Monday, 2 March 2015

Alex Crisan - out of passion for snooker (an interview) - part one

It was right after the Masters that it hit me - I must get Alex Crișan on board for an interview. Well, to be honest it was long before that, but the thought became more and more pregnant after the London-based madness.

Luckily we were friends on Facebook so it wasn't rocket science to get in touch with him. And he kindly accepted so here I was waiting in a Starbucks coffee-shop from the centre of Bucharest for the man who has brought Romania on the snooker map by being a full-credited international snooker referee.

The first thing that struck me about Alex is his passion for the sport, not just the ref job, but also the sport itself. It's so easy to see how much snooker means for him and how much he's involved into it. He likes to call it "his own personal thing".

I don't even have to ask him things, because this is more than just an interview. It's a conversation between two snooker loopies.

The early years 

In Gloucester, at the 2013 Kay Suzanne Memorial Cup
For Alex, as for many others, the snooker madness started through EuroSport. It was back in 2003 when he first got a glimpse at the sport that 12 years later will put him side by side with the biggest masters of the green baize.

"It was actually my mum who properly introduced me to snooker. She got hooked by watching EuroSport and learned all the rules. I remember that once I came home late, I was very tired and she was sitting in the living room watching snooker.

"We started chatting about this and that, while watching snooker and before I knew it I ended up watching the entire match that lasted three hours.

"At that time my mum knew the rules better than me, but with time I managed to get more information in and know the players name, what’s a snooker and so on." says Alex.

Maybe not entirely aware that he was infected with the snooker virus (which causes a beautiful “disease” that never leaves you, if I may say so), Alex started playing snooker and a year later he got the chance to get involved with the Romanian Snooker Federation.

Although he "didn't know even as much as 20% of the rules" he now knows by heart, he was eager to prove a point and to get more involved with this colourful cue sport.

This is getting serious 

In 2006 things got official as Alex passed his first international refereeing exam and was now a Class 3 EBSA ref. This helped him to be part of the team that refereed at the 2006 EBSA European Championship held in Romania, at Constanta (three Uni exams remained unattended because of that, but art craves for sacrifices as we all know).

However, two years later all the knowledge that he thought he possessed was challenged by Maxime Cassis (the actual VP of the IBSF and President of EBSA) who held an intensive seminar about snooker (over 9 hours).

At the 2013 Victoria Bulgarian Open
"I must confess that before this seminar, I read the rules guide but just as you read a book. I didn't put too much thought into it.

"But all that changed when Mr Cassis came and started explaining each rule, taking all the exceptions and all the particularities and possibilities into account. I had no idea it was so complicated!

"Not only did he explain them verbally, but also show us on the table every angle and how we should interpret it."

Since 2014 he is an EBSA Examiner referee (a title that he earned during last year's European U21 Team Championship) and he is "proud to be the first one from South-Eastern Europe".

Because of that and that fact that he is also the President of Referees Committee at the Romanian Snooker Federation, Alex can teach the unknown world of snooker refereeing to any Romanian interested.

Still, before taking part in his classes he likes to sit around with the potential pupils and ask them why they want to get into refereeing.

"I ask them if they watch snooker on a regular basis, either online or on the telly, if they like snooker and if they think they are truly passionate about this sport.

"Because if they aren't, then it's no point to carry on. In this sport, in this job, if you are not passionate about it, you won't succeed.

"Sure, it sounds painfully important to say you are an international snooker ref, but one must keep in mind that besides the work, there's also devotion involved. And if you are doing this just for the job-title, then it's not right and it won't bring you any benefits."

to be continued ...

*all photos are courtesy of Monique Limbos

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Robertson shines in Gdynia

Robbo conquers the Polish crown
Neil Robertson obtained a crystal clear victory of 4-0 over the Welshman Mark Williams in tonight's final of the 2015 Gdynia Open.

The Australian player is no stranger from "victories made in Poland", his record showing that in 2011 he beat Ricky Walden to conquer the Warsaw Classic title, followed by the 2012 Gdynia Open where he defeated Scotland's Jamie Burnett.

However, all the above are not as important as the fact that the 2011 world champion has just put an end to a trophy drought that lasted since June 2014 (when Robbo won the Wuxi Classic) up until a few minutes ago.

The final of this year's Gdynia Open, although far from a genuine snooker thriller, was still a display of excellent snooker.

Willo was outplayed
Robertson opened with a break of 65, followed by a 46 in the second frame to go 2-0 up, before Williams could have an honest-to-God chance to make a difference.

Frame three kicked off with an early mistake from Robbo, this time the Welshman making the most of his chances. Still, he missed a tricky red down on 67 (sooo close to win this frame), this leaving a life-line for his opponent.

What happened in the next minutes was a genuine steal, but a stylish one nonetheless. Robertson cleared with a break of 63 to win the third frame of the match on the black. This was looking ominous!

The lads posing with the trophy
The last frame was captured with a great 109 break, the best way to seal a victory and win yourself some well-deserved silverware. Robertson is Poland's champion once more!

At the end of the day, Robertson played no less than 24 frames recording victories of 4-3 against Oliver Lines and Judd Trump and 4-2 against the 2014 Gdynia Open champion, Shaun Murphy.

The snooker marathon, because I hope you know that March will be a busy, busy month (check the schedule here) continues tomorrow in Blackpool where we meet with the seniors of the green baize for the World Seniors Championship. 

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