Wearsider David Bolt took the title in the latest Open Singles Circuit event at Worksop, securing the £750 first prize.
The South Shields bowler opened with a 4-7, 8-3, 2-1 tiebreaker win over Andy Smith.
Bolt then defeated Durham’s Gary Smith 6-4, 10-4 in straight sets, before clinching a last-16 8-1, 6-4 win over Andy Clipston.
A third successive straight sets win, 7-4, 7-2 over David Tooley, set up a semi-final against Martin Shepherd, in which Bolt claimed a 2-1 tiebreaker victory.
He then cruised to the title with a comfortable 13-0, 8-1 win over David Bairstow.
With the top 32 ranked players guaranteed a place at the Grand Finals weekend, Bolt has jumped straight into 24th spot.
However, with a busy few months ahead restricting his chances of entering more events, the Shields star will need a decent return in his only other entry – at the Shields end-of-season event – to have any chance of a top-32 place.
Both Houghton squads went into last weekend’s round of Inter-County League fixtures needing victories to keep relegation fears at bay, however both were beaten.
Houghton Gilpin faced leaders Hartlepool and, despite a spirited performance, went down 74-66.
At Houghton, both home rinks returned winning cards.
Mal Baker, Jules Biggerstaff, David Wright and Bryan Henderson snr snatched a last-end double to beat Matty Ray 16-14, while Michael Noble, Jack Scullion, Ronnie Robson and Alan J. Dunn, 18-10 down with five ends left, bagged a full house eight on the 19th end helped Dunn get home 22-20 against Dale Oram.
That secured all four points at home, winning 38-34.
Down the A19, both Gilpin squads lost.
Joe Sutherland, David Armstrong, Ian Whorlton and John Jones were left thinking what might have been. A treble on the 18th end against Keith Wilford pushed Jones 17-14 ahead, however Wilford scored on the final three ends to win 19-17.
Keith Waterson, Ian Fairweather, Freddie Fletcher and Frankie Froud came up against an inspired Jimmy Ainger and went down 21-11. That left the away squad 13 shots adrift and saw Gilpin on the end of a harsh 8-4 scoreline.
Gilpin face Darlington next on March 4.
It was always going to be a big ask for Houghton Kepier, who had to beat undefeated Durham to have any chance of avoiding the drop into the Second Division.
Sadly, Kepier were well beaten 94-58.
At Houghton, the only bright spot came from the rink of Tony Grimes, Charlie Wallace, Barney Walsh and Terry Todd, who were always ahead against Jackie Hutchinson and deservedly ran out 18-10 winners.
Pat Collins, Peter Thomson (snr) and Stevie Tindale never recovered from an early dropped five against Russell Bewick and were blown away 35-10, leaving the home squad 45-28 down.
At Durham, the events at Houghton were repeated.
Eric Downes, Karl Armstrong, Trevor Joicey and Peter Thomson jnr went from 5-2 down to lead Dave Christie 12-5. A good four on the 18th end pushed them 18-13 ahead and Thomson avoided a last-end scare when Christie missed with his final bowl for a possible five to snatch a draw to leave Thomson 18-17 up.
The other rink of George Brown, Richard Thorpe, Alan Patterson and Richie Mckie had a long afternoon as they were thumped 31-10 by Malcolm Robinson.
Points wise, Kepier only collected a couple of rink points. Barring a miracle, it will not be enough to avoid relegation.
In the Seniors League, Houghton Gilpin’s search for a first win of the season continues after a heavy loss at Ferryhill.
All three rinks were well beaten. The best of the three saw Eric Downes, A. Ross, P. Robinson and D. Scott lose 17-9 to Colin Larcombe.
Ron Leonard, S.Duell, Peter Noble and Ronnie Robson were beaten 24-7 by R. Seymour, while Keith Waterson, M.Walker, D.Robson and Richard Thorpe suffered a 27-7 loss to R. Jefferson. Overall, it was a 5-0 45-shot defeat.
The Houghton squad’s final chance of notching a victory is a home tie against play-off chasing South Shields.
Houghton Kepier seniors are in action on Friday as they also look to record a first win at Durham (12.30pm start).
Houghton Ladies return to Inter-Club League action on Wednesday as they face Durham (12.30pm start)
Houghton team – At Houghton: J Watt, E Barkes, S Forster, E Faith; S Richardson, D Fenwick, B Robson, JB Smith; At Durham: M Metcalf, E Barren, J Baker, F Phythian; M Hall, E Morris, A Vout, N Stephenson
The Seniors Premier League returns at Darlington on Thursday (12.30pm), with both Houghton squads in action.
Houghtonians face leaders Gateshead A, while Houghton A tackle Ferryhill B.
Houghtonians team: P Thomson (snr), R Thorpe, F Froud
Houghton A: J Sutherland, F Fletcher, TW Todd
The Durham County Seniors have a crunch Midlands League game at York on Thursday as they take on Nottinghamshire, with 22 points on offer.
Durham are 20 points behind leaders Yorkshire, who meet Warwickshire at Tamworth on Thursday.
Durham need to at least match Yorkshire’s points return to keep alive any hopes of retaining their title.
There has been plenty of action in the national competitions.
Stewart Hubbard’s smashing singles run ended at Durham as Gary Smith ran out a 21-12 winner against the South Shields bowler to set up an area final against Hartlepool’s Paul Hartley.
In the north section of the pairs, Durham’s Brian Henderson and Mark Higgins booked an area final place with a last-end 20-18 win over South Shields’ Josh Minto and Chris Yeomans. The Durham duo will face the winners of the all-Hartlepool affair between Albert Ward and Paul Hartley.
The all-Shields triples northern semi-final saw Gary Farquhar defeat Stewart Hubbard 21-18. In the area final, Farquhar will tackle Hartlepool’s Paul Mosley, who received a walkover against Redcar’s Richie Hudson.
The fours area final will be another Shields-Hartlepool clash. Shields’ Gary Farquhar won a high-scoring 28-18 tie against Houghton’s Peter Thomson to set up a final against Paul Hartley.
There was disappointment in the mixed pairs area final for the Shields duo of Jackie Stewart Tallack and David Bolt, who were beaten 18-14 by Lauren and Paul Mosley.
The Hartlepool duo have already qualified in the mixed fours and both events take place at Loddon Vale in a fortnight.
In the Over-60s pairs, an all-Stanley area semi-final saw Brian Houghton defeat Brian Harris 15-14, while Hartlepool’s Dale Oram progressed with a 19-13 win at Aycliffe against Barry Attwood.
In the Over-60s fours, South Shields’ Billy Ferry eased to a 21-6 win at Houghton over Michael Wright. Ferry will next entertain Stanley’s Brian Harris in the area semi-final, with the winner taking on Hartlepool’s Mike Hagon.
In the two-bowl singles, Hartlepool’s Jonathon Forcer received a third consecutive walkover before going down 21-9 to club-mate Paul Hartley, who awaits Gateshead’s Brian Orrell or West Denton’s Michael Bennett in the area final.
The latter stages of the national Champion of Champions competition were played at the Warner Leisure resort.
Stanley’s Brett Arkley had a comfortable 21-4 last-16 win over Folkestone’s Lee Calver before coming unstuck in the quarter-finals, going down 21-17 at to Whiteknights’ Robert Newman. The title eventually went to Exonia’s Jamie Chestney, who beat Newman 21-17 in the final.
In the women’s event, Durham’s Anne Bernard narrowly lost her last-16 opener 21-20 to Folkestone’s Leah Bamford. New indoor world champion Katherine Rednall (Ipswich) won the final.