Thai Snooker 2011: Korat Cup

The Korat Cup, Thailand’s sixth ranking event of the season, is now in full swing in the North-Eastern province of Nakhon Ratchasima. The venue stages began on Sunday as the invited wildcards got down to business. First up was the game between Nakorn Chapol – a native of Korat ranked No.19 in Thailand who took up the offer of a wildcard place instead of trying to come through two qualifying matches – and veteran Thongchai Punyawee – the Jimmy White of Thai snooker. (He never managed to win the Thai National Championship but lost in the final on several occasions). Nakorn lost the opening frame, but then cruised to a comfortable 4-1 victory.

The two foreign wildcards started out on Monday. Mohammad Sajjad of Pakistan took on 36th ranked Mana U-Praphai, but despite making breaks of 83 and 70, the Pakistani found himself on the wrong end of a 4-2 scoreline. Bahrain’s Habib Subah fared better, recovering from a 2-0 deficit to overcome Tatchai Suksamran 4-2, with the highlight being Tatchai’s 65 in the second frame.

Nittiwat Kanchanasri

Tuesday saw the start of the last-16 round, and the opening match was an attractive clash between Supoj Saenla, and Nittiwat Kanchanasri – a player who has not only previously lifted the title in Thai snooker ranking events, but has also represented the country in pool. The game proved to be a high quality encounter, with Nittiwat making an 83 in the first frame and a 73 in the last as he won 4-2. Supoj replied with a 63 and a 64 but was unable to halt his young opponent.

Sompol Saetang in action

Next up was a match between the veterans Tai Pichit and Rom Surin, which Tai won perhaps more easily than expected by four frames to one. This game was followed by Kobkit Palajin v Sompol Saetang. Kobkit is a player who has often threatened to live up to his potential, only to subsequently slide back down the rankings. He has twice lost the final of the Asian Under-21 and narrowly missed out on a main tour place, and two years ago reached the Thai National final only to miss out once again. Having climbed back into Thailand’s top 16, he has now slipped again to No. 32 and finds himself in need of a couple of good results. His opponent, Sompol, has been heading in a more consistent direction however, climbing from 46th to the top 16 and then consolidating his position. Sure enough, when the match got under way, Sompol made the better start, taking the first two frames. Kobkit rallied briefly to 1-2, but then Sompol rolled in an 89 as he closed out the match 4-1.

Nakorn Chapol

The day’s final contest saw Thepchaiya Un-Nooh take on Nakorn Chapol – who incidentally has some lovely waistcoats made from the local version of Thai silk. Although Thepchaiya was subdued in constructing only one break of note – a 68 to level the match at 1-1 – Nakorn’s splendid waistcoats eventually proved inadequate as Thepchaiya came through 4-2.

Wednesday’s last 16 matches will be as follows:

Atthasit Mahitti v Poramin Danjirakul

Habib Subah v Pisit Chansri

Issara Kachaiwong v Mana U-Prapahai

Suchakree (Kwan) Poomjaeng v Noppadon Noppachorn