Billiards: Ice-cool Peter Gilchrist battles back to win Asian Grand Prix title

Singapore's billiards star Peter Gilchrist staying focused despite trailing Britain's Robert Hall in the final of the Asian Grand Prix yesterday. He overturned a 3-1 deficit to win 6-4.
Singapore's billiards star Peter Gilchrist staying focused despite trailing Britain's Robert Hall in the final of the Asian Grand Prix yesterday. He overturned a 3-1 deficit to win 6-4.ST PHOTO: ALVIN HO

Billiards star Gilchrist shows steely nerves in comeback win over Briton for Asian GP title

There is something about pressure that brings the best out of Peter Gilchrist and that ability to deliver under stress manifested itself yesterday evening as he won billiards' Asian Grand Prix.

Trailing 3-1 to Britain's Robert Hall and reeling from the shock of conceding his first frames of the tournament at the Cuesports Singapore Academy at Katong Shopping Centre, the Singaporean regained his steely focus to win the final 6-4 in 31/2 hours.

"It was a matter of winning ugly and I just kept battling through," said the 50-year-old.

"But I never doubted myself. There had been times when I was 500 behind in a long form tournament and I didn't panic and won comfortably in the end."

To begin with, Gilchrist was the hot favourite to win the short format (100 points) competition and the $2,600 cash prize after a relentless march to the final with a perfect record of never dropping a single game.

In the group stage, he brushed off compatriots Ang Chor Ho and Chris Chew as well as Australian pair Ben Judge and Graeme McNeil (all 3-0). In the quarter-finals, he defeated India's Raja Subramanian 4-0 before making light work of another Indian Dhvaj Haria 5-0 in the semi-finals.

DOWN BUT NOT OUT

I never doubted myself. There had been times when I was 500 behind in a long form tournament and I didn't panic and won comfortably in the end.

PETER GILCHRIST, on his mental strength.

Gilchrist has been masterful on the baize after winning six of this year's seven ranking events on World Billiards' calendar.

He triumphed in the Scottish Open, South Australian Open, UK Open, Sydney Open, Irish Open and European Open, losing only the English Open title to Hall in April.

But, in the best-of-11 frame final yesterday, it was the man with home advantage who started on the back foot.

After winning the first frame, it looked as if Gilchrist, ranked No. 1 by the World Billiards series, was cruising. However, Hall, the second-ranked player, stormed to victory in the next three frames.

Hall, 33, said: "It was a slow, slow start as we both struggled in the opening frames. But, when I took a 3-1 lead, I fancied my chances of winning."

Gilchrist, naturalised as a Singaporean in 2006, was also surprised to be trailing.

"I struggled a bit at the start," he recalled. "I had been in really good form but these things do happen sometimes."

But the four-time world champion (1993, 2001, 2013 and 2016), famous for his long breaks, dug deep to claw his way to victory.

And, to underline his class, he took the final two frames in emphatic fashion (101-4, 100-2).

Hall said: "The match became scrappy and Peter then got going with a 91 break (in the ninth frame). The better player won, I can't complain."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 07, 2018, with the headline 'Slow start, furious finish'. Print Edition | Subscribe