I am very happy to announce that I have now turned professional! I qualified through event 2 at Q School in Burton. It was a bitter sweet victory really as I had to beat one of my best mates to qualify. Full results and match scores can be found here: http://www.cuetracker.net/Tournaments/Q-School-Event-2/2015/1099
I have to thank my family for supporting me and also my sponsor Chris Chuah from Eden Resources. I could not have done it without them. I've received hundreds of messages of congratulations so thank you to everyone who sent one. There's too many to reply individually!
The season starts in 5 days time and the first tournament is the Australian Open qualifiers in Crawley. Exciting times ahead!
In my last website update I mentioned that I won my first Welsh ranking event of the season. Since then I've won another event and reached a final to put me 85 points clear at the top of the rankings. With only the Welsh Championships and European Qualifier to go, I'm in a good position to finish number 1 at the end of the season. I've already qualified to go to Malta in March for the European Team Championships and hopefully I'll be playing in the rest of the overseas events this year. Check out Welsh Snooker for rankings and news items.
Back in November I went to Bangalore in India for the World Amateur Championships. After coming top of my group I lost out to the winner, Yan Bingtao of China 5-3 in the Last 32. The match was live on Indian TV too. We both played well. I made breaks of 134 and 70 while Yan made 89 and 65. He's a real talent for 14 years old and he'll go far in the game. I made several breaks over 50 in this tournament including 3 centuries. The tounament information can be found here: http://ibsf.info/turnieje/2014/ms/en/msm_2014.php
I didn't have the best journey home from India. On the flight to Dubai I managed to get servere food poisoning and was seriously ill. So ill that I couldn't continue to fly on to Manchester and ended up in the Dubai Airport Hospital on a drip. The only plus side was that I got to see Dubai for 1 night as the drugs I was on made me feel much better. I'm a lot better now but still feeling some side affects as I've damaged my stomach lining. I even got a little article about it written in the Snooker Scene magazine!
A week after I got back from India I was off away again this time to Portugal for a European Tour event. After only having a couple of hours practice for this event due to my illness, I wasn't expecting to play well. I played Ryan Causton first match and won 4-3. I didn't play well but I managed to grind a win out. In the Last 128 I played Liam Highfield and I won 4-2 with a 94 and 3 70+ breaks. I was shocked at how well I played and this set up a match with Mark Davis. I didn't play as well as I had done ealier that day and lost 4-1. A missed pot on the final brown and a bad safety shot cost me 2 frames. I was always going to get punished for them mistakes playing someone like Mark.
I had time off after Portugal for Christmas. It was nice to relax and be at home after being away for most of the previous month and also because of the illness. I'm also getting back to the gym now and playing 5 a side football every week. Fitness is important for snooker as it aids your concentration and stamina, especially in long matches.
Coming up next is the final Welsh Ranking tournament and then the final European Tour event in Poland. I hope to make it in the top 16 amateurs to qualify for the grand finals where we will battle it out for 2 professional tour spots. I'm currently 11th on the ranking but it's tight between players ranked about 6 down to 20 odd. I'm practicing hard to get myself ready for it. I have been playing with Andrew Higginson, Ricky Walden, Rod Lawler and Robbie WIlliams lately. I enjoy practicing with them as you get good experience and you learn a lot about shot selection.
I won Welsh Ranking Event 2 last week in Redz Snooker Club, Cwmbran. In the final I beat my best mate on the snooker circuit, Duane Jones by 3 frames to 1. Wasn't like a usual victory beating your friend in a final but you still have to remain professional and play seriously to win. The win puts me number 2 on the rankings which stands me in good stead for this seasons EBSA and IBSF overseas events. Full report can be found here:
I have also been to Bulgaria for a European Tour event in which I lost to Ricky Walden, also from my area, 4-2 in the last 128. I played well in that match making breaks of 114 and 97. It was a confidence boost to exhange blows with a top 8 ranked professional. I think this helped me win the Welsh Ranking Event. I also won my 2 qualifying matches 4-0.
