A Tale of Two Legends
by Chris Bassett
Being a big fan of snooker, when I heard that one of my icons was coming to Pattaya and putting on a charity pool night, I got a little excited. When I heard I actually had the chance to play him, I was rather ecstatic!
The player in question was Jimmy White, someone I had been watching since I was a little nipper. Accompanying him was former world champion Ken Docherty.
Both players had arranged to play an evening of pool at the popular Kilkenny Pub and Restaurant on Soi LK Metro. The event was being held to raise funds for the Father Ray Foundation. Anyone who wanted to play a match with the legends had to pay 1,000 baht for a ticket, with all proceeds going to the charity.
I ensured I turned up early to get a seat and then started my preparation for the match - in other words, drinking beer. Not being a brilliant pool player, I somehow manage to raise my game after a few alcoholic beverages, so this was a necessity.
To ensure both players got an equal amount of games, everyone who bought a ticket would be drawn out of a hat at random. From another hat, one of the snooker legends’ names would be called. I was hoping my name didn't get called first; not because I was worried about being beaten, it was just I hadn't consumed enough beer.
Finally - literally finally, as I was actually last to play - my name was drawn. By that point I had probably drunk more than I should have. In fact, I admitted to a friend that I could barely see the table, despite being stood less than a metre from it. I was drawn against Ken Docherty, and I was feeling confident!
I broke, and then the nightmare began! As the white went into the pack of balls, it bounced straight back to the top of the table and into a corner pocket...Two shots to Ken. After this, I never returned to the table as Ken potted ball after ball. I was well on my way to being the first 7-ball defeat of the night. Deciding to turn away from the game and have a chat with Jimmy White instead, I suddenly heard a lot of commotion. Turning round to face the table, I couldn't believe it - I'd won! Ken had potted the black before the rest of the balls!
To be honest, I wasn't too excited about playing Ken, I had really wanted to give Jimmy, known as the best player to never win the world title, a game. Then the announcer asked the crowd if anyone would be willing to pay 5,000 baht to the charity in exchange for a game with Jimmy White. I'm not sure if it was the excitement or the alcohol, but up shot my hand.
After a handshake and a photo, we were ready to play. As expected, Jimmy started clearing up the balls at will but, when I finally got to the table, I didn't do too badly. My eyesight wasn't at its best, so I was quite pleased. As the balls got fewer and fewer, the available shots got tougher. A helping hand was given as there was no way for me to pot the next ball. This involved Jimmy lining up a trick shot for me, which I potted with ease.
Soon, Jimmy was on the black and I was on the penultimate ball. It was my shot and quite a tricky one at that, however, in it went and I was in a position I never expected...Both on the final black, and it was my turn. Unfortunately, my next shot wasn't as good and I missed the black, leaving it over the pocket for Jimmy. However, being a charity game, he took pity on me and deliberately missed the pot, leaving me with one tricky shot to end the game.
In it went...I had beaten a great snooker legend!
It ended up being a great night and the players happily posed for photos with their doting fans. The Kilkenny is a great place to go if you want to sharpen your pool skills. It has one of the best conditioned pool tables I have played on. The venue has also had a recent re-fit which has ensured that it can compete with the top sports bars in town.