Hawke's Bay cueist Bayden Jackson is hoping the Hamilton Cosmopolitan Club will remain a lucky omen for him later this month.
The club was the venue for the 152-player North Island eight ball championship which Jackson won at the weekend to create a first for cue sports in New Zealand. With his 5-1 win against Aucklander Chris Bowman in the final Taradale Club's Jackson became the first cueist to hold the North Island snooker and eight ball titles at the same time.
"I'm going back there on June 17 to try and win the North Island snooker title I won in Havelock North last year. It's my birthday that day too so hopefully that will be a lucky omen as well."
Before playing Bowman at the weekend, Jackson, 40, beat Tokoroa's multiple national and North Island champion Phil Wilkinson 4-2 in an entertaining semifinal. Jackson took a 3-0 lead before Wilkinson won the next two frames. Jackson, a former England pool representative who has lived here since 2009, thrived under the pressure and won the sixth frame to progress to the final.
Once again the two-time North Island snooker champion displayed the benefits of the mental fortitude sharpened during numerous one-day knockout tourneys in England. These are a vast contrast to the section-play formats used in most New Zealand tournaments.
"I was pretty happy because I hadn't trained a lot on the small tables before going to Hamilton because of family and work commitments. It was also my first attempt at the tournament because the old Heretaunga Classic snooker tournament always used to be played at Queen's Birthday Weekend," the father of two children, aged 10 and three, explained.
"Winning that title at the weekend was a good way to bounce back from the disappointment of losing my Hawke's Bay A grade snooker title last month," Jackson said.
The Ladz & Dadz Barber Shop barber in Havelock North was beaten 3-1 by former New Zealand under-21 representative Ryan Knott in the final. Jackson had won this title five times previously. "Ryan played well, probably the best he has for a long time. There was a lot of maturity about his game," Jackson recalled.
Clubs New Zealand's 2013 national eight ball champion, Jackson, has a national snooker ranking of two. After Hamilton his next major event is next month's national snooker championships in Gore.
Unlike some cueists the Online Autos HB-Wardini Bookshop-sponsored Jackson finds it easy changing from eight ball on the small tables to snooker on the full-sized tables. However, unlike at the weekend he knows he won't get away with a limited training schedule before his next trip to Hamilton.
"I'm going to be back on the big tables regularly from this weekend," the former national snooker champion said.
Jackson was the only Hawke's Bay player to progress beyond the last 32 in Hamilton at the weekend and this North Island double was his second New Zealand first. In 2011, "Jacko" (Jackson's nickname) became the first player to win the New Zealand Open and national snooker titles in the same year.