PORTSMOUTH singles champion Mike Talmondt completed a hat-trick of titles on the Cuestars South of England seniors tour.
But it was only after judges had to trawl through the rule book because of how close events unfolded at Salisbury Snooker Club.
Officials were forced to use the countback system when Talmondt met Matt Ford in the quarter-final.
Just 13 ranking points separated the pair going into the contest.
On the back of a 2-0 defeat to Chris Stocker, Ford had to beat Talmondt to scoop his first senior title.
Ford took a 1-0 lead but jawed a title-winning black in the second frame. Copnor’s Talmondt took advantage and rolled in the subsequent medium-length pot to level things up.
Among the balls on a run of 15 in the decider, Talmondt fluked the blue – which hit both jaws of one middle pocket and disappeared into the opposite middle bag – and went on to make a match-winning 55.
The result meant the pair finished on level points and the countback system came into play.
Judges looked at most tournaments won, most runners-up finishes, most semi-finals and most quarter-finals.
Remarkably, they had identical records, so the final leg result proved to be separating factor.
Talmondt was humble in victory and offered his condolences to Ford after the game.
The 44-year-old said: ‘I feel really bad for Matt, to be honest.
‘Matt’s been the better player all year and has been more consistent.
‘I’ve been hot and cold, played all right in one tournament and a bit iffy in the next.
‘I’ve sneaked it, really. I’ve got to apologise to Matt for that.’
Talmondt continued his momentum in the next round.
He overcame High Wycombe’s Nick Birney 2-0 in the last four before meeting John Monckton in the final.
Talmondt used his experience to his advantage and cleared 63 in the first frame.
The taxi driver then played tactically in the second frame, leaving his opponent needing snookers with three reds left.
Afterwards, Talmondt admitted he’d been struggling with a new tip.
‘I didn’t fancy beating Matt at all, not with a dodgy tip,’ he added.
‘Results have gone my way and I’ve nicked it but the tip is coming straight off.’
– TIM DUNKLEY