When: 4/June/2010
Where: Parramatta RSL
Interviewer: Terry Jackson

Ian Anderson, the current WPA (World Pool Association) President

Interview posted for the first time, interesting to reflect back on this Interview which was done shortly after Neil Robertson won the 2010 World Snooker Championship.
Since then, we have had the first World ranking event in Australia with the 2011 Goldfields Open held in Bendigo.

TJ – CueSportz.info welcomes Ian Anderson, current President of the WPA (World Pool-Billiards Association) to this interview.
Now, before we talk about Pool I would like to take a side step and talk about your cousin in cue sports, Snooker.
We know that you used to be a former professional Snooker player before moving into Pool, so it's a game that still means a lot to you.
Now that Neil Robertson has become World Snooker Champion and has made all the local press and TV stations here in Australia, he is now as well known or better known it could be said as the late great Eddie Charlton.
Would you agree with that and what do you think his win will do for Snooker in Australia and the Oceania region?

IA - Well, being as well known as Eddie Charlton I don’t think he would become remotely close to being as well known as Eddie Charlton. Eddie spent a lifetime making a name for himself. Yes sure Neil is well known at the moment because of all the publicity for winning the world championship. His performance is internationally better than Eddie’s and all that sort of thing. But I mean you could ask anybody. Eddie died 4or 5 years ago. I am would think that anyone in the street could tell you who Eddie Charlton was. I am not so sure if they could tell you who Neil Robertson is.

TJ - What do you think his win will do for Snooker in Australia and the Oceania region?

IA - Well I think it’s an outstanding effort for Neil to win the World Championship. I mean well Neil has won 4 ranking tournaments, something no one else has ever done. And he’s now won the World Championship. He certainly I am so pleased for him although I don’t confess to know Neil very well. He’s well mannered and well liked. I couldn’t think of a better image for someone to win a WC.

TJ - Beyond that do you think it will help promote the game here?

IA - Too a certain extent. It really depends how much Neil is prepared to put into doing it. I know now with the calendar they are very busy in the UK, in Europe and UK, and hey have a couple of events in China. Apart from China, they spend most of the year in Europe. Neil I believe lives in Norway so it’s a bit of hub for him to play in the UK, anywhere really apart from China. So the difference between Neil and Eddie is that Eddie constantly toured around Australian playing in every country town, every major city, and that’s why he got so well known. Pot Black TV show really established snooker here, Eddie won Pot Black.
Eddie spoke to the ABC about buying the program and they did, and it was a tremendous success here in Aus and then he went back to England and won again.

TJ -  I wonder if Neil can then draw on past history help with maybe promote snooker in Australia and get some of the snooker televised that’s being played in the UK. That may have the same result.

IA - I don’t know Neil’s schedule but unless he is prepared to spend time in Australia to work at I don’t see that it’s going to be possible.

TJ - Staying on Snooker and Neil Robertson, you were recently appointed by John Scott of Events Du Monde as reported in The Sydney Morning Herald on 9th May outlining the possibility of a record breaking $500,000 Exhibition match between Neil Robertson and number one player John Higgins or Ronnie O'Sullivan. The month mentioned in this article was August, but we believe this information is not accurate.
Can you update our readers on these two points and can you add any more information on this possibly match such as likely Australian city and venues?

IA - We moved along a little bit from there. It won’t be John Higgins who would be approached about playing. It would be Ronnie O’Sullivan. The most likely venue is in Melbourne and probably Crown Casino. If it happens it will be the first Friday in September.  Things are underway but no signatures on the dotted line as yet. I must say that there has been great interest from sponsorship. I don’t think it’s sponsorship that will be an issue, there are few other factors. It’s not over the line. I think it’s at least 50% there and I haven’t spoken to Ronnie O’Sullivan abut it, but the idea is that they would come here and play this challenge match and then they would go straight from here to Shanghai for a world snooker event.  This date to work in with other events.

TJ - Any discussion on format?

IA - What we’ve considered is best of 15 and we would probably play 6 frames in the afternoon and then in the night time would be the big one with remainder of framers.  The afternoon session may or may not happen. There would be a dinner attached to the snooker.

