Two years ago Hawke's Bay snooker player Dave Judd set himself a goal of becoming an international referee.
"I want to be the next Lloyd Lawrence," Judd said at the time, referring to Waipukurau-based Lawrence who retired in 2007 after 23 years of national and international travel as a cue sports referee.
So it was a surprise to see Judd, the New Zealand Billiards and Snooker Association secretary, playing in the inaugural Oceania Masters snooker tournament at the Havelock North Club this week.
"I'm just playing to make up the numbers. We were hoping for a 16-strong draw and then it got down to 10 before a player withdrew. So I opted to play to make it a 10-strong draw," Judd explained.
Considering these circumstances and his big workload as tournament director for the Oceania under-21 championships from Sunday until Wednesday this week Judd was thrilled to qualify for tonight's quarter-finals.
"It's been a big workload and I did a bit of refereeing during the under-21s too," Judd, a sales rep for Edwards & Hardy (HB) Ltd, said.
He qualified for the quarter-finals as the No 3 finisher from his section courtesy of a 3-1 victory against Capital City's John Starkey in his final section play outing today. Judd made a 52 break in the fourth frame and Starkey conceded with all of the colours remaining on the table.
"Letting the arm go worked for me today. I learnt a bit from watching those under-21 players with no fear. The tables have been in tip top conditions and that helps too," Judd said.
Judd predicted fellow Bay player and top qualifier for the quarter-finals, Bayden Jackson, would be hard to beat in tomorrow's best-of-11 frame final.
"Bayden has too much experience for the other players here. He has been there and done that."
A two-time national snooker champion and two-time national eight ball champion, Jackson, 43, was rapt to be the top qualifier for today's quarterfinals with an unbeaten run in section play which saw him drop just two frames in four matches.
"I haven't played on a snooker table since early in December at the Waikato Open. I've been concentrating on the eight ball in recent weeks," Jackson explained.
The Kiwi No 3 at snooker and Ladz & Dads Barber Shop barber in Havelock North was beaten 3-0 by Aucklander Sani Roberts in his last outing in Waikato. Roberts is representing Samoa at this week's tournament.
"I opted to play this week because the tournament is being played on my backdoor step. I'm glad I qualified for the quarterfinals because I've sacrificed work to play in it," Jackson said.
"It would be pretty special to win the first ever Oceania Masters here at home. But at the same time I know I've got to focus a bit more.
"It was tough to focus today with television crews and newspaper photographers in the room. Their cameras were clicking all the time," he added.
Jackson was to play Starkey in his 5pm best-of-seven frame quarter-final and Judd was to take on Aucklander Paul Bason.
The best-of-nine frame semifinals will be played in the morning and the best-of-11 frame final is scheduled for 3pm tomorrow.
On Thursday Jackson made 70, 68 and 62 breaks on the way to beating North Otago's Dale Kwok 3-0. He then beat Bason 3-1 and Palmerston North's Shane Richardson 3-1.
Today Jackson completed section play with a 3-0 win against Palmerston North's Craven Teua.
Judd made a 51 break as he opened his campaign with a 3-0 win against Otaki's Don Watson. Earlier in the week Watson's son Blane was a member of the New Zealand under-21 team which beat their Aussie counterparts 6-3 in their transtasman test at the Havelock North Club.
Judd was then beaten 3-0 by Roberts and 3-1 by Mark Hannah of Wellington. Two of the frames in the match against Hannah were decided on the black.