Chinese pool defeat a reminder of urgent adoption

Chandiga takes aim. PHOTO/GEORGE KATONGOLE 

What you need to know:

Sejjemba had lost both of his lives  a day earlier in the double eliminator tournament falling to English Benjamin Tanner 13-7 in his second life. Mark McCauley had already claimed the little master's first life in a 13-8 triumph.

The top pool players in Uganda did not pass the litmus test of the Chinese Heyball Masters when they were both eliminated in the qualifying round.

Ibrahim Sejjemba, probably the most talented of his generation and the indefatigable Caesar Chandiga, who among his fans, is the best in Africa after going to-to-toe with Africa's best Joseph Aden and winning a Shs15m cash stake in a replay held in Nairobi, Kenya, faced unfamiliar foes in the Chinese province of Qinhuangdao.

Casear was close to the money brackets missing by just a step when he was beaten by Jason Theron of South Africa in a game that would have seen him win a minimum bonus of Shs10m. The fierce South African won the battle 13-5 to quash the hopes of the Ugandan fans.

Sejjemba had lost both of his lives  a day earlier in the double eliminator tournament falling to English Benjamin Tanner 13-7 in his second life. Mark McCauley had already claimed the little master's first life in a 13-8 triumph.

There were beautiful moments for the pair on the 9ft table, which is bigger than the ordinary Bbackball tables common in Uganda.

Deep waters

Testing their feet in deep waters was always going to be tough.

None of the Ugandan players had ever faced world class players before as the game locally has been in a sort of a lull and yet this version of the sport is not played competitively in Uganda.

"We need the tables in the country as soon as possible if we want to compete in these tournaments," Ismail Kalibbala, the Technical Director of the Pool Association of Uganda (PAU) rightly observed. Kalibbala is part of the Ugandan delegates in China.

With the sport in the hands of private investors, getting the Heyball 8-ball tables in Uganda may take longer than expected. 

But there is an opportunity to launch into the most lucrative cue sport in the world at the moment by harnessing cooperation with the Chinese government which is keen on extending its reach in the lives of the African population. 

The Chinese influence is currently present in the construction and manufacturing industry as well as sports such as woodball and the Chinese language is taught in more schools.

Blackball until when?

Bob Menani, the honorary PAU president explained that although snooker was the first cue sport to be embraced in Uganda, it did not pick momentum because it takes a lot of time and resources.

As private investors embraced the cue sports, they love with blackball which takes a shorter time to complete a game.

"If you mind about business, you can only think about blackball because a game can end in less than 15 minutes. Yet the minimum time for snooker, for instance,  is 40 minutes," Menani said.

A heyball game normally takes two hours even with a limit of 25 seconds per shot.

With most of the pool tables owned by bar businesses, it is obvious why other versions are taking long to be embraced.

Yet the paying versions at the moment is nineball, snooker and heyball, which was formerly known as Chinese 8-ball.

A standard snooker table measuring 12ft costs just above 40m, a heyball table above Shs12m, while blackball tables are as low as Shs2.5m with the more superior brands going for about Shs10m.

Alfred 'Black Sheep' Gumikiriza, who owns a pool arena in Mukono says such huge amounts of money can be invested when the prospects are crystal clear.

"First of all, you need a lot of space to accommodate such tables and if there are no players at the moment, you risk making losses. If PAU can diversify and have these versions on their calendar, then people can pick interest. For now it's hard to buy such tables," Gumikiriza said.

The PAU is on a mission to become a federation by January 2023, a crucial step that is moving on a snail speed. By becoming a federation,  PAU can open up doors to such associations that promote other versions. 

But there are other obstacles. When Joseph Aden said he was moving to nineball, his major fear was that tournaments are only in Europe and USA.

This means players have to register for tournaments in those countries with tough travel regulations and fierce opponents. 

For now, it's a pipe dream.

Common cue sports explained 

There are numerous games played on billiards tables. The most common in Uganda is blackball pool while some elite places have snooker tables.


This is a more classic game played with one white cue ball and 22 coloured balls.

The cue ball is used as a striking ball for all the other coloured balls, as a way of ensuring that pocketing is done in the correct order.

Players earn points whenever they pocket a ball. And each player is allowed to take as many continuous shots as possible, so long as they continue pocketing the balls.

But sometimes players end-up hitting the wrong balls and that’s considered a foul. All fouls earn opponents’ points.


This is the most famous game in billiards also known as English billiards. Blackball is a game for two players that is played on a table with seven red balls (reds), seven yellow balls (yellows), and one black ball (the 8-ball).

The object of the game is to use a cue stick and the white cue ball to hit your set of balls (either reds or yellows) into the table pockets.

Players use their cue stick to hit the white cue ball. The white cue ball should then contact a red or yellow ball and propel that ball directly or indirectly into one of the table’s six pockets.

The first player to get all their balls into the pockets, must then pocket the black 8-ball to win the game.


This game is not played in Uganda at the moment but it is played mainly for money. The game is fast-paced hence very engaging to both players and fans.

The objective of the game is for players to use the cue ball to pocket the nine balls to win. Winning can occur if a player hits the lowest ball or pockets all the nine balls without faulting.

Chinese 8-ball or Heyball

Chinese 8-ball has taken the world by storm, and is rapidly growing to become the next huge thing in televised cue sport, with simply enormous TV coverage, and rapidly growing prize funds.

The game itself is just the standard game of 8-ball on a 9ft table. One player focuses on spots, another on stripes in a race to pot the 8-ball. There are however some key differences.

Chinese 8-ball has seen multiple rule revisions and modifications for TV purposes, pretty much all changes are made to speed the game up, and make it as exciting for viewers as possible.

Players win matches either by being the first player to win 13 frames, or having the most frames won in the allocated time limit.