TJ - Let's broaden the scope now for all Cue Sports.
The WPA is part of the WCBS (World Confederation of Billiards Sports) as is the IBSF (International Billiards & Snooker Federation), UMB (Union Mondiale de Billard for Carom-carambole billiard games) and Individual members such as World Snooker (WPBSA - World Professional Billiards & Snooker Association). Our readers can view this organisation here http://www.billiard-wcbs.org/ and how it is officially recognised by the IOC here http://www.billiard-wcbs.org/organisation.htm
The WCBS and it's members have been working hard on getting Cue Sports into the Olympics, one stepping stone to this has been achieved with Snooker and 9-Ball being played in the World Games run by the IWGA (International World Games Association - www.worldgames-iwga.org ) recently in 2009 in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. The IWGA is highly regarded by the IOC.
How much more is needed before Cue Sports can be in the Olympics and when does it look likely to happen. Also, will it just be Snooker and 9-Ball?

IA - To get cue sports in the Olympics is a mammoth task, and they keep changing the rules all the time. They had what they called ‘core sports’ such as swimming and athletics.  Then they said we’ll put up a couple of additional sports that can be changed. And we know that golf and rugby will be part of the London Olympics. Now we were in that sort of qualifying event to find the sports but it’s come down that it will be golf and rugby sevens. After the Olympics then they will then make a decision about the 2016 games and there’ll be 2 sports with the possibility of being replaced. Now have 24 sports, core sports. While golf and rugby may come out again they will go into the pool for the 2016 games. And there’s every chance they will pick golf and rugby again. And then we’ve got to consider the other sports that golf and rugby replaced and one of them is baseball, a big money sport. More people playing billiards etc but not the money in the sport like golf for example. Tough battle and with change of rules of qualifying. We take part in the World Games are we about the most popular sport. To give you an idea we played last year in Taiwan.  The President attended billiards as one of the 3 sports he saw at this event.  Billiards has as high profile in some countries e.g. Chinese Taipei. The World Games used to be considered the stepping stone before the Olympics.

We’re in the Asian Games. The Asian Games are huge. And we’re now going to be part of the World Africa Games, and they’re big.  But the Olympics, we’ve been approached about putting tables into the Athletes Village for the Olympics.

TJ - Related to getting Cue Sports into the Olympics, does the WCBS or any of it's members have plans to attempt the same with Common Wealth games or other large sporting events?

IA - I recently finished a submission for pool and snooker as part of approach for the Commonwealth Games.  It has made before but only snooker. They asked us to put another submission in for pool. Carom not well known. The UMB is fully supportive of us going ahead with a submission for pool and snooker.

We assume it will be snooker. It could be English Billiards, but I’ll doubt it. May be 8, 9, 10 or straight pool. If it was being held today we would choose 9 ball.

TJ - Apart from recommendations, how do they decide on the game?

IA - We would make that decision, meaning the WCBS.

TJ – Let’s just discuss Pool now and specifically 9-Ball. The players and fans are looking forward to the 9-Ball World Championships being held this year after an absence which we understand was due to sponsorship and/or venue issues in the Philippines.
Does this mean we can also look forward to TV coverage again globally and will Australia be likely to get this here on Foxtel or other channels?

IA - Two years have gone by without the 9 ball championship played, and a lot of that has to do with GFC and problems getting sponsorship.  We would need about $1 million to put that tournament on and sponsors aren’t that easy to find and unfortunately 9 ball suffered for that. This year we’ll be playing in Qatar in end June/early July, and signed for 4 years. Al Jazeera will be there, whether FoxSports picks that up I don’t know.

TJ - Maybe ESPN or other US stations will re-broadcast as they are on Foxtel. Time will tell.

IA - We’ve got agents that are trying to sell the product but all I know is that it would be viewable in the Middle East on Al Jazeera channels. A lot also depends on the quality of the product to take it on.

TJ - I have read comments from professional pool players that 10-Ball is the next big thing and in most cases they also comment that they prefer this game to 9-Ball.
Do you agree with this and do you think that 10-Ball will eventually replace 9-Ball as the preferred professional game to be shown on TV?

IA - It won’t replace 9 ball.  It might become as popular. I know a lot of players prefer 10 ball, but this also applied to 9 ball.  9 ball is too popular to just die off. Originally 10 ball was played with 9 ball rules, we’ve changed that. We’ve made it a separate game for WPN to ensure it is a different discipline. Call shot as well in 10 ball.

TJ - The WPA in conjunction with it's association members over a long period of time has developed several rule sets. One of the longest standing rule sets is 8-Ball.
This is the most played form of pool worldwide for social players, all the of the worlds largest pool leagues play 8-Ball but it is not a game that is seen that often on TV at Professional level even though there is a World Championship held each year.
Why is that and do you think the WPA calendar could do with more 8-Ball tournaments?

