THE Danby Autos Sunderland Snooker League started this week, and some interesting scores suggested that the season could be very hard-fought, with the handicaps sure to play an important part in the proceedings.
Group One had the Railway at home to Lumley B, and the three singles all went to Lumley before Railway gained their first point by winning the pairs.
Seaham Knack had two extra players, with Ian Stewart and Tony Hazard joining them from the Winter League.
Ian Stewart soon showed that Seaham had gained a valuable acquisition, as a 47 break in the first frame was too much for Gurj Cheema.
Gary Stockton had to give a 20 point headstart to Anth Longstaff, but was unable to reduce the deficit as Longstaff levelled for Cheema.
Gary Dormand and James Hair had a close handicap and it was Hair who scored the heavier to put Cheema into the lead.
The two winners for Cheema twinned in the pairs and came up against Keith Thomas who had the experienced Tony Hazard for support for Seaham.
With the handicap level, the match was well played, before Seaham pulled away to win and take a share of the points in a 2-2 draw.
In Group Two, Mill View B had the Avenue as visitors, with the handicaps favouring Mill View although Avenue was strengthened by Graham Ablett joining them from Jordans.
Bob Boyce had a 30 handicap deficit at the start, but played well to take the frame into the colours.
Both players had chances before Boyce played an excellent black into a middle pocket to take the frame.
Gary Simpson started well for Mill View and increased his handicap lead to 35, but lost concentration on a black that would have set his opponent a challenge.
Graham Ablett rose to the occasion and had over three 20 breaks and cleared the colours to move the Avenue into a 2-0 advantage.
A confident Mark Fox looked the likely winner as he potted some excellent balls to move into a decent lead.
It was a fortunate and thankful John Spence who took the last three colours to win 50-45.
He remained on the table and was joined by Sid Bate to attempt a recovery against Bob Boyce and Kev Harrop.
An interesting frame was well contested with the lead constantly changing before it reached the colours.
The defining moment came when Boyce potted the pink, but saw his white fly around the table to go in-off.
The escape gave Mill View the opportunity to claim the necessary point to force a 2-2 draw after being two frames behind.
Seaham usually do well in the Summer League and started well in their match against Steels A.
Tom Ayre gave Steels the early advantage by winning the first frame, before Michael Monaghan cleared his handicap deficit and moved ahead to claim the frame and level.
Les Pinder took Seaham into the lead in the third before Gordon Elliot and Ian Hughes took the pairs for a 3-1 to Seaham.
Victory Club met Pennywell Comrades B and Kevin McDermott and Ray James had a fine first frame before McDermott emerged as the victor after James had missed a vital pink.
Andy Newby has settled well at Victory and had a convincing result in the second frame to level.
John Butler had breaks of 16 and 13 as he controlled the third frame to take the away team into the lead. The pairs went to Dowell and Burnikell, of Victory, for a 3-1 match result.
Steels B had Pennywell A as their opponents and a high scoring first frame saw Adam Smith beat Joe Turner 90-71.
Tom Feenan increased the lead in the second followed by Chris Cowie in the third.
McLaren and Hale completed a whitewash by winning the pairs 73-42.
A surprising 4-0 result by Murton Officials against Green Baize saw the home team playing well and taking all the openings given during the match.
Robin Midson, aided by a 30 start, beat Peter Dambrosie 82-68, followed by Manna Singh in the second.
A much closer third frame saw Jimmy Ashcroft hold most of his handicap start to beat Craig Kane 69-55.
The match ended with Ashcroft and Singh being chased by Burn and Kane, but held on to get the result.
Farringdon came back into the league and were rewarded with a trip to Lumley A.
The first frame saw a break of 48 by Martin Ball control the first frame, before Paul Stoves aided by breaks of 31 and 27 resisted a reply by Colin Wrathmall to take the second.
R Calvert had an excellent introduction with a fine 52-41 result against Joe Nord. A formidable pairing of Ball and Stoves faced another new player for Farringdon, as P Tate joined Norman Wrathmall in the last frame before losing 58-36.
Results – Group One: Railway 1 Lumley B 3, Murton Big Club 2 Mill View A 2, Seaham Knack 2 Cheema 2. Group Two: Mill View B 2 Avenue 2, Seaham Cons 2 Steels A 1, Pennywell Coms B 1 Victory 3.
Group Three: Steels B 4 Pennywell Coms A 0, Murton Officials 4 Green Baize 0, Lumley A 3 Farringdon 1.
THE Handicap Singles Final was played at Pennywell Comrades between Stephen Thompson, of Washington Snooker, and Adam Smith, of Steels.
Smith started well with a 42 break in the first frame.
It took a resolute Thompson to fight back to win on the pink and move ahead.
In the second, it was Smith who led for most of the frame, and he looked comfortable with a 27 lead with only 27 on the table.
After a small number of shots, Thompson took the yellow, but failed on the green.
Smith took the green and Thompson conceded after failing to get the snookers required.
With the match all square going into the third frame, it was Smith who again had a 30 lead with only four reds remaining.
Thompson replied with a 30 break that broke down on the yellow.
An attempt by Smith failed which left an opening for Thompson to eventually move ahead and regain a 2-1 advantage.
The fourth frame was a fiercely fought frame, with Thompson showing the greater composure of the two players.
It was still tight until the colours when Smith went in-off the yellow leaving Thompson to claim the colours up to the pink, to claim a 3-1 result and the title.