event.
First contested in 1993, this annual competition has previously been won by current professional player Kacper Filipiak and former World Snooker Federation Championship runner-up Adam Stefanow.
The championship was organised by the Polish Billiards and Snooker Association (PBSA), a member nation of the World Snooker Federation.
Article by Michael Day.