IA - We have the 8 ball championship, which is also played in the Middle East, it is very popular and liked the players. Originally 9 ball is fast with plenty of action but 8 ball is a very skilful game, more to be done, and complete opposite to 9 ball run 3 or four off the break and pot a few balls.

We would like to see another couple of events and in actual fact
I am attending a board meeting shortly to discuss an 8 ball championship for juniors next year. We have world 9 ball for the juniors but I am thinking now that maybe it’s time we have 2nd one – 8 ball to be put forward rather than 10 ball.

TJ – But do you think the calendar could do with a few more 8 ball events, before the world championships at least?

IA - We don’t have that many events – I think 8 events for men, and about 4 for women. We’d like to have more events but it comes down to sponsors and things like that. We have a certain amount of prize money for ranking events and that’s where you’ve got to have good back up with sponsors etc to make it possible.

TJ - One relatively new WPA rule set, Blackball came about in 2005. This rule set is suited for the 7ft tables commonly found in Commonwealth countries as this type of table originates from England and there are several tournaments per year in Australia run by the AEBF (Australian Eight-ball Federation) who are part of the WEBF (World Eight-ball Federation) who use this equipment but use a different rule set to the WPA's Blackball game.
I can see from WPA website that equipment specifications exists for 8-Ball, 9-Ball and 10-Ball for 8ft and 9ft tables but I could not see any for Blackball at this time.
Is the WPA still defining what standard equipment they wish to play on or is the new Blackball International association that is a member of the WPA going to decide?

IA - What happened with the game, basically talking about poll on 7ft table 2 inch balls and 1 7/8  cue ball. It doesn’t fit into the standard specs of what we often talk about as ‘American pool’, 2 and ¼ balls etc. So rather than make it anything confusing we’re leaving the equipment side of it to the Blackball division.
Now we made an offer to the World 8 ball federation some years ago that they come into the WPA umbrella and run that game.  They rejected the offer because that federation would lose it name. We said it’s not possible to acknowledge another world body in its fold, they would become the blackball division and run as an independent game.  Now they rejected it so we’ve formed this blackball division to run independently of the other WPA games. I would have thought it be specifications as under the blackball web pages.

TJ - I’m still waiting for that to appear. I just wanted to check whether it was appearing under WPA and you said it won’t. I’ll keep an eye on the Blackball international association and hopefully they will put up specs soon.

IA – The World champion on WPA website and blackball will be listed, we are not completely leaving them in the cold but we want blackball to operate independently.

TJ - Some of the equipment that’s out there I believe the WEPF has kind of standardised. They’ve got a standard table they use for tournaments (Supreme Pool Table) and the Blackball world federation may just refer to the equipment specs for blackball. If that ends up being, going back to Australia.

IA – [Smiles].

TJ - If the equipment specs for Blackball will be the same as what the WEBF uses, do you think Blackball has a future in Australia being that the WEBF form of 8-Ball is the most played cue sport in Australia at this time and the equipment is widespread?

IA - It probably is the most played game and that means the Federation has done a good job of organising their sport. I know that in other States outside NSW that they do play pool in hotels and areas with 7ft tables and 2 inch balls and smaller cue ball.  Whereas in NSW they use same 2 inch object balls and bigger 2 1/16 cue ball and it almost becomes a different game.
I think that I don’t see any reason why the APPF can’t offer its members competitions in blackball and there would be 8 ball Fed players playing both games, with hardly any difference in rules. Play both games and qualify for other events. South Africa tournament and next one in France. There are some good opportunities.

TJ - Deciding on qualification process is another matter though with two different associations.

TJ - I often hear people comment about you being Australian but not getting involved with the APPF (Australian Pool-Players Federation) who is a member of the WPA structure.
Now, I personally understand that it is not your job as each country is tasked with developing the game in it's own backyard. It would also not be seen as favourable to other countries if you treated Australia as a special case I'm sure.
However, we would like to hear your thoughts on why the WPA pool game is not as large or developed as it's AEBF counterpart and what can be done to increase it's membership and attract more sponsors?

IA - We’re dealing with 2 different disciplines. We’ve got the traditional WPA on 9ft game and the other game being played on 7 ft tables with 2 inch balls. It’s enormously more than what there are 9 ft tables. It’s very difficult to get 9ft tables into venues so they’re going to be up against it to do it. The 7ft game is basically a more social type games e.g. team or league more than anything else, although there are competitions. APPF will struggle under those circumstances.

