The Nine-ball Pool Nationals, to be hosted at the Bombay Presidency Golf Club's premises in Mumbai from August 27-September 4, has attracted the country's leading cueists, barring six Railways players and national billiards champion Pankaj Advani.
The president of the Billiards and Snooker Association of Maharashtra (BSAM), which is organising the event, former world amateur billiards champion Michael Ferreira, told a press conference on Wednesday that some Railways players -- including Asian Games gold medallists Rafat Habib and Ashok Shandilya -- have not been given the green signal to take part in the event.
"Pool is not in the recognised list of sports of the Railways Sports Promotion Board. But they can allow their players to take part at no cost to them as this game is a medal sport in the 2006 Doha Asian Games and the front runner to become an Olympic sport in the future," Ferreira said.
The men's nationals would be held for the fifth time while the women will make their bow.
"Women's pool is going to be a medal sport at the Doha Asiad," said Ferreira.
Among the top men's players competing for honours and the top prize of Rs 20,000 in the Rs 1.4-lakh prize-money event are national snooker champion Alok Kumar, who was runner-uplast year, defending champion and top seed Manan Chandra, both from Petroleum Sports Promotion Board, and number three Dharmender Lilly of Punjab.
One of the top junior cueists of the country, local boy Aditya Mehta would be among those taking part after losing in the round of 32 stage at the World Under-21snooker event in Bahrain o Tuesday. He is set to return on Thursday.
The country's best junior, Bangalore-based Advani, who also lost in the last 32stage at Bahrain, is not among the entries as he is concentrating on snooker.
Amongthe top women entrants are world billiards champion Anuja Thakur, her sister Meenal, Vidya Pillai of Tamil Nadu and R Umadevi and Chitra Magimairaj of Karnataka.
A total of 170 players would be seen in action with 22 entrants from Delhi, 18 from TN, 32 from Punjab and Chandigarh areas, 13 from Gujarat and 40from Maharashtra.
The tournament would be held on a league-cum-knockout basis with the participants divided into various groups in the preliminary stage.
Speciallyimported tables would be used for the tournament, Ferreira said.
Men's seedings: 1. Manan Chandra (Petroleum SPB), 2. Alok Kumar (PSPB), 3. Dharmender Lilly (Pun), 4. K Ranjan (TN).