Man on a Mission: Reviving Snooker in Canada
Written By: Jack Borenstein
Patrick Guigui is on a crusade to revive snooker in Canada.
Not many individuals following a sport as a teenager would make it their mission to bring it back to prominence more than a decade later. but that’s exactly what Cote St. Luc’s Patrick Guigui, 43, is doing with snooker in Canada.
His love affair with the sport began at 16, when he started spending time at Somerled Billiards in Montreal.
“I saw people playing on green tables, fascinated by their shot making and took up the sport.”
Snooker uses 22 balls – one cue ball, 15 red balls and 6 different coloured balls – with different point valuations. The maximum ‘break’ score of 147 is achieved by potting each red ball for 120 points. Coloured balls are pocketed in order – yellow, green, brown, blue, pink and black – for the remaining points.
Guigui saw a 147-point game at Somerled “which was amazing to watch as snooker is more difficult to achieve perfection in compared to bowling or baseball.”
Guigui moved to the US in 1989 and did not participate or follow snooker and found upon returning to Montreal in 2005 that the game’s status had changed.
“By 2008 Somerled Billiards, along with other snooker establishments, closed,” he said. “The sport was no longer televised, losing popularity and I felt an obligation to revive it.”
In 2011, he created and then became president of Snooker Canada (www.snookercanada.ca), whose goal is promoting local, national and international tournaments and helping Canadian players compete at all levels.
“Snooker is the third most watched sport on Eurosport TV behind soccer and basketball,” he said. In July 2011 Guigui was able to bring the International Billiard Snooker Federation (IBSF) Under-21 World Championships to Canada, which was held at the Sheraton Montreal Airport Hotel.
“I was very proud to bring this prestigious event to Canada for the first time. We had 80 competitors from 40 different countries and a few players have turned professional since.”
Last spring, through the diligence of Snooker Canada, Le Skratch Snooker Academy opened in Pierrefonds, QC, where Guigui has two tables for his own use. Contending with busy work and family schedules he found time last June to compete and win the Quebec Snooker ‘A’ Championship at 147 Snooker Club in Montreal.
“I practised three hours daily, five days a week at Le Skratch. I use Green Chalk for snooker, Ash or Maple Cue and a Triangle Rack. Someone taking on snooker should definitely buy their own cue as it becomes an extension of their arm.”
He competed in five best-four-of-seven matches on consecutive weekends.
“The final match was my best as I won by a large margin because I was so focused on winning at that table. It put pressure on my opponent and took away his confidence.”
Guigui commented on three factors he hopes will bring more attention to Canadian snooker.
“The top factor is getting matches back on television as curling has become hugely popular in Canada due to their matches being televised. We hope to achieve similar popularity and have been in discussions with TSN, along with RDS in Quebec.
“A second factor is obtaining tournament prize money, which we’re working towards.
“Next is getting people to watch snooker games as it’s visually enjoyable with competitors wearing bow ties, referees wearing white gloves and crowds as large as 1,000 in attendance.”
The Cote St. Luc, born-and-raised Guigui’s Jewish background included “attending United Talmud Torahs.” He had “my bar mitzvah at Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue of Montreal. Our family celebrated major Jewish holidays with Yom Kippur always being most important,” he said.
He has been in preliminary discussions with Maccabiah Canada to include snooker in future Maccabiah Games.
“We have spoken with different school boards about including snooker in their sports programs as it’s played in various schools throughout Europe such as Germany, Belgium, England, Ireland, Scotland and Austria.”
Guigui hopes to open snooker academies in major Canadian cities like Toronto and Vancouver.
“Individuals unsure about playing snooker can contact our web site to find experienced coaches in their cities who are available to teach them.”
His next goal is having a Canadian compete on the World Snooker Tour.
That person would be “selected through a series of qualifying tournaments across the country open to any individual over the age of 16 with Toronto being one of the stops. I’m also working to bring an IBSF World Masters tournament to Canada by November 2013.”
For more information about Canadian qualifying tournaments or any other aspects of snooker, email Guigui at firstname.lastname@example.org.