In USA, 300 m versus 22m population in same size will show they don’t have any English pool. Every bit of pool around North America on 7ft tables with same balls as for 9 ft pool. Other cousin of snooker, in Canada but not North America.
In Asia they don’t play English pool, but snooker and WPA pool.
In commonwealth countries, they play English type pool in South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and the rest of the UK and Ireland.

TJ - All about equipment.

TJ - The APPF does lack an online presence as it has no website but some of it's State associations do.
Do you agree that the APPF would be better known if it had it's own website which the WPA could then add a link to in it's members section and this would also help locally for players trying to find ranking information, tournament calendar and results from events?

IA - Another difficulty because involves money and skill sets of the committee members.
APPF doesn’t receive money. Some members of WPA receive enormous funding from local governments and Olympic committees because they have some line through to the IOC.
They belong to continent body, continent to WPA, WPA to WCBS, member to IOC.
On that alone a lot of the policy for countries if you’re connection to IOC have to receive funding.
For example in the Netherlands, the top players receive great assistance. From the Government they get paid a retainer (not sure how much), a car supplied, new car every 2 or 3 years and hotels, living away allowance and keep all prize moneys.
They send a coach for their team to events, to look after the players. They have an office with staff, all of which all runs to significant money.
The people in the Netherlands are probably receiving at least $1m from these government Olympic committee organisations. The player his part, maintain a fairly high ranking or standing in the game to receive these grants. Neils Feijen up very high in the ranking and receives these grants but if drops no longer receive grants.

Still showing some form, some nice potting!

TJ - The OPBA (Oceania Pocket-Billiards Association) is the direct member of the WPA and whom the APPF is a member, they also have no website which means the whole world does not know what is going on for the Oceania region.
Again, do you have the same view as the APPF having no website?
But going on your previous answer it is mostly related to funding and skills of the people running the show. Should continent level have something going on though in your view?

IA -  These things are easier said than done, getting funding, volunteers.

TJ - Related to this, do you think the WPA should make it mandatory for associations at Country / Region level to have a website and follow some standard WPA template to show unity and create a standard product in the market and provide some assistance?
At least at the Country/continent level.

IA - I think it’s probably a good suggestion and it’s something that we can certainly consider. I am not so much in favour. Got to ask people to put up a website and make sure it doesn’t look terrible.

TJ - The WPA has been working on new online tournament scoring and reporting website ( http://www.wcbs-online.org/ ), are there plans to offer this to country level associations for National and state tournaments?

IA – Yes that started with EPPF, it’s outstanding. Archives, all results from way back, player photos, calendars, it’s all there. They live stream some of the tables. Scoring. It’s great. But that costs a lot of money. The EPPF make a lot of money; they’re well organised, charge of a lot of money for membership and entry frees.  The WPA can’t possibly do the things that an individual member can do. Asia in Asia, but we can’t do the same thing when we’re dealing with all these countries and continents.

TJ – The NSWPBA pay’s $1200 to retain membership with APPF. I assumed similar structure to WPA. Some money flowing upwards though to help fund these type of projects?

IA - We have 6 members. 3 are category 1 Asia, Europe, North America then we have 3 category 2 members South America, Oceania and Africa.
Category 2 are charged a lot less but where’s the limit for a category 1.
Different approaches, different levels of organisation. We can’t charge members differently. Places allocated differently.

TJ - more complex than I originally thought.
Maybe with online scoring WPA could make it accessible and charge a fee possibly.

IA - Yes. I like the idea of a template and rent it out for use.

TJ - You have seen many players over the years from Australia compete at World Level, in Pool who would you rate as the best of all time and who is the best current player?
Same two questions, but expanding it for the entire Oceania Region as I'm sure there are some great New Zealand players you can think of and what do you know of Fiji and PNG pool players?

IA - Best of all time for pool: Craig Duffy from Queensland (also good snooker player). He reached semis twice or semis and quarters. He doesn’t play anymore though.
Another notable player is Johl Younger who reached the quarters, and did well in a tournament in Japan.

TJ - Best current player:
Louis Condi
David Reljic
Greg Jenkins
Shawn Budd
Stuart Lawler

IA - I don’t think there’s one player that really stands out on the World stage. I wouldn’t include Shawn Budd or Stuart Lawler as they mostly are known for Snooker.

TJ - Same question but for the great games of Snooker and Billiards.

