NEWBURY potter Chris Rice was “chuffed to bits” after claiming the inaugural Berkshire Cuestars Snooker League title by the narrowest of margins.
Organisers were forced to trawl through the rule book after Rice and Neil Winkworth ended the season level on points.
And the 33-year-old’s 3-2 victory over his title rival earlier in the season unlocked the stalemate.
“I’m chuffed to bits to win the first Berkshire Cuestars League,” said Rice. “Particularly as I lost my first match and knew I had to probably win every other game to win it, which is what I did.
“There were some very good players in this and all of the matches were very close between everyone, which showed in the final league table.
“With just a couple of games left, possibly five people could have won the league.”
In his penultimate match at The Crucible Sports & Social Club, Newbury, Rice admitted he was lucky to close the gap with a 5-0 win over 15-year-old Cameron Holt (Reading).
He fluked the frame-ball green in the second frame and fluked a red from a snookered position in the third and cleared up.
But he stamped his authority with breaks of 51 and 95 to close out the win.
With Winkworth, also from Newbury, seeing off Reading’s Martin Wallace 3-2, Rice needed to match or better that result against Neil Rampton (Beenham, near Reading).
Leading 2-1, the Camp Hopson facilities manager “managed to squeak a tight fourth frame” for 3-1 before Rampton pulled one back.
“I’m delighted,” he said. “I won the Newbury singles a couple of weeks ago so to add this too is great.
“I’m sure this league will take off in the coming years and more players from the local area will want to take part. I look forward to defending it next year.”
To add insult to injury, Rice’s run of 95 eclipsed runner-up Winkworth’s season high of 84.