Welsh event 3 is coming up over the next couple of weeks so I'm currently practising for that before heading to India in November for the World Amateur Championships.
Quite a lot has gone on since my last news update in July. August and September have been manic with hardly any time at home to practice or see friends and family.
Firstly, I went to Riga on 6th August for the first European Tour event where I lost in the first round. I was disappointed as I was hoping for a good start to get some ranking points for the order of merit. The week after I got back from Riga it was onto Leeds for the Home Internationals to play for Wales. We won the Prince of Wales shield last year and we successfully defended it this year with some good team performances. Our team this year which included myself with Duane Jones, Jamie Clarke and Rhydian Richards was beaten only once throughout the tournament with a good win over Scotland to take the title on the final day.
After Leeds it was onto Germany a day later for the Paul Hunter Classic European Tour event. I won all my 3 qualifying matches to set up a match with World Number 5, Barry Hawkins. The match was shown live on Eurosport straight after Ronnie O'Sullivan's match so the venue was busy and it had a great atmosphere. I lost 4-1 to Barry after winning the first frame. I should have won the 3rd frame to go 2-1 up but didn't take my chances. This changed the match and Barry played very well after he nicked that frame on the black. I loved the experience playing on TV again and I felt good throughout the match. Can't wait for the next time I play on there!
Following my performance in the IBSF World 6 Reds in Egypt in June I qualified for the Sangsom World Professional 6 Reds in Bangkok, Thailand from 1st-6th September. The first stage of the tournament is groups. I had 3 professionals and a former World Amateur Champion in my group which included top 16 players Stuart Bingham and Graeme Dott. I had to beat Dott in my last match to qualify but ended up losing 5-2 after being 2-0 up. I was disappointed to lose but I had played well all week against tough opposition in which I held my own against them. It's more great experience playing against the top players in such a big event. I hope I can qualify to play in the event again and also get to see more of Thailand.
After Thailand I travelled to Singapore to see my sponsor Chris Chuah from www.edenresources.sg and to practice with some top players in SIngapore. I travelled there with Jamie Clarke and we met with Jessica Woods from Austrailia and CK Chan from SIngapore who are also sponsored by Chris. While I was in Singapore I celebrated my 26th birthday. It was the best birthday ever as I celebrated it at the Marina Bay Sands complex which is just out of this world. Singapore is my favourite place in the whole world, it's the best place on Earth! If anyone hasn't been then I suggest going to just see it once in your life. I have to thank Chris for his hospitality and generosity while I was over there as he made the trip taking us all for different types of food and sight seeing. I have put a gallery on my Facebook page if you would like to see some photographs.
Next year around the same time there will be an invitation event taking place in Singapore and I have been invited to play in it. I'm already excited to be going back there! The week after that the Formula 1 Grand Prix takes place so I will stay on to watch that as well as I am into my cars and motor racing. I hope a British driver can win while I am there just like Lewis Hamilton did this weekend.
I want to say a huge thanks to CK and Silver Tan for taking us about everywhere and showing us around
Up next is another European Tour event in Bulgaria. Hopefully I can keep my good form up and pick up some valuable ranking points.
When I got back from Egypt, I took a week off snooker to relax and recharge the snooker batteries. I think it freshens you up sometimes taking a break as you get stuck into a routine and become stale. There hasn't been a tournament this month so I spent a weekend working with my coach Craig Harrison from St Helens which was beneficial to me ready for the new season starting in Riga on 6th August.
From Riga I will be going to Leeds playing for Wales at the Home Internationals. We won it last year so I hope we can defend the Prince of Wales Shield.
After Leeds I'm playing in another European Tour event, The Paul Hunter Classic in Fuerth, Germany. It's a great tournament in honour of a great player that's unfortunately no longer with us. I really enjoy playing in Germany as the crowds are always very big and the atmosphere is electric inside the venue.
