When Sargon Isaac started playing snooker at the age of 14 in England his interest in the game was one of pure recreation. It didn't take long for Isaac's interest to develop into a full-blown passion, however, and by the time he was 18 years old he was playing the game competitively in tournaments and adult leagues. But at age 22, just when he was refining his snooker skills, Isaac accepted a job offer and moved to California, effectively ending his love affair with snooker.
“I thought I would try it out and I just got hooked on the game. Probably because of the focus it requires and the tactics it requires. It’s a very strategic game,” Isaac said. “I never took it further because I ended up moving here.”
In addition to the changes in climate in his new home, Isaac also had to deal with differences in recreational activities. While many Californians enjoy playing pool to pass the time, very few have been exposed to snooker, a game similar to billiards that employs the use of larger tables, smaller balls, narrower pockets, and a completely different scoring system.
“It’s not just about sinking the ball. The majority of the time you have to play it safe. There’s a lot more tactics and it’s a harder game,” Isaac said.
But after four years away from the snooker table, Isaac decided it was time to return to the game. Working in the Bay Area, he began researching ways to get his hands on a snooker cue again. After reaching out to the United States Snooker Association, he found a fellow snooker enthusiast in Vice President Ajeya Prabhakar and the two soon became practice partners.
“I said, ‘You know what, I’m going to find out about Snooker. I know there are places out there,’” Isaac said.
Months later, the two new friends found themselves face to face in the finals of the 2011 U.S. National Snooker Championships, and in a storyline fit for Hollywood, Isaac emerged victorious. After being away from snooker for nearly five years, Isaac was the National Champion of the game he once gave up.
“I managed to get form back without picking up a stick for about five years. I started playing just as much I was before, trying to get back to the form I was, and that was the year I won my first National Championship,” Isaac said.
Isacc followed his National Championship victory with a trip to Bulgaria to represent the USA in the World Snooker Championships, a second place finish in the 2013 National Championships, and a semi-final appearance in the 2014 National Championships before claiming his second national title at the 2015 National Championships on May 25.
“It’s unbelievable. You take a break like that, you don’t anticipate to find form when you take such a long break,” Isaac said. “I didn’t think I was going to pick up a snooker cue again let alone win a National Championship. Now I’m completely humbled and honored by it. It’s a fantastic feeling, especially that feeling when you sink that last ball.”
Now, Isaac is preparing for his second World Snooker Championship Tournament, which will be held in Cape Town, South Africa in November. But with the limited knowledge of snooker in the area Isaac's practice locations are limited and he must either travel to the Bay Area or Los Angeles to practice in snooker halls or visit Modesto and settle for the next best thing, playing with snooker balls on a traditional Billiards table.
“That’s what I was practicing a lot on, just to get used to sinking the ball, before this last championship,” Isaac said.
Still, practice isn't Isaac's primary concern as the World Snooker Championships approach, instead his focus is currently aimed at attracting sponsors to help fund his trip to South Africa so that he can continue his storybook relationship with a game he fell in love with 15 years ago.
“It’s been an amazing feeling and an amazing rise,” Isaac said.