SINGAPORE - Six seems to be Singapore cue master Peter Gilchrist's lucky number this year as he beat India's Sourav Kothari 1307-967 in the World Billiards Championship final at the Royal Automobile Club of Victoria in Melbourne, Australia, on Saturday (Oct 12).
Chalking up his sixth world title to add to previous long-up triumphs in 1994, 2001, 2013 and 2016, as well as a 2015 victory in the 150-up format, the 51-year-old credited his six-week stint in his native Middlesbrough for his stellar form this year, in which he won six titles to close the 2018/19 season.
After picking up the winners' cheque of £4,500 ($7,800), Gilchrist told The Straits Times: "I still spend most of my time in Singapore, but it was great to be able to train with Stuart Green and work on my cueing and mental side of things."
He definitely put those lessons to good use in a see-saw battle with Kothari, who had beaten him 1134-944 in the 2018 final in Leeds.
Kothari seized the initiative earlier on in the five-hour timed final with breaks of 279 and 89 to take a commanding lead in the first session. Though Gilchrist slowly chipped away at that advantage, Kothari produced another big break of 253 in the second session.
But when the Indian player missed a regulation red pot off the spot, Gilchrist conjured a superb 313 break to lead 949-917 for the first time at the four-hour mark.
The final hour saw Gilchrist showing exceptional calmness as he produced a lethal blow of 300 to go ahead by 300 odd points with only five minutes left on the clock before winning the contest.
Gilchrist said: "Yeah, you can say it is sweet revenge. I was able to draw on my experience of almost 40 years in the sport. I have been in many situations where I was behind a lot further and turned things around, and vice versa, so I know it can happen. And when he made a mistake, I punished him.
"I actually made a shot that went into the heart of the pocket but the ball bounced out. It shouldn't have happened and had I lost, I wouldn't have been best pleased. But I won, so it's all good.
"The best players in the world were at this event so it's great to win here. Overall, it's been a really good year, and I will take a few days off to do a few touristy things with my dad who has come over to Singapore. He is 81, but says he doesn't look like it and feels like he is 21!"
A Singapore citizen since 2006, Gilchrist credited Singapore's Sports Excellence Scholarship for keeping him in the game.
The world No. 1 added: "I was actually thinking of packing it in before I got the scholarship in 2013. Back then, I had to work as national coach and I was going to tournaments unprepared and getting beaten regularly. I feel so privileged to be on the scholarship because it has given me the opportunity to compete on a more level playing field with good support."
Gilchrist will now set his sights on the SEA Games in the Philippines next month, where he is aiming to pot a sixth consecutive gold medal in the men's English billiards singles at the biennial meet.
He said: "The SEA Games is always something special and a competition I always look forward to.
"The shorter format at the SEA Games means it is so cut-throat and a lot harder because mistakes are often fatal. But this world title will give me added confidence that I can help Singapore win another gold medal."