On 29th August I'm flying out to Bangkok in Thailand for the Sangsom 6 Red World Championships featuring the Top 32 ranked professionals and selected amateurs from around the world. I am really excited to play in this event as there is 2.5 million Thai Baht for the winner which is around £46,000 and it's also broadcast live on Eurosport. From Bangkok, I'm flying to Singapore for a week to meet up with my sponsor Chris from Eden Resources. He's organising some matches there for me and some sight seeing. Been told great things about Singapore so I'm really excited to go as it will also be my birthday while I am there.
I'm currently looking for a company that wants to advertise a logo on my waistcoat for either a season or for the events where I may be televised. Please contact me for more details if you or know someone who may be interested.
June has been a very busy month for me having spent 2 weeks in Bulgaria then followed by 2 weeks in Egypt with some success.
Firstly I played in the European Championships in Sofia, Bulgaria. I got to the final of this event last year but this time I got knocked out in the last 16 by Mitchell Mann of England who went on to win the event and qualify for the professional tour. A huge congratulations to him, he played some good snooker and is very worthy of his tour place. I played some good snooker myself that week making a century and topping my group undefeated. I hope I can qualify to play in the tournament next year which will be played in Prague.
I returned home for 4 days before I flew to Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt for the World Team & World 6 Red Championships.
In the Team event I played with Jamie Clarke and we got beat in the semi final by Hong Kong who went on to win the event. We topped our group losing only 2 frames in the process. We beat a very strong India team 3-2 who had Pankaj Advani, a top 64 professional, playing for them. This event had a scotch doubles frame in every match. Scotch doubles is when you take alternate shots with your partner. Jamie and I constructed a break of 87 together in one of our matches.
In the 6 reds event, I topped my group without losing a match but then lost out in the Quarter Finals 5-2 to Boonyarit Keattikun from Thailand. I also made a break of 70, 5 points off a maximum with 6 reds on the table. If I had reached the semi final I would have qualified to play in the 6 red professional event in Bangkok, Thailand on my birthday in September so I was gutted to say the least!
While we were in Sharm El Sheikh we got chance to go snorkeling on the reef, go on a boat trip to see more of the marine life which is amazing, sunbathe (got a nice glowing tan!), swim in the many pools the resort had to offer and see a camel walk down the road as if it was normal! I have taken a fair few pictures which can be viewed if you like and share my Facebook page: www.facebook.com/garethallen
I want to thank Mohammed Kammah, The IBSF and The Egyptian Snooker Federation for putting on a wonderful tournament, an experience that I will never forget. I have been made an Ambassador of Sharm El Sheikh which will have some perks I am sure! Hopefully a 5 year contract can be sorted and we can keep returning to play there every year.
As for July, I have a month of no tournaments so I'll be taking a bit of time off before getting back to practice ready for the new European Tour season which kicks off in Riga on 6th August.
In my last news item I mentioned I was off to QSchool to try and qualify for the main professional circuit down in Gloucester. Unfortunately, things didn't go to plan and I didn't succeed in the 2 events that were on. A short illness ruined my first event and the second event I played well but lost my 3rd round match. In my previous round I made breaks of 110, 106 and 57 in winning 4-2 but couldn't find the same form for my next match 2 days later.
On 31st May I am off to Sofia in Bulgaria for the European Championships. I lost 7-2 in last years final in Poland to Robin Hull who is pictured with me left. Hopefully I can go on to win it this year, it would be a nice way to turn professional. You can follow my progress on www.ebsa.tv.
When I return from Bulgaria on 12th June I am home for all of 4 days until I jet off to Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt for the IBSF World Team and World 6 Red Championships until 30th June. My team mate for this event will either be Jamie Clarke or Alex Taubman which is yet to be confirmed. I am looking forward to this event as we are staying in a 5 star hotel right on the beach so hopefully I can come back with a big trophy and a nice tan too! You can follow our progress in this tournament on www.ibsfnews.com.
