Malaysia's Ibrahim Amir (L)
chatting to Ahmad Taufiq Murni
during the latter's 9-ball
singles practice session at
the Songdo Convensia in Incheon,
South Korea, yesterday. Taufiq
starts his 4th Asian Indoor &
Martial Arts Games (AIMAG)
campaign tomorrow. Picture:
Ahmad Taufiq Murni might be lucky to have got a bye into the second round of the 9-ball men's singles here at the 4th Asian Indoor & Martial Arts Games, but Brunei's No 1 name in the sport has other things on his mind.
Taufiq will start his campaign with a match against either Singapore's Aloysius Yapp or Palestine's Fadi AS Aburdaha Thuraya, and though the Bruneian admitted he's happy the luck of the draw has put him straight through to the round-of-32, he also said he would be a lot happier had he got more time on the practice tables at the Songdo Convensia.
The contingent touched down at Incheon International Airport on Thursday and after spending a few hours sorting their accreditation out, Taufiq - who could only practice for one hour yesterday - was too tired to do anything other than hit the sack. And with the tournament kicking off this morning, the next practice session Taufiq will have is the 10 minutes allocated to each cueist before the start of their match. "One hour isn't enough to practice, but it's good that I was able to play - even for a bit," the seasoned cueist said.
"The table is the same as in overseas tournaments... The ball bounces more.
"It's like in the Beijing Open," he said.
Taufiq's 2011 Beijing Open journey was most remembered for his 9-3 win over Ralf Souquet, a World No. 1 in 2010 who had since fell to No 8 by the time he met Taufiq - who was then ranked 215th but has since dropped off the table.
Souquet has claimed more than 250 tournament titles after starting off in 1981, and the fact that Taufiq was able to beat him, and knock him out of the Beijing Open in the process - is exactly why he is the country's sole cueist at Incheon - though they could have sent two.
Like Taufiq, national coach Lim Tat Hwe also felt that the table conditions would play a factor in the tournament - adding that Taufiq would have to "make some adjustments".
"Here the tables are faster than in Brunei and that's normal for international tournaments," said the national coach. "If he manages to control the speed, we'll have a good fight," he added.
When asked why the tables at the Billiards and Snooker Hall of the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium couldn't be changed to get them up to par, Lim's reply was simple.
"These tables are new... We can't change the cloth on our tables everytime," he smiled.
"The players must know how to adjust," he added.
Taufiq and Lim agreed that Yapp will be the favourite in tomorrow's first round tie and they both expect him to progress to the second round. The Singaporean is no stranger to the duo - Taufiq beat Yapp 10-6 to advance to the last-16 at last year's 4th Golden Break 9-Ball Invitational Championship in Subang Jaya, Malaysia.
However, Lim knows his star pupil can't afford to take Yapp lightly.
"That was one year ago."