IA – World Snooker: Horace Lindrum, he won World Championship in 1952 (I think). Great exhibition player, and tremendous personality. Then we had Eddie Charlton. Better player than people gave him credit for. In the World finals a few times.
30-24 lead and Ray Reardon who won the last seven frames at final in Melbourne to win 31-30.
The World Match Play Championships, virtually the World championship at that time, which Eddie won.
He won Pot black 3 times. He was a great player; tough and hard. Can hardly think of a time when Alex Higgins beat Charlton during this time.
Neil Robertson winning several ranking events surpasses all of those. He is just 26/27 years old.
World Billiards: Walter Lindrum, Australian, his record is beyond belief. Nobody today could get close to the record of Walter Lindrum.
Oceania Snooker: Craig Duffy again for all time.

TJ – I’ve heard that Carom is about to start here in Australia with a new association ACA (Australian Carom Association) registered this year, we think the game will do well here as we have a large Asian and South American flavour in Sydney. There are several venues with tables I know of in Sydney. I’m not sure about the rest of Australia though.
What do you know about the game and do you agree it could take off in Australia?

IA - No I don’t think it will take off in Australia. People will play, but it won’t challenge Pool or Snooker.
3 Cushion carom is a great game though.
I saw it at the world games last year. Dick Jaspers was behind around about 31 to 18. He came back and was 38 and won – need 40 points to win. When Jasper missed to make 21 points he missed the thickness of a cigarette paper. Carom is a fantastic game and the skill level is unbelievable.
If it get’s more coverage and money behind it in Europe, especially. It is already big in Asia – Korea, Japan. The biggest game through South America and in Egypt.

TJ - CueSportz.COM has been endorsed by the WPA and it is set to fully launch in the near future, the WPA already thinks it will be of benefit as you have supported it but can you clarify to our readers what you think personally the benefits of this new site will be?

IA - It’s going to allow anybody to participating playing the sport. Arouse new interest. Play online and want to take that to the reality of playing on a proper table. The game is realistic, can play all the shots, except maybe a masse shot.

TJ – There are few big websites out there, this one has both types of Pool, Snooker and caters for everyone. Good physics model for the online game I noticed when playing it myself.

IA - Cue sports are very supportive of the game. I wish them well, not for them but the whole sport overall will benefit if successive.

TJ - Have you heard about the new 9-Ball Movie? Either way, do you think another movie will help the game of Pool again like The Color of Money and The Hustler did in their day?
Attendance for pool went up dramatically as the pages of history tell us.

IA - I am not so sure. I know they can be good story lines but I think it also brings out the wrong image at times. 9ball movie based on tournaments, and then it may be okay
I’ve seen some other movies, where you just shudder [image of the game, violence drug dealing].
If I was looking for my children to play a sport, and that sort of thing was going on, I wouldn’t want them to play. The Hustler was a great movie, Fast Eddie and Minnesota Fats. [Supposedly based on real characters] I don’t think we need another movie like that.

There are a lot of people that really enjoy playing the game without that sort of thing. I have been a professional player for a long time and always had those types of characters like that hanging around. We don’t have to go around advertising it. I would like to see movie made with something positive about the game to help the game.

TJ – The Director and writer seems to make an effort to talk to the people in the pool community and get them involved. He is promoting the fact that its also about the Women’s game of 9 Ball which is a good thing.

IA – Yes, Women in 9 Ball is good.

TJ - On a lighter note, which Pool tournament in what City is your favourite and why?

IA – I have a soft spot for the 8 ball in Fujairah which is one of the 7 Emirates (UAE) countries. Most people have probably not heard of it or would go there. Great place, and made so welcome and they look after you so well, it’s hard to imagine there’s a world championship going on there.
They have had speed boating, parachuting there. Only a two hour drive from Dubai.

I guess I was the instigator of that event being played there. I had a personal involvement as I went one year by invitation. I raised with them had they ever thought about a full on tournament, with players from all over the world to make a 8 or 16 player invitational.
The patron is the Sheikh and very enthusiastic, with government support. He had good sponsorship to support the event.

The other place I enjoy as well from what I’m seeing is happening in China. Pool is getting big. That’s an exciting time from my point of view. We’re in Shanghai and in Shenyang and next year in Beijing. Three big cities to play in.

Other places as well, Taiwan, Japan, Europe event (Teams Championship 8, 9 and 10 ball) in Hanover Germany.
TJ - To end this interview with some trivia, I hear that you are a big coffee fan. What’s your favourite blend?

IA - I’ve always enjoyed Lavazza. The best coffee I found usually was in Italy.

TJ - Thanks for taking part in this interview for CueSportz.info

I always enjoy a chat with Ian, will follow this one up later with some more current news