I want to thank Chris Chuah and Eden Resources for their continued support. I am very grateful for all that they do for me.
I have been playing a lot of snooker since my last update back in March where I won the North Wales Open.
Firstly, I played in the Quarter Final of the Welsh Championships in Ammanford, South Wales where I beat Kishan Hirani 5-1. In the semi final I then drew Lee Walker, an ex Crucible Quarter Finalist, who beat me 6-4 in a tense, close game. Both of us played well and made some good breaks.
On the 12th April I went to Sheffield to play in the EBSA Play-offs to try and qualify for the main professional tour. Unfortunately, I lost 4-2 to Ian Glover who then went on to qualify.
After the disappointment of Sheffield I then went to Leeds for a week for the Ladies World Championships which my sponsor Eden Resources sponsored. I played in the mixed doubles event with Anna Prisjaznuka from Latvia. We had a bad first round draw of Michael Holt and Reanne Evans who beat us 3-0. Well done to Reanne who went on to win the Ladies main event for a record 10th time. It was a good week in Leeds meeting my sponsor from Eden Resources, Chris Chuah and practicing with some of the Leeds based players including Sanderson Lam and new professional Oliver Lines.
After the tournament finished I went to Sheffield for a day to support my friend and practice partner Robbie Williams who was making his Crucible debut against World Number 1, Neil Robertson.
I have potentially set a new high break record in the Chester snooker league. I made a 135 total clearance in a cup match and as far as records show this is the highest ever break. It's not 100% been confirmed yet though as the league goes back many, many years!
With a busy April over and done with it's now back to the practice table ready for Q School which starts on 10th May in Gloucester and then onto Bulgaria 1st June for the European Championships if I fail to qualify in Gloucester. I got to the final last year where I lost to Robin Hull on Polish TV. I hope I can go 1 better this year if I participate in the event.
In off the table stuff I've been going to the gym 4-5 times a week and I have started to get back into doing a bit of running. I believe fitness helps snooker and aids better concentration for longer matches. My football team Chester FC got relegated to the Conference North on goal difference. We are only a part time club trying to compete in a full time league so it was always going to be a tough season. We will bounce back after next season I'm sure.
At the weekend there was a tournament held locally in Ewloe and Broughton called TheDailySkid.com North Wales Open which I won.
It was an excellent tournament with a field of 16 players in it. Saturday was the group stages at Ewloe where I won my group and Sunday was the Knockout stage.
In the final I beat local ex professional, Neal Jones who is still one of the best players in North Wales by 4 frames to 1.
This tournament was also good match practice for me as on the 5th of April I play the Quarter Finals of the Welsh Championships in Ammanford.
Until then it's back to the practice table for some more hard work and preparation playing the likes of Andrew Higginson, Robbie Williams, Chris Norbury and Rod Lawler.
My first bit of tournament news is that World Snooker seem to have confirmed the dates for the EBSA Main Tour play offs as it has appeared on their calendar. 12th and 13th of April are the important dates on that.
Secondly, I shall be playing in the World Mixed Doubles with Anna Prisjaznuka from Latvia. That is being held alongside the Eden World Ladies Championships at the Northern Snooker Centre in Leeds from 18th April.
Before that though, I have a local tournament named The www.TheDailySkid.com North Wales Open. It will be a tournament limited to 16 players held in North Wales across the weekend of 22nd and 23rd March. 4 groups of 4 players and the top 2 in each group will progress to the Quarter Finals and so on. Please visit the tournament sponsors website as I'm sure it will make you giggle!
On 5th April I will be playing in the Quarter Finals of the Welsh Championships. Draw and Venue are yet to be confirmed for this tournament,
That's about it for now. I shall keep you updated over the next couple of weeks.
I am delighted to announce my new sponsorship deal with www.edenresources.sg.
I would personally like to thank Chris Chuah for helping my snooker career and inviting me to be a part of Team Eden!
Click the picture to find out what Eden can offer you.