DEFENDING champion John Hunter overcame the Houdini of the green baize to clinch the first leg of the Cuestars Masters Tour, writes Tim Dunkley.

The 57-year-old from Andover kicked off his campaign to retain his title with a hard-fought victory at Woking Snooker Centre.

But beaten finalist Phil Butler can reflect on his eventful day with a sense of pride.

The Bournemouth cueist qualified for the knockout via a third-place play-off with Mark Thomas (Chorleywood).

He then overturned Colin Norton (Gosport) – a four-time event winner last season – 2-0 in the quarter-finals, beat the in-form England international Dennis Tristram (Croxley Green, near Watford) 2-1 in the last-four and knocked in his highest Cuestars break of 63 to force a third-frame decider against Hunter.

The tournament was sponsored by Tristram, who was selected for the England over-55’s B team for the Home Internationals in Leeds last month.

Home player Kevin Morris chalked up a 43, which was another a personal best Cuestars break. Title-contender Steve Allen (Southampton) lost 2-0 to Hunter in the semis.

The high scoring in the opening leg of the 2023/24 Snooker Hub-sponsored series of midweek tournaments for players aged 55 or over was a result of the excellent playing conditions at Woking SC.

Masters rankings include points earned by over-55 players on the Cuestars Seniors Tour.

Chandlers Ford Snooker Club hosts the second leg of nine on Wednesday, October 11.

To find out more the amateur game, visit


John Hunter: 83, 73, 71, 55, 52.

Phil Butler: 63.

Steve Allen: 48.

Kevin Morris: 43.

Dennis Tristram: 41.


ROUND-ROBIN GROUP A: 1st, John Hunter (Salisbury SC); 2nd, Andrew Darken (Feltham Constitutional Club); 3rd, Phil Butler (Greenbaize, Bournemouth); 4th, Ray Grall (Hayes WMC).

ROUND-ROBIN GROUP B: 1st, Colin Norton (Stoke SC, Gosport); 2nd, Mark Burrell (Jesters, Swindon); 3rd, Mark Thomas (Shots, Watford); 4th, Stephen Hills (Northfleet Traders Club, Gravesend).

ROUND-ROBIN GROUP C: 1st, Dennis Tristram (Shots, Watford); 2nd, Steve Allen (Totton Rec); 3rd, Neil Carroll (Chandlers Ford SC); 4th, Kevin Morris (Woking SC); 5th, Ray Mears (Sovereign, Farnborough).

QUARTER-FINALS (12 pts): Hunter 2-0 Carroll, Allen 2-0 Burrell, Butler 2-0 Norton, Tristram 2-1 Darken.

SEMI-FINALS (£10, 15 pts): Hunter 2-0 Allen, Butler 2-1 Tristram.

FINAL (£70/£30), 25/18 pts): Hunter 2-1 Butler.