KARACHI: Fifty two cueists, including incumbent and four former champions, have been lined up for the country’s biggest cueball event, the Jubilee Insurance 43rd National Snooker Championship being held at Karachi Gymkhana from Feb 12 to 21. Ace cueist Mohammad Sajjad, who laid his hands on the national title for the third time by getting the better of his pupil Asjad Iqbal in the last year’s final, will defend his crown. The quartet who have previously annexed the national title include former world amateur snooker champion Mohammad Asif, Mohammad Bilal, Shahid Aftab and Khurram Agha.The break-up of 52 participants envisaged top 12 of national ranking released after the third domestic event of the seniors, eight qualifiers apiece from Sindh, Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, six qualifiers from Balochistan, three from Islamabad, four juniors two under-18 and as many under-21 and three wildcards. The wildcards includes former Pakistan No 1 Imran Shahzad, Asif Toba and Mohammad Majid Ali while the Islamabad trio comprised Musaddiq Malik, Noman Javed and Raja Rashid. The junior quartet includes national under-18 champion Umer Khan, runner-up Shaikh Mudassir, under-21 runner-up M Shahbaz and semi-finalist Usman Ahmed.The details of the country’s premier snooker event were announced by the Pakistan Billiards and Snooker Federation (PBSF) president, Munawwar Hussain Shaikh, at a press briefing held at the Karachi Gymkhanay. He was flanked by managing director of Jubilee Insurance Tahir Ahmed, Karachi Gymkhana president Akbar Puri, PBSF officials Zulfiqar Ramzi, Irfan Motan, Shariq Vohra and Nisar Bhagat.The event carries total prize money of Rs2,72,000 with winner getting Rs100,000 and runner-up Rs50,000. Besides the total purse, the cueists will earn Rs2,000 per century break. According to draws, the participants have been divided into eight groups and top two will propel into knockout pre quarterfinals on completion of league matches. The winner and runner-up of the event will qualify for the 34th Asian Snooker Championship being held at Tabriz, Iran from April 22 to 28.Speaking on the occasion, the PBSF chief announced that Pakistan teams for the inaugural IBSF-ACBS World Team Championship to be held at Doha from Feb 27 to March 2. He informed that Pakistan had been honoured to field two outfits by virtue of being winner and runners-up of the last year’s IBSF team event. Team 1 includes Babar Masih and Mohammad Asif while Team 2 comprised Asjad Iqbal and Mohammad Sajjad. According to him, 24 teams will vie for honours in the event which carries total prize money of $60,000. The winning team gets $15,000 while the runners-up receive $7,000. Even the first round loser earns $1,000. He also named three-member Pakistan team for the ACBS Under-21 Snooker Championship to be held at Myanmar from March 18 to 24. The trio includes national under-21 champion Mohammad Nasem Akhtar, runner-up Mohammad Shahbaz and Haris Tahir.Published in Daily Times, February 9th 2018.