Mixed fortunes for OUPSC in tightest-ever Varsity

Wesley Rawlings reports on the tightest-ever Varsity matches, which were both decided on the very last frame

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Unbeknownst to many, the Cambridge Snooker Centre recently played host to the closest pool and snooker Varsity matches in history, both of which were decided on the very last frame.

In this Crucible of Cambridge, hidden away on an unassuming industrial estate beside a railway line, questions were asked pre-match: could the Oxford University Pool and Snooker Club retain their Varsity title after last year’s resounding double victory?

Cambridge had returned in force, looking for revenge after a thorough shoeing in 2016. They made the fight as hard as they could for the Dark Blues.

On 13 May, the pool side made the long trip to ‘the other place’ on the X5, sensing that they held a narrow edge over their opposition.

The first round of singles was a dead heat, with both sides winning 18 frames. Adam Smith and Sam Hale exhibited stand-out performances for the Oxford side, both dispatching their Cambridge opponents 3-0.

A tense doubles round followed, in which the Dark Blues stole a narrow two-frame lead over Cambridge, with further strong performances from Adam and Peter Hill who took their frames 3-0.

Moving into the second and final round of singles it seemed there was all to play for, and the Light Blues fought back to ultimately take four frames back and scrape the overall win: the final score was 46-44.

Sunday saw the Snooker team move in to avenge this defeat.

The format was far simpler that Saturday’s complex affair: eight players were to play one frame against each of their opposite eight. Cambridge took an early lead over the first set of frames but Oxford fought back, determined to clinch a win after the previous day’s defeat.

After a hard-fought battle lasting long into the evening, the final frames were played out with Oxford taking some last-minute wins to clinch the Varsity Snooker title 33-31. Again, honourable mentions go to Adam Smith and Will Meng, both of whom came away with six hard-fought victories from eight frames, as well as Scott England and Michael Platt who followed closely with five from eight.

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After a truly stellar effort from all of those involved, it is only left to say well done to Cambridge on stealing away half of Oxford’s double Varsity title. However, the Light Blues will know that next year OUPSC will be back and hot on their heels ready to take it away again.

2016/17 has been an excellent season for the club and a competitive Varsity match—ignoring the loss—was the perfect way to round off the season, following wins in the local Snooker leagues and strong showings in all other tournaments.

Indeed, it is easy to write pool and snooker off as mere bar sports, but at a university level, this could hardly be further from the truth.

At the end of Hilary Term, for example, two Oxford teams made the trip up to Leeds for the BUCS Snooker event. Despite a mixed set of results, it was an exceptional effort to send two full teams up to Yorkshire, and with plenty of Fresher representation, the club is in safe hands ahead of next season.