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Mick Hill wins GB9 UK Open

Mick Hill became the first ever winner of the GB9 UK Open on Tuesday, as he beat Phil Burford 11-7. Hill recovered from a shaky start to clinch the title, in a final in which neither player really got going. The event was at its best from the quarter-finals after a move to the main tables.

Phil Burford
Phil Burford

Burford comfortably dispatched of Shaun Storry 10-1 and Ruslan Chinahov advanced over Juan Carlos Exposito, winning six consecutive racks to romp to a 10-4 victory. The best games of the round were undoubtedly on tables one and two. Kev Simpson and Michael Valentine shared an 18-rack thriller, as Valentine just edged out Simpson to win 10-8. On the hill at 9-7, Valentine kissed off the 9 ball after potting the 8 and had to try to run the 9 all the way up table. He missed, and Simpson stepped in to make it 9-8. After a long exchange of safeties in the final rack, Simpson missed a straight 8 and Valentine stepped in to finally clinch the match.
Mick Hill and Benji Buckley’s match was even tighter, as the pair went hill-hill. The final rack epitomised the whole match, taking twists and turns aplenty, each player gaining and then relinquishing the advantage. A lax safety from Buckley gave Hill an opportunity. However, a lazy positional shot on the 5 meant no clear shot at the 6 and let Buckley back to the table. Buckley’s long pot on the 6 left him snookered on the 7 though and Hill stepped in to clear up.
The drama continued into the semi-finals. Burford raced into a 7-0 lead over Ruslan Chinahov and when the Russian scratched off the 5, a whitewash looked all the more inevitable.  The Darlington man then went to the hill with a break and run. However, a dry break from Burford in the next allowed Chinahov to the table. He showed good character to run out and grabbed what looked like a consolation rack. He then cleared another table. 9-2. And another one. 9-3. Golden break. 9-4. Burford then missed a regulation nine for the match and the impossible began to look all the more probable. 9-5. Chinahov broke and ran. 9-6. Chinahov broke and ran again. 9-7. Chinahov’s momentum was finally halted though, as he missed a 3 and Burford cleared up to clinch the game 10-7.
The other semi-final was just as thrilling as the man with possibly the most appropriate name in world pool, Mick Hill, again went hill-hill. Momentum swung from player to player, again. Hill missed a bank shot on the 1 before Valentine scratched on the 2. However, Hill overran the cue ball for position on the 3. As a result, he had to hit the shot a lot harder than he would have wanted and the pocket rejected it. Valentine couldn’t capitalise though and Hill secured his place in the final.
Mick Hill
Mick Hill

The final was, unfortunately, a much less exciting affair. It was a cautious start and neither player played with much fluency. With Burford 4-1 up, a bad positional shot on the 8 let Hill to the table. Hill made the most of his opportunity as he advanced to an 8-5 lead. Burford then missed his chance as he scratched off the 4 and Hill extended his lead. A missed 3 by Hill allowed Burford to drag himself back within touching distance at 9-7. However, an illegal break allowed Hill to play a good safety and when Burford fouled, Hill made no mistakes. Hill then cleared up in the final rack to stutter over the line and win the final 11-7.

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