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21 world titles but Pankaj wants to raise the bar

He still constantly reminds himself not to take anything for granted

By Sayak Banerjee in Calcutta

  • Published 19.08.19, 2:40 AM
  • Updated 19.08.19, 2:40 AM
 Pankaj Advani did not give Nay Thway Oo much breathing space.
Pankaj Advani did not give Nay Thway Oo much breathing space. The Telegraph file picture

Pankaj Advani has 21 world titles. But that doesn’t mean he is resting on his laurels.

He still constantly reminds himself not to take anything for granted.

It’s this humility of the cueist that has also played a crucial role in taking him to the top apart from keeping him calm and focused for the forthcoming world billiards and snooker events.

“In sports, you can never be sure of winning a tournament. In fact, that’s the beauty of sports, as it is so unpredictable,” Advani said during an interaction with The Telegraph.

“My chances are really good, but it all depends on the competition, which is getting more and more competitive if you look at the standards now. To get through the group stages, I would fancy my chances, but in the knockouts it all depends on the particular day with so many skilful cueists around.

“Especially in the shorter format — the 6-Red Championship — which is like T20 cricket, you never know what’s going to happen. Then the team championship also is bit of a lottery because you are only playing one frame at a time. I have won most of the championships before, but you can never take anything for granted.”

Challenges await him with the 150-up IBSF World Billiards Championships and World 6-Red & Team Snooker Championships in Mandalay next month, longer format of the World Billiards meet in Melbourne and the IBSF World Snooker Championships in Antalya (October-November).

Tight and “tiring” schedule of the competitions makes Advani concentrate also on physical fitness.

“As far as my preparations are concerned, I would work on my physical fitness this time because I realise that some of the events’ scheduling is quite tiring. Sometimes, you have to play two-three matches in a day. So, I have to be physically fit in order to perform and do well, especially during the knockouts,” he stressed.

At present in India, only Advani and Sourav Kothari play both snooker and billiards internationally. Playing both is certainly very challenging, but that’s what keeps Advani on his toes.

“I feel it’s extremely challenging to pursue both snooker and billiards because nobody ever has won world titles in both, so I thought why not take the road that hasn’t been travelled? I felt that I changed my technique accordingly.

“Challenges excite me and I want to raise the bar and set new standards. Some time in the future, you may even see someone play all the three — billiards, snooker and pool.”

The Cue School by Pankaj Advani (CSPA), which he and a friend of his collaborated to start earlier this year at DPS East, is one of his ways to give back to the game. The CSPA is also India’s first cue sports academy.

“We are looking to expand and come up with more such academies because the idea is to introduce kids to the game. It’s also a way of giving back to the game.

“We are trying to take this forward and need to get the first couple of projects right before we can take it across India to different cities, like in Mumbai, and schools.

“I obviously go and see once in a while how the students picked up the game (at CSPA).”